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Are You the Coming One? - Dealing with Doubts - Shepherd of Hope

“Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” – Luke 7:19

 

Do you doubt? Most people doubt something? In a Google search of the questions” What do People Doubt?” the second thing to pop up was 51% of Americans doubt they will receive their Social Security.[1] A Forbes article Ten Reasons Smart People Doubt Themselves contends it’s good to doubt yourself. [2] Another article 24 Reasons Why People Who Self Doubt and Second Guess Are Powerful Beyond Belief [3]says much the same; doubting can be helpful. All of this is true, if you deal with your doubts in the right way.

Do you know that it’s not uncommon for Christians to doubt? In a Barna Research paper entitled Two-Thirds of Christians Face Doubt they ask people about doubt and how they deal with it. The article states that only 35% experience no doubts about their religion or God. 26% said they still doubt God and 40% say they doubted but worked through it. In answer to a question about how people dealt with their doubts, 40% said they turned to friends and family for answers, 29% said they turned to the Bible, 22% said they looked to the church, 19% said they turned to their spouse, 18% said they turned to a pastor or spiritual leader, 15% said they turned to books on God, spirituality and religion, 12% sought help online, 5% looked to a counselor, 4% attended a conference or retreat, and 20% said “other.” When asked about the consequences of their doubt 53% of people said dealing with their doubts made them stronger, only 7% said it made them weaker, 28% said it didn’t change them, and 12% said “I lost my faith.” [4]

The word “doubt” (Greek distazo) means double, to stand in two ways, to waver, to be uncertain, to doubt. When we look at the occurrences of the word “doubt” in the Bible, it occurs 9 only nine times, “doubted” occurs once, “doubtful” once. The phrase, “did not believe” in the Bible occurs 29 times. When we look at these occurrences, we see that:

  • Jacob did not believe when he was told his son Joseph was still alive (Genesis 45:26)
  • Moses was disciplined by God because he “did not believe” (Numbers 20:12).
  • God’s people persisted in their unbelief even though God delivered them out of Egypt and performed miraculously for them (Deuteronomy 1:32; 9:23; 2 Kings 7:14; Psalm 78:22)
  • The Queen of Sheba “did not believe” about Solomon’s wealth and wisdom until she saw it with her own eyes (1 Kings 10:7; 2 Chronicles 9:6)
  • Zacharias “did not believe” God could give him and Elizabeth a child in old age (Luke 1:20
  • Peter doubted that Jesus could keep him afloat as he stepped out and walked on water (Matthew 14:31)
  • Doubt can hinder what we do in the Lord (Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23)
  • People “did not believe” in Jesus (Matthew 21:32)
  • Some of Jesus own brothers “did not believe” in Him (John 7:5)
  • Some “did not believe” the teachings of Jesus (John 6:64)
  • Doubt can be willful as with Jesus accusers (John 9:18; 10:24)
  • Some “did not believe” in Jesus even though He had done many signs in their midst (John 12:37)
  • Some doubted Jesus and His resurrection at first (Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:11, 13. 14)
  • Some “did not believe” about Jesus’ resurrection because they thought it too good to be true (Luke 24:11 and 41)
  • Later, some “did not believe” that rabbi Saul could be converted to the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:26)
  • Some continued to not believe and suffered the consequence of being hardened in their disbelief (Acts 19:9)
  • Disbelief or doubt can be temporary (Romans 3:3)
  • Those who persist in their disbelief will be condemned (2 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 11:31; Jude 5)

How about you, do you doubt? Do you want to know how to deal with doubts? If you do, we will discover how as we look at a time in the life of John the Baptist when he was having some doubts.

John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. He was, according to Jesus, the greatest prophet (Luke 7:28). Jesus said John the Baptist was “more than a prophet” (Luke 7:26).  But as great as he was, John the Baptist still had doubts about Who Jesus was. John the Baptist was related to Jesus. He was the cousin to Jesus. When pregnant Mary and his pregnant mother Elizabeth met, John “leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41). John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). And yet, John the Baptist had doubts.

To doubt is natural. To doubt is a natural part of the processes of faith. Doubts can be useful; they can direct us to study or to find facts that feed our faith and dispel doubt. That is what we will see in the following verses. Doubt is a natural part of faith building. In these verses we will learn how to deal with doubts.

17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.

Word got around that Jesus was healing people and even raising them from the dead. That’s impressive. But John still wanted to be sure. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make sure of what God is doing. We should always trust and verify God’s truths or what God is doing. That leads to strong faith and that’s what this study in Luke is all about, a certain faith.

18 Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. 19 And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

 First, we deal with doubt by asking questions. Asking questions is how we learn and verify and build our faith. Asking questions is a good thing. We find answers by asking questions. We deal with doubt by asking questions. But our questions need to be honest questions.

There are some who just ask questions to ask questions. That leads to haggling and useless arguments. Paul instructed Timothy and Titus about this stating:

  • 1 Timothy 6:3–5 – If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of From such withdraw yourself.

 

  • Titus 3:9–11 – But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

 

Faith is built on asking questions. But they need to be rooted in a sincere desire for answers.

20 When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ” 21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.

22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

Second, we deal with doubt by receiving Jesus’ answers. Jesus welcomed the questioning of John the Baptist and pointed to the proofs of who He was. He actually, “that very hour” or right in front of John’s messengers, “cured infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind gave sight.” Jesus gave the messengers the proof John asked for.

Jesus said that truth is bound up in the word of God (John 17:17) God’s word is where we need to go for answers to our questions and solutions to our problems. God has given us an inspired word that is useful for every need we have in our walk of faith (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We should create a holy habit of questioning the things we encounter in life on the one hand, and scrutinize and measure their substance while holding the Bible in our other hand. Scrutinize everything through the lens of scripture.

Third, we deal with doubts by receiving the truth of God and not insisting on our wrong expectations. Jesus gave the proof freely. He only commented that “blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” The word “offended” (Greek skandilidzo) means offended, angered, led into sin by, stumbled by, caught in a trap by. What did Jesus mean by this?

The Jews were looking for a Messiah, but they had thought Messiah would be a conquering king who would liberate them from foreign oppression. Jesus came meek and lowly, riding on a donkey. John the Baptist had preached judgment about Messiah that, “even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good frit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10-12). Jesus didn’t come in the way most Jews expected, including John the Baptist. Jesus said those who didn’t stumble at this wrong expectation about Himself would be blessed.

The Old Testament speaks of two aspects of Messiah. Messiah son of Joseph came to suffer and atone for the sins of the world (e.g. Isaiah 53). And Messiah would also come as Son of David, a conquering king. The problem was that Jews of Jesus’ day weren’t interested in a Suffering Servant. They wanted a Conquering King. And so, they stumbled and rejected Jesus missing out on their Redeemer.

Today there are those who preach and push a false gospel. They are more interested in fleecing the flock of God than feeding them. They are so much prophets as they are looking to profit off of people. And so, they push a gospel that isn’t true to God’s word. They pander to people’s carnal desires and lusts. They preach a problem free gospel which just isn’t true to God’s word. God’s priority with us is not giving us everything we want; it’s getting us ready to spend eternity with Him.

When people are lured in with a gospel-that-gets-me-everything, they become disenchanted filled with doubt when what they were promised isn’t delivered. They are exposed to false expectations. Paul warned of “another Jesus. . . a different spirit. . . a different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Beware and doubt with all your might, the false gospel in its various forms. We should and indeed need to doubt, those things which do not jive and fit within the parameters of scripture.

Paul shared with the carnal Corinthians how he prayed three times to have a “thorn” in his flesh removed. God’s answer was not to remove the thorn, but to show Paul and others through Paul’s testimony that “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Peter said that sometimes it is God’s will that we suffer (1 Peter 4:19). Trials and difficulties, including doubts, serve as faith building instruments (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9). So, don’t let your difficulties in life cause you undue doubt. If they do, bring them to Jesus. He will help you deal with your doubts.

24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written:

‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,

Who will prepare Your way before You.’

28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Fourth, know that dealing with doubts does not diminish us in the eyes of Jesus in any way. The people, hearing the questions of John the Baptist’s messengers to Jesus, may have thought there was some disconnect between Jesus and John. There was not and Jesus said as much. Jesus affirmed John was the one “who will prepare Your way before You.” This is a direct Messianic reference.

Jesus is BIG enough to receive our doubts. He is not offended by our questions. He understands what the human is made of. “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

 Fifth, how you deal with your doubts can determine your eternal destiny. The people in general, and even the worst of the worst, “tax collectors” accepted Jesus and “justified God. The people received the light Jesus was offering. Whatever doubts they had at first, they were satisfied with Jesus message and ministry and Jesus Himself.

But the Pharisees, those in a gifted position, they persisted in rejecting Jesus. They asked Jesus questions, but what we find throughout the gospels is that the religious Pharisees weren’t interested in finding truth, they just wanted to find fault with Jesus. And because of that their eternal destiny was dark.

The Bible is quite clear, no doubt, those who persist in their disbelief, will be eternally condemned. The Bible refers to those who disbelieve as “that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 2:12; also, Jude 5).

31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:

‘We played the flute for you,

And you did not dance;

We mourned to you,

And you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Sixth, insincere doubts lead to self-deception (and eventual damnation). Jesus basically calls out the Pharisees and those who rejected Him for their hypocrisy. He says they were like children. They complained that they played music but Jesus wasn’t dancing to their tune. And when they mourned to Jesus, Jesus didn’t weep. Jesus didn’t dance to their music or cater to their whims. There was no pleasing these doubters. They rejected John the Baptist though he didn’t drink wine or eat their food. They accused him of having a demon. Jesus came welcoming people in fellowship and they accused Him of being a glutton and drunkard, “a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” the point Jesus is making is that these were not sincere doubters. They weren’t interested in truth. Their minds and hearts were made up. They weren’t interested in the truth of God and His Messiah or messenger. And because of that they were doomed.

Jesus then says, “But wisdom is justified by all her children.” Jesus is called the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). In Proverbs Jesus is personified as wisdom (cf. Proverbs 22-36). Therefore, what Jesus means here is that the wisdom He is and brings will be “justified” or proven true by “her children,” or those who follow her. The wisdom of Jesus will be clear to all in the end. Those who reject the wisdom of God (Jesus) will not be justified before God.

Some people have dishonest doubts. They use “doubt” as a mask to hide a desire to continue in their lives of comfort and worldly care. They don’t want to disturb their carnal circus of a life. When I was in college the “good life” was getting drunk and inevitably winding up in the dormitory bathroom, on the floor, in front of a toilet, with my head in side it, puking my guts out. I willfully chose that instead of Jesus. I was having too much “fun.”

But then one day the Lord woke me up. The Lord dispelled any and all my doubts. He did that simply, with Himself. He showed me how much He loves me and how true and meaningful and valuable was a life with Him. And I turned my back on all the lies of the devil and foolishness of this world, and I came to Jesus. Honestly, that was January 16th, 1977, and I haven’t doubted Him since. I may have questioned some of the things that have happened in life. But I’ve never doubted Him. I may have questions for which I still don’t have the answers from Him. But I have Him. I have His word. That’s good enough for me. I trust Him to give me the rest of the answers later, when I’m with Him. Can’t wait!

Those who refuse to believe are under the sway of the devil. “Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Cor. 4:4). That’s a perilous place to be. But it is a place that people put themselves through willful doubt. When people refuse to believe the truth of God, they put themselves under the influence of the devil. Look at the world and those who refuse to believe God’s truth, they are the sources of every kind of evil and sin.

Jesus is alive. Just as John the Baptist asked of Jesus, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” you can too. Right now, you can bring your doubts to Jesus. Right now, you can ask Him for some answers. You can go to Jesus directly in prayer and bring your doubts to Him. He is bigger than your doubts. He is not offended by those who humbly doubt and question. He is not threatened by our big questions or doubts. I encourage you to bring your doubts to Jesus directly. Go to Him in prayer and honestly express your doubts to Him. And you will find that He has answers for you. In the Old Testament God invites us to “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18).  Accept that invitation and bring your doubts to the LORD.

Are you struggling with doubt? Some say, “When I understand I will believe.” But sometimes you have to first believe before you can understand. The Bible states the Holy Spirit leads people into truth. “’Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9-10a). A person needs the Holy Spirit to know His truth; to receive understanding and answers to our questions that cause us to doubt. When a person turns from their sins to God, asks His forgiveness for sins based on faith in Jesus, God will forgive our sins. But that’s not all. When we turn to God in Christ, we are given spiritual life by the Holy Spirit who then indwells us. With the Holy Spirit within, we have Someone Who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). You need the Holy Spirit within to help you discover the truth that will help you deal with your doubts in a constructive way. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13).

How can we receive the Holy Spirit in this way? Jesus referred to it as being “born again” (John 3). What follows are some helpful steps to receiving Jesus as Savior and being born again. I include scripture references to support these steps. At the end I include a model prayer for those who want to receive Jesus as Savior and be born again. For those of you who doubt, I pray you receive Jesus and are renewed by the Holy Spirit and that you begin a new life of trusting Jesus with your doubts. God is with you. God bless you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Realize eternal life is not a matter of religion, but involves personally knowing God –

    • John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Realize sin separates people from Holy God –

    •  Psalm 66:18 – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear”
    • Isaiah 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you”
    • Habakkuk 1:13 – “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness”

Realize you are a sinner –

    • Exodus 20:1-17 – Examine and assess yourself by the Ten Commandments
    • 2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”
    • Romans 3:10 – “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one”
    • Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
    • James 2:10 – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (also Gal. 3:10)

Realize there is a penalty for sin –

    • Matthew 25:46 – “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”
  • Romans 2:8–9but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
    • Romans 6:23a – “For the wages of sin is death,”
  • Galatians 6:7-8 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Realize you are lost and need to be saved from your sins –

  • Luke 9:25 – For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
  • Luke 13:3 – I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
  • Luke 18:11 –11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
  • Luke 19:10 – 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
  • John 3:18–20 – 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
  • John 8:24 – 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Realize Jesus paid the penalty for you –

    • 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
  • 1 Peter 3:18–22 – 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Realize your salvation is a free gift from God

    • Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    • Ephesians 2:8–9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
    • Titus 3:5not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Realize God did this because He loves you –

  • John 3:1616 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
  • Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • 1 John 4:9–10In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Realize salvation requires a repentant-heart-faith decision from you to receive it – To “repent” means to confess to God and forsake your sin. To “believe” or have “faith” unto salvation means Forsaking All (others or other means of salvation) I Trust Him.

    • Acts 3:19-20 – “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you”
    • Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”
    • John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”

Realize salvation is a matter of the heart –

    • Acts 8:36–38 – Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
    • Romans 10:10 – “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Realize now is the time to call on God to be saved from your sins –

    • Romans 10:13 – For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
    • 2 Corinthians 6:2 – “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

A SALVATION PRAYER:

If you believe the above Gospel and are willing to trust in Jesus with all your heart as Savior, if you want the forgiveness of sins and eternal life God in this Gospel freely offers to you, with all your heart, pray this prayer:

“Dear God, I have sinned and disobeyed Your Laws.  I admit I deserve eternal punishment. But I repent; I confess my sins to You and forsake them. I ask that You please forgive me, not because of any good works I have done, but because I believe Jesus paid the just penalty for my sins by dying for me on the cross. I believe He rose from the dead. I believe that with all my heart. I receive it by faith, as a gift of Your grace. Help me to live for You.  Please Holy Spirit fill me, give me spiritual life, eternal life. Please help me to know you Father, Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit. Help me grow in a relationship with You. Lord, help me to walk with You, hand in hand and please help me to deal with my doubts and follow you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Now, begin praying and reading your Bible daily, regularly. Find a church that believes in and teaches the Bible as the word of God. Find a church where the Gospel is preached and people believe in being born again. Find such a church and become a part of your new eternal family. And tell someone else about what God has done for you. Don’t go by feelings, live by faith in Jesus. He is faithful. He will help you. Remember this:

2 Corinthians 5:1717 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

1 Corinthians 10:1313 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

2 Timothy 2:1515 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 3:16–1716 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Acts 2:4242 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

 

 

 

[1] https://news.gallup.com/poll/184580/americans-doubt-social-security-benefits.aspx

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2016/11/11/ten-reasons-smart-people-doubt-themselves/#4a7d1d331043

[3] https://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2018/03/24-reasons-why-people-who-self-doubt-and-second-guess-are-powerful-beyond-belief/

[4] https://www.barna.com/research/two-thirds-christians-face-doubt/

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