Intro - We need to talk about doubt in the life of a Christian. Doubt is very real. Sometimes we just wonder if our faith is real? Doubting is a very real aspect of the Christian faith. We need to be prepared for our doubts. The Bible anticipates the issue of doubts.
How To Handle Doubt In The Life Of A Christ-Follower:
#1. Doubt is an ____________ of faith.
We could even say that doubt is the beginning of faith. There can be no faith without doubt. If you were absolutely certain of something, it would not require any faith to believe it. Faith is necessary only when we doubt.
“John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” Luke 7:20 NIV
This is the same John the Baptist who baptized Jesus. This is the same John the Baptist who said he was unworthy to tie Jesus’ shoes.
John: “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” Jn 1:34
Doubt will be an issue in the life of every Christ follower. You may be in one of the stronger places of your life right now and not think that doubt will ever be an issue. Be careful. One who doesn’t know about the dark times of the soul will be least prepared for them when they come. Doubt doesn’t mean you are less of a Christ follower. Doubt doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Doubt doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you now. Doubt doesn’t mean you’ve lost your faith.
Doubt is an element of faith. It’s the road we travel upon to arrive at faith. The greatest thinkers and theologians of the Christian faith have also been some of the great doubters - at least at times asking the really hard questions of their faith and struggling with the answers. The Bible provides so many examples of doubters - not because they were evil, but because they were human.
#2. Doubt comes upon even the most faithful in the _____________.
“When John rebuked Herod,… he locked John up in prison.” Luke 3:19-20 NIV
What transpired that he went from the strongest, most faithful man, whom Jesus described in Matthew 11:11 as the greatest who ever lived to the doubter we see here? Story of John and Herod and Herodius. Went through all 8 Dis’s…
DIS - COURAGEMENT
DIS - ABLED
DIS - ASTER
DIS - ADVANTAGED
DIS - ILLUSIONED
DIS - EASE
DIS - APPOINTMENT
DIS - AGREEMENT
Whenever we go through one or more of these “Dis’s of Life” we will often find doubt creeping in to our lives too. Faith seems so much more difficult. What should we do? What did Jesus say to John the Baptist?
#3. To move from doubt to faith I recall the _________________.
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Luke 7:22 NIV
We say all the time that “it’s not about us, it’s all about Christ.” Sadly though, we often live out our faith as if our faith were dependent upon our good works instead of Jesus. When we base our faith on our own effort, we will inevitably let ourselves down and allow doubt to creep in. We are weak. We will fail. Christ is strong and he never fails.
ABCs to keep Christ’s works at the top of my mind:
We are better able to keep Jesus and his wondrous works at the top of our mind if we are continuously reading and thinking about what he accomplished. But if our only connection with Jesus and his works are when we come to church on Sunday, that’s just not enough to keep us strong through the week.
Most of our concepts of church history go like this - Moses, Jesus, Paul and my pastor. A lot has happened over the last 2,000 years. Some not so good. But much of it is really a miracle. Jesus has continued to work through His church over these past 2 millennia. One of the greatest evidences of Christianity is the existence of the church still today! Read and study and be amazed & encouraged.
“Church History In Plain Language” by Bruce Shelley.
What is Jesus doing today? Do you know? Do you follow? Are you aware of the great churches that are developing in places like China and South Korea and Africa? Make it point to read up on current Christian news.
The Christian Post.
Twitter feeds of pastors & leaders.
#4. Remember - Jesus doesn’t always say or do ___________.
“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Luke 7:23
We end today with one of the strangest sentences uttered by Jesus. He has just finished telling John the Baptist about all the great things Jesus is accomplishing. These are all things predicted by Isaiah hundreds of years before about how we would know the Messiah when he came. Jesus just ticks them all off. But then he says this: “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” What did he mean?
Jesus does not always do what we expect. Then or now.
Consider why John was imprisoned. Because he preached against Herod Antipas and Herodias. He eventually would lose his life over it. Jesus didn't preach those sermons. It doesn’t mean that John was wrong, just that it wasn’t in the plans for Jesus.
Maybe John expected that Jesus would raise an army and throw off the chains of the Romans and the Herods. Maybe he thought that the angels would come down and usher in the New Kingdom. We don’t really know what John’s expectations were. But we do have an insight from Jesus.
“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” When Jesus doesn’t live up to our expectations. When Jesus doesn’t do what we would have done. When we are going through any of the Dis’s of Life and it seems like Jesus isn’t helping us out like we would want.
That ultimately is where doubt leads us - to stumbling on account of Jesus. To conclude that Jesus isn’t really who we thought he was. When our disappointment in life turns into disappointment in Jesus.
What Jesus does promise us - and he ALWAYS keeps this promise - is that he will never leave us or forsake us. This is a promise made 5 different times in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 31:6 it starts with “Be strong and courageous…” Remember we don’t have to be strong when we’re already strong, but when we’re weak. We don’t have to be courageous when we have nothing to fear, but when we are afraid.
In other words, Jesus says on the one hand, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me,” and on the other hand, “I will never leave you alone.” I will always be there. I will pick you up.
What about you today. Do you know the reality that “I Am Not Alone?”