Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | February 3, 2014

God Can Handle Our Doubts

Sometimes we perceive doubt in fellow believers as something we must immediately eradicate, or that it should only be indicative of those outside the faith. In certain Christian circles, there is an inordinate amount of time spent emphasizing the importance of walking in awe-inspiring, even perfect faith. If someone doesn’t have an experience that others think they should have, it’s quite common for it to be chalked up to a “lack of faith.”

After all, the disciples and those we read about in the Old Testament were super-saints who never doubted…

Well, some of you may already know where I’m going with this. Think of Gideon… one of the most doubtful and fearful men in the Old Testament, yet God worked with him and still used him mightily, even in the midst of his doubts. Even Abraham, when told by God that Sarah would have a son in her old age, actually laughed concerning the audacity of such an idea. Although the book of Hebrews says that Abraham “never wavered but was strong in faith” concerning the matter, it’s clear from the Old Testament account that both Abraham and Sarah did doubt initially. Then there was “doubting Thomas,” the disciple of Jesus who said he would never believe in the risen Christ unless he placed his hands inside Christ’s wounds. Yet Jesus still revealed Himself to Thomas out of His great love for him, allowing him to indeed place his hands on His wounds. When Christ taught about some things concerning the Kingdom of God, his very disciples exclaimed, “Increase our faith!” Paul, when arriving in Macedonia, spoke of experiencing fears within.

The reason I am bringing up these examples is to show that one does not have to walk in “perfect faith” to have a relationship with God, walk with God, experience God or be used by God. Even Jesus taught that if you have faith “as a mustard seed,” miracles can happen.

I had a recent discussion with someone I know who was coming alongside a new believer to help him in his spiritual journey. He explained how he was taking this gentleman through the Old Testament and was becoming increasingly frustrated with the gentleman’s “lack of faith.” This new believer in Christ had believed the good news of the gospel; that Jesus died for his sins, rose again, and that through faith in Him was eternal salvation. Yet he was not able to believe the Old Covenant account of the sun standing still for a day along with a few other Old Covenant items. I listened as this person shared how he started to question the man as to his lack of faith, why he couldn’t believe it, that if he didn’t believe everything in the Bible, then how does he know any of it is true….but to no avail.

People are at different maturity levels and different places in their journey; that’s OK. For this new gentleman, if he believes that Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead on his behalf, that through faith in Him one is saved, that God is present within the Body of Christ to lead us in repentance and transform us, then praise God; let’s rejoice in that! Why he cannot right now receive the account of the sun standing still for a day is not for us to judge; it is what it is. It’s Jesus Christ and His finished work that is supposed to have preeminence in a believer’s life anyway… everything else flows from this. Believing every Old Testament account of things is not a prerequisite for saving faith in Christ, being born again and walking by the Spirit.

As a general principle, I think it’s beneficial for a new believer to first be grounded in his identity in Christ, the reality of the Holy Spirit within, the teaching of Christ, and to have his or her heart established in the grace of God extended to us in Christ. It’s out of these realities, when they become real to a person, that obedience flows…they don’t walk in obedience to God because they have to (out of obligation), but because they want to (they are grateful for his grace, are empowered to obey and have the desire to do so). When our submission to God is gained by the revelation of God’s love & acceptance freely given to us Christ, it makes all the difference in the world.

In conclusion, I think Paul’s teaching on the subject matter is excellent:

“And we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line (the loafers, the disorderly and the unruly); encourage the timid and fainthearted, help and give your support to the weak souls, and be very patient with everybody (always keeping your temper).”  -1st Thessalonians 5:14

The challenge in helping new believers is to learn to listen to them, discern where they’re at, and not getting ahead of God by insisting they believe something that they’re heart isn’t ready or able to grasp.

Faith in Christ and Him crucified and resurrected is central. If there are some other things that we have difficulty with along our journey, well, we serve a God that’s big enough to handle our doubts. They certainly don’t negate our life in Christ.

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