I heard a sermon on doubt recently that got me itching to write about the issues of truth and doubt. It also gave me the push I needed to finally complete a certain book review I was going to write many, many moons ago.
Part of my daily Bible reading is in Psalms. Since I’ve been thinking a lot about doubt and truth, the verses that mention truth are sticking out like sore thumbs. Verses like Psalm 25:5 “Lead me in thy truth and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day” and Psalm 33:4, “For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.”
So much of the Bible tells that it is where we can find what is true. In the “The Truth War” by John MacArthur he lays out the case in the introduction and first chapter for what truth is and why it must be defined biblically. He notes that “ultimate truth” is 1) objective reality, 2) “exists outside of us” and 3) “is as fixed and constant as God is immutable.”
We know God is true and He cannot lie. Jesus declared himself to be “The way, the truth and the life.” Truth is an unchanging part of His nature and since He has said that His Word is true, we can know that His revelation of Himself through Scripture is true.
Once we know what is true and where to find it, what should our response be? MacArthur also points out in “The Truth War” that “Scripture describes all authentic Christians as those who know the truth and have been liberated by it (John 8:32). They believe it with a whole heart (2 Thessalonians 2:13). They obey the truth through the Spirit of God (1 Peter 1:22). And they have received a fervent love for the truth through the gracious work of God in their hearts (2 Thessalonians 2:10).”
So, as a believer I know the Bible is the one place I can search for the truth about God, myself, my spiritual condition, the future, eternity, doctrine and more when I am uncertain of what is true.
With that foundation laid, let’s move on to doubt. While doubt can come from unbelief, I think even believers in Christ can face doubts. There is encouragement to be found when we see the mercy Jesus showed to people who believed in him and still struggled with doubt. I’m reminded of the father who brought his demonic possessed son to Jesus and said to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark chapter 9)
As I’ve been writing this I also listened to a sermon on doubt by MacArthur about Matthew chapter 11. Specifically, when John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus if Jesus is the Messiah. We know John believed and that Jesus held him in high esteem, but at this particular time he is struggling with doubt.
MacArthur points out, “John had doubt and that’s okay in a sense. There are reasons we have doubts. The thing that was so good about John was that when he had doubt he went to the right source to have his doubt dealt with. Where did he go? He went to the Lord.”
This is the way we should handle our doubts: by taking them to Jesus. Looking to him to resolve our doubts and strengthen our faith. His sermon also discusses four things that can cause us to doubt.
I know that I’ve been writing about doubt in a Christian’s life, but I want to step back for just a moment and address actual unbelief in Jesus. Romans chapter 1 says that Christians should live by faith, but non-Christians (unbelievers) don’t believe because they have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and remain under God’s wrath.
Romans 1:16-21 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
The consequences of rejecting the truth about Jesus are as horrific as they are eternal.
Still, as Christians it is wise to examine our hearts and those doubts carefully. If our doubts stem from rebellion or sinful desires we are in danger of harming our relationship with Jesus. We are also in danger of being led astray or becoming deceived if we turn to something or someone other than Jesus and the Bible for resolution of those doubts.
Embracing doubt that God is who He said He is, or doubt about the truthfulness of Scripture can lead to extreme error and heresy. Jay Bakker’s book “Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed” is a heartbreaking example of where it can lead, which is why I’ve chosen to finish this review now. You can read it here.