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Seeking Things Above


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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2008-11-22

Faith and Doubts


If you are a believer in Jesus, do you ever doubt your faith?  If you doubt, does that mean you don't really have a saving faith or that your faith is weak?

I've had this discussion a couple of times with my ten year-old son.  He has been raised in a Christian home.  He accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior when he was five.  This is young, but he has always been a very thoughtful boy and he was serious about this decision.  It was my blessing to be able to baptize him and a couple of years later his younger sister.

Now that my son is older, he's thinking more about his faith and what he believes.  Some things in the bible sound a little far out.  Once you learn that Santa Claus is just a nice story, you start to question other stories you've been taught, even ones you're taught in church.  So one night my son comes to me, with tears in his eyes, wondering if he can really be a Christian if he has these doubts.

I told my son, if he has doubts, he needs to seek out answers.  Like I said, my son is a very thoughtful young man.  I had to answer questions like,

Why did God create Satan if he knew he would rebel and be evil?

If I am saved and have the Holy Spirit in me, why do I still lose my patience with my little brothers and sisters and do mean things to them?

These are just a couple samplings.  I thank God for His Spirit to help me as a field these tough questions.  Amazingly enough, these types of questions will often come after I have studied a similar topic or listened to a teacher\preacher like John Piper talk about them.  I don't always give a great answer.  Piper makes answers to these types of questions seem so logical but they are much tougher when talking about them with your ten year-old son.

However, the best answer I gave my son was to take his doubts to God.  Read his bible, pray, but most importantly, remember what he knows to be true.  He has some great anchors of God working in his life to hold on to.  I wrote about one of these experiences this past spring.

My son is working out his faith.  He is so much further ahead of me than where I was at his age, in some ways, further than I am now.  It's scary for a father to watch his son work through his doubts?  What if he chooses not to believe?  All I can do is love him, teach him, lead by example, and be honest when I fail in my own faith.  God has to do the rest.  My son's faith is ultimately between him and God.

I was inspired to write this post because of a story I read about a man that has lost his faith.  You can read Dan's story here.  I don't believe anyone can snatch any believer from Jesus (John 10:28-29).  When I read Dan's story, it sure sounds like Dan had a saving faith, so how could he have lost it?  I don't know.  I don't know what was really in Dan's heart before and I don't know what is really there now.  Was he never really saved?  Or is he just now in a dark valley where he will eventually emerge more confident than ever in his faith?

That's not the point of Dan's story.  The point is how he claims his wife and his pastor have responded to his story.  The response he describes is tragic and it's not how Jesus would call us to respond.  I'm not assuming Dan's story is true and I'm not assuming it's false.  I don't personally know any of those involved.  However, it is a story we all need to pray about.

Pray for Dan and that while he believes he has turned his back on Jesus, that he learns that Jesus will never turn his back on him.

Pray for Dan's wife and their children.  Whether these accusations are true or false and whether Dan ever comes back to the Lord or not, this experience their family is suffering through is heart wrenching.

Pray for Dan's church and community, for those that know Christ can respond in love and those that do not know Jesus will see a response in love where it appears love has been lacking.

Pray for yourself and your family.  Pray that God will give you the faith and wisdom to not fear your doubts but to embrace your doubts as you work out your faith and seek Him who promises to answer (Luke 11:9-10).

11 comments:

Matt Oxley said...

thanks very much for posting this, i really appreciated your approach and the back-story as well...

thank you very much

Tony said...

Matt -

Thanks for the request and challenge for Christians as well as non-Christians talk about Dan's story.

If you take a look around this site you'll see I'm committed to my faith but I'm open to dialog and free thinking from all.

Grace and peace.

Tony

Michael Aulia said...

and don't forget to pray for your son too as he himself carry forward in his journey with Jesus.

It makes me sad seeing how people have turned themselves from God. There are things that we can't comprehend but why we always focus on what God can give to us instead of the other way around?

Hope he finds his true way back...

Tony said...

Michael -

Thanks. I pray for my children every day. I'm sad as well when I hear of people turning their back on their faith. However, I think no one is more sad than God himself.

It's great to hear from a brother from Down Under!

Grace and peace brother.

Tony

soundofasoftbreath said...

It is so hard to not just ignore those areas where we see doubt pop up. Too many believers, including myself, have and missed a chance to grow in their faith. I find it even harder as I deal with my kids and their questions.

"Reaching for the Invisible God" is one of my favorite books by Philip Yancey. He wrote a great chapter in this book titled "Room for Doubt". In this chapter he wrote "I must exercise faith simply to believe that God exists, a basic requirement for any relationship. And yet when I wish to explore how faith works, I usually sneak in by the back door of doubt, for I best learn about my own need for faith during its absence. God's invisibility guarantees I will experience times of doubt. ... Over time, I have grown more comfortable with mystery rather than certainty. God does not twist arms and never forces us into a corner with faith in himself as the only exit. We can never present the Final Proof, to ourselves or to anyone else. We will always, with Pascal, see "too much to deny and too little to be sure ... I look to Jesus, God laid bare to human view, for proof of God's refusal to twist arms. Jesus often made it harder, not easier, for people to believe. He never violated an individual's freedom to decide, even to decide against him. I marvel at how gently Jesus handled the reports of John the Baptist's doubts in prison, and how tenderly he restored Peter after his brusque betrayal."

I wrote a post some months back titled after his chapter "Room for Doubt".

Sorry for the long comment,
brad

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

I read about Dan's story as well and it is just tragic. I really don't understand how these kinds of things happen, but I do know God is always working. Fear and doubt are weapons of Satan to make Christians ineffective, that I do know. I think you gave your son good advice. Hopefully he will realize that everything is not logical and understandable and that's where faith in God and His Word come in.

Tony said...

Brad -

Thank you for your contribution to this post. Make your comments as long as you like. They're great.

Karen -

Thank you. I thank God for inquisitive children - it helps keep me on my toes when it would be easy to get fat and lazy in my faith.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Tony

Chris Taylor said...

Tony,

Apologies for not being around in a while.

It is interesting that when I come back I find this post.

I find myself struggling with my faith - well, maybe not my faith - but what I was "taught".

Too many things don't mesh - seeming paradoxes between scripture, experience and man's theology.

I have 'interesting' questions that I cannot get good answers to. I recently took a personality profile at work and one of my overriding traits was "Questionner". So, sometimes I think of things that others do not think about and find inconsistencies between scripture and theology.

So, I've been on this search for 'answers'. I want things to mesh, to harmonize, to resolve in a nice, clear, understandable package using logic, reason, science, experience etc.

When I began this journey I dedicated myself to 2 unshakable facts:
1.) There is an Almighty God who "sits" on His "throne" - and to not take him "off" His "throne" and next to Him, I am nothing and deserve nothing
2.) Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ - the Messiah, God's anointed (at a bare minimum) and Savior of the world/nations

So far, I've come up with more questions but few answers.

HOWEVER, one of the most comforting things I have found is a quote from John MacArthur (and another 'theologian' also recently told me something similar):

"John Murray the great theologian says, “In every major doctrine in Scripture you have apparent paradoxes.” You want to talk about the Trinity there is another one. It’s a long answer, but it’s an important category of questions.

"Don’t get caught up in trying to harmonize everything in the mind of God. You can’t you have to take it by faith; leave those doctrines where they are. Leave them at the poles they’re at, if you harmonize them in the middle you destroy both of them. And God will resolve it, sometime in the future when we know as we are known. "

Read the whole thing here: http://www.biblebb.com/files/macqa/70-14-8.htm

Now, what I've realized is that man tries to come up with a system to explain scripture and tie it all together and they leave out the parts that contradicts their theology - either on purpose, or just by accident.

I'm beginning to "think" that scripture is inspired, but perhaps not in the way we have been taught. That all scripture "has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. Gal 3:24" - Replacing the law, with all scripture.

Scripture serves to bring us into a relationship first with God as our judge, then in saving faith in Christ as our redeemer and God as our Father and its up to us to take our relationship into the world.

However again, I have problems with that view as well. :)

If he's asking tough questions like that now, the questions will get tougher. Be prepared and make sure that he has your ear and feels comfortable discussing with you and that when the time comes when you don't have a good enough answer, you guys can search for the answers together.

I've emailed theologians at Princeton and an elderly theologian at Reformed Theological Seminary. We need experts to help, but with the understanding that they are still only men, subject to their own presuppositions and upbringing.

Sometimes I think the popular view of God common in today's society causes a disconnect with scripture which leads to confusion also.

Too many people (such as Dan perhaps) didn't have someone to lean on and search for answers to tough questions. Also, sometimes we have to wrestle with our faith and get through the noise and find that "still, small voice of God".

I feel like I'm rambling, so I'll disconnect now. :)

God Bless and love you bro!

In Christ,
Chris

Chris Taylor said...

Oh, one more thing -

To me, God is important enough to email/contact people directly who might have the answers I need.

Some people give up. Either the mountain is too tall, or the road is too rough, but God is worth it, Christ is worth it and His sacrifice is worth the effort to continue to climb over those moutains and through those valleys.

Anyway, I still don't know if that clears up anything.

God Bless,
Chris

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mooney said...

Good stuff Tony. I think it's very healthy to question and challenge what we say we believe. A word of encouragement: the disciples who walked with Jesus daily for three years doubted at times.

- mooney

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