Moving From Doubt to Faith
February 1, 2006 - "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV). When we face life's problems, we can find guidance and comfort through God's Word. This new series, "The Bible Says ...," explores issues of vital interest to those who follow Christ.
by Ross Rhoads
Why do we question what we hear and second-guess what we experience? Why do Christians doubt, when doubt is the opposite of faith?
Jesus' disciple Thomas was a doubter. The Lord Jesus had risen from the dead; the disciples told Thomas they had seen Him, but Thomas refused to accept it. The week following the risen Lord's appearances must have been disturbing for Thomas. Doubt often brings restlessness and introspection. Why would his friends lie? They had seen the risen Christ; it made no sense for them to fabricate such a story, but Thomas said, "Unless I see ... I will not believe" (John 20:25, NIV).
Doubters insist on further evidence, claiming that trust will then follow. When Jesus appeared to the disciples a week after His death and confronted Thomas, Thomas exceeded all the confessions about Jesus in the Gospels. Judas only referred to Jesus as "Sir." Peter called Him "the Christ." But Thomas called Him, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28, NIV). Doubt dissolved into true worship.
The removal of doubt comes by the presence of truth. The religious leaders' condemnation of Jesus was a result of their willful rejection of His word and works. Jesus' words were without contradiction and His works were the proof of His divine power. But resentment, jealousy and hatred only stiffened their unbelief.
The end result of doubt is the rejection of truth. The Bible teaches this principle: Truth believed increases truth received. Truth rejected decreases the further offer of truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
God's invisible qualities—His power and divine nature—as well as the scriptural evidences for His existence, invite faith. "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1, NIV). The knowledge of God reverberates in the heart of every human being. Therefore, the human race is without excuse (Romans 1:20). Doubt that denies the obvious lacks reason, as well as faith.
But doubt does not always indicate a lack of faith. Even the Virgin Mary, when told she would give birth to the "Son of the Highest," questioned, "How can this be?" (Luke 1:32, 34, NKJV). When a storm came up while Jesus and the disciples were at sea, they cried out to Him in fear, for He was asleep. Awaking, Jesus said to them, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25, NIV). It was natural for them to be terrified. But the Lord was with them, as He is with us in all the storms of life.
Any questions about the imponderables of life are resolved by humble trust in God's perfect will—and prayer is the first step toward solid faith in Him. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5, NIV).
Doubt can never be offset simply by reasoning, persuasions or sufficient evidences. Evidence supports faith but does not cause it. Faith is both a gift of God and the willing acceptance of the truth (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 10:10). The awesome beauty of God's goodness is that His creatures are free to doubt and disbelieve—but "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).
How Does This Apply to Me?
When you experience times of doubt and unanswered questions weaken your faith, turn to the Word of God for reassurance. "Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4, NIV). Taking hold of these Scriptures and weaving them into your prayers is the first step toward a confident faith.
- Do you doubt that the Lord Jesus rules over all? Christ is "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the age to come" (Ephesians 1:21, NIV).
- Do you doubt God's presence in times of trouble and uncertainty? He will be with you in trouble and will never leave you or forsake you (Psalm 91:15; Hebrews 13:5).
- Do you have doubts arising from self-condemnation or insecurity? "And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things" (1 John 3:19-20, NKJV).
- Do you doubt God's protection? "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. ... As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore" (Psalm 125:1,2 NIV).
- Do you have doubts about what happens when you die? "The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, NIV).