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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Moving From Doubt to Faith - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Doubt to Faith - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Doubt to Faith -  Part 1
TOPICS: Invincible, Doubts, Faith, Confidence

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus said, "If you have faith as tiny as that of a mustard seed you can move mountains". So how do we develop the kind of faith that allows us to overcome major obstacles that block our path to God's blessings? Well, today I'm beginning a brand new series called Invincible. And over the next few weeks I'm going to show you how to conquer the mountains that separate you from the blessed life. My message is titled, "Moving from Doubt to Faith", in our series, Invincible, here on Pathway to Victory.

Rising 29.029 feet in the air. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. That's actually a part of a range of mountains known as the rooftop of the world. For years people tried to conquer Everest with no luck, but on may 23, 1953, mountaineers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first explorers to scale Everest. Interestingly, it wasn't Edmund Hillary's first attempt. Two years earlier he had tried to reach the summit and he failed. And reportedly after his failure he stood at the base of that mountain, shook his fist at it and said, I will return and conquer you, because as a mountain you can't grow, but as a human being I can. And he returned two years later and he conquered that mountain.

Now the fact is you and I will probably never climb a mountain, or at least not one like mount Everest. But you and I face different kinds of mountains in our lives. Challenges that seem impossible. In fact, the Bible uses the imagery of a mountain to talk about an impossible situation. In Zachariah 4:7, "And the angel came and said to the prophet, what are you, oh, great mountain. Before Zerubbabel, you will become a plane". The fact is God can do the same for the challenges you face.

Today we're beginning a brand new series called Invincible. Conquering the mountains that separate you from the blessed life. And over these weeks we're going to look at God's word, and see what the Bible says about the mountains you and I face. You may be facing right now a mountain called discouragement. Maybe you are facing a mountain called addiction. Maybe right now you're facing the mountain of loneliness. The Bible says that with God's help and your obedience you can be Invincible. And that's why Jesus said in Mark 11:22 and 23, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him".

What in the world did Jesus mean? He wasn't saying you can literally pick up a mountain and move it, but he said, you can conquer it. And the same way that challenge you're facing right now that you seem to deal with over and over again. God's not saying that challenge is ever going to disappear completely, but again, with your obedience and God's help you can conquer that obstacle. And that's what we're going to talk about in this series. But notice the condition Jesus says, he says, this promise is available to those who do not doubt in their heart. Nothing will prevent your conquering mountains in your life any more than doubt. And so today as we begin this series we're going to begin with the first mountain that we all face from time to time, the mountain of doubt, questions that we have. And we're going to discover how to move from doubt to faith so that we can truly be Invincible.

Now the truth is whether we're willing to admit it or not, all of us have doubts from time to time. Doubts about life, doubts about God, doubts about the promises of God's word. If it makes you feel better, so have some of God's choicest servants in the Bible. They had to deal with doubt. Moses doubted that he was capable of delivering the Israelites from Pharaoh. David doubted that he was going to be able to escape from king Saul. You look at Jeremiah, he had doubts about his call as a prophet. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ came to a crisis in which he doubted whether or not Jesus was really the Messiah. And it doesn't stop there.

Throughout church history great men and women of faith have had doubts. Whether it's Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Amy Carmichael, Joni Eareckson Tada, all have been willing to admit periods of doubt in their life. Maybe you're facing doubts right now. I'm speaking to some of you who are listening to this message, or you're here in our worship center, you're a college student, you grew up in a Christian home, you attended a Bible-believing church like this church, but when you went to the university you begin hearing things that made you question, to have doubts about your faith. That happened to me. When I was 19 years of age I started having serious doubts about whether this book was truly the Word of God. And I came to a point that I was strongly considering not only letting go of my call to be a pastor, but letting go of Christianity altogether. We have doubts.

Some of you are Christian parents. You've done the best you can with your children, but they have wandered away from the faith. They're prodigals, and you have doubts about whether or not God can truly bring them back. Some of you, especially over these last several years, maybe you've lost something important to you. It may be your livelihood or your health. You may have lost a loved one during this pandemic that we've experienced. You have doubts about God. Is this how God really deals with people who say they love him? Doubt is universal. Now there's a difference between doubt and unbelief as we're going to see. All the difference in the world. Doubt can be very natural. Part of the reason we doubt sometimes is just because it's hard doing business with an infinite God. There's such a difference between God and us. And that's why God said to Isaiah, Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts".

And that's why we, when we doubt, running to God asking for answers in and of itself is an act of faith. The fact that we would go to God when we have doubts shows that we believe. What I'm saying to you is doubt and faith can actually co-exist with one another. Doubt and faith and unbelief cannot coexist. But doubt and faith can coexist with one another. Let me show you a great example of that. If you have your Bibles turn to Mark 9. This is a story about a father who was distraught beyond description about his son. His son was regularly trying to kill himself, throwing himself into fire or drowning himself, because he was possessed by a demon. The father didn't know it. All he knew was he was at wits end. He had come to the end of his rope with his child. And all he needed to do was to cry out to Jesus for help. Have you ever been at that spot with your child or a grandchild? You didn't know what else to do. You tried to everything and there were no answers, and all you could do is cry out to God. Every parent can identify with that.

Mark 9:22, this father said to Jesus, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us". Notice how Jesus responded. Verse 23, "But Jesus said to him, if you can, all things are possible to him who believes". And then I love this verse 24, "Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, I do believe, help my unbelief". Isn't that an interesting prayer. Lord, I believe, but please help my unbelief. What the father was saying is, father, Lord, all I can muster up is a little tiny bit of faith. I'm asking you to help me with all that lack of faith that I have. I believe, but help me in my unbelief. Here's the good news. It doesn't take a lot of faith to move the hand of God. It takes just a little bit of faith. In fact, in Matthew 17:20, remember what Jesus said. If you have faith as tiny as that of a mustard seed you can do what, you can move mountains.

See, your little itty-bitty faith coupled with God's tremendous power can accomplish anything. He said, "Lord, I believe help my unbelief. And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit saying to it, you mute and deaf spirit, I command you come out of him and don't enter him again. And after crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, the demon came out. The boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, he's dead. But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him and he got up". When we go through impossible challenges that's the time that Satan loves to taunt us with questions. Where is your God now? If God is really who he says he is, why isn't he listening to you, why isn't he helping you? Is God not as powerful as the Bible says? Does God even really exist? Those are the kind of doubts that we have come into our life, and if we're not careful, we water those doubts. They become seeds of unbelief.

You know, I think about the story of Horatio Spafford, successful Chicago real estate investor and attorney. He lost everything in the great Chicago fire of 1871. He worked hard, he rebuilt what he had, and spent two years doing so, and in 1873 he and his wife and their four daughters decided to take a trip to England to celebrate what had happened in their life. At the last moment Horatio Spafford wasn't able to make the trip. He had an emergency to take care of. He sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him and said he would meet them there later. So Anna Spafford and their four daughters boarded the ship setting sail to London. Four days into the cruise their ship collided with another ship and their four daughters drowned. Anna Spafford was spared. And when she reached wale she telegraphed her husband with these words, "Saved alone, what shall I do"?

Losing four daughters would be enough to cause anybody to give up their faith, but not Anna Spafford. When she talked to a minister who had also survived the collision, she said to him, "God gave me four daughters, now they have been taken from me, someday I will understand why". When Horatio Spafford received the news about his four daughters lost at sea he boarded the next ship and he set sail to London. When they got to the spot in the Atlantic ocean where his daughters had died the captain told him, this is where it happened. Horatio Spafford looked out on the icy Atlantic, returned to his cabin, took a piece of paper and with a pen wrote those words that have comforted so many millions of Christians. "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with myself". There's a difference between honest, doubt and unbelief. Somebody has said it this way, doubters look for reasons to believe, unbelievers look for reasons not to believe. Doubters ask questions, unbelievers refuse answers. God accepts doubters, he rejects unbelievers. Doubt is universal. It's natural. Why do we doubt? Why do we doubt God?

Frederick Buechner, the Christian writer said, I love this, he said, doubts are like ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving. Here are some of the reasons we have ants in our pants of faith sometimes. First of all, unlived truth can be a cause for doubt in your life. I'll never forget the warning of a seminary professor. 40 years ago he said, men never forget this, nothing will cause you more doubt than trafficking in unlived truth. What he was saying was, if you as a pastor are up preaching God's word week after week, but in your own heart there is secret sin, it's going to cause you to doubt. Other way, that's not just a warning for preachers, it's a warning for every Christian. When you are living this obediently to the truth you say you believe, it's going to cause great doubt in your life.

Let me tell you what I've discovered as a pastor. It is impossible for a Christian to hold on to belief in God and hold onto his disobedience to God for any long period of time. Maybe for a short period, but over the long-term you can't hold on to both God and disobedience. You'll either give up your disobedience, or you're let go of your belief in God. You can't hold on to both of them. Unlived truth can be a cause of great doubt.

Secondly, unexamined faith. We have this little adage that says, the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it with like, we thought, oh, in that great faith? Not really, because that faith, that kind of faith is usually shipwreck eventually when it comes upon the rocks of contradictions. And whenever somebody hears a sermon that maybe causes him to doubt God's word, or reads an article, or listens to an interview, eventually somebody's going to face some kind of challenge to their faith. And if they don't understand why they believe what they do it's going to cause great doubt. We need to understand not only what we believe, but why we believe it.

Thirdly, unanswered prayer can be a cause of doubt. We pour out our hearts to God and heaven is silent. We wonder, why doesn't God hear my plea? Does he not care about me? Is he not really there? By the way, Daniel in the Old Testament dealt with that problem of unanswered prayer. He was distressed about Israel's exile in Babylon, and he wanted to know the future. He asked God for some reassurance in Daniel 10, and the heavens were silent. And finally after 21 days Michael, the Archangel, appeared. Michael, the Archangel, and he said, I'm sorry, I'm late. But I got held up. There was a demonic war going on in heaven, and that's why I'm delayed in my answer. And I'm not sure how many times that happens if that's a common reason for unanswered prayer, but it was the reason for Daniel. The Bible says sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers because of our own sin.

In Isaiah 59:2, remember God said through the prophet, "Your wrongdoings have caused a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, so he does not hear". If you harbor sin in your life don't expect God to answer your prayers. Thirdly, the Bible says sometimes idolatry can keep God from answering our prayers. If we love, if we put ahead any other person or any other thing above God in our life, that's idolatry. To love anyone or anything more than we love God, and it can hinder our prayers. In Ezekiel 14:3 God said, "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and they have put in front of their faces, the stumbling block of their wrongdoing". Should I let myself be consulted by them at all? God said, should I listen to people who love other things or other people more than I do? The Bible said finally, many times the answer to unanswered prayer is I don't know. As God said through Isaiah, my ways are not your ways.

A fourth cause of doubt sometimes, and perhaps the most basic reason for most people is what they feel like is undeserved suffering in their life. Nothing has caused more people to give up their faith in God than what they feel is undeserved suffering. You've heard the old question, why do bad things happen to good people? One theologian said, well, that's easy. There are no good people. And theologically that's true. Well, I mean, we're all sinners. But that doesn't keep us from asking the question. It bothers us. Not only that bad things happen, but that there doesn't seem to be any difference between what happens to Christians and what happens to non-Christians. Everybody seems to go through the same problems regardless of their faith or lack of faith. Jesus said it rains on the just and the unjust. Both Christians and non-Christians lose their jobs. Both Christians and non-Christians have rebellious children. And both Christians and non-Christians have divorce and the breakup of their home. So if there's no difference between what happens to Christians and non-Christians why bother?

Bart Ehrman went to the Moody Bible institute, graduated from that conservative school. He went to Princeton theological seminary. He became the premier apologist for conservative Christianity. He was expert in the New Testament, but he never could resolve that problem of undeserved suffering. And because of that he gave up orthodox Christianity, became its greatest critic. No longer believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, or the exclusivity of Christ for salvation. He wrote a book about his journey to unbelief. It was entitled "God's Problem". How the Bible fails to answer our most important question, why we suffer. And in that book Bart Ehrman said, "Suffering is not only senseless, it is also random, capricious and unevenly distributed". For some of you who may be having great doubts about God for undeserved suffering you feel, or some other fact in real life, unanswered prayer, how do you handle that doubt? How do you conquer that kind of doubt? Remember doubts are natural, but if they're not taken care of, if they were watered, they become seeds of unbelief and ultimately departure from the faith.
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