A one trick pony. A pounding of the same drum. The beating of a dead horse. The repeating of the same tale. Perhaps, that is what I am about to do today, but I cannot resist the urge.
A few posts back I wrote about what I called “that shadowy idol called doubt.” My reason for doing so was two-fold. On the one hand, I think that doubt is a good thing. On the other hand, we have a tendency of elevating our doubts to a height that they should never be placed.
Doubt a good thing…
Specifically, doubt can be good when it comes to our abilities. We ought never to think too highly of ourselves. We should never allow our knowing to puff us up with pride. And so, when it comes to human ability (what we can or cannot do) I think a little doubt is a good thing. It keeps us realistic. We all have limitations. We all have blind spots. We all have personal struggles.
In terms of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, I think a little self-doubt teaches us to lean more heavily on the Rock of our Salvation. God is our refuge. He is our strong and mighty tower. It is in Him that we stand, we move, we live, we breath. He is what sustains us by the power of His Word. He is the one who gifts us and enables us to serve Him. From His mouth comes knowledge and wisdom. From His hand comes strength and power to stand in the midst of our adversaries. A little self-doubt in our abilities teaches us to be dependent upon Him who made us in His image. A little self-doubt teaches us to yearn for the grace of God:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with my weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (1Cor 12.9b-10; ESV).
And so, doubt can be a good thing, when it teaches us to reach for our Lord.
Doubt a bad thing…
However, the opposite is the case when we doubt God or His Word. We ought never to think that God might be mistaken, or that His word is lacking in anything. All that we have been given in Holy Scripture is necessary for living a righteous life. All that we have in the Bible is sufficient for answering those tough probing questions we all encounter. How are we here? God created everything. How did He do it? He spoke it into existence. How long did it take? Six days (approx. 24hrs in length). Why is there so much evil in the world? Because of the curse of sin. Why are people selfish, hateful and sometimes down right wicked? Because being children of Adam they are sinners—they bear his image. Why do we find fossil grave yards all around the world? Why are there sea creatures at some of the highest points of the planet? Because of the global flood of Noah’s day. Why are their different languages? Why do people look differently in one part of the world from the in other parts? Because God separated the earth (people) during the time of the tower of Babel. Why are clothes necessary? To cover our nakedness, to remind us of our shame (i.e., sin). What’s our purpose? Why are we here? We are to glorify God, having been made in His image (i.e., to represent Him). What happens when we die? We face judgment, some to eternal life others to eternal death (i.e., separation).
These are just a smattering of questions that some people have regarding basic life questions. These are mocked and doubted both inside and outside of the Christian faith. But there are other areas of doubt.
A Smattering of Questions…
Did the walls of Jericho really fall down after marching around them and blowing trumpets in Joshua’s day? Did Moses really part the Red Sea by following God’s commands to raise the staff and separate His hands? Did manna come down from heaven? Did the rock produce water? Did the Israelites clothes really not wear out after 40-years of wondering in the desert? Did Balaam’s donkey really speak? Did the serpent in the garden? Were the Israelites really slaves in Egypt? Did God choose (elect) to save them because of a promise to Abraham and God’s decision to place special love on them? Did Peter walk on water? Did Jesus turn water into wine? Did Gideon rout the Midianites with just 300 without losing a single man, even though they fought numbers in the 10’s of thousands? Did Samson really kill a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey? Did Paul really get bit by a poisonous snake and just shake it off without any health issues? Did Jesus really arise from a sealed tomb under Roman guard and then appear to His disciples? Did silver become so abundant in Israel during the reign of Solomon that it was like gravel? Did Elijah stop the rain for three-and-a-half years, and also call fire down from heaven? Did he really outrun Ahab who was riding in a chariot to Jezreel? Did David slay a 9 ½ foot giant named Goliath? Did Daniel escape a lion’s den unscathed? Did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego go into a burning furnace and then after some time inside leave that furnace without hair or cloth singed or smelling of smoke?
What do we do with those biblical events? Do we believe them? Or to our own peril, do we doubt them? If we doubt them, do we then parade those doubts around as if we are really sophisticated, smart thinkers? In our doubt, are we ashamed of admitting them to the world? As a result of our own doubts, do we attempt to find answers for them that will alleviate some of the embarrassment that we might experience when those who don’t believe ask us our thoughts regarding them?
A Serious Flaw in our Thinking…
When our doubt is exalted in this fashion it is an idol, for we would rather cherish our doubts in those moments than the Lord who has spoken truly. Our failure to fully grasp such things is not excuse, for doubting them. And if we doubt these supernatural occurrences (which are logical in a universe that God has created), then what grounds do we have in believing that our salvation, purchased by the life of Jesus Christ, is not also on shaky ground? If those things, which make up an integral part of the whole of our Christian faith can be legitimately doubted and explained away, then what justification can we provide in saying that our faith is not in vain?
Often you will hear Christians appealing to 1Cor 15 where Paul argues for the resurrection of Jesus Christ as necessary or else our faith is in vain. But what is forgotten is that Paul is addressing a specific issue in the Corinthian church where some were arguing against the resurrection (bodily). However, he was not saying that Christ’s resurrection is the only aspect of our faith that makes it null and void if it didn’t happen according to the Scriptures. The Christian faith is a total encompassing worldview. It all is interrelated. It is all one cogent whole. Thus, if one part is found to be in error or false or to be seriously doubted, then so too might any other part of it be. If God has not spoken truly in His Word through His prophets and apostles on any point, then what basis do we have in not assuming that it is all in vain?
Faith is the opposite of doubt. Abraham was accredited righteousness, not because of anything he had done, but because he believed (did not doubt) what God had said. We are called to have the same faith. In this way we are identified as children of Abraham. But if we hem and haw on God’s Word at various points, preferring to express our doubts as if they are good things, then how is this an exercise of Abrahamic faith?