Week 43 – Working Through Our Doubts
Prayer– Father, we love you. We love that, Jesus who is our King and Savior is also the light of the world. We thank You that You came into the world to open our eyes to see that You are glorious, You are worth every sacrifice to follow You. We ask that Sandy Ridge would be a people that put Your great works on display for our local and global neighbors. In Jesus Name. Amen.
It does not matter where we are in our journey with God we all deal with questions to our faith in God that often lead to doubt. Such as does God exist? Is Jesus really God in the flesh? Is the Bible fully inspired by God and therefore authoritative for every area of anybody’s life? If God is good then why does He allow pain and suffering? Why does He let the wicked prosper? Why won’t God heal me or this person of cancer? Is God trustworthy? Can I really trust Him for my future? If God is always with me then why at times do I feel He is not? Does that mean there is something wrong with me? or how can I know if I am truly a Christian? People of Sandy Ridge (show slide 2) The issue is not do we doubt but what do we doubt. So here is my heart for you today. May God use this message to magnify who He is which does not mean your doubts and questions will disappear. May God use this message so that you know how to work through your doubts now and in the future. Because here is the deal – people who choose to follow Jesus today, do it not because they don’t have any doubts but because God and His Truth have become undeniable and incredibly personal for them. People who become Christians do it not because all their questions were answered but because God worked in their life in such a way that their questions, their obstacles shrunk, lost their grip which paved the way for them to express reasonable faith and trust in Jesus, the One who they now follow as their King.
Today we are going to look at a story in the 9th chapter of John that I believe will help you work through your doubts. I invite you to open your Bibles that you brought from home to John 9
. It is on pg. 930 in these Bibles located in your seat pockets. If you don’t have a Bible and would like one then there are some on the back table. Please take one home and consider it our gift to you. Now as you turn there I want to share a baseball illustration. Even for those of you who are not baseball fans I believe you will find this illustration fascinating. In 1990 a Yale Professor, Robert Adair, (show slide 3 - picture of Adair and book) wrote a book called The Physics of Baseball. Here he said a pitcher throwing a baseball at 90 mph will travel the 60 ½ feet to reach home plate in .4 seconds. Adair used physics to determine that it takes .2 seconds for the batter to determine to swing at the ball. If yes, it takes .1 seconds to find where the ball will cross home plate and then the swing itself takes .15 seconds. Now I realize if you like math you might be loving this illustration. Otherwise, you want to know what’s the point. JWell, here it is. This brilliant physics professor said it is mathematical impossible to hit a 90 mph fastball. It cannot be done. The numbers do not add up. Now if the ball is thrown faster than 90 mph then it is becomes just more impossible. So who are we to argue with the scientific facts that (show slide 4) Hitting a 90 mph fast ball: 60.5 feet in .4 secs, Batter decides to hit the ball - .2 secs, Placement of bat - .1 secs, Swing of the bat - .15 secs Total .45 secs. But you do not need to be a baseball fan to know that this professor is wrong. I imagine most of us could not evaluate his research and say well, this is where he miscalculated. All we know is we have seen people hit a baseball going at least 90 mph. It is undeniable. So while I cannot explain why this Yale Professor is wrong but I have seen the undeniable of batters hitting 90 mph fastballs over and over. And it seems most people would say the undeniable trumps the unexplainable. However, it when it comes to faith and spiritual questions it seems people switch them and put the unexplainable over the undeniable. (Show slide 5) Unexplainable, Undeniable.
In other words, people will not admit what is undeniable until all of their questions have been answered and doubts are removed then and only then will they believe. This is not unique to the 21st Century but is a human nature thing. For example, this past week we read a story about how religious people got stuck in the unexplainable rather than focus on the undeniable. So let’s begin reading this story in v. 1 of John 9
. Pg. 930 in these Bibles. Read vv. 1-2. The disciples ask this question because the prevailing thought of the day was if you experienced suffering in your life then it was because of sin, your sin or somebody else’s sin? So Jesus jumps in and says in v. 3. “neither this man nor his parents sinned” which is Jesus’ way of communicating you asked the wrong question. Jesus continues – read v. 3b. Now I realize this may be hard for some of you to swallow – that a baby was born blind so that God’s greatness might be displayed. You may think I don’t like that. I am not comfortable with that. Jesus might respond, “it is how it is.” Let’s continue to read. This is where Jesus goes into his teaching mode. Read vv. 4-5. Now before Jesus started his public ministry at 30 there was a great deal of confusion about who God is and how He works. This is part of why Jesus came to clear the air. Jesus said that when He leaves, which is His reference to the night, then things will get dark and confusing again. It is as if Jesus is telling his disciples to pay close attention to His words now because when He leaves then you will be the light that will open people’s eyes with all of the confusion, doubts, and questions people have and ask. Praise God that Jesus’ words in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John shed light on who God really is. So people of Sandy Ridge, let’s cling to His words and speak it with a convicted civility.
So while the disciples were trying to figure all this out Jesus says in v. 6. Read vv.6-9. So here is a man that never has been able to see but now is able and people are trying to figure how this happened which is only natural. Let’s continue to read vv 10-16a. The explanation the man gives does not satisfy his neighbors, friends, and religious leaders so they refuse to believe the undeniable. Most people in this 1st Century Jewish culture believed that God would never do a miracle on the Sabbath. Now you and I probably don’t believe that so it is easy to write off these doubters because we believe God can heal and do miracles anytime He wants. But everyone has their own ideas about God and so when we see, hear, experience something that challenges a belief or value that we hold doubt may begin in us. Sometimes our doubts lead to unbelief or a lack of trust in God which is not what God wants but doubts can also go in a different direction – to a place of deep and strong faith which is what God wants and why He allows circumstances to challenge us.
People of Sandy Ridge, don’t miss the question the Bible is asking us here which is: (show slide 6) what are the beliefs that you hold that God would challenge? You have a list. You may not know it but God knows it and is working on breaking it. I encourage you to write down that question and as you do let me share a few on my list of beliefs that, as a Christian, He had to challenge and break. Number one, God’s highest priority is my comfort and happiness. He won’t let anything bad happen to me because He loves me. Number two, God won’t let anything bad happen to me financially because I am generous with money. If anything, God needs more people who are generous so somehow He will protect my finances. Number three, my particular sins are indeed sin but in God’s big picture He has bigger concerns to deal with than just me. And number four, people will not spend forever in hell because somehow God somehow has a loophole. I don’t know what it is but there has to be something. People of Sandy Ridge, if you believe pain and suffering is a sign that God is punishing you then you will never be able to fully trust in your perfect Heavenly Father. If you believe you have to know everything or mostly everything to keep following Jesus then you will never fully experience God’s peace. If you believe God’s will is to always to physically heal your disease or illness then you will live with a very deep rooted sense of disappointment in God. If you believe you have done certain things that are beyond God’s forgiveness then you will never experience the joy of being completely forgiven by Christ. Let’s continue reading v v. 16b-18.
Just like these religious leaders, we personally know people who opt to cling to the unexplainable over the undeniable. (show slide 7) Now for the sake of time I am not going to read vv. 19-33 as the conversation goes back and forth from the religious leaders and the man and even the man’s parents trying to figure out how this healing on the Sabbath could happen. Altogether, the man is asked 5 different times to explain what happened. Now if I put myself in the man’s shoes I would say, “This is the best day of my life. Let’s thank God even though we don’t completely understand everything.” But the religious leaders are unable to do this. Why? They are focusing on the unexplainable over the undeniable. So let’s pick up the conversation in v. 34. Read. Now the conversation is getting ugly. The man who was born blind but now is able to see is thrown out of the synagogue. This meant he could no longer participate in temple activities, go to a priest to make an offering for his sins, or get certain jobs in the city. This man woke up with a reputation of a beggar and now he has one more - an outcast. But there is good news because Jesus enters the story again. He always does whether it is this man’s story or your story. Let’s continue to read vv. 35-37. The man does not say “Jesus, can you explain to me how you healed me and why You did it on the Sabbath? In fact, it would be great if you could just come with me and straighten this all out with the religious leaders because I don’t want the reputation of an outcast. But he doesn’t say any of that. Instead he says in v. 38 I believe and he worshipped Jesus. And that’s the last thing we hear from this man because the main point of this story is to show God’s glorious work in Jesus. He is to be worshipped. He is seeking people to worship Him as they work through their doubts and questions. So another question that the text is asking us is: (show slide 8) will you worship Jesus even as you work through your own questions, like the blind man who now sees did?
Every once in awhile someone will ask me, “Travis, do you ever doubt God and how He works in the world? In fact, that is a question you may have wanted to ask me but have not. My answer is oh yeah! I have doubts that if I shared with you might make you doubt because you haven’t thought about that doubt yet. JBut here is what I have learned about working through my doubts and questions. I doubt when I get focused on the unexplainable and lose sight on the undeniable. I doubt when I forget what God has already done and focus on the things that I can’t get God to do. I doubt when I tell God You are not acting like You should. Have you ever lectured God? I mean we do not call it that because we think we are praying when we say, “God, if I was You here is what I would do. And if You did it then it would really help out the situation.” So yes, I doubt just like you do but I am learning that my doubts are a signal to focus and remember the undeniable.
And here is what is undeniable. A guy named Jesus shows up 2,000 years ago and makes claims like He is the light of the world, He is the way, the Truth, and the life. No one came have a relationship with God but through Him. Jesus also said He was going to die on a cross and then in 3 days be raised. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses who affirmed this just like how He said it would be. And today on every continent there are men, women, and children who would tell us a story of how they had a personal encounter with the Living God and their lives have been changed and still are changing. This is undeniable. And just like how I cannot explain how a batter hits a 90 mph fastball but I know there has to be an explanation. I just don’t know it yet but I choose to focus on the undeniable rather than the unexplainable. Many of our questions and doubts to God have explanations. Some come as we study, some come later in life, and some of those explanations will disturb us but will we dismiss them or let the Truth reconfigure our God box.
Now whether you consider yourself a seeker of Truth or a skeptic I want you to know that you can fully surrender your life to Jesus’ with your questions and doubts if you choose to put the undeniable over the unexplainable (show slide 9) You can follow Jesus wholeheartedly even if you don’t understand everything. Now for those who already follow Jesus if you feel like your doubts are getting the best of you then I would encourage you to pray: (show slide 10) “God, I know You want to be known so my desire is to know You more than answers to my questions. I want Your transformation of my life over information.” People of Sandy Ridge, may you experience the great life God made you for by focusing on the undeniable rather than the unexplainable. Remember God’s character and His amazing works which He has done in your life to help you work through your doubts. At this time I invite ? to come up to pray for us.