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I Don’t Know

Are we willing to genuinely seek? Are we willing to admit, “I don’t know,” and then do something about it? 
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There’s a lot of power in these three little words: “I don’t know.”  Far from conveying weakness, they are the foundation of investigation and discovery.  If, that is, we follow up on the honest admission, and actually do some investigation.

When we’re talking with someone about the Bible, we shouldn’t ever be ashamed to say, “I don’t know,” in answer to a question.  (And our next words should be, “Let’s see if we can find out.”  Or, “I’ll try to find an answer.”)  What we should be ashamed to do is to speculate or make something up, unless we make it very clear that’s what we’re doing.

Of course it could turn out that the answer is, “As far as I can tell, we’re not told.”  But that shouldn’t be an assumption—it should be a conclusion reached after looking into it.

In our investigations, we must always keep in mind the following declaration made by the Almighty God Himself:

I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right. (Isaiah 45:19)

Other passages make the same point.  God is not evasive, is not devious, is not secretive.  He doesn’t taunt us, “Nyah nyah, you can’t find me!”  He lays it out for us, tells us the truth, tells us what’s right.

Which doesn’t mean no effort is required on our part!  It’s not vain, fruitless, to seek God.  But seeking is required—hunting, searching, putting in real effort.  Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)  A wonderful assurance!  But he also teaches that persistence is required—for example in Luke 18:1-8.

The assurance from Jesus doesn’t mean we will ever attain perfection of knowledge and understanding.  There isn’t a Bible student anywhere who has no more questions.  (Or maybe I should say, if anyone claims they have no more questions, they’ve got a bigger problem than someone who admits there are things they don’t know yet.)

Having to seek does not mean God is hiding.  It means He is sorting us.  Are we willing to genuinely seek, or not?  Are we willing to admit, “I don’t know,” and then do something about it?  Including persistent seeking that may take years?

Some of the questions we encounter—our own or from others—are really hard.  We can become frustrated or worn out by them.  Sadly, we can allow them to erode our faith.  When we start seeing any of those reactions in ourselves, we need to remind ourselves:  It’s OK to admit, “I don’t know.”  Yet.  And remember that “I don’t know” is the beginning of an investigation and the motivation to persevere, not a surrender.

Love, Paul

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