A claim of Biblical contradiction finds critics asking, “Can God Be Found?” in the face of yes and no scenarios in Luke’s Gospel. They come remarkably close but they’re missing an important caveat.
Before I look into the “yes and no” scenarios in Luke, I should note a handful of other verses skeptics have found to contradict one another regarding the question of whether God can be found. Proverbs 2:3-5 and 8:17 both answer the question in the positive. Proverbs 1:28, Lamentations 3:8 and 3:44 answer in the negative. We can address the latter verses by simply noting that they are proverbial in nature and not meant to be taken as absolute. Proverbs are just that, proverbs. Likewise, Lamentation fits into a similar category, that being the poetry of lament. The critics may as well take literally the plea to die when an unfortunate hardship arises.
Turning to our verses in Luke and the parallel in Matthew’s Gospel, we find a similar proverbial pattern. Let’s quote them,
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). This verse is paralleled in Matthew 7:7
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).
Both of these verses carry a condition the critic seems to have missed. I made note of a similar condition in my articles on prayer. One cannot ask for anything unless he has shown himself worthy to ask such a thing, and even then requests were only ever made under submission to the will of God. Those thoughts are mirrored here, as one cannot ask and expect to receive an answer if he fails to be sincere in his request. Luke 13 agrees as one cannot strive unless their desire is sincere.
An additional point can be made regarding chapter 13. Luke 13:24-30 is eschatological (“When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door….”). It isn’t describing things as they are now, it’s predicting a future time where the chance to enter Heaven will be gone. Anyone who desires to enter after this time will be insincere seekers with impure motives or else those who sought after grace too late by placing other things in higher priority.
“Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:26-27).
Luke 11:9-10 and 13:24 both call for sincerity. The only difference between the two is time, and something can only be said to be in contradiction when two opposing actions are happening at the same time. This is not the case here.