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  • Writer's pictureTrace Pirtle

In What Ways Are the Bible and Intelligence Tests The Same?

Did you know that the Bible and intelligence tests share a couple of strikingly similar characteristics? First, they each start easy and get progressively more difficult. Second, there are questions with incorrect responses and then levels of correct responses. So let's consider how this relates to spiritual growth as Christians.

The Bible and IQ Test Progression: Easy. Difficult. Brain Explodes

Over the years, I administered, scored, and interpreted many intelligence tests. In the beginning, I would tell the examinee something like the following. "I'm going to ask you some questions. They will start easy and get progressively more difficult to the point that you may be unable to answer the question. That's how the test is designed."

As the test begins, the individual gets comfortable with the easy questions and starts sweating as they get more complex until their brain explodes when they hit the limit. But, of course, no one's brain ever actually exploded or even suffered a heart attack from an intelligence test. At least it never happened in my presence. After all, it's just an IQ test.

If you are an "examinee" of God's Word, you may have had a similar experience. I sure have. It's as if the Holy Spirit is sitting with us as we open our Bible to page one for the first time. We read,

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

Got it. Piece of cake. What's next, Lord?

You Ruck Up and wander through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. For some new Believers, this test of endurance seems to take 40 years of hard reading. In my case, it did, literally. But some verses leave us sweating because it's hard to imagine. For example,

The Death of Nadab and Abihu. "Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord." Leviticus 10:1-2

This is a hard lesson and one that can shut down some new Believers. Instead of saying, "I need to pay attention. What is God's purpose for torching two of His priests?" some will skip it and move to the "warm and fuzzy" verses in the New Testament. They remain hopelessly stuck in the blissful ignorance of "love is love" and "God loves me just as I am." This attitude can be deadly, as seen from these verses (and many others in the Old Testament). God takes His Word seriously, and we had better as well.

And then, for me, one of the most difficult challenges comes in the two Gospels. Two Gospels? Yes. The Good News we are most familiar with is given to us by God through the Apostle Paul.

"Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you have received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures..." 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

This gospel is indeed Good News, and we fully embrace it. But what about the other gospel we find in the last book, the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ? Look at what Jesus says through the Apostle John's writing.

"Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth - to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'" Revelation 14:6

Wait! Now my brain is about to explode. These are two very different gospels. In fact, it's as if they are written for two different purposes and groups of people. And to further blow your mind, look at what God told Christians who lived in Galatia through the Apostle Paul.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!" Galatians 1:6-8

Paul explicitly mentions an angel from heaven. How can this be if God is not to contradict Himself? And we know that will not happen. Therefore, I believe the angel who preaches the "eternal gospel" is addressing those left on earth during the tribulation.

That cannot be the same people--gentiles--who received the Good News gospel and were saved by the blood of Jesus. Thus, the only way for both of these gospels to be consistent with God's infallible Word is for the church (prayerfully, you and I) to not be present when the angel preaches the eternal gospel. This adds additional support for a pre-tribulation rapture of the church (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).

The Bible and IQ Test "Scoring": Wrong. Correct. Even Better

I'm having some fun with our serious scripture study, and I hope you can too. The Bible has easy, challenging, and mind-blowing verses. Each of these verses is intended to help us as we mature in our walk with God. But first, we must understand the meaning of the scripture before we can apply it with wisdom. And wisdom is where the "scoring" of our responses comes in.

Let me give you a quick example of scoring an IQ test item. Let's say the question is this: "In what way are an apple and an orange the same?" If the person says, "They aren't the same," the response is scored as incorrect (0 points). On the other hand, if the person says, "You can eat them," that's correct and receives (1 point). Finally, if the person says, "They are both fruit," this is the highest level correct response (2 points).

Like intelligence tests, I believe our responses to the Bible can also be "scored" by the Holy Spirit (and the angels sent to help us). So, how would you respond to the following question, "In what way are God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit the same?" Use the above example about apples and oranges to form your own answer. You can see there are incorrect, correct, and even better responses consistent with our study of God's Word. Our knowledge of the Bible leads us to wisdom and understanding as a by-product of spiritual maturity.

Try a couple more questions. For example, "Is the Bible valid and reliable today?" "Are there two gospels described in the Bible? If so, how do you explain it?"

Concluding Thoughts

I see many similarities between the Bible and intelligence tests. Based on your own experiences, you can draw parallels between something you know and something you are trying to learn more thoroughly. I believe God encourages our questions and looks forward to our responses to His questions. He understands that our answers will start off incorrect. But He will guide us to the truth, and we will respond again, this time correctly. The more we stay in the Word, the more we grow spiritually. Finally, remember that the closer we get to Jesus, the further we are from the flames!

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About Me

Image of Dr. Trace Pirtle sitting on park bench identified as Jesus.

Greetings, I'm Trace!
I'm a retired counselor education professor who spent 35 years in the "helping professions." I'm a veteran and an "all-in" believer working full-time for our Lord Jesus Christ. I've included my personal testimony if you are interested. 
May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

In His Service,

Trace Pirtle

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