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Jack Graham - Choosing Faith Over Doubt

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    Jack Graham - Choosing Faith Over Doubt
TOPICS: Jack Graham: Choices, Choices, Faith, Doubts

And of the choices we make, what we consider today is one of the most important, which is to "Choose Faith over Doubt". I didn't say faith over unbelief, but faith over doubt. And there is a difference in doubt and unbelief. We do not doubt what we do not first believe. And as Christians we live with a sense of assurance and certainty and confidence. I say with the Apostle Paul 2 Timothy 1:12, "I know whom I believe, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day (until we meet Christ face to face.)"

As Christians we live with that kind of assurance but not without doubt. If you live, you will live to doubt. There are hard questions that the world asks and we ask as well. When a tsunami, an earthquake, a natural disaster of some kind strikes the earth, we wonder: God, what is this? Why is this? How can so many seemingly innocent people be hurt? People try to explain these things and it ends up in the ditch trying to explain these mysteries of the creation.

We ask questions and the world is asking questions like: Can it really be true that Christianity, the Christian faith, that Jesus is the only way to heaven? How can we claim that Jesus and Jesus only is Savior; that His name and His name only saves? What about other people who have never heard the name of Jesus? What about people of other religions who may be just as sincere and even more devoted than some who profess the name of Christ? God, what about that? Or Christian, what about this? Or questions that have been raised even among some evangelicals today: How could a loving God or would a loving God send someone to judgment and to hell? How can a person resist the love of God and end up separated from God forever? How can it be possible that people suffer? That they have cancer, and little children with unexplained illnesses, young men and women struck down in the prime of their lives.

Dads and, well you know; because we've all asked these kinds of questions. If we're honest we ask the hard questions, and we're willing to not only ask, but to seek in God's Word to answer those questions. On a personal level maybe you've doubted when you prayed and you prayed, but nothing seemed to happen. And the one you prayed for died or is still sick. Or perhaps a prayer for your marriage and it still blew apart! On and on we could go with questions, these kinds of questions that we cannot ignore. In fact, the Scripture says that we are to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. Certainly there is evidence to believe. There is reason to believe, and we can believe confidently but in order to do that we must be willing to deal with our doubts. Because our doubts can become the doorway, listen to me, our doubts can become the doorway to a deeper faith, a more mature faith, a more powerful, fortified faith.

So in Proverbs chapter 1, verses 22 and 23, we meet some individuals who are skeptical, because I believe first and foremost in our culture, this world of cynicism and this world of skepticism and unbelief and disbelief, we're dealing with exactly what we find in verses 22 and 23 of Proverbs 1: "How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers", and there are many scoffers today, and unbelievers today, "mockers and fools hate knowledge"? You see, there's a difference between an honest doubter and a dishonest doubter, an honest skeptic and a dishonest skeptic. An honest doubter, skeptic, doesn't know, but wants to know. "Lord, if you're real, show me Your truth". "God, if your word is literally true, teach me Your truth". "God, show me the way".

The Bible says if you seek Him, you will find Him. If you sincerely seek Him, you will find Him. That's an honest doubter. And God is not afraid of our doubts! God is not intimidated by our hard questions, so ask your questions of God. But then there's the dishonest doubter. Someone who doesn't know and doesn't care to know, doesn't want to know. So often it's a smoke screen, a bogus excuse for a life lived without God. So often the problem with unbelief or doubt is not a mental exercise or a mental problem, but it is a moral problem. Jesus spoke of an evil heart of unbelief. But unbelief and doubts are different in that unbelief refuses to believe and respond, but doubt is questioning, doubt is wondering. And so the Scripture says: "If you turn at my reproof", verse 23 of Proverbs, "If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour my Spirit to you".

With all of our arguments, with all of our rational, with all of our evidences that we should present to an unbelieving, skeptical world, we need to remember that ultimately conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit! That the Holy Spirit is given by God to convict, convince, convert, to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, because they believe not! And the Scripture says: "I will make my words known to you". There it is! So to the skeptic, to the doubter we simply ask, "Do you want to know? Are you willing to do the hard work that it will require to truly believe"?

One of my favorite characters, personalities in the Bible is Thomas. Oh, I know him! Doubting Thomas. Well, he had some doubts, but mainly he had some questions. He was a sincere, reflective doubter. He was a part of the inner circle of Jesus, disciple of Jesus. And thanks to Thomas, and to his questioning the Lord, even at times interrupting the Lord, at times rejecting the words of others so that he would know himself, thanks to Thomas we have two of the most powerful affirmations of faith in all the Word of God! John chapter 14, Jesus is explaining that He is going away to prepare a place in the Father's house. And Jesus said there in the dark night of that upper room, as He is on His way to the cross, preparing His disciples for His death, speaking of His resurrection and yet there the disciples, they don't seem to get it.

Jesus said John 14:4, "And where I go you know, and the way you know"! A hand shoots up in the air! It's Tom. "Thomas, you again"? Yes, Thomas, I've got a question. "Lord, we don't have a clue where you're going or how to get there"! And thanks to that question we have one of the most firm foundational truths of our faith: the words of Jesus in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, the life! No one comes to the Father except by Me". It's not your cause, it's not your creed, it's not your church, it's Christ! And with that sincere doubt and hard question comes our opportunity to believe in the One who said, "I am the way". Jesus answers the ultimate questions of life, how we live, how we die, and what comes afterwards. And I believe in Jesus! No, I mean, I really believe in Jesus! I haven't seen Him. I will one day. But while I've not seen Him, I love Him! You're looking at a man who is not ashamed! I love Jesus! If I had ten ten million lives, I would give every one of them to follow Him. That's how I believe that He died for me and rose again, and in His resurrection, that is the ultimate evidence and I don't have time in the brief time that we have this morning, to answer all the objections.

Others, like Josh McDowell and so many apologists for the Christian faith have written reams of material. You can go to the Internet, and I challenge you to do that if you're a skeptic, if you're a doubter, if you don't know but want to know, regarding the resurrection, regarding who Jesus is and why He came and what He did in the Christian faith. You see so many people reject the Bible who have never even read the Bible! That's dishonesty! You reject what somebody told you about Jesus or what someone said about the Bible, but you've never given yourself to a personal investigation of the case for Christ in your life! That is dishonest doubt, and I challenge you if you are a doubter to sincere doubt and a willing response to the Gospel and the message of Christ. A small faith is better than a superficial faith, if in your small faith you seek to go deeper.

Some people have a shallow faith and so God may send doubts in order to prove Himself strong in our behalf. That's what Proverbs 4:18 says, one of my favorite verses in all the Bible. I think about it most mornings. Where it says: "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn which shines brighter and brighter until full day". And contrast that to "The way of the wicked is like deep darkness and they do not know over what they stumble". "My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. (Speaking here of the Word of God, the wisdom of God.) For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh". I like to get up early these days. I never believed I would actually say that.

As I've told you before one of life's cruel jokes is when you get a little older and maybe you have the opportunity to sleep in a little bit, you can't do it. And now I've gotten used to getting up early and I really like it when it's still dark, Just quiet, nothing much moving in the neighborhood. It's before the world rushes in and the demands of the day. There's a reason we call the devotional act a quiet time, and everyone needs one to rest your soul, and to be still and know that He is God. It's often in those quiet reflective moments that the peace and the very presence of God, His living presence fills our lives the most. And so when you get up in the morning it's dark. And I don't know about you, but I stumble to my coffee pot, I get the coffee going, and I get my Bible, I get my cup of coffee and try to get my head clear a little bit. And before I turn on the television, before I get the newspaper, I open God's Word and it's dark.

And then as I look out my back window I begin to see, now it turns a little gray, you know what I'm saying? It's a gray dawn, and then before you know it as you look to the horizons these beautiful colors of orange and purple and yellow start appearing as the sun is on it's way. And ultimately the sun is up and it becomes about noonday, a perfect day, a beautiful day! That's what the Scripture is teaching us here choosing faith over doubt. When it is dark and you cannot see, just wait because when you stumble in the darkness ultimately the dawn is coming. Jesus, the Light of the world, will show Himself beautiful and powerful to you, and ultimately in the perfect day, what do the old-timers sing? "We'll understand it better by and by".

In the perfect day we see clearly! The pathway of the just and the way that we live and the way that we walk is like the breaking of the dawn, shining brighter and brighter and brighter and brighter until the perfect day when we know even as we are known! I've told you before that the most common saying of heaven will be, "Ah-ha! That is what was going on in my life! That is why that tragedy happened! This is why I hurt so deeply"! And so on! In the pure light of eternity, in the perfect day eternal we will see Him face to face and His glorious light, and the pathway of the dawn. But the opposite is true to choose unbelief as compared to faith is a way of darkness and stumbling and ultimately separation from God forever.

Proverbs 14:6 say: "A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding". Christianity is not this complicated thing that some have made it. Oh, there are the deep things of God, we understand that. But the Proverbs say: A wayfaring man, though he is a fool will find his way. The smallest child, the simplest person on earth can know and love Jesus. Suffering, of course, produces doubt, especially among believers. When we hurt so badly we begin to question our faith and question ourselves. We may even say, "God, what on earth are you doing in my life? God, why would you take my child? This is not right; it's wrong. God, why is there this injustice"! And so on. When we suffer and when we are emotionally distraught and disturbed, move into a dark period in our lives, doubt and fears may rise. It's been said that we would never doubt in the dark what God shows us in the light.

And I know in times of personal struggle and suffering, I hung on to that principle that God's light is true even when I can't see it. And when we suffer, while there are questions that we cannot answer, we run to Him. Sometimes we hurt so badly that we don't run from Him but we, of course, need to run to Him, whether it is a discipline from the Lord, when God is improving us or pruning us that we may bear more fruit. Whatever the cause or reason sometimes we will not know, as I said, this side of eternity, but one thing we will know. Thomas on another occasion after the resurrection he was absent the first time the disciples met Jesus on Sunday. So he wasn't there. And some of the disciples said to him later when they caught up with him, inviting him to church next week, and said, "We have seen the Lord"!

And remember Thomas? He said, "I'm not going to believe that until I see Him and put my hands in His side, the spear wound in His side, the prints of the nails in His hands and His feet". Those disciples were convinced enough that they said, "Well, come on, brother". And he did. And so he came with his questions and immediately when he saw Jesus, Jesus said, "Come on, Thomas. You asked for it; here it is". And Thomas gave us, as a result, one of the greatest affirmations of the Christian faith ever given. He fell on his face and said, "My Lord and my God"! John, chapter 20. Jesus received that worship. If anyone doubts that Jesus claimed to be God or accepted deity as His title, read John 20:28, and when Thomas said, "My Lord and my God," he was confessing faith in Christ, and Jesus received that, because that is who He is! But it was doubt that became the doorway to his faith.

I say don't exchange what you don't know for what you know. There are many things that we know. Job in the midst of his darkness said, Job 19:25, "I know that my Redeemer lives and at the end will stand upon the earth". The psalmist said, "Know that the Lord is God"!. The psalmist said, "But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself!". Deuteronomy 7, Moses said, "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God"! That who is He? "The faithful God that keeps His covenant and steadfast love"! He promises to do it! He never lies! You can shelter your soul in the promises of God and the security of who He is! That's what we know! John 6, "And we have believed and have come to know that You are the holy One of God". "We know", 1 John, "that when He appears we will be like Him".

He's coming again! We believe that! You know that "He's appeared to take away sins, for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor so that through His poverty you might become rich". John 8:32, "And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free"! And that man who came in faith to Christ, who was a blind man, when questioned and prodded by those who were hysterically opposed to Jesus, he said, "I don't know, but one thing I know; I was blind but now I see"! "I know whom I believe"! Sometimes we misquote that verse. We said, "I know in whom I have believed". It doesn't say, "I know in whom". Paul didn't want even a preposition between himself and Jesus. He said, "I know Him! I know Jesus"! You need to know that you're a believer.

"These things are written", 1 John 5:13, "that you may know that you have eternal life". That you may know, concerning these things which are written. Since we're in Proverbs, Proverbs 30:5 and 6 says: "Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His word lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar". In other words, God's promises are true. And His promise of salvation is: Don't trust in your feelings, don't wait until you get this all figured out. These things were written, the Word of God which is pure and perfect, it is written that you may k-n-o-w know that you have eternal life. If you wait till you get it all figured out, you'll never come to Christ. For some faith may be an easy thing, a simple thing. For some it is harder. We recognize that. Maybe your temperament, your personality drives you to doubt, but don't wait until you have every question resolved to give your life to Christ. You come as you are by faith in His grace, and let God work those things out in your heart and your mind.

Let it be as "the gray dawn moving toward the perfect day". And the Word of God will guide you and instruct you. And if you want more faith, let me tell you how to get more faith. Exercise the faith that you have. Take a small step of faith, take a singular step of faith. Begins today, for some of you take a first step of faith to follow Christ for a journey of a lifetime that leads eternity with Him. Choose faith! For some of us who are dealing with doubts, you know a good way to get rid of doubt is to fortify your faith. And the way to fortify your faith, strengthen your faith is to exercise your faith! If you want a muscular faith, then exercise your faith! Start believing God for something even if it's something small; praying and asking God to do something great in your life, and trusting Him to do the right thing. Faith is not about a dogma or a system of belief or mental assent; it is about a personal faith, a faith in a Person, and His name is Jesus!
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