Share This Episode
Grace To You John MacArthur Logo

Why the Believer Doubts, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 2, 2022 3:00 am

Why the Believer Doubts, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 669 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

February 2, 2022 3:00 am

Click the icon below to listen.

Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Baptist Bible Hour
Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Doubt honest doubt is not a bad starting point.

Just a bad finishing point because as a starting point. Doubt serves us very well. In fact, I think doubt the capacity that is connected to rationality posting letters to a nonexistent address.

Maybe you had similar doubts about whether God is really there and really listening and whether Jesus is everything you claim to be.

What do you realize, even people who were close to Jesus who truly believed in him had their doubts as well. How did Jesus help his followers get past their doubts and how could doubt actually be helpful. John MacArthur has some encouraging answers in his current series when believers doubt and now here's today's lesson we find ourselves in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Luke and verses 18 to 23 when he read the text for you so that I can set it in your mind starting in verse 18, the disciples of John, that is John the Baptist reported to him about all these things and summoning two of his disciples.

John sent them to the Lord, saying, are you the expected one or do we look for someone else and when a minute come to him. They said John the Baptist has sent us to you saying are you the expected one or do we look for someone else. At that very time he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits and granted cite the many who were blind and he answered and said to them go and report to John what you have seen and heard the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear the dinner raised the poor of the gospel preached to them, and blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over me. I've entitled this particular portion believing doubt believing doubt.

I know that's paradoxical, that's kind of an oxymoron but it's reality believing doubt and interestingly enough, the doubt here we find in the believer name John the Baptist of all people, the greatest man who ever lived up until his time by the statement of Jesus himself, the greatest of all Old Testament prophets, the one who was the forerunner to the Messiah, the one miraculously born late in life to Zacharias and Elizabeth to be the Messiah's Harold. This great man who had seen Jesus come down to the Jordan River and baptized in there and heard God affirm him as his son and seen the Holy Spirit descended upon him, and who himself had identified Jesus as the coming one and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This John who had said I must decrease and he must increase this John who had known Jesus all his life because they were related. This John has some doubts about whether Jesus is the expected one or not. And that is the key question in verse 19 repeated verse 20 are you the expected one expected, one being a technical term for the Messiah, the coming one.

Are you the one after all that John had been told by God himself. After all that had been revealed to John directly.

Certainly, we wonder why he would ask the question well were learning a little bit about that as we go were introduced to the fact that even the best of man, the greatest of men. The noblest of men, the greatest of men who ever lived can experience doubt and so were talking about doubt believing doubt as I told you last time in the Gospels and the four Gospels, one of you run into somebody with doubt they are believers. Doubt is an issue with people who believe it's a it's a matter of completing their faith. Doubt is something that occurs among immature believers. It can also occur among very mature believers, but in that case, it's it's really simple, whereas doubt in the case of a young believer or an immature believer may not necessarily be sinful in detail what I mean by that doubt. Honest doubt is not a bad starting point. Just a bad finishing point because as a starting point. Doubt serves us very well. In fact, I think doubt the capacity to doubt is connected to rationality is connected to the being created in the image of God.

God is a rational being, and when he created man.

He created man a rational being a part of rationality is to be able to discern what is true and what is not. That is absolutely critical to God's plan is if God creates people to whom is going revealed truth then it's it's actually essential that he give those people the apparatus to sort out information to come to a correct conclusion. One of the features of that sorting process. One of the components of rationality is doubt or if you will skepticism a healthy kind of skepticism.

I know from a personal standpoint doubt has served me well through my life, particularly when I was very young. I tended to be skeptical about what people said and so I tried to follow a pattern that I learned about fairly young as a Christian in the 17th chapter of acts in verse 11, a pattern that was established by a group of Jewish believers in a town called Berea and when they heard the gospel.

It says they received with eagerness but then they search the Scriptures to see if these things were so.

That's a healthy skepticism. So if you come to my door and you're trying to sell me snake oil you can to be met without.

I'm not very gullible. I hope that will serve you well.

Next time you go to the used car lot healthy skepticism. You understand what I mean is a certain amount of doubt that serves you well. Even when you go to the doctor and somebody says if you're smart you'll get a second what opinion because you don't want to be sucked up into something that may not be quite right that is part of being made in the image of God doubt in that sense is a very very good gift and when somebody is gullible that's not a compliment when we say about someone they'll believe anything that is not a compliment. So were not talking now about having all the evidence and not coming to a reasonable faith were talking about an honest kind of doubt that serves you very well. Doubt is a very good starting point. It's just not a good ending point and for many of the people who heard Jesus and saw his mighty works doubt was the beginning and the end and they treated Jesus with criticism and indifference and rejection and hatred and hostility and even a conspiracy to execute him and the best. Some of them ever offered and was curiosity her fascination and they retained a certain measure of doubt.

That's a good starting point. I say again, but not a good place to finish and I really do believe that God has wired us with a certain measure of skepticism for the sake of self protection. You just know not to trust everybody and everything and people who do are seriously wounded by spiritually and even physically.

Now some of the great heroes of the faith were really pretty monumental doubters to start with Abraham was filled with doubt. When God told him that he was going to have a son. He doubted that.

Seriously, since he was 100 years old and had never been able to have children.

He had a healthy case of doubt, but Abraham is now known to us as the father of faith that what started out as doubt, having been resolved by God, then transformed itself by God's power into faith Sarah along with him at the age of 90, when she was told she was going to have a child, laughed with a serious case of doubt. Sarah, of course eventually did bear that son of promise that God had pledged she would bear and her doubt became faith and she too was included among the heroes of faith in the 11th chapter of Hebrews when it comes to listing all the great people of faith you have Abraham and Sarah, you have another one by the name of Moses and Moses had a very formidable case of doubt when God told him to lead the people Israel out. He said I can't do it.

I'm not a very good speaker, etc. etc. remember the story.

Moses became the greatest leader in Israel's history led them in the great Exodus from Egypt led them through 40 years in the wilderness to the edge of the promised land where his leadership ended and Joshua took over Moses to is listed among the heroes of faith to Abraham and Sarah and Moses are given the greatest portion of the 11th chapter.

In describing those people whose lives are marked by the most monumental faith and then in the 11th chapter of Hebrews.

You have a lot of other names of people who could give testimony to periods of doubt in their lives, but whose lives ended up as great monuments to faith including a man named Gideon who seriously doubted that he was some kind of mighty warrior from God. When God identified them as such didn't believe that he could carry off the great victory, but did in his doubt was resolved into faith in Judges chapter 6. We learn the story of Gideon whom God uses such a mighty way that he too was included in the 11th chapter of Hebrews is a hero faith well you get into the New Testament. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist certainly doubted his capacity to give birth to a son late in his life, probably in his 80s. He was told that he would be a father in the Ohl in old age and Luke 118. This was something beyond his capability to believe it was very unreasonable. Said I'm an old man. My wife is advanced in years.

This is impossible, but he began to doubt her and ended up a man of great faith who gave magnificent tribute to the Messiah at the end of the first chapter in that powerful powerful statement of Zacharias that ends Luke chapter 1, which he shows how the Messiah fulfills all the Old Testament covenant promises that you have among the apostles, the most famous doubter of the apostle by the name of Thomas. We all know about doubting Thomas. Thomas, unfortunately, is saddled with that label being a doubter, but the fact of the matter is, Thomas is the one apostle who made the most unequivocal clear statement about who Jesus was, of any of the apostles.

It was Thomas.

You remember who said concerning Jesus my Lord and my God.

There can be no greater statement made one who was labeled a doubter became the man who made as great a confession as is made in the gospel accounts and even the 12 who were little faith, kind of characters eventually had their faith strengthened to the point where Luke says in acts 17 six that they actually turn the world upside down. So doubters whether Old Testament or New Testament and those are just a few of many and become heroes of the faith listed with the great doubt that is a good place to start is not a good place to finish and so we all understand the man in Mark 924 who said, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.

I believe as far as I can believe, but if I'm going to believe anymore than this. You're going to have to help me by giving me what I need to believe it then and there again is that that rationality. I want to believe if you'll give me reason for faith. Doubt is very real and it's most really immature believers who don't yet have enough understanding to continue to believe greater and greater degree. And amazingly, the greatest men who ever lived. John the Baptist struggled with doubt at the beginning of his exposure to the gospel. He was very little different than the disciples the apostles who had little faith. So we began to look up last time at John's situation. Let's pick it up in verse 18 where we left off and the disciples of John reported to him about all these things Jesus was going everywhere, teaching and healing.

He was demonstrating power over disease over demons over death. John the Baptist was in prison at the time and he's going to be beheaded. Not long after this incident happens.

John's response in verse 19 is that he identifies two of these disciples. You know how many there were. At this time and he sent them to the Lord, saying, are you the expected one or do we look for someone else. This is the instruction he gives them you go back and asked Jesus if he is really the Messiah. John new end it says in Luke 316, the John said the coming one will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, so he had identified the coming one.

He knew it was Jesus because the father had said so. The spirit had come. John had baptized him. But now he's having doubts, and so he says to two of these men you go back and you find out for sure if he is the expected one, the coming one term for Messiah or do we look for someone else and I told you last time and I think it needs to be repeated to get his doubt resolved. He went to the Lord, which shows that he believed he was a believer or he never would've asked the Lord to resolve his doubt.

He knew that the Lord himself was the one who could help them with the doubt. And remember, the picture wasn't clear to John. He wasn't there for firsthand testimony. He was getting things by hearsay and Jesus had yet died.

He hadn't risen he had descended, he certainly hadn't confronted the apostate religious leaders had confronted the corrupt people in Israel he hadn't established the kingdom of God on earth.

He hadn't defeated the Romans and all the enemies of Israel, and set himself upon the throne of David. He had brought Abraham it blessing everything the John sort of expected to happen hadn't happened, and I think John had a pretty clear picture of what should happen. John new Welby Old Testament his father was Zacharias a high priest on and not a high priest but a priest and because he was a priest.

He was a student of the Old Testament to a two weeks of the year would do priestly duties in Jerusalem. The rest of the year he would live in the hill country of Judea, where his home was and he would be teaching the Old Testament that was his duty and so John would've been raised on the Old Testament, he would've known messianic prophecies he would've known what the Messiah was going to do when he came in he had certain expectations so you can be sure the John grew up understanding when the Messiah comes.

Redemption comes when the Messiah comes. Salvation comes is salvation from enemies from all who hate the Jews. Mercy comes the Abraham a covenant is unfolded, the Davidic covenant is unfold the new covenant is unfolded, holiness, righteousness comes the sun rises and delight floods the land and darkness disappears and death disappears in peace arise. That was John's messianic view and when Messiah came, did nap didn't happen and he comes to this point and he's done a dungeon in Fort McDaris, East of the Dead Sea completely out of circulation and all he hears about Jesus visit is traveling around healing people raising dead people casting out demons, and these are people at our believers. These are sinful people, people who are part of the apostate system of Judaism. It's all confusing to him, so he struggles with doubt, sorting through that just kind of pulling apart a little bit to look at some of the components I suggested you. There are four things that contribute to this kind of doubt for us. As for John, first personal tragedy. Remember that last time John circumstances didn't seem to fit with his faithfulness. How is it that he being faithful to his calling, preaching what he was told to preach no indication that John was anything other than faithful to the to the very Max in his ministry. How why is he languishing in a stinking dungeon, months and months in prison, headed for a rendezvous with death. How can this come this is the doubt that comes because the circumstances don't seem to match our devotion or our faithfulness. What we think we deserve, or what we think is been promised.

Doesn't this look like the triumph of evil and not the triumph of God.

Isn't this the triumph of a wretched, wicked, Herod, and not the triumph of Messiah. So John began to stumble into doubt. It just didn't seem to make sense. So he's questioning. Are you really the Messiah or are you just one in the line that takes us to the second reason for his doubt popular influences.

There was a view existing that they would come Elijah and then Jeremiah and then profit a profit B profit C however many and finally Messiah and John is saying why are you will profit be a Senior D. In the Messiah is not here yet is that the idea so popular influences popular ideas popular concepts can create doubt they still do that. There are those people who develop a popular image of Jesus. And when the preacher who preaches the true word of God doesn't preach what fits with the popular idea of Jesus people doubt wonder because they've accepted un-biblical notions of the Savior, and we talked about that last. I must come to the third and the fourth one this is really the crux of these things are necessary, separate from each other. There kind of inner point a bit. The third reason and this is the compelling matter doubt arises out of personal tragedy when we can't square our circumstances with our faithfulness out of popular influences when we start to believe the popular image of the of someone including Jesus. They also come because of incomplete revelation. This is really the crux of the matter.

John's doubts came because he didn't have full information and what John couldn't understand was why doesn't the kingdom come, because John didn't have the information that Jesus would come, he would be rejected the Lord with intern from Israel to the Gentiles established the church. The church age would go on at least 2000 years, which it has. And Jesus would then come back return and then set up his kingdom.

That's a mystery. In the Old Testament.

The Old Testament does talk about the kingdom that the Messiah will come fulfill Abraham a promise of blessing and a land prosperity in all of that Davidic promise that Israel would have a king, a great King, a son of David and the he would reign over Israel and Israel would literally rule the whole world. The new covenant promise, the forgiveness of sin Mercy and grace and salvation. All of that was there, but the Old Testament didn't show this ministry.

This 2000 year at least. In which God turns from Israel and carves out a new channel of witness to the world, namely, the church made up of Jew and Gentile. Not until that period ends and Israel is saved does Jesus return to establish the glorious promised kingdom and bring to pass the fulfillment of everything. He pledged to Abraham and David. John didn't have that information so is functioning with some incomplete information he needs. What Peter said a more sure word that his own experience.

He needs to see the truth of God, or to hear the truth of God and some of the apostles.

Of course were in the same situation. Even after the resurrection. They did know Jesus was raised Jesus had been killed there on the road to Emmaus. They were moaning and groaning and everything was over with.

It was all done, that the whole thing was pointless and useless. Jesus was dead and Jesus showed up. You remember Luke 24 says he opened the Scripture and spoke out of the Scripture of things concerning himself and help them to understand that this was all part of the plan from Scripture. This was pretty typical even after the cross and the resurrection. The disciples struggle. Acts chapter 1, they said to Jesus, are you at this time to bring the kingdom. Are you going bring the kingdom. Is this the time for the kingdom to come. Jesus that is not for you to know that God has that in his own purpose and he'll bring the kingdom. When it's time to bring the king's not for you to know the times and seasons kingdom. So their whole expectation was about the Messiah, arriving to bring the kingdom. When he came in didn't bring the kingdom and it looked like things were getting worse and worse and it turned out that they were, and he was executed. It was like the whole plan dissolved so they had an incomplete revelation.

They could've understood more have a better interpreted the Old Testament. Matthew 2229 Jesus said, you are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, you are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures. The Scriptures do speak about a suffering Messiah, don't they.

Isaiah 53 Psalm 22 Scriptures do speak about a final and ultimate lamb depicted in all the imagery the sacrificial system, but John was really suffering from incomplete revelation. The New Testament hadn't been written. You couldn't say John, you need to read first and second Thessalonians is all there need to read a second Peter three a day of the Lord is like a thousand years a thousand years.

They got to realize us big time gaps or that wasn't written book of Revelation wasn't written wouldn't be written for over half a century and so John what was just without the full information to see the timetable well you and I don't have a problem doing if you say to me you have doubts that what I want to say to you is go to the Scripture is the revelation of God is clear read the word learn the word know the word trust the word blessed is the man who delights in the law of God day and night who meditates on it day and night because it's in the knowledge of the truth that you understand the purposes and plan of God and doubt is dissipated for me as a young person those early doubt. Send me into the search for the truth and once I determine the truth doubt disappeared.

Doubt is a almost a foreign matter to me and to many of you at this point because the truth has so taken over your mind and your heart you may be tempted to doubt what you know but you don't doubt because you don't know you have the evidence there you have the mind of Christ in the Scripture, you can bring every thought captive to Christ. The second Corinthians 10 five says you have an anointing from God. You don't need to be taught by men, because you know when he forgot teaches you all think. First John two John just didn't have enough information to be certain, and that's okay if you don't have enough information to be certain then go to the one who has the information who's that the Lord and where does he reveal his mind. Where is the mind of Christ. It's right here. First Corinthians 216 you have the mind of Christ, right here, you will need to have data that's why say doubt is a good place to start. Bad place to finish. If you have some doubts go to the word of God and get your doubt turned into faith. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary here on grace to you.

He's titled our current study when believers doubt know, again, the series comes from the book of Luke, and that's a book John that you spent a decade preaching through verse by verse that sort of unhurried verse by verse teaching style that is your style. It probably seems strange to a lot of people who grew up in American evangelicalism, so let me just ask why teach the Bible one book at a time, one verse at a time.

The way you do it. Is that simply your personal preference that is led you to take that steady and mostly linear approach to teaching God's word that should be obvious that I teach that way because God wrote that way, you mean the Bible is a book but it contains 66 books that have a beginning and middle and ending. There's a flow of thought.

There is in their narrative themes to their theological themes, but you can't you can't possibly think that what God wrote has sort of graded value low well you know the these truths are regional like a tan but that stuff is just a one or two so you can ignore that every word of God is pure all Scripture is inspired is all God breathed and it is all profitable. So I have to teach the Bible the way God wrote the Bible. And that is the ministry philosophy of grace you and and we have 1/2 a century now to demonstrate the impact in the power and the effectiveness of teaching the Bible that way that this is the full counsel of God were not trying to attract people with feel-good messages is not about you it's not about how your life and in your happiness and your fulfillment. It's going to be about what God has revealed in Scripture that's gonna be about sin, repentance and judgment, grace, forgiveness, salvation and redemption heaven that this is because this is what the Bible is about, and that's where it comes across to radio books MP3 CD television website and after half a century of doing that. We know that 100 years from now if the Lord hasn't taken us all away and things are still happening down here on earth. With this truth that we have taught will be as significant as true as it has ever been. This is this is the only way to teach the Bible so that it's message which is timeless is taught in a timeless way. That's right. Verse by verse teaching biblical truth that changes lives for eternity. That is what you helped take to spiritually hungry believers all over the world.

When you give to have a part in strengthening God's people near and far. Express your support today mail your gift to Grace to you.

Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 or you can also express your support or on the phone when you call 855 grace and friend. Sometimes people ask about other ways that they can support John's verse by verse teaching a great way to do that is by remembering Grace to you and your estate planning. To find out more about making a legacy gift to Grace to you.

Give us a call and ask for Paul Ackerman to stylus toll-free 805 grace is 855 grace and you will also find information about legacy when you're at the website. Remember that you can download John's sermons more than 3500 titles free of charge in both audio and transcript format.

Find out at our website.

Again, web address TTY God now for John MacArthur.

I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind Grace to you.

Television airs this Sunday and I encourage you to watch it with your family can check your local listings for channel in times and then make sure you're here tomorrow for the next installment of John series when believers doubt it's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime