Mythbusters #1 - Faith and Doubt Cannot Co-Exist

  

~Myth #1 — Doubt and Faith~

 Mythbusters Sermon Series

Tyson Graber - January 6, 2008

Herscher Christian Church

Today we are starting a new sermon series entitled Mythbusters and our goal will be to examine different myths the world has embraced about God, Christianity and the church. Our goal will be to find out if these myths are actually true or if they need to be busted. Our source of truth will be the word of the God and the holy Spirit.

[Power Point of hosts of the Mythbuster TV show]

I wonder how many of you know these men? Adam Savage and our very own Rick Rosenboom

How many of you enjoy the show Mythbuster? It is one of my favorites on TV right now and it is one the boys and I actually watch together. I think it is because we all like to see things blown up and destroyed. But what the Mythbusters do is examine all wives tales and legends that people believe to be true but have not really been tested.

For example, the Mythbusters busted the Myth that a deck of playing cards could stop a bullet from hurting you if it were placed in your shirt pocket and then shot. At the same time the Mythbusters have shown that the Myth of a human voice being able to break glass is possible.

One of the things I like to do while watching the show is speculate ahead of time if a myth will be busted or confirmed.

Lets try a few myths today. I am going to share with you 5 myths of the wintertime and I want you to guess if you think they are truth or should be busted.

1. It’s colder in the wintertime because the Earth is farther from the Sun.

2. Burning wood in a fireplace is a good way to keep warm.

3. You will get sick if you go outside with wet hair in freezing weather.

4. Avalanches are usually triggered by loud noises.

So far all these myths were busted; they are just not true, yet many people believe them to some degree. The final myth I would like to test you with today is what I believe to be the most popular winter myth there is. It comes right out of a Hollywood film that many of you enjoy. A Christmas Story --- you know, the part were Ralphie’s friend is dared to put his tongue on a freezing flag pole.

5. If you lick a metal object outdoors when the temperature is below freezing your tongue will stick to the metal.

This myth was actually confirmed by the Mythbusters; it is true.

 

You see these myths all have one thing in common. They are accepted as the truth by many without ever really being examined. Myths are all around us in today’s world, and the realm of Christianity strangely enough is no different. There are many myths that creep into Christian culture. Often times, these are the things that sound correct or even pleasing but really have no biblical truth. These non-biblical truths are what we will be examining over the next few weeks in this series called Mythbusters.

 

The Danger of Myths

I wonder how many of you have bought into Myths about God or Christianity over the years and you don’t even really know it. Maybe you believe the one that says, "Church has to be boring" or the one says, "All religions are really the same" or possibly you like the one that says "God made you to be happy"

You see, sometimes we are taught things by others and we accept them without even thinking about what is really being said. With simple, silly things of life like will ‘my tongue freeze on a flagpole’ the acceptance of Myths has little danger of hurting us. But when we accept Myths about God, Christianity or the church it becomes very negative and dangerous to our development as followers of Christ.

I am very thankful for the Christian based teaching I received at home and at church. I grew up in a church much like H.C.C.; we had Sunday School and a Wednesday night program for Biblical learning, Bible Camp and Vacation Bible School. As far as what I know about the Biblical stories even now in my life, much was learned when I was growing up in church. At the same time when I was in High School things began to be a little confusing for me. I began to struggle with some myths presented to me from church leaders.

The bottom line was that I began questioning or doubting some of the ideas that were being presented to me in Sunday School. It came to the point that I began asking questions of my teachers at times.

I found some things hard to believe and I at times had doubts about how it all could be true. Then one day I remember discussing the idea that it wasn’t really possible to rebel against God’s grace once you were saved. My teacher wasn’t willing to entertain that idea and even insisted that having these thoughts or doubts in my mind may have meant that I did not have the faith that I needed and was not a saved Christian.

To me, he was basically saying, ‘if you have doubts you are not really a believer.’

What? Wait a minute ... I am a believer, it is just that I am questioning this one idea.

But as the discussion went on in different ways for weeks my question grew from a little question to a major spiritual dilemma within me.

In the weeks to come this topic kept coming up in class in different ways and our church began to fight over the concept of my doubt. And before it was all over, my teacher whom I looked up to had resigned as a teacher and also considered leaving the church. Many of our leaders were arguing about various questions and, I believe, even their own doubts about what they did or didn’t believe about salvation, and it was a real mess.

 

This all started because I had a doubt about something that I was told to understand as truth about God.   And before I knew it, I was feeling like I was not a real Christian because I had a doubt about something. The good news was that I personally resolved the dilemma in my heart and mind, and my faith as been growing ever since. Unfortunately I also learned something else from that experience that was not good. You see, for a long time I felt like the church wasn’t really safe place to ask difficult questions.

Some of you know what I mean. I know you have felt limited about asking questions in churches and religious settings before because you have felt that, ‘if I ask this question, then people will look down on me and think I am a doubter and not a true believer.’

The good news is I can still call up my old teacher to this day and we are good friends. The bad news is he no longer goes to church at all. In fact, he has left the church, suffered a divorce and some of his children have been in and out of major difficulties. You see the sad thing about this type of myth --- that if you are real Christian you won’t doubt, and you won’t have troubles — is what happens when things go really bad and you do doubt and you do question?

 

Questions and Doubts

Does that leave you being a poor Christian or serving a God that can’t handle your problems?

You see, this myth that many Christians embrace wants you to believe that ‘if you have real doubts about God then you are not a true believer’, because everyone knows that belief and doubt can’t exist together, right?

The problem is when we buy into the myth it tells us that ‘the opposite of faith is doubt and if you express doubt you can’t really be a true believer.’ The Myth is often stated as, "Christians will have no doubts." It sounds all good at first to many, especially because most of us don’t really want to ever face any doubts or have any questions or misunderstand God and His will for our lives. So we hope that if we have enough faith, we will never be faced with the facts of life enough to ever doubt again.

This idea sounds respectable at first glance, and without really thinking about it, it might be hard to argue with. Most of us would hope our Christian lives get to a point where we would not question or have trouble with anything in our Christian lives..., but is it really possible as humans?

What do you think, will a mature Christian still occasionally have doubts? Personally, I have at least one problem with this myth. You see, the real problem with the myth is that it is not biblical, and that is a big problem for me. As good as it sounds and as perfect as we would like to be as growing Christians, there will be times that we will have questions and even doubts about things of God.

 

The Problem

We see this in scripture. Many of the giants of our faith as they were maturing in Christ, as they were growing in their faith, as they faced trials and hardships had huge questions and doubts. These were even the individuals that witnessed miracles and heard the words of Jesus first hand, and they still struggled with the questions and doubts.

I wonder how many of you have ever struggled and begun to doubt, and then were beaten down by someone or something because you claimed to be a Christian in spite of the teaching that says ‘Christians can’t ever doubt.’ It’s a Myth.

Let’s look to the word of God and see what happened to some of the greatest Christians of all times when placed in hard situations. I am not talking about new Christians, young children, but I am talking about leaders of our faith, and see how they handled doubt and began to bust apart this Myth #1. Take out your Bibles and turn to:

Matthew 11:1-11

John the Baptist

At this point, Jesus had been preaching about the kingdom of God coming, and his followers were ready for him to become king on earth because that is what they wanted. However, His kingdom would be much different, and some people were becoming nervous and began to persecute some of his leaders, one being John the Baptist, the prophet.

At the beginning of Jesus ministry, John had seen Jesus approaching and propheticly proclaimed, "Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world", he then baptized Jesus, had seen the Holy Spirit come down upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and had heard God pronounce, "This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Yet, while in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, "Are you the one or should we expect someone else?"

Is he is expressing doubt? How would you have responded if you were Jesus? How did he respond?  Read again in Matthew 11:4-11.

John expresses doubt, but Jesus doesn’t bring him down. He builds him up! This is the savior that I believe in.

This is not a young Christian, but one of the greatest Christians, and the greatest prophet of all times according to Jesus, and he still doubted. When? The same time many of you do..., while going through hardship and struggles. When things are not going as planned. Does it mean we should long to doubt? Absolutely not! Should we be proud of our doubt? NO! But does doubt kill our faith in Jesus and make us unworthy of being called a son or daughter of God. Praise the Lord, no. So next time someone makes you think less of yourself and question your Christianity because you have a simple question, realize you are in the company of John the Baptist.

John and you are not the only ones. Peter also had his doubts at times.

Matthew 14:22-33

Peter, the Rock

Let me ask you a question. Did Peter have faith the moment he was sinking? Look at the text again. Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why do you doubt?" Jesus acknowledged that he had faith, but just a little faith, and doubt.

The opposite of faith according to this passage is not doubt but, from what I see, the opposite of faith is actually fear. Can you have faith and doubt at the same time? They can and often do coexist. It is being double minded. Two minds.

Was Peter a man of faith? Did he doubt? Was God able to use him?

Lets look at one other place.

Matthew 28:16-20

Background of death and resurrection.

Read Matthew 28:16  Our purpose today is to help us all to see that you can be a person of faith and still go through periods of great doubt.

A sophisticated atheist wrote in a book that the best way to conquer the feelings of doubt is to give into them. That is the temptation that many of you go through. Since we doubt, we might as well give into it;

just give in and give up because life overwhelms us and we think we just can’t cope.

We sometimes confuse faith with feelings. If things don’t go well, if I don’t have that warm fuzzy feeling then something must be wrong with my faith. If I don’t have that faith experience that takes me to that next place than maybe I have lost my faith altogether. Is this true? To often, Christians who are feeling low begin to question their faith. But, you see, faith is not a feeling..., it a decision.

Let me explain it this way. I love Tiffani with all my heart and I have chosen to do that forever. However I have to admit there are times she drives me bonkers. Sometimes, that feeling of love leaves me for a moment and I don’t feel very loving. Does that mean I don’t love my Tiffani?

Just because a mother doesn’t have a positive feeling between her and her child when the child cries all night and wets the bed, does that mean the love is gone. We should not confuse love with a positive emotion or feeling in the same way we should not confuse faith with a positive emotional feeling.

There may be times in your life when you question why God allows something to happen or you even become angry because of something that does not go your way.  Worse yet, you doubt his ability to take care of a situation that seems to be out of control in your mind. You might have been through a time where you got angry with God and you wondered what he was doing.

There will be times when the feeling is gone but faith can and will still be there. Don’t confuse faith with feelings and emotions. At the same time don’t confuse knowledge with faith. It is not the same.

There is a quarter in my pocket.

[Reach in to pocket and pull hand out] The quarter is now in my hand... or is it? I said it was..

[It isn’t.]

 

So What?

Reason is important and knowledge is important, but if you are waiting to know everything before you can have faith, it will not happen.  Faith and knowledge are different. Faith by its definition requires take there must be something that is not fully known or understood. Because faith is being certain of what we hope for and sure of what we do not see.

1. If you have doubts you are in great company.

2. If you have doubts God can handle it.

3. If you doubts, move towards them and Ask questions and seek out God’s truth and faith for you.

Ask questions of us and God.

4. Faith and doubt can exist together.

In fact, the day all of our doubt is gone will be the day all our faith be gone. I look forward to that day, when we actually live by sight and not by faith because this will be the day when we who have had doubts, when we who have had faith will be united with Christ and all will be revealed to us through God the father.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

God is ready for your doubts, bring them to Him. He has the ability to change your doubting into confidence. Don’t try and handle it on your own, it will only lead to despair. In Him, your doubts can be destroyed and you can share in the faith that offers freedom in Christ.

Understand that this is a safe place for us to search together for God’s will and truth for our lives.