Growing up in Australia, I was used to seeing trucks from a company called “Soils Ain’t Soils.” Strange name for a company but I get it. They’re saying there are different types of soils, and some soils are better than others. The same could be said of questions.
Perhaps you’ve noticed an upsurge in the number of questions being asked by believers. More people are questioning things and this is generally a good thing. There is nothing wrong with asking questions. I love asking questions. I wrote a book full of questions.
But we need to take care that the questions we ask are good questions because asking the wrong question will never lead you to the right answer.
Good and bad questions
There are good questions and bad questions. Consider the following:
- Do you know that you are married to the most amazing person in the world?
- Do you know what your spouse really does when he or she goes out?
Here are two questions about your spouse. The first promotes love and confidence. “Yes, I do know she is amazing! Thank you for reminding me.” But the second question promotes doubt and distrust. “Actually I don’t know what she does or where she goes. Why doesn’t she tell me? What is she hiding from me?”
Do you see the difference? The way you feel about your spouse is partly based on the questions you ask yourself. Questions matter. A good question will bless your marriage; a bad one will curse it.
Recently I read a popular Christian book that was full of questions. I thought, What great questions! I can’t wait to see where this is going. But the questions weren’t answered and I was left hanging. I came away tossed and turned with a head full of useless thoughts.
I was reminded of some of the philosophy courses I took in university. Philosophers love to ask questions (good) but often those questions lead nowhere (bad). Questions ain’t questions.
What are good questions?
A good question is one that leads to good places. Look at the questions Jesus asked and see if you can spot the pattern:
- “Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am?”
- “What do you want me to do for you?”
- “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is he?”
- “If God clothes the flowers of the field, will he not much more cloth you?”
- “Which is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven? Or get up and walk?”
- “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
See the pattern? Jesus’ questions were all designed to lead people to a greater revelation of himself and God’s grace. From this we can say that a good question is one which leads us to a deeper understanding of God’s love for us. Here are some more good questions found in the Bible:
- “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psa 139:7)
- “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom 8:35)
- “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24)
- “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:6)
God made us innately curious because he knew our curiosity will ultimately lead us to him. Except that it won’t if we waste time asking bad questions.
What are bad questions?
A bad question is one that leads to bad places. It causes you to draw on your own finite understanding instead of trusting in God and his unlimited understanding (Jer. 17:5-8). A bad question points you away from Wisdom, distracts you from Truth, and keeps you from finding the Answer. Here are some examples of bad questions:
- “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22).
This question was intended to diminish the Son of God and put him in a box. Similar questions include: Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Isn’t he buried somewhere in Israel? Wasn’t he just a good teacher? Didn’t he have a wife? These sorts of questions do nothing but fuel uncertainty, inflame controversy, and kill faith.
- “Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?” (Job 4:6).
This question was intended to make Job examine his navel for sin and rely on his own self-righteousness. Similar questions include: Are you keeping short accounts with God? Have you confessed all your sins? Jesus died for you, what will you do for him? If you really loved God shouldn’t you be a missionary/go to Bible School/join our carpark team? These sorts of questions fuel self-trust and lead you away from the grace of God.
- “Did God really say…?” (Gen 3:1)
This is the baddest question of all because it can cause you to distrust your Father and his good intentions toward you. Similar questions include: Can the Bible be trusted? Is it really God’s Word? Was everything Jesus said good? Did he even say those things? These sorts of questions lead to doubt and deception.
Religion discourages questions. Religion says, “Who are you to question God? Just believe.”
Philosophy, on the other hand, encourages questions but often does so from a close-minded presumption of unbelief. “God is dead” or “Jesus is something other than what the Bible says.” Any philosophical quest for truth that isn’t based on a desire to know the One called Truth will be marked by bad questions.
When he was in Athens, the apostle Paul visited the Areopagus, which was a place people went to have philosophical discussions (Acts 17:22-33). Paul preached the gospel and the philosophers mocked him. Others said “tell us more,” but Paul was done wasting his time and he left (v.33).
Social media platforms such as Facebook have become the new Areopagus. They are places people go to ask questions, debate, and discuss. If these discussions lead you to a greater revelation of Jesus, that’s a good thing. But if they waste your time and wind you up, that’s not.
D.L. Moody once observed:
There are two kinds of skeptics – one class with honest difficulties; and another class who delight only in discussion. … Men of this stamp used to hang around Christ to entangle him in his talk. They come into our meetings to hold a discussion. To all such I would commend Paul’s advice to Timothy: “but foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes” (2 Timothy 2:23).
Questions ain’t questions. Sometimes bad questions are sold with the line “they make you think.” But they don’t make you think, they make you doubt. They replace faith with uncertainty and distract you from Jesus. Have nothing to do with such questions and discussions. Be like Paul and walk away.
A big God prompts big questions
The universe is big and your Father is bigger still. We should have plenty of room for questions. As Bill Johnson says:
Mystery should be a continual part of your life. You should always have more questions than answers. If your encounters with God don’t leave you with more questions than when you started, then you have had an inferior encounter … It would help all of us a great deal if we had to walk out of a few more church services, scratching our heads, wondering what just took place.
We are defined by the questions we ask so ask good questions. And don’t be afraid to take your questions directly to the Holy Spirit. Jesus never said, “Facebook would guide you into all truth.” You have been given the Spirit of Truth. Ask him your questions (Jas. 1:5).
And if someone puts a question to you, question the question. Is it a good question, worth investing in? Or is it an unlearned and ignorant question, and something to avoid?
Any question that distracts you from Jesus or causes you to doubt His Word, is a bad question. It will take you places you don’t want to go just as surely as the serpent’s question took Adam and Eve where they didn’t want to go. We’ll learn more about the fruit of bad questions in the next post.