Is it wrong to have doubts? The Bible has a lot to say about this. Robert reveals the truth about this common problem of the heart.
ROBERT >> Do you ever have doubts? I mean, do you really know that God exists, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Have you ever doubted that the Bible is the word of God? Have you ever questioned your own salvation? Are you really saved? Does God really answer prayer? And why does God allow suffering in this world? Why are these things happening to me? Can we have faith and still have doubts?
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> What can we do to turn our doubts into faith?
You see, doubt is a feeling that comes when we’re not sure about what we believe. It’s evidence of some faith, and struggling with faith is a sure sign that we truly have faith. If we never struggle, our faith will never grow.
God doesn’t condemn us when we question him. Both Job and David repeatedly questioned God, but they were not condemned, because God is big enough to handle all our doubts and all our questions.
So let me talk to you this morning a little bit about turning doubt into faith, and give us some practical things that will help us to grow in our faith and remove the doubts from our hearts.
First of all, we must admit our doubts, and we need to ask for help. There’s a number of examples of that in the scripture, beginning with John the Baptizer in Matthew chapter 11. You might remember at this time that John has been arrested, he’d been thrown into prison because of his preaching. And it was there that we see some doubt, some question in the mind of John the Baptizer concerning Jesus, who he was, and why he had come. And you’ll notice here in Matthew 11:2, When John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said to Him, “Are you the coming One, or do we look for another?”
And Jesus answered and said to them, Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.
You see, John had some questions, and so he sent his disciples to Jesus, and Jesus answered those questions. His faith was confirmed. He could now know that Jesus was indeed the Christ. In spite of John’s questions, his doubt from prison, still we see that Jesus understood that John was a man of great faith. And look what he said him in this same chapter, in Matthew 11:11. “ Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
So whenever we have questions or doubts, let’s go to God for help. Let’s try to find the answers to our questions so we can remove those doubts from our hearts. Look at another example with me in Matthew 14:22-33, where the disciples of Jesus were out on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus walked out to them, walked out to them on the water. And you remember what he said to them?
Here it says in Matthew 14:29, So He said, “Come. And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus; but when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me! And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
See, doubt is just another symptom of little faith. We doubt because of a lack of faith in our heart. But you’ll notice Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat and to walk to Jesus. It was only in the storm that he began to have doubts. And that’s what caused him to sink. But Jesus was there to immediately raise him up. We need to admit our doubts when times are rough, when times are difficult, and we need to ask for help, just like Peter, when Peter cried out to the Lord, Lord, save me, so that our faith might be strengthened.
Look in Mark 9:14-29. In Mark chapter 9 we read about a boy that had a great demon. And the disciples of Jesus could not cast the demon out of this boy. And so the father brings the boy to Jesus. And Jesus asked him in verse 21, “So He asked his Father, How long has this been happening to him?
And he said, From childhood. And often he has thrown him into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
You notice here in this passage that this man had faith, faith enough to bring his child to the disciples of Jesus and then to Jesus himself for healing, for help. But when he cried out to Jesus for help, he also indicated he had some doubt. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. We need to be as honest about our doubts as was this man. But don’t let that keep us from asking the Lord for help so that our faith, like this man’s faith will increase.
Look in Luke 17:5-6. On this occasion, there were many there that had doubted. Even the disciples of Jesus had doubt in their hearts. But look at the words of Jesus here and what he said to them that day. And the apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith. And so the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you.”
The words of Jesus encourage us to put our faith and our trust in him. He helps us to know that his resources are unlimited, that he can do things that we cannot even imagine, that seem impossible to us.
And one other passage I want us to look at is John 20:24-29. After the death of Jesus, he was raised, and he appeared to his apostles; but you remember one of the apostles was not there, and that was Thomas. It wasn’t until the next Sunday that Jesus once again came to the place where the apostles had gathered so that he could show himself to Thomas. And I want you to see how that Thomas’ doubt, Thomas’ unbelief was turned into faith. Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the Lord. And so he said to them, “Lest I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace to you! Then He said to Thomas, Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God! And Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
You see, Thomas doubted. Thomas had questions about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But he turned to the Lord, and the Lord showed him, the Lord helped him to go from unbelieving to believing. And God can do the same thing for us. God’s not fragile. He can handle our doubts. He can handle your fears, your worries, and all your unanswered questions. He’s a big God. He runs the universe without any help, and your doubts won’t upset him.
So tell him your doubts, and cry out and ask for his help. Now there’s something else here that I think would help us with our doubts and questions. And that’s this: Don’t be afraid to borrow some faith. What I mean by that is that we need to look to others to help us to increase our faith.
Look with me in Luke 22:31-34, where Jesus is speaking with Simon Peter, who he knew would soon deny him because of a lack of faith. But Jesus wanted to strengthen him here and help him to grow in his faith. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. But he said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death. And then He said, I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
Peter certainly had faith. He had been walking with the Lord for several years now. He was ready to die for him, he said. But you and I know that his faith failed him when the people began to ask if he was one of the disciples of Jesus. Jesus knew that was going to happen, and so he encouraged him here, that his faith would be restored and that he in fact could be a help to others who might have doubts in the future. He could strengthen his brethren. We all need to strengthen one another in the faith. I see that this was a part of the work of Paul and Barnabas in Acts the 14th chapter. As they went about preaching the gospel and establishing churches, they would come back to strengthen those very ones in whom they had planted the faith of God.
Look in Acts 14:21-22. And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.
I remember talking to someone who was going through some very painful experiences. He told me he was losing his faith. And I said, that’s okay, I’ve got plenty. You can borrow some of mine. I think it helped him. And it didn’t hurt me to lend some of my faith.
Don’t fight the battle alone. Go to a Christian, go to a Christian friend, an elder, a preacher, a deacon, anyone with a strong faith and godly insight, and ask them to walk with you as you face your doubts honestly before God.
Here’s a third thing. Act on your faith, not your doubts. We read about some great men and women of faith in Hebrews the 11th chapter. Many of you are probably familiar with the wonderful faith of men like Abel and Abraham and Noah, his wife Sarah, the faith of Israel. And I just want to look at a couple of those examples to help us to see what I mean when I say act on your faith and not your doubts.
Here in Hebrews chapter 11, do you remember Noah, how that God commissioned him to build the ark in a time when the world was full of wickedness, and God was going to destroy that old world? But he commanded Noah to build an ark to save them from that great flood.
The scripture says in Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Now, that’s what Noah did when he built the ark. He acted on his faith, not on his doubts. Surely he had some questions. Surely he didn’t know what all this was about. But he believed what God said, and he acted on that faith in spite of whatever questions or doubts he may have had. And that’s what Abraham did.
You look down a little bit further in verse 8, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
He didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t understand what all was going to happen. He may have had lots of questions and some doubts in his heart, but by faith he obeyed the Lord. He did what God told him to do. He acted on his faith, not on his doubts. That’s what Abraham did when he offered Isaac.
Can you imagine what must have been running through his mind?
But God asked him to offer his only son.
We read about this as we look on down in verse 17. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, And Isaac your seed shall be called, concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
Well, if you know the story, he didn’t actually offer Isaac, because the angel stopped him. But he was trying to find a way to understand what God was asking him to do. He thought that maybe God would raise him up, and that’s how he would do it. There were questions in his heart, but he went ahead and acted on his faith, offering his only son.
That’s what Moses did when he marched through the Red Sea on dry ground with Israel.
Look here in Hebrews 11:29. “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.”
Oh, I’m sure Moses and Israel were wondering, How in the world are we going to get through the Red Sea?
How is God going to hold the waters back?
What’s going to happen to the Egyptians who follow us after that?
But they acted on faith. Moses led the children through the dry ground of the Red Sea safely to the other side. They acted on faith, not on their doubts. And we could go on and on. That’s what David did when he faced Goliath.
Can you imagine standing before that great giant?
David acted on his faith, not on his doubts. That’s what Joshua did when he marched around Jericho.
Lord, you want us to march around the city seven times, and the walls are going to come down?
Surely he had questions. How? Why?
What is this all about?
But Joshua acted on his faith and not on his doubts, and the walls fell down flat. That’s what Daniel did when he was thrown into the lions’ den. I’m sure he didn’t understand all these terrible things were happening to him just because he was trying to be obedient to God; but he acted on his faith, not on his doubts. And that’s what Nehemiah did when he built the wall of Jerusalem.
Oh, it must have been a discouraging time for Nehemiah to come from Babylon back to Jerusalem and see the ruins of that place, had been destroyed some 70 years before. But Nehemiah acted on his faith. He led the people to rebuild the walls of that place.
Don’t you think that all these great heroes of the faith had their doubts?
Of course they did. They didn’t know in advance everything how everything was going to come out, but they took a deep breath, they decided to trust God, they acted on their faith and not on their doubts.
You and I can do the same thing; and when we do, our faith will continue to grow stronger.
Let me give you a fourth thing today. Doubt your doubts, not your faith. This simply means that you should not cast away your faith simply because you’re in a situation or circumstance that causes you to doubt.
Look at Psalm 23:4. I’m sure all of you are familiar with this great passage, a passage that brings so much comfort, usually read in a funeral service to encourage those who are having to deal with death. But it’s talking about any dark or difficult time in our life. Here’s what the Psalmist wrote: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
You see, even in the deep valley of darkness where there might be some doubts and some questions, don’t cast away your faith. Doubt your doubts, not your faith.
All of us walk into that valley, don’t we, from time to time?
I think some of us spend a great deal of time there. When you find yourself in that valley, when everything seems uncertain and you’re tempted to give in to your doubts and your fears and your worries, you remember these two words: Walk through.
Walk through. Just keep walking. Nothing is gained by camping out in the valley of darkness. And the only way out is to keep on walking. Every step forward is a way to doubt your doubts. And soon enough, the light will shine again. So walk in your faith. Doubt your doubts, not your faith.
I want you to notice this other passage in the Psalms that has brought so much comfort and help to people of God.
In Psalm 46 the Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; and therefore we will not fear.”
God’s our refuge. He’s our strength. A very present help in trouble.
We need to know that when we’re in trouble, God is right there with us, and we can trust in him. So again, doubt your doubts, but not your faith.
The Psalmist went on to say here in Psalm 46:10,” Be still, and know that I am God.”
There is another point that I think we need to emphasize today. Keep going back to what you know to be true. That’s what the psalmist was just telling us. You be still. You be calm. Don’t let these doubts and questions upset you, because there are things that you know to be true. Keep going back to those things.
Romans 8:31-39 I think will help us as we think about this idea of doubting our doubts and going back to the things that we know that are true. And perhaps this is the most important point.
The apostle Paul, after considering all the sufferings of life and the dangers and the tribulations of following Jesus Christ, look how he concludes this chapter in Romans 8. He declares, “For I am persuaded, verse 38, I’m persuaded. Let’s read the whole passage.” Romans 8:31-39,
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul said I am persuaded that nothing in all of this universe could separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:12, he says,” I know whom I have believed.”
I don’t have it all figured out, folks, but some things I know. God is good, and Jesus is Lord, and the Bible is true, and life is short, and people matter more than things. This world is not my home, and even hard times are meant for my benefit. The core of my faith is an unshakable belief in the sovereignty of God. He’s God, and I’m not. He’s sovereign over all the details of my life, and I can trust him completely, even when those details seem to be spinning out of control. When doubt tries to enter your heart, you keep going back to what you know.
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior today?
Let us know how we can help you towards heaven.
SINGING>> Pierce my ear, O Lord, my God,
take me to your door this day.
I will serve no other god.
Lord, I’m here to stay.
For you have paid the price for me,
with your blood you ransomed me.
Now I will serve you eternally.
A free man I’ll never be.
So pierce my ear, O Lord, my God.
Take me to your door this day.
I will serve no other god.
Lord, I’m here to stay.
Lord, I’m here to stay.
SINGING>> Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
much we need thy tenderest care.
In thy pleasant pastures feed us,
for our use thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, thine we are.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, thine we are.
Early let us seek thy favor,
early let us do thy will.
Blessed Lord and only Savior,
with thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast loved us, love us still
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast loved us, love us still.
ROBERT >> Thanks for watching the program today. We’d love to hear from you, so let me encourage you to contact us with your questions, comments, or requests at The Truth In Love, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.
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SISNGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul, from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in.
Above thee watching,
he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth,
yea for evermore.