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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Moving From Doubt to Faith - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Doubt to Faith - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Doubt to Faith -  Part 2
TOPICS: Invincible, Doubts, Faith, Confidence

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Very few Christians are willing to admit it, but we all struggle with doubt myself included. Maybe your thoughts are frequently overrun with questions about God's goodness, his sovereignty, or even his existence, or perhaps there's a small nagging voice of uncertainty in the back of your mind, but you're embarrassed to divulge your weakness to another person. Gratefully doubt is not only universal, it's perfectly natural. And I'm going to show you how to move from doubt to faith on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Both Christians and non-Christians lose their jobs, both Christians and non-Christians have rebellious children, both Christians and non-Christians have divorced in the breakup of their home. So if there's no difference between what happens to Christians and non-Christians why bother? Bart Armin 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 a 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 Armin said, suffering is not only senseless. It is also random, capricious and an evenly distributed.

For some of you who may be having great doubts about God for undeserved suffering, you feel, or some other fact in your 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're watered they become seeds of unbelief and ultimately departure from the faith. We're going to talk about three practical ways to handle your doubts but before we do that, we're going to look at a case study in doubt, from the New Testament.

If you have your Bibles turn to John 11, we're going to look at the champion doubter of all time. Do you know who he is? His name is Thomas. He was one of the apostles. We don't talk a lot about Thomas perhaps because of all of the doubts he had, but I like Thomas. I really do because Thomas was the kind of guy that would ask the question that everybody else was thinking privately. I mean, he actually said what everybody else was thinking in a room and God honored that, he honored his sincere questioning and turn to John 11 and we were going to look at three areas of doubt that Thomas had and how they correspond to the kind of doubts we have. First of all, doubts about life itself. Doubts about life itself. I'm talking about doubts about what's happening to you and whether God is capable of leading you through the challenge of this life.

Thomas has had that same question in John 11. Let me show you what I mean. You know, this is about the resurrection of Lazarus. That's what we remember John 11 for, but the events leading up to the resurrection of Lazarus were quite interesting. Lazarus was one of Jesus' best friends along with his sisters, Mary and Martha. And when Jesus got word that Lazarus was sick, the disciples thought, well, we'll go to healing, but Jesus had a different idea. He waited a little bit longer, so he could wait until Lazarus had died and he could perform that great resurrection. But it's interesting that when Jesus finally said, let's go, in verse 8, the disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you and you're going there to get again"?

They were going to go to Bethany just two miles away from Jerusalem. They said, aren't you forgetting what the leaders tried to do? They just tried to kill you. Are you going to go back and risk your life? And what they weren't saying is, are you going to go back and risk our life as well? Why are you doing that? Thomas was one of those disciples. And yet I love his reply in verse 16. Finally, therefore Thomas said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go," said "So that we might die with him". Thomas had a serious question about whether this was a wise thing to do, but notice how he expressed his faith. We're going to go even if it means dying with you. Sometimes we have doubts about life. Some of our doubts are about the future, about eternity.

The next time we see John and the Gospel of John it's in John 14, the disciples were with Jesus in the upper room that night before he was crucified, Jesus was explaining about the sacrifice he was about to make for them, but he gave them these words of assurance in John 14:1. This was all in the upper room. He said, "Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in me for in my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you for I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you unto myself. That where I am, there you may be also". And Thomas, one of the apostles raised his hand and said, Jesus, hey Jesus, we don't have a clue where you're going.

How in the world do you expect us to know the way to where you're going? That's what he said in verse 5. And Jesus responded to him verse 6 and said, "I am the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the father, except by me". Think about it without Thomas' doubt, we never would've gotten that tremendous answer. That reminds us, there is something on the other side of the grave, that place called heaven. It's all natural for us to doubt that, again, we've never seen it before. We're stuck in this life. It's natural to question about eternity, but Jesus says there is a heaven and he showed us the way to get there through faith in his death for our sins.

Thirdly, Thomas illustrates doubts about God himself, doubts about God and this is the foundational doubt we have to wrestle with, is Jesus really who he said he was? Remember after the crucifixion that next day on Friday, what did the disciples do? They holed up in a secret hiding place cowering in fear that they too would be arrested and crucified like Jesus had been. And then on that Sunday evening, after the resurrection, Jesus miraculously appeared in front of those disciples. He said, "I'm here. See the scars in my hands. Look at the scars in my side and my feet".

They were astonished at what they saw. But then John sounds this ominous note in verse 24, but Thomas one of the 12 was not with them when Jesus came, where was he? He allowed his disbelief, his disenchantment with Jesus to cause him to separate from the disciples. When the disciples saw Jesus crucified, their dreams evaporated, they said, he's just another man. But Thomas allowed his doubts to become disbelief and he separated himself from the rest of the apostles. And so verse 25 says that apparently they went out and found Thomas and they said to him, "We have seen the Lord". But Thomas said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails and put my finger into the place of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe".

Now here's a principle I want you to write down. It's not on your outline, write this down. Distance from others is dangerous for doubters. Distance from others is dangerous for doubters, lone rangers are easily ambushed. Thomas made a key mistake here by separating from the other believers, going out by himself his doubt was turning into unbelief. Questions, if we're not careful, can become seeds of doubt and seeds of doubt can grow into unbelief. And the unbelief is like a mushroom. It grows best in the darkness. Now listen to me, when you have times of doubt in your life about your Christian faith, Satan will do everything he can to convince you, you need to separate from the church. You need to separate from other Christians. You need to work things out on your own before you come back and believe...

No. If you do that, you become spiritual roadkill. No, there is strength in numbers. Don't make the mistake of distancing yourself, distancing yourself from others when you doubt. So they found Thomas, they said, come back with us. We've seen the Lord. And apparently Thomas went back and they stayed in that room for another eight days. But eight days later, verse 26, that Jesus appeared again in their midst. He said, peace, be with you. And then turning to Thomas, he stretched out his hands and said, "Put your finger here". Then he said, "Reach your hand and put it into my side". The Lord said to Thomas, "Stop doubting and believe". And Thomas said, "My God and my Lord". Isn't it interesting, Jesus knew exactly what Thomas had said. Unless I seen, unless I put my finger in that scar, I won't believe.

That leads to our second principle. Dependable evidence is distributed to doubters. Dependable evidence is given, it's distributed to doubters. Jesus didn't scorn Thomas because he wanted evidence. He didn't chastise him. He gave him what he was looking for. That's how God deals with people who honestly doubt, people who are seeking sincere answers. People who are looking for reasons to believe not to disbelieve. If you're a doubter today, God will do the same for you. Now, the evidence God provides isn't always a supernatural appearance like he made to Thomas. Sometimes God will direct you to the evidence that is already there.

I think about the story of Lee Strobel a Pulitzer prize, winning investigative newspaper journalist. His wife was a Christian. His children were Christians but he wasn't a believer. And what he tripped over was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And he honestly looked for the historical evidence to verify the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And he found that evidence in fact did exist. He became a strong believer and wrote those bestselling books, "The case for Christ" and "The case for faith". The point is when God sees a heart that wants to know him, he'll provide the evidence that person needs. Dependable evidence is distributed to doubters. And then notice what happened, Jesus said verse 29, "Because you have seen me have you now believed? Blessed are those who did not see and yet believed".

"Thomas", Jesus said to Thomas, "I'm glad you believed, you've believed, but there's an extra blessing for those who haven't yet seen me but believe anyway". You know who he's talking about? He's talking about you. He's talking about me. He was looking down the corridors of history and saying, blessed are those who believe without seeing me. How do you move from doubt to faith? How can you make sure that one day you hear similar words? Well done good and faithful servant. Let me share with you three practical principles for moving from doubt to faith.

Number one, don't deny your doubts, acknowledge them. Don't deny your doubts, acknowledge them. The reason we're fearful of acknowledging our doubts is we've got this secret fear that our doubts are bigger than God's answers. We think our questions are too great for God's answers. Don't worry about that. God is big enough to handle your questions. Philosophies, they come and go.

The early part of the 19th century, the German philosopher, Nietzsche, Frederick Nietzsche said, "God is dead". That was revolutionary. God is dead. Today God says, "Nietzsche is dead". I mean, philosophies come and go but God's word stands forever. Isaiah 48, "The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of our God shall stand forever". I remember talking to a Christian. She was crying, she had all kinds of doubts. She said, "I'm not even sure I believe in God anymore". I said, that's okay. That's okay. Because even when you don't believe in God, he still believes in you. Don't worry about denying your doubts, go ahead and acknowledge them. Your questions are no match for God's answers.

Secondly, don't dread your doubts, analyze them. Again we dread doubts because we fear that our doubts will destroy our faith. No, go ahead and analyze them. Why are you doubting? Is it something you read? Some question you have about the faith? Is it because of an unanswered prayer or a suffering you're experiencing? Is it because of perhaps disobedience in your life? Analyze your doubts? Thirdly, don't disguise your doubts, articulate them. Don't disguise your doubts, articulate them. Thomas was willing to verbalize exactly why he was doubting and what he needed. You need to do that too. Remember doubt grows in the darkness, doubt grows in the darkness.

You know, I read somewhere that every Christian needs to have three people in his life, a Paul, a Timothy, and a Barnabas. In other words, we need a Paul, somebody who can mentor us, a mature Christian that we can look to for guidance. We all need a Timothy, somebody to disciple, somebody whose life we're pouring into, but we all thirdly need a Barnabas. Remember he was the son of encouragement in acts 5, he was always encouraging people. Now the key is when you go through a time of doubt, you've got to know which one to go to. Don't go to somebody your trying to disciple, somebody who's younger in the faith than you are. You're going to destroy them if you do that.

But there needs to be a mature Christian you can go to and you'll find that when you voice your doubt to them, they'll say, you know what? I've been through the same thing or I've had the same question and here's how I resolved it in my life. Make sure you have somebody you can go to and remember above all people, go to God with your questions. He will encourage you just like he did Thomas by saying, do not be unbelieving but believing. Church tradition tells us that after the resurrection, Thomas went to India, where he started churches there, he then went to China where he started the Christian church in peking. He came back to India and nurtured those new believers in Christ.

One day when he was an old man, he was in a cave praying to God and a group of Hindu priests attacked him, fearful that Christianity was going to overshadow Hinduism. And one of those Hindu priests thrust a spear into the side of Thomas thinking they had killed him, but they hadn't. When they left, Thomas was able to crawl to a nearby church, a chapel. He wrapped his arms around the base of a stone cross. He looked up at that cross and said, thank you God, for your mercies in my life, into your hands, I commend my spirit. Those are not the words of a doubter. They are are words of somebody who finally conquered the mountain of doubt and they can be your final words as well. If you learn the secret of moving from doubt to faith.
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