The Battleground Between Faith and Doubt
When it comes to spiritual salvation and spiritual growth, every born-again believer in Christ will tell you that faith is the key. However, no matter how unswerving a Christian may appear to be in his or her faith, we have all experienced a season of doubt. Do such times of doubt mean we are not born again, disloyal to Jesus, or otherwise unworthy of God's mercy and grace? Nope! It means we are human, flawed by our sinful nature in a fallen, dying world. Doubt is the internal struggle, the battleground between letting go of the world's empty promises and clinging to the ironclad promises of God.
"As amazing as it is, when Scripture talks about the heart, it's not talking about that life-sustaining muscle. It's talking about our entire inner being. The heart is the seat of our emotions, the seat of decisive action, and the seat of belief (as well as doubt)." Billy Graham ~ Billy Graham
In one form or another, all Christians experience doubt at one time or another. Even the one whom Jesus said was the greatest among those born of women, John the Baptist. When Scripture introduces us to John, he boldly proclaims the coming Messiah, encourages people to repent, and baptizes those who step forward to answer that call. One day, John saw Jesus walking towards him, and John said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). John knew who Jesus was-- the Lamb of God, and he knew why Jesus had come-- to take away the world's sin.
When King Herod, the grandson of Herod the Great who ruled at the time of Jesus' birth, imprisoned John the Baptist, John sent word to Jesus, asking, "Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?" (Luke 7:20). While Luke does not directly state that John's faith had wavered, the question posed strongly implies that John began to doubt who Jesus was and his expectations of what Jesus came to do. In response, Jesus did not reprimand John for his question and apparent doubt. He calmly replied to the two messenger's question, saying:
"Go and report to John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive sights, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them" Luke 7:22
In examining the Lord's response to John's question, Malcom O. Tolbert (1970) wrote, "Jesus' answer to the query is given in the form of deeds which represent the fulfillment of His messianic program" (p. 67). In other words, Jesus' response is to convey to John that the Lord is doing exactly what His Father in heaven sent me into the world to do, just as Scripture foretold. Since John the Baptist experienced a moment of doubt, the man who baptized Jesus and saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Him from heaven, we, too, will encounter periods of doubt, and Jesus knows it. The Lord extends to us the same assurance that He gave John. After all, Jesus is still in the miracle business, and they happen every day, both big and small.
Therefore, let us be encouraged to take the time this week to seek out the miracles of God, take the time to engage with Him in prayer to reinforce our faith. Let us also remember the words of Jesus who said to His disciples when they were discouraged, "if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20)
A Faithful Sower first published this article on March 15, 2021.
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References: 1. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. (2020, October 8). Why do Christians talk about giving their heart to the Lord? The heart is simply a muscle, right?. Retrieved from https://billygraham.org/answer/why-do-christians-talk-about-giving-their-heart-to-the-lord/ 2. Tolbert, M. O. (1970). Luke. C.J. Allen (Ed.), The Broadman Bible Commentary (pp. 1-188). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press