|Freedom From Destructive Doubt|
|Truths That Dare Not Be Doubted!||75||Constructive Doubting||77|
|Learning To Combat Destructive Doubts||76||Discussion Questions||78|
1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Colossians 3:1-4
Truths That Dare Not Be Doubted!
There are times when it is right to doubt and other times when it is wrong to doubt. There are some doubts, if exercised, that are always destructive. There are other doubts, if exercised, that are productive of belief. There is some doubting which dishonors the truthful character of God. There is other doubting which comes in the very process of discovering the exciting truths about the character of God.
What determines whether doubt is destructive or constructive? Doubting God's character and revealed nature is really a manifestation of dishonest moral rebellion. However, there is an honest intellectual doubting which is the shadow-side of belief. One cannot honestly believe unless he has honestly worked through his intellectual doubts. Thus, there are two types of doubting – one positive and one negative, one good and one evil, one constructive and one destructive, one motivated by basic submission and one motivated by basic rebellion.
To doubt the revelation of God's nature as given through the Cross and the Resurrection, is to bypass the road to eternal life (John 3:36).
Saving truths (truths concerning God's love, wisdom, power, justice, and mercy) are vividly revealed in the death and resurrection of Christ and are the very foundation of life.
Let us glance at the truths revealed by the cross and resurrection – truths that dare not be doubted!
What did the cross accomplish? The cross did at least three things: (1) Appeased God's wrath – because Jesus took God's wrath against sin upon Himself by becoming the perfect sacrifice for sin. (2) Satisfied God's justice – for God could not allow sin to go unpunished, and at the same time remain a just God. God is both just and the justifier of the ungodly, because of what Christ did on the cross. (3) Demonstrated God's love – for the cross on Mt. Cal very is the earthly revelation of the cross that has eternally been on the heart of God, and is thus the supreme demonstration of inherent divine love.
What did the resurrection accomplish? At least three things: (1) Vindicated God's righteousness – God had to raise His Son to life to show that the sinless Son of God could not be overcome by the sinful sons of the devil. (2) Proved God's promises – God is never slack in fulfilling His promises, as some men count slackness (2 Peter 3:9 a). The resurrection is the badge of Christ's authority to establish His long-predicted Messianic Kingdom in the hearts and lives of people. (3) Demonstrated God's Power – the power that raised Christ from the dead is the greatest of all powers (1 Corinthians 15:55-57), and is the same power that is available for every believer to enable him to live victoriously and abundantly.
"Father, regardless of those happenings in my life which seem to defy reason, help me never to doubt the integrity of your person and purpose. Thank you for the revelation of yourself in the death and resurrection of your Son. Help me always to organize my life upon the foundational truths of that historic revelation."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There are two kinds of doubters in the world – those who are honestly seeking the truth and those who are dishonestly running from the truth. My doubts will drive me to the Truth!
Matthew 14:25-36; James 1:5-8
Learning To Combat Destructive Doubts
Let us look at the personal application of the truths which were revealed by the cross and the resurrection – truths that dare not be doubted!
God's character of love – If God loved you so much that He died for you, surely God continues to love you so much that He will not allow anything to happen to you but what will accomplish good in your life.
God's character of wisdom – If God is wise enough providentially to make the wrath of men to praise Him, and wise enough to produce order out of disorder, surely He is wise enough to manage your life.
God's character of power – If God is powerful enough to vanquish death by raising Christ from the dead, thus using the greatest tragedy of history (the crucifixion) to accomplish the greatest triumph of history (redemption), then God is powerful enough to use all your circumstances to serve redemptive purposes in your life!
God's character of justice – If God vindicated His righteousness by raising His sinless Son from the grave on the third day, expressing His vengeance on sin, then God is able in due time to reward unrecognized good and to punish unchecked evil. Therefore you have no need to fret yourself because of evil doers (Psalms 37:1). Evil has already been defeated.
God's character of mercy – If God so loved you in that, while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8), will not that kind of God have mercy upon you when you confess your sins and shortcomings to Him? You can be assured that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7), and daily delivers you from the guilt and power of sin.
In light of the vital necessity never to doubt the great truths concerning God's revealed nature, let us look at specific steps which you can take to maintain faith and combat destructive doubts.
Keep surrendered to God daily. After the once-and-for-all surrender to God, allow the Spirit daily to impart the gift of faith to your heart.
Let Christ handle your doubts as they arise. Say to the Lord, "I believe, help thou mine unbelief."
Recall past mercies of God. Build faith, based on the faithfulness of God's past actions. Use a daily journal to recall His past mercies.
Reaffirm your present confidence in Christ's sufficiency for you.
Wait on God and don't try to reason out every problem. "The righteous shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4) is a statement of man's faith in the faithfulness of God, when facing a problem (of evil) which causes nagging doubt.
"Father, when I cannot understand with my mind, I will learn to trust with my heart. When my doubts assail and my fears annoy, I thank you that you are totally in charge of my world, and that you will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly. I am in safe keeping when I am in your mighty hands! Thank you! Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The God who performed miracles in days gone by is the same God who is ready to perform miracles in my life today!
Once you have staked your entire life on God and His will and His revealed nature, then, using this commitment as your stable center, go as far afield in doubt as you need to in seeking a satisfying intellectual am soul answer to your questions. Develop a reasoned faith. Struggle to understand. Ask any honest question. Fear not to probe. Develop a tough inquiring mind. Never be fearful to ask any question. Only as you question will the answers be forthcoming. God encourages this process: "Come, let us reason together, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 1:18)
Keep your mind alive and inquisitive. Honest doubts are compatible with an honest commitment to Christ, and in fact the degree of commitment to Christ will be reflected in the degree of serious thinking one does in finding a satisfying answer to the difficult questions of life. One will not find all the answers to life's questions, but not to find the answers is no sin. However, never to ask the questions is a sin against one's God- given intelligence, and is evidence of spiritual as well as intellectual sloth! The Christian is to out-think the sinner as well as to out-live him. One cannot fully live until he learns to accept the challenge of hard thinking.
Ask God for a tender heart and a tough mind – a heart tender in response to God's love and a mind tough to grapple with life's mysteries. We are not meant to understand all of God's ways or all of life's perplexities, but we would understand many more of them if we but had the courage to think and to ponder! Those mysteries that will never be unraveled by the reasoning process must be accepted by the tender heart of faith and receptivity.
"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone Who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15)
An intellectual understanding of Christianity is vital, for Jesus commanded us to love God with all our minds as well as with all our hearts. As one said, "My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects."
An unexamined faith is not a faith worth having – and is indeed dangerous. One must know that his beliefs are based on objective truth, for it is the object of belief that determines the value of belief. To accept anything in an unthinking way is possibly to accept error. Also, to accept truth on the basis of dogmatic authority, without thinking it through yourself, is to accept a secondhand faith. A secondhand faith is a dying faith.
"Father, I see now that even doubting can be an ally rather than an enemy of my Christian faith. Help me to work out my salvation with the aid of honest doubts which will lead me to the outcome of honest beliefs."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I must have a 'reasoned' faith, for although Christianity goes beyond reason, it is not unreasonable. My honest intellectual doubting will lead me to the adequacy of the evidence which will result in the assurance of the heart!
Discussion Questions On 'Freedom From Destructive Doubt'
What determines whether doubt is destructive or constructive?
What is meant by the statement: "There is an honest intellectual doubting which is the shadow-side of belief."
Do you agree or disagree with the statement: "One cannot honestly believe unless he has honestly worked through his intellectual doubts."
Discuss three things which the Cross of Jesus accomplished. How do the application of these things help one in coping with and overcoming destructive doubts?
What are some specific steps which you can take which will help you to maintain faith and to combat destructive doubts?
What does it mean to you to develop a 'reasoned faith'?
What is the relationship between the reason of the mind and the faith of the heart, as one seeks to live an effective Christian life?
Is it a good thing to cultivate at one and the same time a tough mind and a tender heart? Why? or Why Not? What does the Bible have to say about these two realities?
Why, according to 1 Peter 3:15, are Christians called upon to defend the Christian Faith? In what spirit are Christians to give such a defense?
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "An unexamined faith is not a faith worth having – and is indeed dangerous."
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Honest doubts are compatible with an honest commitment to Christ, and in fact the degree of commitment to Christ will be reflected in the degree of serious thinking one does in finding a satisfying answer to the difficult questions of life."
How can one distinguish between 'honest doubts' and 'dishonest moral rebellions' which are disguised as honest doubts?
What is the difference between a 'firsthand' faith and a 'secondhand' faith, as these relate to rational understanding and intellectual doubts?