New Hope Notes
From Doubt to Faith
Pastor Aaron Cordeiro
Have you ever doubted in your life? I think we all have, haven’t we? When we wrestle with doubt sometimes I wonder, “Lord, does this disqualify my faith?” That’s the question we want to answer today. When we hear the name of Babe Ruth, he is known as the “king of homeruns.” How many homeruns has Babe Ruth hit in his lifetime? 714. How many strikeouts? 1,330. It’s amazing to me that you got a guy who is great, and yet he strikes out double the amount of homeruns. But, we know him as the “king of homeruns.” One of the quotes Mother Theresa said when speaking to a mass crowd of people, “Jesus loves you so much and you are so special to Him.” But, then in her more private moments and in her own wrestling she would say, “When I try and see Him, I can’t see Him. I try and listen for His voice, but I do not hear Him.” I think even Mother Theresa wrestled with faith. Billy Graham started off an amazing ministry, very successful but at one point in his ministry around 1948, he wrestled with his faith and the infallibility of the Word of God. He had questions. It wasn’t so much where he didn’t believe. He just had questions so he checked himself back into seminary where he said, “I want to make sure there is an under-girding of strength where I can broaden my faith and my ministry”. When we think of these people they are known for being people of great faith, but even the greats strike out. How many of you strike out? We all do. Today, I want to present a challenge that would provoke us to make a choice. Here is the challenge: Your doubts will be the birthplace of great faith or your doubts will be the birthplace of great unbelief. Today, I challenge you to choose as we delve into the life of Thomas, who is known as the “greatest doubter.”
Before we look at Thomas, here is a bit of context in the area of John 20: No one, disciples included, expected Christ to rise. The Bible says, “Then Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples as they were in the upper room and they rejoiced greatly.” Then He says something where he gives them an assignment, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Now, He breathes on them the Holy Spirit, which is the power to follow through on that assignment. He says, “As you are walking out this assignment, it’s going to be important that there is no un-forgiveness among you.” So as we are in our assignment, He is saying make sure you understand forgiveness. Then in verse 24 the Bible says, “But, Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them.” Very interesting fact, I think there are places that you and I need to be, where God is going to show up, and if we are not there, it just may be the birthplace of doubt. I wonder if God is saying certain things to us where He wants us to be; but because we’re not, we just may miss something great. Did you know that you have a meeting with the “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords?” Well let’s see Thomas’ response as the disciples ran up to him and said they had seen Jesus: “They told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he replied, ‘I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side, I will never believe.’” (John 20:25)
The question is--does carrying doubts disqualify our faith? I look at all the greats of faith like Job, Thomas, Jeremiah, David, and Peter that are saying, “We made it, and it was tough. We even wrestled with our faith, but we made it so keep choosing God over and over.” Today, the question would be presented to us when we face doubts: what will we choose? The literal translation of doubt means—standing in two places at the same time. Do you ever feel like that in your faith where you’re standing in two places at the same time and you’re being torn apart? When we are faced with doubt:
1. It reminds us that we have a choice.
Faith isn’t faith if we don’t have a choice. Love isn’t love if we don’t have a choice. If we didn’t have a choice in love it would be more like control or manipulation. I’m grateful that we serve a God that gives us a choice. Doubt reminds us that we have a choice, and God loves us so much that we have a choice. Joshua says to us…
“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…” (Josh. 24:15).
· Doubt may simply be a normal part of building your faith.
As the Bible says, “The boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) and “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).
The Bible says that sometimes we’re going to have to work our faith out. Philippians says that when we work out our salvation with fear and trembling what starts to happen is God is pleased when we choose Him over and over. As we make the right choice over and over again it becomes easier to do. Another thing the Bible says that happens when we choose God, He starts to work on our will/heart and our works, or that which is our actions. So when we choose God over and over in the face of doubt, what happens is God starts to transform our heart and actions. Also, in our choice,
· Doubt could indicate a stubborn heart.
As it is written, “[They were] a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright…Ps. 78:8.
If we’re doubting a lot it may be a symptom that our heart isn’t right, or maybe a symptom that our hearts aren’t right with God. Or it could be that our hearts aren’t right with someone. There is a difference between doubt and unbelief.
· Dealing with doubts doesn’t disqualify your faith, unbelief does.
Sometimes if our heart isn’t right, we’re going to deal with doubts. Unbelief is more of an absolute versus doubt is something we’re working through.
When we face doubt,
2. It reminds us to keep our hearts right with God in order to deal with our doubts effectively.
If our hearts aren’t right, it’s hard to deal with doubt effectively. When our hearts are right, our actions will turn out right. Luke 6:45 states, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Proverbs says whatever is in our heart will come out. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to guard the rightness of our hearts because it’s what is in our hearts that will determine our response and reaction that we have when we face doubt.
“Do not trust in princes or in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps. 146:3). In other words, the Bible is saying even though the guy may be a prince of a guy or the girl is a princess of a gal, the only One whom we can trust in is our Lord and God. As Thomas put his hands in the nail piercings of Jesus, he said, “My Lord and my God!”—the highest point of our faith. Blessed are those who don’t need to see, but blessed are those who believe. Today we have a choice to make; jump to ground that is solid. Solid ground that will never leave or forsake you. If you are wrestling with that, know that in the arms of our Lord, He is God and will always care for you.
3. It reminds me to live forward in spite of the doubts.
If we didn’t have doubts, we wouldn’t have to grow as much, learn, or search things out. Sometimes a great faith has to be forged through great struggle. In fact, the Bible calls it “mountain-moving” faith. We find this out of Mark 11:23, “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.” Mountain-moving faith is when in spite of our doubts, we move forward. Faith isn’t the absence of doubts; it’s following God in spite of our doubts. It’s knowing that though we have doubts, we’re going to choose God and realize that sometimes gaining spiritual insight is a gradual process not always a one-time God event. If everything was simply given to us, I think we would be enabled to live a shallow faith with shallow relationships, commitment and understanding. If you’re standing in two different places, it doesn’t mean you’re disqualified. It just means you’re still a work in process.
In closing, if you’re standing in two places at the same time can I encourage you to do this:
· Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.
Often we doubt our faith, before we doubt our doubts. Faith is believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s something that will never leave you nor forsake you; it’s something that we can hold onto not just in this life but also in the next. Amen
1. How is doubt and unbelief different?
2. What areas in your life do you find yourself doubting God?
3. Why should we keep our hearts right with God when dealing with doubts?
4. How can doubt be a normal part of building your faith?
5. In what way should we live in spite of the doubts?