Monday, June 28, 2010

Doubters Beware

In my last post I suggested that we demonstrate grace toward those that have doubts.  However, if we are to rescue them (or be rescued if that is the case) we also need to be ready to give a warning.  Sometimes I need the warning.  If I stand in two places I need a reminder of the danger of standing in that place.  Any believer that stands in two places needs to hear the warning about doubt.  The Bible has the warnings and we must take heed:

But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.
James 1:6-8 (HCSB)

And as they were saying these things, He Himself stood among them. He said to them, "Peace to you!" But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. "Why are you troubled?" He asked them. "And why do doubts arise in your hearts?"
Luke 24:36-38 (HCSB)

There are three warnings here.  First when we doubt we become susceptible to what ever blows our way.  I know in my own life that I can get carried away with various things.  If I have doubts then I can be caught up in the wind of the times and leads me down all sorts of paths.  Other times I have been asking in guilt and not faith only to find that I can only find a path of least guilt (no fun to be sure).  Doubt can make you more open to ungodly influences in your life.  You become driven by these influences and not the Holy Spirit.  The second warning is that doubt impedes our prayer life.  The warning is quite clear that doubt leads to unfulfilled expectations.  What is interesting to me is that doubt breeds more doubt.  Instability is the outcome of being driven by the winds of the moment and ineffective prayer.  The third warning is that doubt robs us of the peace that Jesus desires for us.  Notice Jesus leads with "Peace to you!"  The offering of peace was there, but the peace was not received.  Why?  because they were troubled and doubts arose in their hearts.  The same to happens to us when Jesus says:

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.
John 14:27 (HCSB)

When we doubt that peace cannot be received.  If you don't feel like you are in that place of firm faith that is OK as long as you make the first step.  The point is that doubt robs us, but a weak faith can be strengthened!

"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed," the Lord said, "you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."
Luke 17:6 (HCSB)
Then Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' Everything is possible to the one who believes." Immediately the father of the boy cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief."
Mark 9:23-24 (HCSB)

Do You Doubt?  Don't worry you are in good company:

Momentary Doubts*

Abraham as to the inheritance of Canaan
Genesis 15:8
Gideon as to victory over Midian
Judges 6:17
John The Baptist as to whether Jesus was the Messiah
Matthew 11:3
Some Of The Disciples
Matthew 28:17
Martha as to the resurrection of Lazarus
John 11:39
Thomas as to the resurrection of Christ
John 20:25
Early Christians as to the deliverance of Peter
Acts 12:14-15

I was particularly interested in the verse in Matthew 28:17.  It seems that even at the appearance of Christ there were still people who doubted.  What is important is that if you or someone you know is caught in doubt that we receive the warning and get on solid footing again.  Lest we fall into a hole, get tossed about like a wave in the wind, become unstable, lose effectiveness in our prayer life, and be robbed of the peace that Jesus offers. 

Doubt is like a desert waste land.  There is not a drop of water to drink.  Jesus is the living water that can quench our thirsty souls.  Drink up Jesus is offering it to you right now.


*  Frank Charles Thompson, “Faith - Unbelief,” in Thompson Chain Reference Bible, (Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbride Bible Co., 1997), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: "Faith - Unbelief".