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Dealing With Doubt

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(1/16) Truth Project Website- to register Debbie and I and on the site was this logo that asked this question, "Do you really believe that what you really believe is really real?" Thatís a good question.

In our current series, Things Christians Want to Know, we are considering the second question, "Is all of this really real?" Billy Graham once said, and I agree, that all of us have a tendency to doubt from time to time. A lot of that doubt has its origin in our adversary the Devil. We will come back to that in a moment. For the last two hundred years, (more or less), man has seriously questioned the reality of God and therefore the Promises and Word of God. Think about it for a moment, we are asked to believe in a God that we have never seen, and in the works of a man who was God in the flesh that we also have not seen and that occurred approximately 2000 years ago. We are asked to place and base our life and actions in a book that many love to hate and many question and challenge. We are asked to believe that there is just one way to know this God and that that there is an eternity after this life that we have never seen but are asked to prepare for. We are asked to trust that no matter what happens to us, God is intending to accomplish a good purpose. Sometimes, because of events that occur in our lives we doubt, or we get skeptical about the reality of our faith. Sometimes, doubt is the expression of our anger, or disappointment.

What does it mean to doubt? Primarily, doubt is the loss of confidence or trust in the Person, Power, Promises or Purposes of God. Sometimes it is the same as disbelief. Think again, of the things we can and perhaps have doubted in one way or another.

ē Godís Very Existence. I have been going through a tough time therefore either there is no God or He doesnít care about me.

ē Our Salvation. Am I really forgiven? And is Heaven really my home? Am I really secure in my relationship with God?

ē Godís Promises. Will He really meet my needs? Will He really be here when I need Him? Will He really give me peace and forgiveness?

ē Godís Power. God can not fix this. God expects us to help ourselves. This is too big for God. It will never change. This situation is impossible.

ē Godís Willingness to Answer Prayer. He hasnít yet, therefore he wonít. I donít think He wants to. He doesnít really care about me.

ē Godís Way. With so many people and so many religions, how can we say or know which one is the right way?

There may be more areas, but I think you know what I am talking about. Ever been there? Are you there now? Well, you arenít alone. Think of some famous doubters

ē John the Baptist must have doubted that Jesus was the Promised Messiah in Matthew 11.

ē Peter definitely doubted in Matthew 14:31

ē In Matthew 28:17 some disciples doubted that Jesus was alive

ē In John 20:24 Thomas definitely doubted that someone He watched die by crucifixion and buried could be alive.

ē Luke 24:37-38, Jesus asked, "ÖWhy do doubts arise in your hearts?"

ē James 1:5ff, Jamesí readers were people who didnít really believe that God would answer their prayers.

ē The Books of Exodus and Numbers reveal to us that the Israelites were doubters. They doubted that God had their best in mind. They doubted that God would take care of them. They doubted that they could defeat their enemies in the Promised Land. When Moses went up the mountain to met God and get the law, they doubted that he would come down and so they made the golden calf so they could have a visible representation of God like the people in Egypt and Canaan had.

ē Zacharias doubted in Luke 1 that he and Elizabeth would have a baby.

ē I think that Sarah doubted God in Genesis 18 when she laughed at Godís announcement that the time to conceive had arrived when she was 89 and Abraham was 99.

For Most of Us, if we are honest, there are Reasons that lead to our Doubts. I would like to share several with you. Maybe these arenít complete, but you should see that there are things that lead to our skepticism. Satan usually has his hand in them. Letís list some. I doubt because:

1. I have been hurt or disappointed with life. God must not be real or He must not care about or love me because my spouse has left me, divorced me, or doesnít express love to me. Someone I love died and God could have stopped that if he is real or cared about me. A Christian brother or sister has betrayed me. My business has gone south. I have lost my job. My children have gone wayward. An accident or illness has completely changed my life. Iíve been the victim of a crime. You get the idea. We say, "Where is God," or "Where is the good that pastor spoke about?" Hurts and disappointments are reasons that lead us to doubt.

2. Indifference to God can lead to doubt. That is, if we donít spend time with other believers, spend time praying, spend time studying Godís word, and then making the effort to intentionally obey Godís word, we can doubt the necessity and reality of God and His word.

3. Known sin our Life. Sometimes, we who are believers do what we know is wrong and then the guilt overtakes us and we then doubt that God can or wants to forgive us or we doubt if we are really saved and part of Godís family. This is a topic we will deal with in a few weeks.

4. Satanic assaults on your mind, especially if you are not reading, praying, fellowshipping and obeying Godís word. How do you know your way is the right way or the only way? How do you know that this book is Godís word? How do you know it is complete and without error? How do you know that what it says is what it really means? (cp. 2 Cor. 11:3 This is exactly what he did with Eve) As 2 Corinthians 11 points out, Satan uses some crafty orators to give us some convincing arguments that are contrary to what we have been taught to believe and so we wonder are we right and how do I know for sure.

5. I compare the Biblical with the logical and sometimes the Biblical seems unbelievable and therefore doubtful. We can whoop Giants? We just have to trust and obey and we will never hunger or fear? I can have a baby after I have been through menopause? A brutally beaten and executed man is alive? If I give a tithe of my income God will take care of my needs? I can raise money for a mission trip just by asking and praying? I can build a church building by faith and not by pledges and bonds and fund raisers? I can move mountains just by praying and trusting God? We can establish a budget by faith? Inconceivable! After all, doesnít God help those who help themselves? (No)

6. Just one more. Unanswered prayer leads us to doubt. I have prayed and begged God for the salvation of my loved one, or the restoration of my loved one but He hasnít. I have begged God to change my situation but He hasnít. I begged God to heal my loved one but he hasnít. I begged God to make this work or business be successful but it hasnít been. Therefore, my conclusion is that either this isnít real or He doesnít care about me. It just doesnít work.

Now the opposite of Doubt is Faith and Hope. It is confidence in the Person, Power, Purposes, and Promises of the God of History. (Repeat) Though we do not have the time today to go deep, I want to remind you of some facts. You see, our faith is not in faith. Do you understand that? We are not to blindly believe in God. Unlike Mormonism, Islam, or any other religion, our faith is firmly grounded in verifiable facts. It is like Luke said in Acts 1:3, we have, "Ömany infallible proofs."

1. Quickly consider God. You have just two choices and you believe at least one and everyone does believe one of these two. You must believe in either God or Gas. One of these is eternal and responsible for your presence. (Consider Creation, Covenants, Christ, Conscience, Conflict, Changed Lives.)

2. This God has revealed himself in nature and in writing. (Ps. 19:1 and Romans 1:19ff)

3. The Bible, (not the Koran, or any other religious writing), is the most loved, hated, feared, criticized, analyzed, scrutinized, ridiculed, and awesome book in the world. Its History, Archeology, Geography, Science, Prophecy, and facts are 100% accurate. 66 books and letters written over 1400 years by over 40 people in 3 different languages let there is just one theme and perfect harmony. And it is the only book that can boast such things. It is a supernatural book and it is Godís Revelation of himself to us.

4. There was a real man, named Jesus of Nazareth, who is written about outside of the Bible by people of the first century and He really did die on a cross and he really was buried and there really is an empty tomb. And when you add it all together it is all true and can be trusted.

So, when you doubt let me remind you of some things that I hope will lift you out of your doubt and perhaps out of your despair. Are you ready?

1. Look up and remember there is a God and there are four things about God that should give you hope. (Hebrews 6:13-20)

a. He Doesnít Lie. Lying is a sin and against His nature and He canít do it. His very nature is truth. So even if I donít understand things now, I know he doesnít lie and Iíll understand it, as the Old song says, "O by and by." If He said it, I can believe it. It is true and will happen just as He said. I can trust His word. When the disciples doubted in Luke 24, thought they had seen a ghost, He ate with them and then opened the Scriptures and showed them that The Bible says and God doesnít lie.

b. We Donít Lose. It may seem like it for a while, but it is temporary. We must remember that our lives are not confined to these years between the cradle and the grave. We are destined for much more and for eternity. (2 Cor. 4:15-5:1) Solomon wrote these words and we need to remember and sing them often, "He makes all things beautiful in His time." His over all plan and purpose is for your good and His glory.

c. He Never Leaves. Proverbs 18:24 says he sticks closer than a brother and His promise is that He will never leave us or forsake us. He told us, He would be with us always even to the end of all time. (Matt. 28:20)

d. He Never Stops Loving. No matter what you experience God will never stop loving you (Romans 8:35-39, [look at this]).

2. Look Back and Remember that the God of History is the God of your Hope. When John had doubts, our Lord said to remind Him of what they had seen and let that encourage him to not doubt. What has God done in your past or in the past of people you know? The God of Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Luther, Wesley, Graham, and your grandparents is the same God whom loves you. The God who provided for the mission team is the same God who will build a building. He was with them and He is with you.

3. Look Ahead and Remember that our Hope isnít centered on this world, it is centered on Being with Jesus. There is a curse on this world that will be here until Jesus returns. Our hope was never intended to be for this life because this life is temporary. God is moving time to the end that we will be rescued and be with Him and there will be no curse or any effects of it (Rev.21-22), and we will see His face and behold His glory, and be with the ransomed of all time. He is working to bring many people to glory and you are one of them. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Itís time to react. Probably for many of you, this is a time to repent.

To repent for the sins that have led me to doubt.

To repent of the complacency that has opened the door to doubt.

To repent of the self-centeredness that has led to doubt.

To repent of the worldly ways that have led me to doubt.

Time to say, Iím sorry for responding with my anger or out of my frustration or disappointment. I do believe you love me and have graced me with forgiveness and eternal life. You do care and you have a plan and a purpose even when I donít understand.

Itís time to say to your Father, I will trust and obey and believe no matter what. Read Hebrews 11:6.

It is time for some of you, to repent of your unbelief, and to place your faith and trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Itís Time, Now!

If this article has spoken to your heart, would you write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com and let me know or if you have any questions about following Jesus, I would be glad to try to answer them for you. May God bless you as you seek to do His will.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman