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#24374 Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:49 AM
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I think I've brought this subject up here in the past, but the issue of doubt is a recurring struggle in my walk with Christ. I'm really beginning to wonder what the deal is. With me, doubting occurs most as I'm reading the Scriptures. Questions such as, "Is all of this true?" "Is Christ really who He says He is?" Then there are times when I'm fine when reading...I don't know, it's just so frustrating at times to know that I believe, know the work of God in my heart yet still have some times of intense doubt. As I've asked before, is this normal, and could it be possible that I'll always have this struggle?

I continually ask the Lord to strengthen my faith and establish my heart in His truth but the struggle still persists. As I'm continually in prayer about going into ministry some time in the future I wonder if doubt will be still be my "thorn". If so, would it still be possible to be an effective minister of the Lord? Do you think that there are men and women of God today that are effective and still struggle with doubt? Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated. I would also appreciate your prayers in regards to this issue. Thanks.


tj
"-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..."
thredj #24375 Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:49 AM
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Others have had doubt at times (Luke 24, etc.). Doubt can be a powerful enemy, however it can also be a close friend. Because you "doubt" (and this may take on several forms) it is drawing "you" to study, pray, examine yourself, your beliefs, etc. Presently, this appears to be causing you to mature in the LORD. When doubt causes you to desert the faith and/or be on a collision course with continuous sin you have something to be concerned about, however when it drives you to be repentant and say; I don't understand this? why this? Why is it said this way? why does this seem so Arminian and not Reformed? (I am sure I will hear about this one) and then you study it out and see the truth, it is something you may actually rejoice about. I believe the later is here evidenced by your humility to share your heart in this area. When you stop asking questions and quit searching for answers, then examine yourself, whether ye be in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). Ask yourself is your doubt driving you toward Emmaus or Jerusalem (Luke 24)?

Just to state emphatically, "It is ALL true" and "Christ really is who He says He is," however He desires us to know this (Him) in a deeper and ever widening way and thus sometimes doubts will occur to drive you to yet a deeper more intimate relationship with the LORD.

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2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
All this said, I think what you are "doubting" the most is: (1) whether you understand enough to be an able minister, and (2) if you will be able to answer every question that is ever posed to you by others. As to (1) As far as being a perfect minister, none are--thats what grace is about. A true congregation desires a pastor who is continuing to mature in the faith once delivered. As to (2) The BAD News is you won't be able to answer ALL the questions and the GOOD News is "God doesn't expect you to" (thats His job). However God will enable you to keep the main thing (the revelation He has given) the main thing.

Do NOT count on seminary (if this is a goal) to answer ALL your questions. Indeed, if it is a true seminary (i.e. if you really learn anything) you will have more questions when you leave then when you arrived. However, a good seminary will also teach you how to deal both rationally and emotionally with those things that are just <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/Banghead.gif" alt="" /> (true faith continues on in spite of these things, because true faith is not only knowledge). You remain in our prayers.

J_Edwards #24376 Thu Apr 21, 2005 12:44 PM
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Just to state emphatically, "It is ALL true" and "Christ really is who He says He is," however He desires us to know this (Him) in a deeper and ever widening way and thus sometimes doubts will occur to drive you to yet a deeper more intimate relationship with the LORD.

Maybe this struggle is an answer to prayer in some ways. I continue to pray that I would know the person, power and ministry of Christ in a more intimate way. If doubting in some way is drawing me deeper then so be it. At least I'll know then that this is the work of God and His purpose will not be thwarted and His method unquestioned. All I know is that THE last thing I want to do is to doubt so much that it would make me wander from the truth...God Forbid! Nonetheless, fear is present...the fear that my doubting will result in nothing good. Does that make sense? (I always feel like I'm rambling)

On another note...I just finished meeting with my Asst. Pastor and our discussion just happened to come to the topic of doubt and unbelief without my mentioning it, and I very much intended to mention it. I was truly blessed in our conversation as we talked about the mind and how asking the questions how and why can be positive and in some cases negative, how God is able to deal with and answer our questions, and the fact that there may not be an answer as to why I deal with this on a continual basis. As we've been meeting our prayer has been that the Lord would be present in our time together and He showed himself today by the direction of our conversation...again it was a blessing and very refreshing.

Thanks again for your response and thank you for your continued prayers and in all of this may God be glorified.


tj
"-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..."
thredj #24377 Thu Apr 21, 2005 3:43 PM
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Everyone doubts from time to time. Just be sure to differentiate between doubt and awe. Is it "Oh man! NO WAY!" or sheer gaping wonder?

Seminarians are frequently under much greater stress with regards to this because they feel like they have to have it all together spiritually. Preachers get a raw deal there because they're just regular men--with a call--and just as prone to all that human stuff we have to put up with. *shrug Keep your nose in that bible and you'll be alright. God's at work!


Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."--2 Timothy 2:9
doulos #24378 Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:16 PM
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doulos,

Thanks for the encouragement and welcome to the board!


tj
"-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..."
thredj #24379 Fri Apr 22, 2005 1:40 AM
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Brother, I'm not going to offer you a very thoughtful response right now but I thought you might appreciate this verse from the Bible, which has often been my own cry:

"Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24).


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
CovenantInBlood #24380 Fri Apr 22, 2005 8:05 AM
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Kyle,

Thanks brother. May I ask, in what ways has this struggle manifested itself in your life. I'm just curious if the type of doubts are the same...sometimes I think that I'm the only one. I have also found comfort in the verse you've quoted and also in Jude 22. Thanks again Kyle it is much appreciated as these past couple of days have been mentally taxing.


tj
"-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..."
thredj #24381 Fri Apr 22, 2005 10:44 PM
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thredj said:
Kyle,

Thanks brother. May I ask, in what ways has this struggle manifested itself in your life. I'm just curious if the type of doubts are the same...sometimes I think that I'm the only one. I have also found comfort in the verse you've quoted and also in Jude 22. Thanks again Kyle it is much appreciated as these past couple of days have been mentally taxing.

Doubts about the truth of Scripture, about my own salvation, about God's existence, about God's ability to sanctify me, about Jesus' messiahship . . . I could go on. These things have all been issues, some more or less continuous.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
CovenantInBlood #24382 Sat Apr 23, 2005 2:26 PM
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Gotcha! I can say the same. Today I broke out a book that I've had for about five years called "If I believe, Why do I have all of these doubts." Whew! Long title, but I recall back in the summer of 2000 this was the only book I could find that came remotely close to identifying with my intense agony at the time. I've decided to go back through it in hopes that it'll offer a bit of help. The only thing now I guess is that I need to do a little research on the author, Lynn Anderson. The book was endorsed by Bill Hybels so...I don't know...I'll glean what I can out of it and hope that it helps. Thanks again for sharing Kyle and may the Lord grant you grace to stand.


tj
"-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..."
thredj #24383 Mon Apr 25, 2005 6:37 PM
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As I was reading your post and those of others on this subject, I was turning over in my mind the Biblical phrase "double-minded". I tend to think that doubt can be, but isn't always doublemindedness. As we learn to walk with Christ, we have to learn to live mindful of a God and Saviour, and a world we can't yet see. We've been transformed without actually seeing the transformation, and I believe it takes time to live in light of that other world. We're struggling to overcome the old nature and live in tune with the new one, a struggle that goes on our whole lives but which God promises that we will have victory in, by His grace, 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24. Fortunately our salvation depends on His grace, not upon our frame of minds! Double-mindedness is something else, I think. It is a deliberate and unrepentant persistence of having one foot firmly in both worlds. Such a person believes in "spiritual insurance" and is a hypocrite. That's not to say that we aren't all guilty to a certain extent of this-- I know I am anyway-- but, the inclination of my heart, like yours, is to put off such things and to be able to increasingly throw myself on Christ's mercy alone. John Bunyan asks us in his writings, which do you want to be true? Do you want to be His alone? Or do you still, deep down, lust after the world that will burn? I think I can guess the answer. There's both admonition and comfort for you in this passage: Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, [b]13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.[/b]


Stand Fast, Craigellachie!
E_F_Grant #24384 Mon Apr 25, 2005 8:47 PM
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EFG,

Once again I must give thanks for your response. You're right my heart, although deceiving at times, desires to be rooted in the truth and love of our Savior. Just this evening as I was walking home from work I prayed, Lord please be glorified in my life and establish my heart in your truth."

It is interesting, however, how my doubts morph into much such things as lack of assurance which is something I intended to bring up on the board tonight. The verse that you quoted, Phillipians 2:12 is one I've been pondering lately. I keep thinking that if I'm having these doubts is my faith truly genuine. I think more than losing genuine faith, if that's possible, I'm concerned with being one who cries Lord, Lord and then having Christ say "I never knew you," the thought of that eats at the core of my heart. I then think back to the day of my salvation and my way of life afterwards and I think "I know the Lord drew me and even though I've failed many times my heart's desire is to follow Him. And so with that I think there are many who are "good" people, people who desire to be good and even those who claim to have a desire to follow Christ, so what separates me from them. Could I be deceiving myself? Could my salvation not be real? And so these are the questions that spring up from my doubts and they trouble me deeply.

All in all I don't want this struggle any longer and my desire is to live a life that is glorifying to God and not the type of glory that vessels of dishonor give but rather I want to be a vessel of honor that glorifies God and one that is truly and completely His. So how do I strive to do that? And is striving the right terminology to use when I do believe that our salvation is not of our own striving but by the grace of God. How I desire to rest in that fact alone...I appreciate all of your continued prayers and encouragement. Thanks


tj
"-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..."
thredj #24385 Mon Apr 25, 2005 9:42 PM
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tj,

You may find this helpful: True and False Assurance, by Thomas Brooks.


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Pilgrim #24386 Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:52 AM
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Pilgrim,

Thanks for the recommendation. I printed off the Brooks article some time ago but haven't gotten to it yet. However, I did read "Kept By God" by Robert Romaine last night...what a sermon! I found much encouragement and comfort and it truly refreshed my spirit and faith. I recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in similar straits.


tj
"-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..."
thredj #24387 Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:18 AM
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A few comments that I hope can help:

1) It's OK to believe simply because your heart tells you to. Belief in God, so say the Christian philosophers, is properly basic. ie. it's a type of belief that doesn't require outside justification to be justifiably held to. This is the internal testimony of the conscience that is part of general revelation.

2) That being said there are copious amounts of external, rational evidences that you can use to convince your intellect that the God exists, Christ is God and the Scriptures are reliable. This is called apologetics and I've always said that the greatest value of apologetics is to strengthen christians. I strongly advocate you pick up some apologetic resources. You can find the stuff all over the web as well as in good books. They range in content from philosophical to historical to scientific. After delving deeply in to apologetics I now only have the vaguest moments of existential doubt which my mind can quickly bannish as I go over the evidences in my head.

3) don't knock yourself out too much over your doubt. Your salvation is not on the line here. Your salvation depends on Christ alone, it's not even your responsibility to maintain your faith, He sustains that too. True, there will be those who are cast out..."depart from me, I knew you not". But if you read the context you will see that those are "doers of iniquity" They are people who lived licentiously. Perhaps included are those who hold heretical views of Christ. I sincerely doubt that any of those people were agonizing over whether they were saved prior to meeting Christ first-hand.

4) Perhaps much of your doubt comes because you have been taught all your life by our culture that Christianity is irrational and that science has proven that so. That it's an ancient mythology for the weak-minded. If so, go back to suggestion #2 and you'll see that's a totally false position.

5) I want to warn you against thinking that the strength of your faith is what secures your salvation. I also want you to know that the solution to intellectual doubts is to seek to understand the intellectual basis for the truthfulness of Christianity. (again back to point #2)
Keep in mind that 'Faith' is not simple belief or an act of the will. But rather it's 'trust' grounded in objectively known facts.

So study up.

thredj #24388 Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:20 AM
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Just a few thoughts to rub together this morning. They're a little stiff--as am I--so mind your toes. As I read down through these posts my own similar struggles are brought to mind. Doubts and fears and struggles--its tough. Especially this piece:

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thredj said:
I think more than losing genuine faith, if that's possible, I'm concerned with being one who cries Lord, Lord and then having Christ say "I never knew you," the thought of that eats at the core of my heart [snip]All in all I don't want this struggle any longer...

I don't know that I have much encouragement this morning as I spent yesterday on the end of a shovel building flower beds for my wife. But I will say this much--sometimes its best just to put your head down and plow forward, you know? Friend of mine once said, "God hits straight licks with crooked sticks." No you don't deserve salvation, no you don't deserve to be serving the Lord, no you're not fit to polish chamberpots in heaven--but you ARE saved and you ARE serving the Lord and he's apparently seen some worth in you or you wouldn't be doing what you're doing. The worst thing we can possibly do is focus on our inadequacies because thats about all we've got. And that may be the problem right there, the focus has shifted from how great and awesome he is to how lowly and pitiful you are. Poor me, I'm a wretched, awful, terrible, sinful person. You're right, you are. But praise God he doesn't see it that way!


Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."--2 Timothy 2:9
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