God said it, I believe it. That settles it.
I’ve seen this on many bumper stickers and I love the message it conveys. It challenges me to find opportunities to test my faith. No, I don’t mean playing with snakes or not taking medicine when I need it. That’s testing God Himself and there’s a big difference. I mean, I’d like to be the kind of believer that more often displays a strong, simple faith in God’s Word.
I know and admire people who have this kind of faith. They don’t get caught up with all the questions and human thoughts of doubt around them. Some may think this is naïve, but those with strong faith are usually the ones that show a calm resolve, even in the midst of direct opposition.
Then there are others (like me), who can be more guarded and skeptical. They approach faith needing to look at all the angles and need answers to all the questions they have. They read apologetics, thinking through their doubt and analyze everything before they believe.
Which leads me to the question: Is it okay for a Christian to doubt?
Sometimes Doubt Can Grow Our Faith
From my own study and experience, I’d have to say that some doubt can be used as a catalyst to grow our faith. Do you doubt your salvation? God may be prompting you to examine yourself to see if you really are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:15). A good healthy dose of self-examination is essential not only to hold a person’s life up to that all-important litmus test, but also to bring to light any area we may lack in our growth.
The good news is that if our lives show the evidence of salvation (read 1 John – a book I will talk about in the next blog), we can rest assured that our salvation is secure. We don’t need to worry that we will ever lose it. In fact, God will preserve faithful believers without blame for the day of his coming. They are destined to receive a crown of life. (Jude 24).
Additionally, if taken with the right attitude doubt can intrigue us to delve into scripture. As I alluded to earlier, I went through this myself at one point in my life. I saw the many passages in the Bible that seem to contradict each other. I heard the murmur of other religions. I stood unstable with all the questions in my mind….not an easy place to be, no doubt! (no pun intended). So, prayerfully and methodically, I studied the contradictions and questions. I found that through the Holy Spirit and the use of Bible aids and study tools that many of them made sense after all.
God can take a long journey of faith and use it to reach others. He did that with authors such as Josh McDowell, who first set out to disprove the Christian faith but instead converted when he found evidence in its favor. He wrote “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, which continues to be one of the bestselling Christian book of apologetics.
Others, such as Lee Strobel, a self-proclaimed former atheist and journalist, began to investigate Biblical claims in order to disprove them. His investigation lead him straight to Christ instead. His book, “The Case for Christ”, details his experience from beginning to end.
(Both of these books are packed with a wealth of information about the credibility of the Christian faith, and I highly recommend them)
Sometimes Doubt Can be a Stumbling Block
On the other hand, it is when we allow human reason to overshadow God’s command that doubt becomes a stumbling block.
There are lots of examples of this in the Bible. Take Eve, for instance. Satan used doubt as a tool to lack any confidence in God’s command. Her heart was swayed towards being easily convinced. Then there’s Zachariah. He was told that he and Elizabeth would have a baby, even in his old age. When he questioned God, he was struck with an inability to talk until the baby (John the Baptist), was born.
However, the most famous cynic has to be Thomas, the disciple. He refused to believe that Jesus rose from the dead until he could see him and touch the scars on his hands and side. Instead of cricizing him, Jesus was gracious enough to meet him where he was spiritually. After Jesus showed him his scars, Thomas instantly believed. What did Jesus say to Thomas? “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed”. (John 20:29)
I don’t think that Jesus was advocating a faith entirely without evidence or apologetics (he invited Thomas to touch his nail print), but was blessing a faith that doesn’t need to question who He is.
Our Heart Condition
It comes down to the condition of our hearts when it comes to doubt. God knows whether we are asking in genuine sincerity or not. If you are dead-set on throwing road blocks at any rational biblical discussion, then no amount of reasoning will sway you. Atheists do this all the time, and I grieve at not only their blindness, but also at their refusal to see. However, if you have a sincere heart, like the centurion who cried, “I believe, help thou my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24), then He will be sure to s sure to nurture your faith to grow.
John Montgomery Boice summed it up well:
“If you have honest, intellectual questions about Christianity, God will provide intellectual answers for them. He gave you a mind as well as a heart. He will provide what you need. But the thing that will ultimately win you is not so much the reasoned arguments, though they are often important stepping stones, but the love of Christ demonstrated by his death for you.” (Boice’s Expositional Commentary on John, Vol. 5, P. 1610).
What do you believe may be an area of struggle for most Christians? Have you ever come through or are going through a period of doubt? Would love to hear from you. 🙂
(previously posted on www.ministryinwords.wordpress.com)