This booklet was originally printed in 1993. It was revised and edited in 2006 and forms one of the chapters in Harry’s book, “When the Road is Rough and Steep”. It has been re-edited for the website and has particular relevance in the uncertain days of 2021.
DEALING WITH DOUBT
IS MY TRUST IN JESUS MISPLACED?
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2)
Do you ever have doubts? Do you ever wonder if you are wasting your life trusting in Jesus?
A young man once asked me, “How do you know that you are not backing the wrong horse?” I had never quite heard Christianity put that way, but I knew what he meant. I tried to explain to him that I had asked that same question in different forms many times. How do I know that Christianity is the only true religion? How can I be so sure that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven? If I had been born in some other part of the world, wouldn’t I be a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or something else? How do I know that I am not backing the wrong horse? Good question.
If you are an unbeliever, you do well to ask that question. You want to know. At least, I hope you do, because it is the most important investigation you will ever make. I believe with all my heart your eternal destiny hangs upon the answer to this question.
But it may be that even as a believer you sometimes have doubts. Perhaps, during a time of difficulty or darkness, you begin to reflect, “You know, I have never seen God. In fact, I have never actually seen Jesus or even an angel. I wonder if it is all true. People talk about, ‘God said this. God said that. God said such and such to me. God led me thus.’ But what do they mean?”
You say to yourself, “I have never heard an audible voice. I wonder if I am really being a fool, giving up all this time to religion and giving up this talent that I have, to serve Jesus Christ. Maybe he’s dead and gone like other religious leaders and I am just wasting my life. And, come to think of it, my money; my hard-earned meager resources! Should I really be giving so sacrificially to my church and to other Christian work? What if I am wasting it? I can think of a few other things to do with that money!”
You are not the only person who has been troubled by doubts, Christian friend. This chapter is primarily written for believers, or those who have professed belief but are now having doubts. That is why I will quote scripture frequently and base this study on the experience of a great believer—John the Baptist. Of all people, John experienced doubts about Jesus. (If you want to read about John you can do so in: Luke 1:5-25, 39-45, 57-80; Luke 3:1-20; Matthew 14:1-12; and John 1:19-35.) We will concentrate on the incident recorded in Matthew 11, verses 2-6, though I will refer to other incidents and statements during the course of this study.
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (Matthew 11:2-6).
Now it is very surprising to find John having to ask this question. After all, John was a great prophet. Jesus said so. As a matter of fact, in this very chapter, verse 11, Jesus says: “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there is not anyone greater than John the Baptist.”
It is also surprising because John knew that Jesus was the One.
He knew from a child. His father was a priest and his mother, Elizabeth, was the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In a very remarkable statement, we are told in the Bible how Mary, when she had just conceived the child Jesus, went to see her cousin Elizabeth down in Judea. Elizabeth was six months into her pregnancy with John. When the two women met, the child in Elizabeth’s womb, John, leapt for joy at the proximity of the Savior. We then read:
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:41, 42)
I am sure you will agree with me, therefore, that from a child John must have been aware of some of the remarkable prophecies concerning both himself and his cousin.
He knew in the desert. John grew up to become a wilderness preacher enjoying remarkable success. One important aspect of his message was to point to One who was to come of whom he was but the forerunner, preparing the way. When he saw Jesus, he pointed to him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
He knew in the water. John used to baptize those who repented of their sins in the river Jordan, hence his nickname, “the Baptist.” Jesus came for baptism and John said, “I am not worthy even to untie your sandals. You should baptize me.”
And Jesus said, “No. You baptize me. It is right.”
And so, John did and we read that John “. . . saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from Heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16).
John had been told, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he . . . I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:33-34).
So how could John of all people have doubts since he knew who Jesus was from a child, and as a preacher, and when he baptized Jesus?
I don’t suppose you have had such amazing things happen to you as happened to John. I certainly haven’t. So, if he after all those confirming experiences, could be attacked with doubts, little wonder if some of us sometimes are. That is why I have chosen this passage for a brief study of “Doubt.”
We will consider it from this point of view. First of all: how doubts may have arisen in his mind, and how they can arise in ours. And then: how Jesus dealt with his doubts and how we should deal with them.
We will examine our text very carefully and see if it casts light upon John’s problem.
Doubts may have arisen because:
He was a man; “When John…”
Who was John? Well, it says in John 1, verse 6, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.” Not Superman. Not an angel. But a man—John. The Bible says that temptation is “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). No man or woman can escape being tempted. It is not a sin to be tempted. It is not a sin for a doubt to come into your mind. It may very well come from within or be put there by the evil one. Doubt is one of Satan’s favorite weapons. We read in the Bible that from the very beginning he used doubt to attack those whom God had created.
Satan even came to Jesus when he tempted him in the wilderness and said, in effect, “If you are the Son of God. . .” I mean, are you sure? “. . .if you are, don’t you think you ought to do something that will put it beyond any doubt, and prove it? If you are . . . turn these stones into bread.”
So certainly, the temptation to doubt is something that is common to man. Of course, we are taught that we must resist temptation. If we give in to it, if we welcome it, then that becomes a sin. I have written this chapter to help you to resist the temptation to doubt the gospel.
He was a preacher
Who was John? He was a faithful and fearless preacher. As a matter of fact, the reason why he was in prison when he sent this message is because of his faithful and courageous preaching. He had denounced the king, Herod Antipas, for his adultery. Herod had taken his brother, Philip’s wife, and John had said that was unlawful. They put him in prison and, later, took his life. And so, here is the evil one attacking this brave preacher.
Satan does attack preachers, you know. He also goes after other strategic Christians who may be in positions of influence. You have always to remember that Satan is not omnipresent. God is everywhere, but Satan is not. He is a created being. Powerful, yes, but limited, and he roams “through the earth, and going back and forth in it” (Job 1:7). He “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is not alone. He has some evil spirits at his command. But they are of limited number. I know of no scripture that tells us that demons can reproduce. So, therefore, he has to have a strategy.
If you were the devil, wouldn’t you have a strategy? With your limited resources, wouldn’t you target those who were doing you the most damage? That is why he goes after Christian leaders, preachers, evangelists. He also goes after people who witness for Jesus Christ, or who are seeking to win their friends or their family for Jesus Christ. He targets people who pray. He obviously targets missionaries, especially those who are in front-line evangelism and church planting.
Do you feel, sometimes, that you have been targeted? Maybe it is because you are a threat to Satan by your prayers, by your witness, or because you are a church leader, preacher, or support a preacher. All God’s soldiers are targets for the enemy, but especially his officers. Satan’s array of subtle but powerful weapons includes discouragement, depression, loneliness, fatigue, division, diversion, immorality, financial anxiety and/or dishonesty, jealousy, pride, egotism, and—as in this case—doubt. What an arsenal! How strong we need to be in the day of battle. And we do well to stay clear of Satan’s traps. As Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
He was in prison; “When John heard in prison…”
Not only was he a man and a preacher, but he was in prison. It is one thing to have great assurance when the crowds are there and when they are coming from north, south, east, and west, to hear you preach as they had with John in his great ministry, and when there are long lines of people waiting to be baptized in the River Jordan. No doubt he was on a “high.” He believed that judgment was coming at any time with the Christ. He, John, was the forerunner to prepare the way, and then revival was coming following the judgment. At long last the day had dawned. Hallelujah!
Now it is all very different. He is alone and in prison. He is allowed occasional prison visits from some of his followers but that is all he has—and doubts. Satan is cruel. He takes advantage of difficult circumstances and attacks us when we are weak, when we are lonely, sick, or disappointed.
I can imagine John wondering, “Why has God allowed this? I was faithful. Why has God allowed me to be arrested and put in prison like this? Why, if Jesus is the One, if he is the Christ—the Deliverer—why does he not deliver me? They tell me he works miracles. Why does he not come and work a miracle for me? They tell me he can heal at a word, at a distance. He doesn’t even have to be there. Why doesn’t he just say a word then and get me out of this prison?” I wonder if those thoughts came to him. I wonder if he pondered, “He must know I am allowed some visitors. But days go by, weeks go by, months go by, and he never comes.”
I can imagine Satan putting these kinds of thoughts into his mind, can’t you? “You would think he would come and see you, John, wouldn’t you? If he cares for you, wouldn’t he at least come and visit you? Is he the One who is to come, or should you expect someone else?”
Does doubt sometimes come to your mind because you wonder why God doesn’t solve your problem? Have you ever secretly and quietly puzzled within yourself, “If God is God and almighty, why doesn’t he use just a teeny bit of that power to get me out of this mess I am in? If I am his child, why doesn’t he do something for me? Why doesn’t he heal me? Why doesn’t he find me a job? Why doesn’t he give me a husband? Why doesn’t he grant us a child? If Jesus loves me, why doesn’t he at least visit me? I feel so alone. I don’t sense his presence. Is Jesus the One who should come, or should I look for somebody else?”
His expectations were unrealized; “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing…”
Jesus was not what John expected, or else why ask the question? I mean, he obviously was surprised by what he was hearing. You see, the Lord Jesus was a holy man. He was God’s man. John had believed with all his heart that Jesus was so much more righteous than he that he was not fit to do the most menial, dirty job for him. That is why he used to say, “I am not fit to untie his sandals.” That meant to untie them with all the dirt and the dung and the garbage of the streets on them, and then to wash his feet. John said he was not worthy even to do that. That is how much more holy Jesus was.
Now John’s idea of a holy man and a righteous man was presumably reflected in the lifestyle that John himself lived. And how did he live? Well, he lived very, very simply, and very, very ascetically. He did not buy good clothes he just made his own with some camel skin and a leather girdle.
He did not buy the best food. In fact, he ate only what he could find in the little crevices and on the land. He was very thin. He believed that self-denial was the holy life. He probably expected that as a holy man also Jesus would live the same way.
But Jesus was not like John. Jesus wore a beautiful seamless robe. It was a gift. It was like a custom-made suit. Beautiful. Jesus went to dinner parties. He had some rich friends. He lived sometimes in the “Jerusalem set.” Though many of Jesus’ friends were from the poor, it was not exclusively so. A very high born and rich man named Joseph of Arimathea was his friend. Jesus did not live the same kind of lifestyle as John.
By the way, the differences between Jesus and John show us, do they not, that the holy life is not to be assessed in some stereotypical way. Don’t judge your brother or your sister because they do not choose to express their Christianity, their holiness and their walk with the Lord just exactly as you express yours.
He relied upon reports; “When John heard…”
John had not been able to see Jesus for himself, of course, for quite a while. I imagine him asking these reporters (whom I suspect to have been prejudiced against Jesus), “But isn’t Jesus a friend of the poor as well as the rich?”
“The poor? You could say that, John. Drunkards. He is a friend of those. Criminals. Tax collectors. Traitors. He is a friend of those. Prostitutes. He is a friend of those. The riff-raff. The scum. There are always a lot of women around. You know, people are talking, John. There’s a woman called Mary Magdalene. We don’t know if you know about her past history, but she is always hanging about. And the latest story is something about a woman in Samaria of all things; a notoriously immoral woman. Yes, you could say he is a friend of the poor. He is just not like you, John. Nothing like you at all.”
“But doesn’t he do miracles?”
“John, have you heard about his first miracle? He turned water into wine.”
“You mean he turned wine into water.”
“No. He turned water into wine. As a good Baptist preacher, you would have done it the other way round John, we know that. You never touched a drop. But this is what he did, water into wine. And, what is more, one hundred and fifty gallons of it!” The King was not what he expected.
If the King was not what John expected, neither was the Kingdom. You see, before John was imprisoned, he had preached and predicted judgment.
“The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Then Jesus came from Galilee (Matthew 3:10-12).
But judgment had not come, and the bad people just went from bad to worse, like the evil king who had put him into prison. And revival had not come either. Yes, Jesus had a few disciples, but they were very few and, by all accounts, a very unlikely lot.
I wonder if your doubts come from the fact that things are not what you expected. Could it be both the king and his kingdom have failed to fulfill your expectations? What did they tell you? Come forward to receive Christ and then what? If you make this decision you will never have another problem, you will never have another bad day. You will never have another difficulty. You will never be pressed again. You will never be lonely again. He will put a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and joy in your heart. Why it will be like getting high, except that you will be high on Jesus all the way to heaven. Is that what they told you?
And it has not been like that, has it, at least not all the time. Oh, it was wonderful at first, but then. . . Did they never tell you anything about a life of repentance, about a life of discipleship and discipline? Did they tell you about carrying a cross? Did no-one teach you about spiritual warfare? I am not surprised. I have been amazed how many Christians have no idea that we are soldiers engaged in a fierce battle with unseen enemies. Did they promise heaven now, when in fact heaven is then? Have things not turned out as you expected? The bad people still prosper, don’t they, sometimes at any rate. The true church can seem so small. You might be the only Christian in your school, your office, or your family.
So, these doubts come. You are not the only one. Many of us have trodden this path. Let me stress again: it is not a sin to be tempted with doubt. The crucial thing—as with any temptation—is, are we looking for a way forward to victory? How do we deal with doubt?
Let us move on, then, to the answer. What did Jesus reply? How can John be reassured?
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-6).
Obviously, there is only one way to answer doubts and that is, to come back to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We will not find an answer by looking at the church. The church is a company of sinners saved by grace. When I am tempted to doubt, looking at the church usually gives me more doubts! We will not find an answer to our doubts by looking at ourselves—that, too, will make it worse! We will not find an answer to our doubts by engaging in long, philosophical arguments.
There is only one place to come and that is to Jesus—where we came in the first place—and look again at the Savior. We must examine again his life, his teaching, his miracles, his death, and his resurrection. In other words: back to the Gospels. We must spend a long time with Jesus. We must soak ourselves in the Gospels.
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see.” What did they hear and see? What will you and I hear and see if we read one or more of the Gospels?
His Mighty Deeds
This is what we see:
“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised” (Matthew 11:4).
The Bible says these mighty works of Christ were signs. Signposts. The Apostle John wrote this at the end of his Gospel:
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30-31).
These miracle cures cannot easily be explained away. I know that there is such a thing as psychosomatic healing. I know that some of us have complaints and symptoms that may be more in the mind than the body, and that if only we could find the trigger, we would get over it we would be cured. I know that. It is, however, very difficult to explain Jesus’ ministry that way—as if it was some kind of hypnosis. For one thing, the people he healed he healed instantly. It was not some slow recovery. They did not turn the corner then gradually get better due to a new attitude or renewed hope. Instantly at his word and at his touch they were healed.
He healed, sometimes, distantly. He was not even there. He gave the word, and the people went home and discovered their friend or loved one healed. The Lord Jesus healed perfectly. He had a one hundred percent success rate, in the sense that all those that he pronounced whole were whole. No long, disappointed lines of crestfallen people who had gone forward for healing and were not healed. When you read the Gospels, and you read the healing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, you are in a very different world from these so-called “Healing Ministries” that we see on our televisions today.
And he healed creatively. A man with a withered arm, all the sinews gone away, atrophied, diseased. Not only was he given the power back, but all the muscles and the sinews and the nerves were instantly renewed. There was a man who was a paralytic for thirty-eight years. He had never walked. Now any doctor would tell you that even if his paralysis was only in his mind—and that is hard to believe—after all that time his body would be unable to walk. Yet he got up from his bed and, having rolled up his mattress, went out praising God.
When the misguided disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane struck at Malchus, one of the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, and cut off his ear, Jesus reached out and created a new ear. The blind that he healed were not short-sighted. They were blind. The lame, were not just some who had been discovered to have one leg slightly shorter than the other. These were paralytics who could not walk, and in some cases had never walked. Lepers were the untouchables and the incurables. Jesus touched them and healed them. The deaf were not the hard of hearing. They were deaf and often dumb as well.
As these emissaries of John went around and observed the Lord Jesus’ ministry, they even saw him raise the dead. Not many of the modern-day healers are to be found in the cemeteries and the mortuaries, are they? But Jesus was there. His enemies could not gainsay it. They said that he did it by demonic power.
If you read the Gospels you will read how he stilled the storm, so that even experienced fishermen and sailors marveled at his control of the waves as well as the winds. Storms may die down suddenly but the waves are disturbed for a long time afterwards. Jesus stilled both at his command. You will read how he fed the multitude; how he walked on water; how he died and on the third day rose triumphant from the grave. The resurrection is especially important. If you accept the invitation of Jesus and walk around with him, observing his ministry, you will see his mighty deeds.
His Gracious Words
“Go back and report to John what you hear . . . and the good news is preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5).
You will also hear something: his gracious message. “Never man spoke like this man,” they said. People were astonished at his teaching—see Matthew 7:28-29; John 7:46. Even many unbelievers today say that Jesus had the highest ethical teaching that the world has ever heard.
Why does he mention the poor? Because all other ways of getting right with God favor the rich. How much can you pay? How many offerings can you bring? What contributions can you make? How many penances can you do? How many pilgrimages can you fit in? How many good works can you accomplish? To how many charities can you contribute? How many of this? How much of that? But you never know if you have done enough. The Gospel of Jesus Christ says there is nothing you can do. He has paid it all. “And the good news is preached to the poor.” If anything for once the rich are disadvantaged because they tend to be mesmerized by their riches.
The eighteenth-century hymn writer Joseph Hart wrote these words:
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love, and power.
He is able. He is able. He is willing; doubt no more.
I remember going to Joseph Hart’s tomb in Bunhill Fields, just off the City Road, London, and being deeply moved just to see the inscription:
Oh, bring no purse God’s grace is free;
To Paul, to Magdalene, to me.
“Come to me,” said Jesus, “all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Has anyone ever uttered such a gracious message as fell from Jesus’ lips? I can say, as one who has spent fifty years proclaiming this good news; whoever you are, whatever you have done, however low you have sunk, the Savior invites you, “Come unto me.”
What about your sins? He died for our sins. It was for that he came. “And the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Some people will never forgive your bad deeds. Some will say they forgive but they will never forget. He both forgives and forgets. Your sins are gone. And if you come to him according to his gracious invitation, he will receive you and accept you. He will write your name in his Book of Life, and take you home to heaven when you die. He will love you forever.
Has anyone ever brought to the world such a message?
His Unique Person
In a way, Jesus replied to this delegation that had come from John (and these must have been faithful emissaries who would report accurately), “Stay for a while. Just come around with us and see what I do. Listen to what I say. Watch me and get to know me. Then go back to John and just tell him what you have observed.”
In his reply to John, Jesus quotes from Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1-2. John knew his Bible and in this way, Jesus is indirectly telling him that He is indeed the One of whom the scriptures prophesy.
As you and I carefully read the Gospels—and in one sense the whole Bible—we are not only seeing what Jesus did and hearing what Jesus taught, but we are meeting him. I think it is the only way for any of us. You see, Jesus was indeed very different from John, but he is not to be judged by someone else’s standard. He is the standard. John must not judge Jesus. That’s what Jesus means in verse 6, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
Peter says, “There was no deceit in him.” Paul says, “He knew no sin.” The centurion said, “Surely this was a righteous man, the son of God.” Even Pontius Pilate—the cowardly, cruel Pontius Pilate—said “I find no fault in him.”
Of course, you will read the things he said about himself; all the declarations that he made concerning his own Person. Some unbelievers say, “Oh, yes, he is the greatest. His is the highest ethical teaching we have ever heard. The Sermon on the Mount is the very best. But he was not divine. He was not the son of God.” But they cannot just pick out the ethics and the parables and the Sermon on the Mount and reject the things Jesus said concerning himself.
Just imagine with me, if you would, if some person with presidential aspirations in America today, some hopeful who seemed to come from nowhere, was taken aside by the press who said, “Where did you come from?”
And he replied, “I came from heaven. The Father who sent me, sent me to you.”
“Really! Well, who are you?”
“I am the light of the world. He who comes to me shall never walk in darkness. I am the bread of life. He who feeds on me shall never hunger. He who drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst. I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die yet shall he live, and whoever lives in me shall never die.”
And the reporters say, “Do you think you are God?”
And he says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father. I and my Father are one. And one day all the nations of the earth shall gather before me and I will judge them.”
They would say, “This man is a megalomaniac. He is mentally deranged. He needs treatment. He needs medication. He needs a psychiatrist.”
Mind you, perhaps if he had just been down to the local hospital and touched all the beds in the Cancer Care Unit and everybody had got up and gone home healed, they might take him seriously. If he had just been down to where all the COVID patients were dying, and at a word they had been completely made whole, these reporters might hesitate before dismissing him. If he had been walking up Main Street and a funeral cortege came and he stopped it and there was a poor widow crying her eyes out and he said, “What has happened?” And she said, “My boy, my only son, has just been shot in a drug gang killing.” And he said to her, “Don’t cry. Wipe your tears.” And the boy got up out of the casket and was made well. What would the press think then? That is what Jesus did.
Yes, perhaps then the press would take him seriously. Do you take him seriously? Who is this man, Jesus? Was he mad? Do you think he should have been put away in a psychiatric hospital? What, this man of compassion: this man of love, who reached out to children, and to widows and orphans, and the incurables and the outcasts, and the “don’t-come-near-us” lepers? Mad? The preacher of the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule, and all the other wonderful things Jesus taught? He always seems to me to have been the sanest man who ever lived.
Bad! Was he bad? Did he know that he was none of the things that he declared himself to be, but he was just trying to fool gullible people to get more followers. Was he trying to make money out of innocent people? Was he a bad man? Or was it all those disciples who were bad? Did they invent all these stories about Jesus?
Sometimes I have been asked, “Harry is it possible these are all myths and legends?”
I have rejected that theory. I have only space to say that Peter, James, John, and company were not evil liars—not to mention Jesus’ mother, Mary. Furthermore, they would not have been willing to die as martyrs for a “life” that was a total fiction. No-one could invent Jesus. Anyway, what about the resurrection of Jesus? I am one-hundred percent convinced of the historical fact of the resurrection—and I have examined all the alternative explanations very carefully. I believe with all my heart: Jesus died, Jesus rose from the dead, and Jesus is alive today and for evermore.
So, if he wasn’t mad, and if he wasn’t bad, and if it isn’t fiction, then isn’t he God? Don’t you see that when we have these doubts it is no use trying to resolve them with philosophical arguments? Intellectual discussions on important topics have their place, but, speaking for myself, they are not the way to handle serious attacks of doubt. No, the only way to handle those is to come right back to Jesus. Going round and round with arguments won’t cut it.
Let me say again: it is no use looking at the church. We will only get worse. Our doubts will not be resolved if we focus on the preacher. He too, like you and me, is but a sinner saved by grace. There he is, like John, weak and weary, fighting on the front line, standing in the need of prayer.
We must not look inward at ourselves. For most of us that is worst of all! We are dismayed at our own sinfulness. There is only one place to look, and that is at him. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.”
A Christian is not someone who thinks the church is perfect, or who has been convinced only that the world did not make itself, and therefore there must be a God. The devil believes in God! A Christian is a person who has found Jesus, and who has decided that there is no other way to explain this life. Jesus is the One, and I do not need to look anywhere else, and I give my heart and my life to him.
Have you ever read one of the Gospels at one sitting? You can read Mark’s Gospel in one hour; John’s in two. Is not your eternal soul worth that time and effort? Meet Jesus. What do you think concerning him? Who is he? Do you put him with a list of “greats”? Socrates…Alexander…Mohammed…Washington…Lincoln… Churchill… Gandhi…Jesus. Is that where he belongs?
Or, do you not believe as I do that he towers alone above all other men and women? Not “Jesus the Great” but “Jesus the Only”: the eternal Son of God; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
If you have never done so, will you trust in Jesus today? If you have done so, but sometimes doubts come upon you, trust him all over again. Resist the devil and defeat him.
Friend, Jesus never said that being a believer would be easy. There are things we do not understand now which will be revealed hereafter. But he loves you. He died for you. He has a life for you to live and a work for you to do. He will never leave you or forsake you. Let us resist the spirit of the age to center wholly upon ourselves. Let us instead “…fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Not only is this the way to deal with doubt. You will be surprised how many other problems are solved in precisely the same way.
Finally—and this is very important—the antidote to doubt is not only to look again at Jesus and acknowledge him to be the Lord. I must kneel at his feet and surrender to him as my Lord. Will you say to him, with me, “Lord Jesus, I yield to you complete sovereign rights over every aspect of my life. I want you to make of this mixed-up, weak, sinful, human soul, a person more and more like you; whatever it takes to do it. I want you to fill my heart with your love and use me in your kingdom in whatever capacity you choose. In short, I want to live only for the glory of my Savior whom I love so dearly, who first loved me and gave himself for me. Life is but a vapor and mine will soon be over. You are preparing a place for me in heaven. When you call me home, I want to hear you say, notwithstanding my many failures, ‘Welcome home, and well done!’”
Jesus! the name high over all, In hell, or earth, or sky;
Angels and men before it fall, And devils fear and fly.
Oh, that the world might taste and see the riches of his grace;
The arms of love that compass me would all mankind embrace.
His only righteousness I show, His saving grace proclaim;
‘Tis all my business here below to cry: “Behold the Lamb!”
Happy, if with my latest breath I might but gasp his name;
Preach him to all, and cry in death: “Behold, behold the Lamb!”