Faith and Doubt

Class 1

Original URL | Sunday, May 1, 2022


asked me to do the sunday school this morning and and figured you know i might have some some talks in my back pocket which i do and i i i hate to do repeats i have a really hard time doing repeats for some reason um you know it’s it’s maybe it’s my own curiosity if i’m gonna uh you know sit down and prepare to do a class i’d rather do something new than brush up on something i’ve already done

so i don’t have anything

you know totally monumental to share with you this morning uh totally uh innovative or fresh it is it’s it’s a concept it’s a talk that we’re all uh probably very familiar with uh um the topic that i’d like to discuss is about about faith um it’s it’s such a core tenet of our faith you know we talk about our whole spiritual life as as our faith and that’s what it all comes down to so it’s really a fundamental topic maybe i should be doing the uh

maybe i should be doing the children’s sunday school or something but you know this is something that that we can all come back to and and get something out of every time

and and what spurred me to sort of think about this particular topic

was an email i got it was a an email newsletter

and the person was you know you know they kind of do a devotional each week

and their devotion was kind of along the lines of faith and doubt and they were saying well you know what i think that doubt is actually something different from faithlessness

i think i can be a faithful person

and still have doubts and at first i thought well that sounds pretty good you know i consider myself a person of faith

and yet i doubt and

how do i make sense of that


so i wanted to kind of pressure test that a little bit and see if it’s is it in fact true can you be a person of faith and still have doubts

and if you’re like me uh you probably have a snap answer yes of course absolutely you know how how could that not be the case how does anyone not have doubts from time to time

and i think we need to be a little more nuanced too to realize that the doubts we have are not always they’re not necessarily going to be doubts in god’s existence as an absolute for example but maybe more something along the lines of doubting how god is going to act in a certain situation or how he’ll resolve a problem that we might have

so that’s sort of where i was coming from and i’ve just put together a few verses

it seems to me that it’s very important that we have faith and that we be believers it’s it’s almost uh it’s just a fundamental thing right consider these texts so john 3 18 is the first one i’d like to look at we’ll look at maybe five or six texts

and in each one i’d like to look at what is the object of belief each one is about belief or faith so what are we having faith in what is the object of our belief

and secondly what is the consequence if we don’t believe

so firstly if you turn to john 3 verse 18. john 3 18. let’s see

you can start verse 16 for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life for god sent not his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved

he that believes on him is not condemned but he that believes not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of god

so in this verse what is the object of belief

what are we believing in

i’m looking particularly at verse 18. anybody

christ the son of god

and not just the son of god but the name

of the son of god right he he that believes not is condemned already because he’s not believed in the name of the only begotten son of god right so the consequence of not believing in this case is condemnation so we don’t believe in the son of god um there’s condemnation

all right so

the next one is in john chapter 8. just a few pages over

i said therefore unto you that you shall die in your sins for if you believe not that i am he you shall die in your sins

he’s talking to the jews here

so jesus says if you don’t believe in me right jesus as messiah jesus not just as jesus of nazareth or jesus the son of mary and joseph but specifically jesus as the messiah

then you’re still dead in your sins

right so so again the object of belief is in jesus

um let’s leave the book of john and go to second thessalonians

chapter 2 2nd thessalonians 2 verse 11. this is that famous text that talks about the the falling away

um paul reminding that

jesus won’t come don’t let anybody say that jesus has come until there’s this falling away this has to happen first there were some people saying that jesus was going to come back any day now that maybe jesus had already come back

he says let no man deceive you by enemies for that day shall not come unless there’s a falling away in verse 3. so we get down to verse 11 for this cause god shall send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie that they all might be damned who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness

so in this case what’s the object of belief

second thessalonians chapter 2 and we’re looking at verse 11 and 12. that’s right he’s speaking about the return of jesus um i think somebody once said that every single chapter in both epistles to the thessalonians reference the return of christ is that true that’s pretty incredible um

so he wants them to get it right you know he’s saying you know some things have to happen first um

and and there’s a delusion coming

and some people are not going to receive the love of the truth

um so in verse 12 he says those who believe not the truth will be condemned that they’ll be damned so this is kind of in line i think what i saw as i went through these passages and maybe you’re noticing this also is that

we are to believe in christ to believe in the messiah to believe in the truth

and the consequences of not believing is death is condemnation it’s a state that we are in apart from salvation

um so that’s that’s the pattern here here’s one that we’re we’re all familiar with hebrews 11 uh the hall of faith

hebrews 11 verse 6. this is one that i’m sure many of us can kind of quote off the top of our heads without faith it is impossible to please him for he that comes to god must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him

so in this case the object of belief is god himself and not only god but believing that god is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him right so the fact that that god is true to his promises that god will reward those who are faithful that that’s an article of faith for us right

so so we must believe that god is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him and um this this verse is uh is stated as a positive right you know without faith it’s impossible to please him it’s not positive or negative he that comes to god must believe that he is he’s rewarded for them to diligently seek him so the consequence of unbelief in this case is god’s displeasure right so we want to please god we want to have faith and believe in him

um there’s a brief so ben is this is this a verse that you would point to as to distinguish between

uh doubt and unbelief like one can doubt and still have faith is that was that the premise that you began with yeah exactly

and and i’m not sure i’m i’m totally there yet um

like at this point i think we’re we’re just talking about faith and belief yeah

when doubt starts to enter in i think it’s i think it’s a little bit different right we certainly have to have faith to please god and to the extent that we are not faithful uh god is not honored and he’s not pleased by that

now do when we have doubts

is god does that bring god displeasure that we are doubtful people that sometimes we have questions um i don’t think we’ll find that that’s the case i think that god is very patient with us

but certainly you know as a premise you know we we just want to show fundamentally yes god wants us to be faithful people i think there’s a verse maybe it’s in jude it says be merciful to those who doubt


yeah jude 1 22 yeah that’s uh

that’s a great verse um so let’s jump over there let’s let’s go to the book of jude

now one more while we’re in hebrews all right let’s do just do one more

and all these passages are talking about faith the greek word is is pistus it’s apistus when it talks about unbelief like a is that prefix which means the opposite of right so um pistus is faith apistus is without faith

so that’s what we see in hebrews 3 verse 19. so this is speaking about the children of israel who who died in the wilderness right that generation that didn’t make it through the promised land

hebrews 3 verse 19. this is the end of the chapter he’s concluding

let’s read a few verses

verse 16. for someone they had heard did provoke albeit not all that came out of egypt by moses but with whom was he grieved so not not everybody complained right joshua and caleb were faithful but with whom was he grieved for 40 years was it not with them that had sinned whose carcasses fell in the wilderness and to whom swear he that they should not enter into his rest but to them that believe not for we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief

so in this case i think it’s a little bit tricky to see well exactly what was it that they failed to believe

i think what it comes down to is the children of israel didn’t believe that god would deliver them they didn’t believe that was better to be with god in the wilderness than to be in egypt in a place of sin and bondage didn’t believe that

ultimately their time in the wilderness would translate them into the promised kingdom of god the promised land

and that manifested itself in a lot of ways right there’s a lot of griping about oh there’s no water there’s there’s no food actually really serious problems right don’t mean to make light of that but there was a lot of complaints there’s a lot of manifestations of their unbelief in sort of trivial day-to-day things so that’s kind of interesting now that we’re thinking about our doubting and how we put our faith into practice and the experiences that we have in life

you know because it’s all well and good to say i i believe in god like i i believe in a higher power i believe that god is working in my life and if i believe that god’s working my life well how is that belief being manifest when i encounter difficulties with my my spouse or my family or my co-workers or whatever the trial of life may be my health maybe

you know what how does that faith exhibit itself and those are the situations where we might say hey i’m a person of faith fundamentally i see myself as a believer somebody whose identity is tied to uh the recognition that that god is

and he’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek him right um but in those moments when my doubts arise and i am experiencing conflict

how is my faith brought out so so that’s where i start to see okay i’m having doubts in these these moments of life but in an overarching sense i i see myself as a faithful person and starts to bridge the gap and so well well my faith is starting to be manifest in how i live and how i respond to these these trials

and then i start thinking well okay maybe it’s not right to be thinking about faith is

as a yes no true or false i have it or i don’t sort of thing but more of a spectrum

of um

you know

my faith is incomplete i think about that man who had the epileptic sun right after the mountain they come down from the mountain transfiguration and uh you know peter and andrew and john were with him in the mountains and the rest of the apostles were down below and they were dealing with the real world well jesus and his disciple the three special disciples are up in the mountain with him having this this incredible experience um you know experiencing the presence of god and seeing moses and elijah and the other nine are in the regular world right and they’re dealing with problems that that jesus would have dealt with if he were there with them and uh they’re not able to heal this man with the epileptic son and so jesus jesus shows up on the scene and there’s that great exchange where the man says lord i believe help my unbelief and for me that shows that this this matter of belief and whenever we talk about belief we’re talking about faith it’s the same word in the original language right um so faith and belief are sent they’re the same thing for all practical purposes so help my unbelief help my lack of faith

i i have this this this small amount of faith and i need it to grow um because i’m experiencing this is one of those nitty gritty down-to-earth trials he’s dealing with his son is sick

and the disciples weren’t able to heal him

so that’s where i i see this as being okay it’s not just a on or off sort of thing more of a more of a spectrum of belief

so there’s a few others we can go to but um i think that kind of covers the the belief aspect

at least gives us an introduction you know belief is essential we have to have faith but we want to see how that faith is put into practice in everyday life so uh with that i’d like to talk about the doubts that we do encounter from time to time and for that um i think that the the jude reference is really the go-to here


that was jude chapter one well jude only has one chapter verse 22. jude verse 22. all right so if you read this in the king james version that’s that’s what i my study bible is the king james um

and somebody told me when you start marking in all the like when you start realizing that you’re writing in another translation in your margin every single time because you’re tr it means maybe you should start using another translation i love the king james version but i’m constantly marking in esv and asb niv something in plain language language that helps me a little more

and sometimes there’s those newer translations they rely on older manuscripts also so sometimes there’s there’s accuracy issues too so as much as i love the king james i’m going to be doing a lot of quoting from the esv

and so

if you’re like me and you have a king james it says and if some have compassion making a difference

the esv has have mercy on those who doubt

and i wonder well how could this possibly be rendered so differently in the two translations and some have compassion okay there’s the mercy that the esv talks about compassion mercy those are similar concepts

but the king james says making a difference as this your compassion is going to make a difference in their life where the esv has have mercy on those who doubt so the doubt is being applied

to them as opposed to making the difference being applied to us the ones who show compassion or who have mercy

uh i don’t know if you follow but the idea of doubting is is tied to this idea of making a difference in any case

the idea is kind of waving up two positions and figuring out where you land on one or the other and that makes a difference if you land here you land there and doubt is that period time where you’re still suspended right you haven’t settled yet you haven’t landed in okay it’s it’s this or okay it’s that um

and that’s a place that if you’re like me you’re familiar with that being suspended haven’t haven’t

completely weighed up and made a decision on a point

um you know there’s probably many points that we have concluded on i think when i was a teenager and i was realizing hey i gotta make some decisions of my own about this this faith this belief thing uh it can’t be my parents faith that sustains me at some point it’s got to become my own faith right i think every young person goes through that


you know at that moment i i said okay i’m going to suspend my my belief i’m gonna i’m going to doubt for a moment here to figure out whether i believe that that god is true god has called me that that this this faith that i was kind of born into and grow grew up in is really what it’s all about

and so it gets suspended for a moment so you can come down and say hey i’m not this isn’t something i’m going to about doubt about anymore it’s something i’m going to come to a conclusion on

so that’s a pretty fundamental one the the fundamental question of whether you know god truly exists or or did this all come out of nothing right um

but having decided that there are so many other things that we kind of weigh in our minds and and need to make decisions about or sometimes we we might feel like we we never get to the point where we have enough confidence to make a decision


and here we read to have mercy on those who doubt

i i think this is fascinating and

i’m sure we could we could have a great discussion about this uh so i’d welcome comments and questions please

please uh share if you would like to um

have mercy on those who waver okay

yeah have mercy on those who waver

uh so wasn’t there a um wasn’t there a uh robert roberts uh publication he he wrote something along the lines of um true principles on certain details

is anybody familiar with that one

this this idea that there are things that must be affirmed that we must reach a correct conclusion about there are other things that uh the the uncertain details where we say uh maybe maybe not and uh

i think everybody draws that line a little bit differently about like what is essential and what is

you know we can kind of hold in suspension like i was saying what is what is doubtable

some people say oh no you have to you have to have it all dialed in figured out and it must be this and the answer is right and all this and other people are like well it could be might not be and they’re okay with that and if you’re the other type of person you’re like well how can you possibly be okay with not reaching a conclusion on this question and if you’re the other person you say well how can you be so dogmatic that you are asserting this and you’re requiring everybody else to believe that also

and you know jude isn’t telling us exactly where we are to land on any of these things in this verse particularly he’s just saying you know have mercy on those who are are more doubtful than you that maybe haven’t reached that conclusion that you’re so confident in

i think that’s pretty interesting because he’s more concerned to speak about how we’re supposed to deal with that sort of situation


exactly coming down now

i i want to be clear in the very next verse he says verse 23 others you know on some have compassion some have mercy on those who doubt on others save with fear pulling them out of the fire hating even the garments spotted by the flesh so that’s a lot more dramatic he’s saying there there is absolutely situations where an intervention needs to happen right where somebody’s in in sin and it’s it’s a big problem and there’s no question about that we we have to act in those situations um so you know have mercy on those who doubt isn’t carte blanche for just

tolerate everything and um

never do anything

like you said you know when i was in my youth you know hey does this you know is jesus really the son of god let me investigate and of course we know yeah you investigate we know what you’re going to find that you know clearly he is right so it builds up your faith it’s that doubt that comes in when you don’t follow up right it’s like i doubt this and you don’t look into it right so that doubt can be good if it forces you to get right in there and dig dig right into it yeah absolutely

yeah there’s a time and place for for doubt and because we’re doing this all as an ecclesia

and in the collegiate we have baptized members but we also have children and youth and we have visitors who come in and everybody’s at a different stage of their their faith journey right so we have to be accommodating to those who are still working through it right and have mercy on them to help them along their way

not just

i’ll tell them hey take my word for it you know i looked into this before and i i figured out the answer is actually this because that’s not going to convince anybody people need time

so ben when you sort of you used the expression you suspended your faith while you were when you were a young man right and explored these things were there any particular


conclusions that you came to through your studies that uh that helped you redevelop that faith was there anything in particular that stands out in your mind

yeah yeah absolutely i


i mean i would say that things like

like prophecy sort of the classic things that we look to uh you know the the archaeology the the way that the canon of scripture was preserved and conveyed through scripture uh fulfilled prophecy for sure was always like one of those things that that stuck with me i think different things will appeal to different people but probably the the highest on my list was my regard for my parents


my my realization of you know my elders in the the ecclesia and and their life of faith i think those were the things that really made the biggest like why would these people be doing this if they weren’t being affected by something outside of themselves like this is not a self-serving thing

so i would say the personal witness of others was kind of what won me over not interesting yeah


and i think when you you know the uncertain details there we think about what we say at a at a baptism do you believe the things concerning the kingdom of god in the name of jesus christ although there are a lot contained in that statement

there’s this you know we have can have long you know baptism questions exams and all these

you know laundry list of things that we want answers to but contained in that statement there it’s very simplified really on what it takes to be baptized yeah

all right

let’s do another verse about doubts

let’s go to second corinthians chapter four

second corinthians four verse eight

i grab that water bottle

who’s got the mic

would you read ii corinthians 4 verse 8 please jason

second corinthians 4 verse 8 we are troubled on every side yet not distressed we are perplexed but not in despair

so any guesses as to where doubt is in this verse



yeah so that that word perplexion um

you look at most of the translations i checked esv niv and asb they all translate is perplexed

but every other place in the new testament where the word appears it’s doubt or doubting or something along those lines i think some of these uh really iconic verses the ones that kind of were memory verses and stick in people’s minds i wonder if sometimes the newer translations stick with the king james rendering because it it just captures it so well perplexed but not in despair i mean it just sounds great rendered that way but what is perplexion um

there’s some element of doubt i i think when you’re perplexed you’re trying to make sense of a situation um

so there’s a sense of doubt right when the galatians fall away right when paul wrote his epistle to the galatians he wrote to an ecclesia that wanted to go into bondage under the law that um wanted to perform rites of circumcision and saw that as as a correct um and necessary covenantal action and paul’s like what’s going on with you galatians he calls him the foolish galatians right he says i stand in doubt of you it’s the same expression where he’s talking about being perplexed i stand in doubt of you he doesn’t know where they’re going with this

it’s the same thing when jesus tells his disciples that one of you shall betray me it says they doubted of whom he spoke it’s the same idea of being perplexed appears in second corinthians four verse eight um there’s a couple examples there um but there’s always this sense of doubting the position of others


so so what kind of doubt is paul talking about in second corinthians four verse eight

now if you look at the context he’s talking about

having treasures in earthen vessels in verse 7 right

he talks he goes on to talk about being persecuted but not forsaken cast down but not destroyed always bearing about in the body the dying of the lord jesus that the life also of jesus might be made manifest in our body

for we which live are always delivered to death for jesus sake that the life also of jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh so then death works in us but life in you

you wonder what is he talking about

the death that works in us is life in you

if you look at

the 11th chapter of the same epistle that’s where paul goes through five times i was beaten uh i was lashed three times i was beaten with rod three times i was shipwrecked he he goes through all this list of persecutions that he suffered

and i feel like paul’s in the same mode here when he talks about

being delivered unto death for jesus’s sake in verse 11 about these persecutions about this perplexion that he’s experiencing you know paul did not have an easy life as a disciple of christ i mean you know paul was stoned to death outside of derby i mean he

definitely suffered for his faith

and paul saw in his sufferings an association with jesus christ in his death

it was actually peter who wrote about being a

partaker in christ’s sufferings of fellowshipping with christ’s sufferings and so when we go through hard times uh when we suffer for for what we believe that can actually be life to somebody else that’s ii corinthians 4 verse 12 the death that works in us is life in you


i think this you know it sounds negative but i don’t think paul is complaining about this

so in this hardship there’s perplexion and there’s doubting and paul experienced that

and i i don’t think that paul’s faith was suffering because he realized you know i’m in this perplexing state uh

you know i i

he saw some purpose in it um so even though there’s this element of doubt or perplexion um

it’s not coming from a lack of faith does that make sense

i hope i’ve explained that all right


just another one quickly matthew 28 verse 17 this is after jesus has been resurrected

he tells his disciples to meet him in galilee

right so the resurrected christ is in galilee he’s on the mountain and he meets with his 11 remaining disciples there

and this is where we read the great commission

matthew 28 verse 17. verse 16 for context now the 11 disciples went to galilee to the mountain to which jesus had directed them and when they saw him they worshipped him but some doubted

and jesus goes on to give them the great commission that they’re going to all preach uh the gospel to all nations make disciples of all nations

so it says that some doubted and yet we know that the apostles uh they absolutely caught fire in the book of acts um that their doubts were dispelled ultimately um

i think about uh doubting thomas right who wasn’t there with him the first time that jesus appears he says if i don’t get to put my hands in his wounds

i’ll never believe um

so there was that that element of doubt even among the disciples

they didn’t believe jesus

would be resurrected like he had told them

they fulfilled the old testament scripture of i will smite the the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered right they were complete disarray after jesus was crucified

so i’m not holding that up as an example to say you know we should be like that we should take god at his word and trust him in every circumstance of life but i think god does does realize that the circumstances of life sometimes put us in a situation where where doubt happens and and we are human so

i thank god for for passage like have mercy on those who doubt

any thoughts or or questions so far in


and maybe uh just a question from me how how long am i supposed to go for here when do we wrap


all right so we started by by talking about um

the verses in scripture that tell us about faith


without faith it’s impossible to to please god in hebrews 11 he that believes not is condemned already because he’s not believed in the name of the son of god so absolutely faith is an essential thing that we must have but we also have to deal with the reality of doubt in our lives


i started to think about this in terms of well

is this a zero some sort of thing so if i was 100 faithful would that mean i had zero doubts

if i was like maybe 85 faithful does that mean my doubt oh meter is at 15 is it like one of these things

um where is it possible for me to be 100 faithful and still have some doubts

do they operate kind of independently of each other

i i don’t know if that’s the most helpful thing for me it wasn’t um

i think where i landed was that

we have to have faith to please god

and the doubts are going to come from time to time and we’re not necessarily doubting god we may be doubting the situation that’s got god has put us into doubting the purpose of being in that situation

doubting how god will resolve the situation

there’s a lot of things we can have doubts about that

that come short of saying well i don’t believe that god can deliver me from this situation that’s a different thing altogether


i i do sort of decouple the doubt and the the faith things um i think that that as we grow in our faith we’re able to deal with those situations where um doubt would crop up more often

so i think i’ll probably just leave it there i am supposed to go for another week or two so

next week i’d like to look at some scriptures that bring those ideas of faith and doubt together where you see faith and doubt

in the same context right so we can see directly what scripture is saying about because right now i’m speculating my little doubt and faith oh meter right here is just sort of an illustration a way of thinking that i have but i want to know exactly what scripture says about the relationship between doubt and faith faith is essential but doubt is also something that happens to us from time to time that’s all i’ve sought to establish i guess in this first class so in the next class we’ll look at um what exactly scripture says about their relationship to each other i also want to look into if we have time

where does faith come from is faith something that we can have by ourselves in and of ourselves or is it something that god gives us is

like we know that god’s grace is a gift that we receive

is our faith similarly is that a gift that we receive or is that something that we bring to the table that god works with

something to think about

Class 2

Original URL | Sunday, May 8, 2022


all right so continuing um our discussion of faith and doubt and how those ideas relate to each other how we’re supposed to be thinking about it um before i get into that um so the background to the series and the reason i was thinking about this particular topic really had to do with this this author i was reading who sent this note out um emailed last

you know saying you know is it can i be a person of faith and still have doubts you know does does the doubt that sometimes creep into my mind uh compromised my faith in some way um how do we kind of hold these these ideas together so that’s what got me thinking about it and and you realize you know a lot of people are having some sort of struggle with faith uh nowadays maybe it’s always been an issue but i mean we have a lot of if you think about faith as basically having trust right if you have faith in another person it means you trust them


and in society today right now we’re losing faith in a lot of things right we’re losing faith in the government in corporations you know we’re finding out all these corporations have been polluting forever they’ve been doing underhand financial things they’ve been robbing people so all these institutions that people used to look to and admire losing faith and as a result of that um you know we you know

there’s there’s a lot of conspiracy a lot of people are looking at these things and saying well i can’t believe anything you say because you’ve betrayed my faith in some of these areas

so there’s a lot of issues happening in society relating to a loss of faith in institutions um the church in a lot of people’s mind i’m not talking about the christophian church i’m talking about all people you know um you know any any sort of uh house of worship most people are losing faith in those institutions as well

um the other aspect i think that’s sort of driving this crisis of faith in society is that there is a um a lot of information that’s available now things that used to be kept under wraps people used to control the information that got out into the mainstream and it’s a lot more difficult to do that now so we actually have better information so much information that’s bewildering uh it we can become at a loss of words because of the information that’s available to us um

we don’t have to worry about our faith being tested by alternative truth claims people saying you know what what you believe it is actually not the case here here’s another way to look at it and so in the past

we may never have had opportunity to have our faith challenged uh now that’s just just not the case anymore


you know there’s a number of things happening in society that are uh particularly challenging to faith and i would say young people particularly there’s a lot of talk about faith deconstruction people who are trying to say oh this is my my parents faith or this is the church i was brought up into but now i’ve got some questions and i’m i’m going to start to take this apart and see what my faith is actually being built on is it a legitimate faith do i have a practical reason to build my faith in these areas

um and so

in the ecclesia in the in the meeting place we have to be cognizant that these forces are affecting youth and more mature believers also right not immune from this sort of thing um we have to recognize that this is happening sometimes and and be sensitive to that

um i i don’t think it’s helpful


um if somebody has questions or is questioning their faith to ignore that or to to treat those questions like they’re illegitimate or that you know they just shouldn’t be asked um we shouldn’t suppress those

i i would say that at every level of our spiritual development we’re going to experience challenges you know the most the biggest giant of faith in our ecclesiast you know i remember um you know many brothers and sisters as a sunday school student i looked up to i was like oh that person is so rock solid they must they probably never have any doubts

um and that perception i mean it’s good to have somebody to role model and to an example of spiritual maturity to try to try to grow into um

and that those those people may be rock solid in their belief in god so they’re not having a lap they don’t experience lapse of faith in their belief in god per se or that the bible is the word of god or or to whatever extension of that faith you want to take it but at some level there are things in their life of even the greatest spiritual giants they’re dealing with and scriptures just rife with those examples um you think about the prophet elijah or jonah or habakkuk all these these men and also women of scripture were dealing with various issues of their time so so this this question of

faith i would say is is rock saw this one essential concept to get

and and it’s a very fundamental thing right we went to this passage last week without faith it’s impossible to please god for he that comes to god must believe that he is and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him

from the book of hebrews um i’m not really like a a greek language guy but i i’m gonna throw up a few words on the screen uh today i i don’t think it

yeah i i think that you can totally understand scripture trust your translations and not ever get into the original language but i i like to do it sometimes i think there’s a few insights that maybe we can pull out about this but for now the main point is that every time that you see faith or belief in scripture in the new testament it’s going to be this these greek words pistio and pistus um so so the first one is generally translated believe the second one is generally translated faith um and they’re they’re related words are very closely related so the concept is the same and in the greek language they were expressed the same way the same sort of words were used to speak of either belief or faith so having belief is uh is faithing if you will you know it’s it’s the same kind of language

so that that’s the fundamental for for belief in faith now when you start looking at words for doubt i mean let’s just look at the english language if you go to merriam-webster there’s three different definitions for doubt one being a lack of confidence or an inclination not to believe or accept now that that definition tells me that’s that’s really about my relation to belief or faith you know if i have a lack of confidence it’s me that is not confident it’s my inclination not to believe or accept that’s definition one definition two is uncertainty of belief or opinion that often interferes with decision making

or 2b talks about suspending judgment so this is more talking about sort of discernment and kind of figuring

understanding and coming to knowledge so there’s a little bit of a different difference here

and it is nuanced now these are all it’s they’re all definitions for doubt the same basic word right but there’s a little nuance to it and that’s what i want to get into because i think when we have doubts in our walk of faith is it doesn’t always mean that we’re losing faith that we don’t believe in god

so i want to kind of pick out the nuance and see if that nuance translates into what we read in scripture as well

that third definition is a state of affairs giving rise to uncertainty hesitation or suspense

now if you look at all the places that the word doubt appears in the new testament well a lot of them are things like saying no doubt or doubtless or basically expressions of certainty right so when we say uh

no doubt

we mean i’m certain about this it’s it’s not talking about doubt as a concept so much it’s it’s more talking about um an expression of confidence right it’s sort of vernacular it’s it’s an expression that we use in conversation um so i kind of ignored all those and just looked at

scriptures that talk about doubt itself

um so there’s there’s three shades of meaning i’d like to look at and the first one we’ll look at this one last week as well in matthew 28 after the resurrection and jesus meets his disciples in galilee and they’re on the on the mountaintop and jesus appears to them says they when they saw him they worshipped him but some doubted and we know thomas had had his doubts and for any of us who would see somebody die somebody lose their life be crucified by the romans and did that see them living again some point later

certainly three days later um probably a little bit longer at this point in galilee to see jesus alive again i mean what do you make of that what are you supposed to think when you see somebody who’s dead alive again

i mean it’s got to make you think something right

i mean we we think about these we know about the resurrection we’ve we’ve been taught about jesus’s new life and they had two but they hadn’t seen it never happened before

so so they doubted they wavered the the greek the strong’s definition has has wavering

as a definition

so this is a one of three greek words that are translated doubt in the english di statso and that that means to waver all right so let’s look at the second definition for doubt and a couple examples

this is the one that brother steve brought us to last week have mercy on those who doubt

in jude

interestingly also in jude we have michael the archangel contending with the devil

so not going to get into what that account is talking about exactly but you have michael and the devil and there’s some dispute occurring between them and it’s described it as a contention as contending with the devil um

getting ahead of my notes here but

maybe you can see there’s a little bit of a different sense

in this word that’s translated doubt it’s also translated contending when you see a word in in the greek that’s translated in different ways besides just doubt and you can see all the examples here

it’s translated as to judge to make a difference to doubt doubting contending differing discerning

there’s a lot of language about

about making a judgment here about

deliberating and weighing matters to arrive at a judgment

i think that’s pretty interesting

this one in romans 14 um let’s see here

i think we’re going to come back to this one on romans 14 because that’s an interesting example as well any comments or questions so far


i’m sorry

prove all things

yeah absolutely

and and if you had asked questions you said you were discouraged from asking questions if you did have questions would you be looked at as if your faith was less than in some way that yeah okay

so um you might be viewed as as having a lack of faith if you’re asking questions

uh that’s interesting yeah

yeah that’s a that’s a that’s a big problem i think that’s why it’s so important that we we do allow questions and we don’t say hey this is the way it is and you know we figured it out already so you don’t have to

but he left me uh with kindness

he said uh and he gave me this little kindness of the guiding light and let the lord guide you where you’re gonna go which was really unusual to have that type of a conversation but yeah it’s

and i always felt that was a gift i could give my children

prove it that’s fine ask the question

and sometimes asking tough questions take you to difficult places and and i’m sure leaving the church in that that group was was very challenging um yeah but necessary right



so i think this this greek word daiquino is is talking about a different kind of doubt than the previous one which talks about wavering the previous definition um gives the sense that you’re you’re unsteady and sometimes when you ask questions people think oh that person’s unsteady they’re they’re having a crisis of faith or they don’t believe enough

you know that the wavering

and that’s not necessarily true right we were establishing that sometimes it’s not wavering so much as it’s it’s asking hard questions i think that this shade of meaning for a greek word that’s translated doubt

is giving us that sense where there is judgment we’re taking information okay this is in favor this is against

um you’re asking like to use the parlance of science here you’re you have a hypothesis you you’re you’re asking a question and then you’re looking at how the evidence stacks up against that question to determine uh which answer is valid or not

so so this kind of doubt is more questioning than anything all right one more shade of meaning uh and we looked at the corinthians 4 verse 8 reference last week uh we are troubled on every side yet not distressed we are perplexed

but not in despair

right so so paul’s saying that that you know he talks about receiving the beatings and being stoned and being shipwrecked and all of these difficulties that have come into his life as a result of his discipleship of choosing to follow jesus he says you know sometimes i look around at what’s happening at me and and this i did not choose the easy life here this is very difficult i can’t believe these things are happening to me he’s perplexed but he’s not in despair right so he’s not experiencing a christ of faith he’s just seeing you know having a hard time of it and trying to to comprehend what that means for him

um so this is a the sense of doubt as perplexity

i think is is a third

definition here all right

okay so

here’s the summary three different words uh the fourth one the one translated perplexed it’s aporio or sometimes it’s diaporio which uh i i don’t i don’t read greek or anything but the sense i got is that the the prefix dye is basically doubling down on the porio it’s extra porio

so you have those two related words that are are used and translated often perplexed but more often doubt or doubted doubting perplexed doubted perplexed doubt

you can see the relative frequency of each of those when i do bible study i like to look at some of the stuff and it just gives me a little it kind of rounds out my understanding of the meaning of a word it’s it’s not necessary obviously you can just read the english text of your your translations we have excellent translations back in the day we just had the king james version that’s that’s still what i use for my study bible um but but i love to be able to use some of the modern ones as well and they’re very suitable um i go into a lot of facebook message boards sometimes where people are talking about bible study and scriptures and there’s always somebody that says you know you can’t trust that translation or you know you got to be able to read the greek you know you got to go to seminary and study the original languages uh because you just can’t trust these english translations and if that’s not true i mean we should be very thankful to have the bibles that we do

i think peter davis gave a bible class or sunday school about translations a couple weeks ago i’m sure that was very interesting i missed that one but

i think the bottom line is we have great english bibles and so anything anything extra edge is just

it’s extra right and this is very nuanced right but we have to be nuanced when we’re dealing with people that are doubting in the ecclesia because doubt is not all equal it’s not the same thing and just as a bit of an exercise i i wanted to ask a question uh

a to figure out if i’m making any sense here with the way i’m kind of laying this out and and be to see if people are following but if there are three different shades of meaning to the word doubt as translated in the new testament um

which one of these would you use

to i’ll give you a couple scenarios and maybe we could take a poll and see which one of these best expresses that kind of doubt

so let me ask about somebody who has experienced the loss of a loved one uh suddenly in a in a car accident or some other accident happened suddenly what sort of doubt might they be experiencing

just taken aback to kind of be at a loss like i have no words for what’s happening in my life right now um

now say that same person um is now asking

why a loving god or saying that a loving god would never allow this to happen

is that a different kind of doubt

i think i think it is would we say that’s the definition one or two

um okay

yeah i agree that that’s more along the lines of wavering

so the third one is someone who is struggling to understand why god allows bad things to happen to his people so and butch i think you answered this one already so if if you’re actually asking that question in good faith and you’re saying well that’s that actually is a good question you know if god is good and god is just then why does it seem like there’s so much injustice and evil in the world you know it seems like god is not intervening on my timeline oh wait it it’s my time like god has his okay and you start to figure out okay there’s there’s something bigger at play here god’s teaching us through our observations of the world the way it is as a result of the fall in eden

and so there’s reasoning happening so i see that as being more along the lines of discernment

so i think it’s it’s important to recognize these things because it’s easy to confuse what’s happening in our lives it’s easy to feel like

okay something’s happened to me i’m having a crisis of faith um i you know i’m feeling like my belief is falling to pieces and it can be a lot of things that make us feel like our life is in shambles

my spouse is leaving me uh my business is failing i’m going through a bankruptcy uh my child is is terminally ill i mean some serious stuff happens in life right and it can feel earth-shattering for us we feel like we’re going through a crisis of of faith

but if we probe it a little bit

you know i’m asking god questions like like habakkuk did right you know who’s the prophet that’s why why did the wicked prosper you know i’m asking god questions but i’m still dialoguing with god

i’m not denying god right i’m not wavering in my faith

i’m perplexed because i can’t believe all these things are happening in my life right now

but i’m still asking for discernment i’m still trying to understand what god is teaching me in this moment

so it’s it’s not really a crisis of faith it’s not a lot lack of belief that’s happening in all of those cases sometimes it is sometimes it is but but not always so i would say not all faith crises are are equal

so so last week i promised that we would look at what scripture has to say about each of oh one one thing before we get to that so these three definitions for for doubt as it appears in the new testament if you look at how it compares to

this merriam-webster definitions

i think there’s a

a decent overlay here

where the definition one wavering has to do with us and our trust in god our confidence in him or inclination on a personal level whether to believe or not

the second one is it has to do with decision making has to do with judgment right discernment

and the third definition relating to the state of affairs that we find ourselves in

i think definition three can lead to definition one or definition two

uh but but they are different at different times

so that was just kind of a interesting aside

so to go ahead and look at how scripture relates these ideas so that first definition wavering right

we looked at a previous definition uh where the disciples see the resurrected christ uh here’s another case in which that word is used

it’s when they’re on the sea of galilee and peter steps out of the boat he’s walking in water to jesus and he sees the waves and the wind and he starts to sink and he says oh lord save me and jesus reaches down and grabs him by the hand and and he pulls him out and he says oh you of little faith why did you doubt

i think we’re familiar with this um

why don’t we turn to matthew 14. um

butch if you have the mic would you read verses 28-33 matthew 14 verses 28 to 33. in pd

and peter answered and said lord

on the water and he said come and when peter was come down out of the boat he walked on the water to go to jesus but when he saw the wind

he was afraid

immediately jesus

why did thou doubt

they were both the wind ceased and then they were in the boat came and worshiped him saying of a truth thou art the son of god

great thank you

so in verse 31 jesus asked peter why he doubts

and so my question is was it was it because he was peter’s doubt because he doubted jesus when he said lord save me did he doubt that jesus was able to save him is that what jesus is rebuking him for having little

faith or or was it the doubt that led him to sinking

i think i think it’s the latter it’s it’s you know what when he saw the winds and the waves he started to sink that’s that’s where he doubted when he said lord save me and he’s expressing his faith in jesus to deliver him from the situation so it’s not like he had no faith it’s not like he was completely full of doubt and wavering in his his belief in jesus to save him

i think this passage tells us something that that about going from what i might call an essential faith which is believing absolutely in jesus to save and going to more of in applied faith

in that okay not only is jesus going to save me that that

he will deliver me into his kingdom at the very end but in the present i believe that jesus has the power to sanctify me and to heal me from my infirmities to to make me spiritually whole presently right on the way to perfection

right so that’s more of an applied faith where you know jesus is teaching us to to walk on water in the present

and we know that we will slip up that will sink and he’s there to pull us up by the hand but he’s also able to keep us from from falling and to deliver us from from the waters

so this this expression oh you of little faith is kind of it’s interesting remember how we we said that faith and belief is the same greek word it’s the same concept it’s it’s pistols

so this this expression you of little faith

is actually um


it’s it’s one word in the greek uh and it has that pistos in it right um but but it’s a single word we it’s not like subject predicate adjective oh you of little faith it’s just one word he calls peter and oligopistos

and it’s almost like calling him a faithling you know like we call like a a little duck as a duckling or pig is a piglet

he’s a faithling

and it strikes me that this is not an outright rebuke of peter he’s not saying where’s your faith you got no faith man he’s saying you got a little faith you just got a little bit there’s an opportunity to grow here

um so so i don’t i don’t see as a as a harsh rebuke it’s more of a term of endearment that also suggests there’s more there’s more here peter take what you have and and multiply it um and this expression jesus uses a few times

all right sermon on the mount

after the storm on galley and after the feeding of the four thousand

i have the references up there we don’t need to read all of them but it’s the same expression oligopistos

that’s used each time and it strikes me that each time it’s used

it’s after jesus has shown himself to be eminently trustworthy absolutely deserving of our faith

it’s on the sermon on the mount you know jesus points to how god takes care of even even the grass of the field the lilies of the valleys

the creatures the birds not one of them falls without god knowing about it if he cares for these little things that he’s created how much does he care for you

god is so absolutely worthy of our faith

and we only give him a little bit let me give them a little faith

the storm in the galley is the same thing you know he he stills the the waves and the the wind blow down um

and and

it says why are you afraid of your little faith uh the feeling of the four thousand um there’s this expression uh you know he

he he says uh beware leaven uh i said herod or the sadducees in this case i think it’s the where the the leaven of of herod he’s warning them about about herod and his court as they sail across the sea of galilee after the feeding of the 4000 and they say oh it’s because we didn’t bring any bread that he’s talking about levin um and there’s a real disconnect they’re talking past each other

and he’s just fed 4 000 people so so jesus is like guys it’s not about lunch you know

i’m trying to take you to a deeper area here but you don’t have enough faith to get there

so don’t worry about lunch i’m the one that just fed 4 000 people and 5 000 people in the chapter before that right so that that’s not a concern for me so


and it makes me think that that for god from the perspective of god who is faithful who’s worthy of all of our faith

and he he constantly demonstrates himself to be worthy when we don’t respond in faith you know he looks at us as being oh ye of little faith oligopistos you know we’re we’re not we’re not bringing as much the table as he is worthy of receiving um and so just as a as an

aside this is this is my oligopestos at home

you know i i take care of her i i feed her make sure she’s got fresh water make sure the litter box is taken care of like i show that i am totally trustworthy

and she just doesn’t give me anything

so you can kind of see the look in her eyes right she’s got sort of that crazy look um that’s that’s kona for you she’s very aloof very standoffish

she has her sweet moments but um you know i wonder if that’s how how god feels when we don’t give him the faith that he he deserves you know he’s he’s never given us a reason to to to doubt him um certainly circumstances in our lives cause us to feel like we’re wavering feel like uh we’re perplexed

but god himself um demonstrates that he is true and he is good uh so many times in our lives um so we he he is certainly worthy of our our faith and trust

so that’s um all the gopis does was with respect to wavering right um you know peter’s faltering as he walks on the water and he’s you know why did you doubt or you of low faith the second definition is that value of discernment and this one’s really interesting because it appears in romans 14 we quarter past is sort of the target okay so we’ve got maybe 10 minutes


so romans 14 right the context is is making judgments about whether or not to observe holidays whether or not to eat

clean or unclean foods

do we want to turn to this one this might be a good one to look up

so romans chapter 14. so you see in verse 2 one believes that he may eat all things another who is weak eats herbs only um

is a comment on vegetarianism i don’t think so

uh it’s more along the lines of acts um peter sees the vision of the the clean and unclean foods i think

let not him that eats despise him that eats not let not him which eats not judge him that eats

let’s see verse five one man esteems one day above another another schemes every day alike uh so talking about pagan holidays perhaps um

perhaps talking about the jewish feast days

there’s some questions that are being weighed and you have a lot of people coming into the ecclesia in the first century that have very different backgrounds

now imagine two gentile converts to christianity um one who maybe was like the ethiopian eunuch who has a background in judaism right he’s not actually jewish himself but he’s a jewish proselyte

so this is a person who came to know christ

after converting to judaism from their paganism so as a part of their conversion they have taken all these things from the law of moses like um you know the food restrictions and observing the holidays and and certainly they would never eat shellfish or pork those things would be tied to their identity as

coming to the one true god of israel they’ve given up all these aspects of their former life and so for them that you know they they observe those rituals almost as a matter of faith and they’re putting their identity in doing those things so now we have uh you know the christian era and paul’s preaching christ and somebody who has that background

okay now they’ve learned even more about the god of israel that the god of israel sent his son and

jesus is the savior he’s the promised messiah and now we have an entrance to the gentiles to come into the faith

and as a result of that we are also making some allowances for the gentiles right the circumcision went away it wasn’t binding on the gentiles

the observance of the torah

went away that doesn’t mean that somebody like the ethiopian eunuch is going to all of a sudden be okay with eating pork or shellfish right they may still have those scruples that they obtained when they converted judaism in the first place right it would be very hard for them to go back to their to living like a pagan is how they might see it but for somebody who had never had that experience of being torah observant uh

but has come to christ and is a follower of jesus

those those requirements weren’t binding on them so they they might choose to eat the other might choose not to eat and that was okay what paul said was what’s more important is is coming to a firm conclusion in your own mind to have a conscience that’s convicted and not betraying that conscience and eating unworthily

whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats because the eating is not from faith for whatsoever does not proceed from faith is sin

so i i see this

this passage is very clearly landing in that sort of discerning definition

that is the greek word that’s used here so it’s different from the others right so this is talking about doubts in terms of like your scruples and your judgments about these matters of conscience if you’re saying i really shouldn’t be eating this and you do it anyway well that wasn’t a faithful act was it

but if you’re absolutely convinced it’s okay to eat shrimp or it’s not okay to eat eat

shellfish then then you’re then you’re okay the the bigger issue is to be convicted in your own mind and not to offend your brother

does that make sense


okay so we’ll do let’s see i think i have one more here

yeah this one’s kind of interesting because i

if you have faith and doubt not you shall be able to cast mountains into the sea essentially

yeah um this is one where i think understanding these different definitions of doubt has actually helped me understand the passage a little more and knowing that the greek word translated out here is diacrino really changed it because for for me i always read this passage about having faith and being able to cast mountains into the sea as being about wavering the first definition not the second definition discernment

and i always read this as if well if i can just summon

pure faith and just have like as if it’s like a concentration thing like as if i can banish all doubt and wavering from my mind for a moment and i pray this i can cast a mountain into the sea and yeah i i don’t think i’m going to be able to cast him onto the sea so i am wavering which is why i’ve never been able to do it before but if i were able to not waver i could just do it

and understanding that this is actually talking about doubt as

discerning and contending and making a judgment um that really changed the way i look at this verse because it’s not really about mountains it’s about big problems in our lives that are beyond our ability to to change into effect it’s about those those huge issues where you say i am just at a loss i don’t i don’t know what to do here there’s no reasoning human reasoning in my mind that i can take there’s no strength or muscle of my own that i can provide to to address this issue the mountain is too big

so i have to put in god’s hands and the next verse says all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing you shall receive

it doesn’t say all things that you ask for in prayer and then go and figure out on your own using your intellect or your strength it just says trust in god when the mountain’s too big to to lever out of the way or to excavate or to dynamite away to cast into the sea you know you don’t have any human means of dealing with the mountain so you have to place in god’s hand right there’s no contention and discernment no judging that we can bring to bear that will deal with the mountain does that make sense

yeah it’s a different way of looking at the verse than i had had brought to bear before

um and it’s not to say that there aren’t situations where god expects us to um to use our intellect and our muscle and strength on our own right to to trust him

there’s a famous quote

trust in god and keep your gun powder dry right and the idea is yeah we’re going to trust god to deliver us from the enemy but we’re also going to make sure we have some some powder reserves right take up arms uh and there’s that that old parable about the drowning man who you know god sends him the the boat and the helicopter and he says i don’t need it i trust in god it’s like the point is at some point god expects you to to act right

and i i i absolutely affirm that i believe that’s true but i also think there’s situations where

we’re just at a loss there’s there’s no reasoning or human strength of our own to bring to bear and we just absolutely have to trust that god will show us the answer some way and that’s that’s the mountain that’s cast into the sea um


just another example

and we are added time the last one is last definition of doubt is perplexed perplexity


and there’s not really a comment on it um so i have some examples of maybe how we deal with perplexity that i’m not going to get into because we ran time

but basically i couldn’t find uh disciples followers of christ uh being condemned for having a lack of faith when they’re facing perplexing situations um so there is a category of doubt um

that i i think is decoupled from faith that that does not betray uh our faith at all just because we’re faced with situations are just astonishing to us in a way

you know the sudden death of a loved one or the infant with the terminal disease these things that just were at a loss


hopefully that was helpful next week we’re going to talk about where faith comes from sources of faith how to grow in faith and that’ll be it so thank you very much