Whether they are 5 or 50, do your children know they can rely on God’s Word? Think for just a moment before you answer that question. Far too often, children learn the Bible similar to the way in they might study a textbook. They read and isolate passages, and various Scriptures—memorizing verses that are most often repeated. Some may even have a good working knowledge of the way the Bible is laid out. But do they truly look to it for guidance and strength? For many homes, the answer to that question is no. Many children reach an age where doubt and skepticism interfere with their relationship with God. And as such, their reliance on the Truths found in God’s Word become insignificant, and wind up straying away from New Testament Christianity. In John 17:17 we read “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” One way to combat doubt and skepticism is to challenge alleged discrepancies and contradictions that atheists proclaim exist in the Bible.
For instance, Matthew 28:1 records: “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb.” From this passage it would seem safe to presume that these two Mary’s went to the tomb. But what about John’s account in which we are told “On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early…” (John 20:1). There is no mention of the second Mary. If that weren’t confusing enough, Mark then adds another name to the mix: “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1). So which account is correct? Are these verses contradictory?
The answer is that they are all correct. Some of the Bible writers choose to give more information that others. Technically speaking this is called supplementation—and supplementation does not equal contradiction. Another example of this can be found in the Gospel accounts of the arrest of Jesus, where we are given various pieces of information about the servant of the High Priest whose ear was cut off.
Most people readily understand that a message is often changed according to the audience. For instance, I routinely change my lessons depending on the age and education level of my audience. Likewise, if 4 eyewitnesses to a car wreck were asked to give their testimony they would all probably add different details while explaining the same incident. As we come across passages like the ones above we must remember that the writers were writing to different groups of people, and they stressed different items. This by no means deems the Bible as unreliable.