Friday, November 2, 2018

I Believe, But…


Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines doubt as fear, distrust, and a lack of confidence.


The 9th chapter of Mark gives us an excellent example of doubt and fear when it comes to trusting in Christ.
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy
When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them.

When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.

“What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.

One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk.

And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy.

The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:14-24 (NLT2)
I would have strong reservations about the truthfulness of someone’s claim to having never felt like that father did at that moment. Every person must come to that point prior to placing their faith in Christ. There is no way around it. It is a pivotal turning point in our life. If we say we have placed all our trust in Christ, and yet have doubts as to our salvation, we either do not have complete trust in the finished work of Christ, or we have not genuinely placed our faith in him.

I can understand someone who is new to Christ not being fully convinced; but if we continue to entertain even the slightest amount of doubt (and remember, even a little leaven leavens the whole lump!) for an extended period of time (since we placed our life into the hands of Christ), then I would suggest that either we have not exercised our faith so that it may grow, or we really do not believe. For it is not a matter of trusting our heart, it is a matter of trusting our Savior (see Romans 4).

I do not say this to be harsh or critical. I say this to encourage those who have doubts about their eternal security.

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes;
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:38-39, ESV
Everyone who believes the Bible believes in eternal security. But we need to see what kind of eternal security the Bible teaches. It is eternal security “in Christ”. That phrase, as all good scholars recognize, is the heart of Paul’s theology.

As long as we are “in Christ” we are secure. But just as we become “in Christ” by the choice of our own wills, so by the same method we can cease to be in Christ. Then we are no longer secure.

What Paul is saying in this great, climactic peroration is that nothing in all of God’s great universe - outside of ourselves - can possible separate us from the love of God. There is only one thing that can separate us from that love - our own will!

SOURCE: Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament, page 186. © 2002, Hendrickson Publishers / Baker Book House Company

EVERYONE needs to exercise their faith. For the more we exercise our faith, the stronger it becomes, just like the muscles in our body. If we fail to exercise our body, the muscles atrophied. The same is true if we fail to exercise our faith. This opens the door to self-doubt.

Think of it as learning to ride a bike. At first we are very afraid and we need help. Training wheels and our parent’s presence and encouragement goes a long way toward building our initial confidence. But eventually we no longer need the support of our parent or the training wheels because we have been working at it and developing a sense of balance.

Even after we have learned to ride our bike and no longer require the training wheels or our parents coaching, we are still going to fall off our bike on occasion. Does that mean we really do not know how to ride our bike? Do we lose confidence in our ability to ride the bike? No! It simply means that we are not perfect and that there will be times when we will lose control and fall. What do we do after we fall? We dust ourselves off and get back on the bike and ride it some more; while paying closer attention to the path in front of us.

The same holds true in our walk of faith. We are bound to stray and or get tripped up along the way. As quickly as we become aware of our situation, we immediately need to get back on the path of faith, and renew our efforts. Should we be fearful in our walk of faith because we stumble occasionally? NO! We should walk humbly in the assurance that Christ does not reject those who come to him (see John 6:37). Yes, Paul encourages believers to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” But not because of doubt or anxiety. Rather, the reference is to an active reverence toward God and a singleness of purpose in our response to His grace.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
–Romans 8:15-17 (emphasis added) (cf. 2 Timothy 1:7)
Supplemental Reading:
Blessings in Christ.

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