Doubt & Faith: True or False?

Jesus QuestionsHere are four statements about faith and doubt.  For each answer “true or false.”   I’ll give my answer and then explain why.

 Faith is the Absence of Doubt  T or F? 

Answer:  (FALSE)

They can coexist together.  You can have a strong faith and still have some doubts.  You can be heaven bound and express uncertainty over certain theological positions. You can be a fully devoted follower of Christ without having to feel as if every single issue of life has to be totally, completely and absolutely settled.

It’s been said that struggling with God over the issues of life doesn’t show a lack of faith. It is faith. If you go to the Psalms in the Bible, you see over and over again how faith is expressed among people.

David –the author of Psalms, this man of faith  — wrestled with great questions, great issues and even doubts. Doubts don’t necessarily mean that you don’t have faith.

I love the response of this man to Jesus. He had doubt and faith at the same time!

If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s fathers exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24

 Faith is a choice we must make without having all the complete information we’d like to have.”   Lee Strobel

 Truth:  Unbelief is the absence of faith.

 Unbelief is a willful refusal to believe or a deliberate decision you make to deny God

 

  1. Doubt is Unforgivable    T or F

 Answer:  (FALSE)

Second, some people think that doubt is unforgivable. It’s not. When we question him, God doesn’t condemn us. In fact, you can see this in Luke 7, which describes when John the Baptist was in prison and how he came down with the virus of doubt. He had questions about the identity of Jesus. Luke 7:18-19 says, “And summoning two of his disciples, John the Baptist sent them to Jesus to ask, ‘Are you the expected one, or do we look for someone else?'”

Think about this for a second. This is John the Baptist who has doubts. This is the same guy who once pointed to Jesus and said with great confidence, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

This is John the Baptist who baptized Jesus, saw the heavens open up and heard a voice from above say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” This is John the Baptist who once pointed to Jesus and again said with great confidence, “I have seen and born witness that this” — Jesus — “is the Son of God.”

Now he is in prison and has some doubts. Now he is not so sure. Is Jesus the Messiah or not? He dispatches his friends to find out. How does Jesus react to this? He doesn’t shame, attack, criticize or slam-dunk John.

This is what happens. Jesus answered in Luke 7:22 and said to the friends of John,

Jesus response to doubters (his closest followers):

(John the Baptist) “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.” Luke 7:22

Instead of slam-dunking John, Jesus in other words tells John’s friends, “Go and inform him of these things you have seen with your very own eyes. That will confirm to John that I am indeed who I claim to be, and it will bolster John’s faith.”

How do you think this affects Jesus’ opinion of John? Now that he knows John has been harboring these secret doubts, how do you think that affects the way Jesus considers John as being useful for kingdom work?

What Jesus says in Luke 7:28 is very interesting. Jesus says, “I say to you, among those born of women” — that’s pretty much everybody — “there is no one greater than John.”

Isn’t that amazing? Right in the midst of this bout of doubt that John is experiencing, Jesus gives John the ultimate compliment he could give — “There is no one born who is greater than John.”

In the middle of your doubts, concerns and questions, the truth of the matter is that God will not slam-dunk you, either.

Two other examples are with Peter and Thomas:  (These are guys who have seen and experienced a lot more of Jesus than we have and still had doubts!)

(Peter) “Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, (Peter) you of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”  Matthew 14:31

(Thomas) “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.” John 20:27

“The shame is not that people have doubts, but that they are ashamed of them.”  Os Guinness

Truth:  God would rather have an honest relationship with you where you feel the freedom to communicate your feelings, questions and concerns.

 

  1. Doubt is Unhealthy        T or F ?  

Answer:  (FALSE)

If you work toward resolving it, it isn’t always. When you do that, often doubt can produce some very positive side effects. It’s like getting an immunization. To help your body fight off a future disease, doctors inject you with a small amount of that very same disease. Your body builds up antibodies to battle off that disease if it ever threatens your body. Your body is actually stronger and healthier for having had the experience of the immunization.

It’s similar with doubt. When we’re infected with a bit of doubt and act upon it by seeking answers to questions and wrestling through them with God, we can emerge even stronger in our faith. Our faith has been confirmed once more. We have a new confidence in dealing with doubt in the future, because we’ve worked it through in the present.

People are often afraid to lead Bible studies because of the questions people may ask.  Well that’s how you learn.  I will often research questions raised.  It confirmed to me once more that there is evidence pointing convincingly to God as being real, toward Jesus as being who he claimed to be and toward the bible as being true.

When questions come up today, I am better equipped to handle them and less likely to let questions generate doubt inside me. My faith is healthier and stronger than it was before that experience of having a bout of doubt.

In James it says our faith is tested and it brings perseverance which makes us complete.

The testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-5

When you’re feeling dizzy and disoriented because you have come down with doubt, remember that this may actually help you create a heartier, more resilient, deeper and more-enduring faith than before.

There is a book called The Gift of Doubt. Its author, Gary Parker, put it this way. I love this. He said,

“If faith never encounters doubt, if truth never struggles with error, if good never battles with evil, how can faith know its own power?  In my own pilgrimage, if I have to choose between a faith that has stared doubt in the eye and made it blink, or a naïve faith that has never known the firing line of doubt, I will choose the former every time.”  Gary Parker

 Truth:  Doubt can lead to a stronger and healthier faith than before.

  

  1. Faith and Feelings are the Same T or F ?

Answer:  (FALSE)

 If I asked, “Do you believe God loves you?”  On a really good day, it might be easy for you to believe that this statement.  But on a really bad day, maybe you haven’t thought about God much, maybe your self-esteem has taken a punch…it’s tougher to believe it’s true.  But, whether you are feeling good that day, that week, that month, or that year…the fact remains…

Some people only come to church when it is sunny outside, some people only come when they feel like it, or they feel like them and God are OK.  Some people only come to church when everything is going right in their lives.  When things are going bad, they don’t go.  They feel perhaps it is emotionally dishonest.  Let me tell you we are all emotionally dishonest at time.  For instance,

If you have kids, let me ask you a question…Do you love them?  When they were infants and at 2 o’clock in the morning they wake you up screaming and crying and you have to go in there, change their stinky diaper, give them a bottle and rock them to sleep…do you still love them?  Absolutely!  Your feelings for them at that moment may not be all that great, but your love for them is still real.  You may feel emotionally dishonest or confused, it because feelings are so up and down, we cannot base life on feelings.  Let me say that again, you cannot base life on feelings.

Your faith is the same, your feelings don’t determine how much or how little you believe.  Your faith is grounded in the promises of God found in the Bible, not your feelings on any given day.

“Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.”  Hebrews 4:14

As Hebrews says we have to hold firmly to our faith even when its not convenient, or we don’t feel like it.

“Some people equate faith with a perpetual religious high.  When that high wears off, as it inevitable does, they start to doubt if they have any faith at all” Lynn Anderson

Truth:  Faith is choice, like love and at times must act contrary to feelings.

 I have discovered that without doubt, real, authentic faith isn’t possible.  If you have doubts, I want to say, “Don’t ignore them, but explore them.  Don’t put up smokescreens, but be an honest genuine seeker.”  Take the steps necessary to develop your faith journey.   In the next post we will look at ways to overcome doubt.

Darrell

http://www.Ridgefellowship.com

Sources: 

Lynn Anderson.  “If I Really Believe, Why do I Have These Doubts?” 2d Edition. West Monroe, La.: Howard, 2000.

Os Guinness.  “In Two Minds.”  Downers Grove, Ill.:  Intervarsity Press, 1976.

Gary Parker.  “The Gift of Doubt.”  San Francisco:  Harper & Row, 1990.

Lee Strobel, “The Case for Faith.”  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000.

About dkoop

Lead Pastor of The Ridge Fellowship: Leander, Jarrell & Taylor, TX
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