Types of Questions We Don’t Need to Answer

Text: Proverbs 29:9

It is easy for discussions on controversial issues to quickly become contentious – even on religious topics. Contentious discussions can consume our time and mental energy if we allow them to. Questions are often used to draw us into discussions. Some of these are good (1 Peter 3:15). But some questions do not need to be answered. The Bible shows us what types of questions these are.

Questions to Which We Do Not Know the Answer (1 Timothy 1:6-7)

  • Some have a desire to teach, but do not know the truth well enough to explain it – new Christians will often be in this position (1 Peter 2:2); however, this could be true of any of us on different topics because growth is continual (2 Peter 3:18)
  • We have an obligation to speak the truth (1 Peter 4:11) – if we do not know the truth, we cannot speak it; God condemns speaking presumptuously (cf. Deuteronomy 18:20)
  • This is not an excuse to be silent, but a call to study and learn (2 Timothy 2:15) – we must continue to learn/grow; in the meantime, we can get help from others (Ephesians 4:11-12; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1)

Questions That Lead to Speculation (1 Timothy 1:3-6)

  • Speculation was contrasted with building up others in the faith (1 Timothy 1:4) – again, we have an obligation to speak the truth (1 Peter 4:11); this is found in God’s word (John 17:17)
  • When we leave the truth, we get ourselves into trouble (2 John 9) – speculation about things we cannot know (1 Timothy 1:4) and fruitless discussions (1 Timothy 1:6)
  • Remember the goal of our instruction (1 Timothy 1:5) – “teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3, KJV)

Questions from Those Who Refuse to Acknowledge Bible Authority (Matthew 21:23-27)

  • After the triumphal entry, cleansing the temple, and cursing the fig tree, Jesus’ authority was questioned – He could have answered (cf. John 5:33-39); but He did not answer their question this way; instead He asked them a question; He wanted to establish whether or not they were interested in authority
  • Jesus has all authority (Matthew 28:18) – His word is authoritative; we must follow it (Colossians 3:17)
  • If people reject Bible authority, there is no common standard to appeal to (cf. Judges 21:25) – once that is determined, continuing the discussion is useless

Questions from Those Who Just Want to Argue (Titus 3:9-11)

  • We have already talked about the need to avoid speculations and fruitless discussions (1 Timothy 1:3-6) – some of those types of questions may be brought up by sincere people
  • Other times, people just want to argue – they are factious (Titus 3:10); they want to cause strife/division
  • Like those who refuse to acknowledge Bible authority, they are not interested in truth (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10) – until they are, we cannot help them; we need to shake the dust from our feet and move on (Mark 6:11)

Questions That Draw Us Into Foolishness (Proverbs 26:4)

  • Does not mean not to answer the fool (Proverbs 26:5) – but do not answer as the fool answers
  • In other words, do not answer the types of questions that we have been talking about – the fool lacks knowledge, speculates, disregards authority, and argues for the sake of arguing; do not stoop to his level
  • When one persists in his foolishness, we cannot win the argument (Proverbs 29:9) – or at least we cannot convince him of it; as long as he holds to his foolishness, we cannot help him

Conclusion

  • We must be always ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15) – but we are also not to throw pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6)
  • We need to understand what types of questions do not require an answer – attempting to answer such questions will often be counterproductive to our efforts to teach others

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