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When Doubt is a Good Thing

When Doubt is a Good Thing

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Published by glennpease
There are times when doubt is a virtue, and the Bible gives us examples of noble doubters who were pleasing to God.
There are times when doubt is a virtue, and the Bible gives us examples of noble doubters who were pleasing to God.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 17, 2009
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05/25/2012

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 WHEN DOUBT IS A GOOD THING Based on Luke 7_18-35By Pastor Glenn PeaseIt is a pain to struggle with doubt, but there is a great debate as to whether this isa helpful or harmful type of suffering. In Camelot, King Arthur says to Lancelotthat he is satisfied he did the right thing in starting the round table. Lancelotreplies, "Your majesty, did you ever doubt it?" And Arthur responds, "Lance, onlya fool never doubts."An army of followers will march to that drum beat, and praise the virtue of doubt. But they will face a mighty host who feel just the opposite; that only a foolwould ever doubt. One of these leaders writes,Is there no knowledge to be had?Has God not spoken once for all?Indeed He has, all doubt is madAnd destined to disastrous fall.For God is God, and truth is true.All doubt is sinful in His sight,And doubters will have cause to rueTheir doubt through hell's undoubted night.So the authorities agree, you are damned if you do, or damned if you don't doubt.Thus we are stuck with the dilemma of doubt. It is always confusing when the samething can be good or evil, for this forces us to think and be discerning. We wouldprefer that all the good guys road on white horses, and all the bad guys road onblack horses. That way, you don't have to strain to evaluate and discern, for you just know by the visual evidence.Have you ever turned TV on in the middle of a story, and watched it for a fewminutes. It can be very frustrating because you do not know the context of thestory, and you do not know who the heroes are, and who are the villains. The resultis, you do not know where you stand, and who you are for or against in the conflict.The bad guy may be so deceptively noble that you are attracted to him before youdiscover he is the villain. We can only feel comfortable in our convictions when wehave the whole context before us, and can see how each piece fits the whole.Our text in Luke 7 will help us see the dilemma of doubt in its full context so wecan grasp how people can come to such radically opposite conclusions. In this textwe see that both sides of the battle are correct. Doubt is both demanded anddamnable. It has both positive and negative qualities that make it a cause for bothhelpful and harmful suffering. In order to see the whole we want to examine theindividual parts of this dilemma, and we start with the negative.
 
I. DOUBT IS DAMNABLE.None are so blind as those who will not see, and Jesus describes the Pharisees,and experts in the law, as deliberate doubters who refused to see the light that Godhas put in front of their face. They are locked into a damnable doubt that Godwould ever do anything apart from them. The result is that no amount of evidencewill overcome their blindness.God sends John the Baptist as a solemn, somber, and serious prophet, and theyreject him as a madman with a demon. God then sends His Son as a life-lovingleader who joins his people for the sharing of the enjoyable social events of life.They reject him as too worldly; a glutton, wine bibber, and friend of tax collectorsand sinners.Jesus describes them like spoiled children who don't want to play funeral orwedding. They will not be led, but stubbornly resist all evidence so that no light canpenetrate their dungeon of doubt, and they remain in the darkness of disbelief. Youcannot find any better example of the danger of doubt. These blind leaders of theblind were literally damned by their doubt. Heaven was at their fingertips, but theirdoubt was leading them to hell and separation from Christ who offered them eternallife.It is true that some of these leaders, like Joseph of Arimathea began to doubttheir doubts, and came to the place where they believed. But most never did, andmust have had great fears that it might be true that Jesus was the Messiah, for Hedid many miracles before their very eyes. The unbeliever has more to lose thananyone, and so his doubts are very frightening. Those who attack the believer try tothrow him into a state of doubt, but this is a two edge sword, and cuts even deeperinto the unbeliever when you throw him into doubt about his disbelief. A youngskeptic said to Archbishop Temple, "You only believe what you believe because of your early upbringing." Temple replied, "You only believe that I believe what Ibelieve because of my early upbringing because of your early upbringing." Theskeptic was banged into silence by his own boomerang.Remember, doubt is really the faith of unbelief, and you can throw a scare intothe doubter by causing him to doubt that his doubt is a sure thing. Doubt is a validweapon for the soldier of light to use in combat with those in darkness. Unbelieversmust be tormented by the fear that maybe they are wrong, and belief is right. Thisis the way the lost are saved. But some are so blind they will not see the flaws intheir doubt. They believe their unbelief is the final word, and they doubt all thatcontradicts it. Doubters give doubt such a bad name that we seldom see that it alsohas a positive side that we must consider.II. DOUBT IS DEMANDED.
 
John the Baptist represents the doubter who is just the opposite of the Pharisees.Their doubt drove them to the denial of all evidence, but his doubt drove him toseek more evidence. John was in prison for doing the will of God, and even one souse to being deprived of life's luxuries, can not be happy in such bondage. Johnbegan to doubt whether or not Jesus was really the Messiah. This one who said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," was nowisolated and felt forsaken. His personal crisis led him into the shadows of doubt,and he asked his disciples to go to Jesus and ask Him right out if He was the onewho was to come, or if they should expect someone else?John was saying, I have lost my certainty and lack assurance, and I need someevidence to eliminate the doubts that are creeping into my faith. This kind of doubtcan hurt, but it is like the pain of exercise; it hurts, but it leads to the strengtheningof the muscle. Doubt that motivates a man to seek for more evidence is not harmfulto his faith, but helpful, for it will lead him, as it did John, to get that whichsupports his faith. Jesus did not say, go back and tell John I've had it with him. If he can't take a crisis like being thrown into a dungeon without doubt, then he is nofriend of mine. Jesus did not condemn this doubt at all, but responded with the verything John needed-evidence. The very things that were to happen when the Messiahcame, are happening. The sick are being healed; the blind are made to see; lepersare restored; and the dead are even raised, and the poor are receiving the goodnews.The Bible does not call this kind of doubt damnable, but rather, says it isdemanded as one of the weapons of warfare in the battle of light and darkness. Paulstated it in I Thess. 5:21, "Test everything, hold fast to the good." The Christian isto face this world of so many false prophets and cults with doubt; a doubt thatrefuses to accept anything without testing it according to God's Word. Jesusexpected to be tested Himself, and said, don't believe me because I say something,believe me because of my works. In other words, talk is cheap, and we need to seethe fruit of what is said in action, and until we do, doubt is our ally to keep us frombeing led astray.If we care to avoid being tossed about by every wind of doctrine, we must bedoubters who question, test, and evaluate, and be discerning as to what is of Godand what is not. Doubt becomes a partner with faith in helping us discern the willof God. Tennyson said, "There lives more faith in honest doubt believe me, than inhalf the creeds." Rosalind Rinker said, "Faith and doubt coexist to some degreewithin everyone." We are all like the man who came to Jesus and said, "Lord Ibelieve, help thou mine unbelief." He had both faith and doubt, and so it was withJohn the Baptist, and so it is with Christians all through history.It is important that we see this so that we corral our doubts and make themservants of faith rather than enemies of faith. It is not wrong or evil when you getoverwhelmed by the burdens of life to doubt the workings of God. This can be atime of great growth if you do not fear it, but recognize that the circumstances

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