Preached in Southbridge on 6/22/08
Turn to John 1:19-34
There have been times when my faith was strong and nothing could shake me. But there have been other times when for some reason, whether things are not going as planned or I haven’t gotten enough sleep or it could be my car broke down but whatever the reason I have waivered in my faith.
Now whether or not you have waivered in your faith I don’t know, I don’t know if you have ever had doubts or questions but I do know I am not alone.
After Mother Teresa died they found her diary and it was interesting because she questioned her faith, her faith on occasioned waivered.
Joh 1:19-34 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" (20) He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." (21) And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." (22) So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" (23) He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said." (24) (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) (25) They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" (26) John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, (27) even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." (28) These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (29) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.' (31) I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." (32) And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. (33) I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' (34) And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
What a great confession of faith, what a great witness. John even in the midst of opposition is standing firm and when he sees Jesus the next day proclaims that this is the Christ the son of God, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
We can on occasion think “I wish I had John’s boldness, John’s assurance, I wish I had John’s faith.” Truly John was a man of great faith and was strong and bold in his faith. But even the most bold, even the strongest even the most righteous and most faithful have times of wavering faith.
Mat 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples (3) and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" (4) And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: (5) the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (6) And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."
What’s going on John? At one time John was bold, strong, and full of unshakable faith that Jesus was the Christ, the son of God, the Lamb of God but now he is questioning “are you the one we were waiting for?” John, you already told us he was and proclaimed it loud.
What caused John’s questions, what caused John’s doubting?
1) John’s situation
a. John is in prison at that time prison was not a good place to be, some might say that prison today is not a good place to be and I would agree but there are big differences between then and now. Prison then was a dungeon, gloomy, dark, wet maybe, rats and mice and insects. Screams and beatings. No cable, no bed with a nice mattress, no books or magazines to read. A dirty, nasty and dark place. John was in this dungeon for about 10 months and that is plenty of time to start having doubts and to become impatient.
Illustration: I am sure there is a lot going on with John. Remember John was used to living in wide open spaces, he lived in the desert, he probably lived most of his life outside and now he is not only kept inside he is being kept in a dungeon.
Can you imagine how John longed for the sun to shine down on him and how we longed to feel the wind sweep across his face and how he must have missed the sights and the sounds and the smells of nature. All that replaced by a musty stinky small cell.
In Carlisle Castle there is a little cell. Once long ago they put a border chieftain in that cell and left him for years. In that cell there is one little window, which is placed too high for a man to look out of when he is standing on the floor. On the ledge of the window there are two depressions worn away in the stone. They are the marks of the hands of that border chieftain, the places where, day after day, he lifted himself up by his hands to look out on the green hills which he would never ride again.
I think John must have felt something like that.
Have you ever been in a situation that felt hopeless? Have you ever been spiritually or emotionally in a dungeon? It is difficult to keep up our faith in those situations; our faith can waver in those times. It’s not something we want or something we’re proud of but it can happen.
John is facing death and he knows it. John is in prison waiting the death sentence, his faith is wavering he has doubts. Now his faith is still there he has not lost his faith that’s why he sends a messengers to Jesus. But the situation he’s in is causing him to question and he seems to be unsure.
2) The second thing that has caused John’s faith to waiver is the rumors he is hearing in prison. John is hearing all of the miracles but he also hears that Jesus is eating with sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes and I am sure he is hearing the rumors that Jesus is possessed by demons and all kinds of other true and false rumors and he is confused.
a. Remember the Jews at this time had a certain idea of what the Messiah was going to do when he arrived and one of those things was to bring about justice and her you have John in prison he is the one who was preparing the way for the Messiah and he is waiting now 10 months for the Messiah to bring about justice and he may be thinking OK I’m ready to get out now. He maybe just plain confused but whatever he is thinking we know the rumors have made it to his ears and that is the other reason for his wavering faith.
b. I know many of you will remember a little while ago there was this so-called “discovery” of the tombs of Jesus and his family. This information these theories, these rumors caused a lot of people to question their faith. Most of you know that more information came out later and it was shown that they didn’t find the tomb of Christ and his family but there was a person I remember hearing about who said to a Christian apologist “I am losing my faith and it scares me.”
c. Have rumors or reports from others ever caused you to question your faith? We can waiver in our faith when we hear of some of these rumors.
d. There were two main things that caused John’s faith to waver and him to have doubts. 1) His situation 2) the rumors that he heard. We are no different than John our situations and the things we hear can cause us to have doubts as well.
3) What does John do? John doesn’t sit there and lose his faith he takes action. He sends his followers to ask Jesus if he is the one, he asks for reassurance.
i. When we waver in our faith when our lives, jobs, car, house, kids, husband, wife or work get out of control or when it seems our lives are falling apart when we hear rumors we need to do what John did and that is go to Jesus, go to God and ask for assurance ask for faith and ask for strength.
ii. Matthew 7:7 says “ask, seek, and knock”. Ask God and seek Him in the times of doubt and He will lift you up.
iii. 4) The disciples of John came to Jesus and asked him the question John sent them to ask and what did Jesus tell the disciples?
1. Tell John what you have heard and seen. Jesus wants them to testify to John about reality.
2. All of this is to be based on reality not rumors and not on ones situation or circumstances but upon reality. And what is reality? Jesus was working miracles and proclaiming truth and fulfilling prophesy.
3. John and his disciples knew that the things Jesus was doing were based on scriptures, based on prophecy. The Old Testament foretold about the Messiah and his work.
4. We need to base our faith in Christ on reality. The historical and scientific facts are that God does exist and that Jesus did come and die on a cross 2,000 years ago and rose on the 3rd day and if we put our faith in him we have life.
5. We base our faith on the scripture and if you were here a few weeks ago you heard all about the reliability of the scriptures as Ian discussed it.
6. We base our faith on reality. Every one of us has received answered prayers, things that only God could know or do.
7. We don’t base our faith in Christ on our situation, good or bad. We don’t base our faith in Christ on our feelings, good or bad, and we don’t base our faith in Christ on rumors, good or bad.
8. We base our faith in Christ upon reality, upon truth, upon the past faithfulness of God in our lives and in the lives of those who were his before us.
9. Read from Genesis to Revelation; God is faithful.
10. Did you know that there are more than 330 prophecies in the Old Testament written hindered and thousands of years before Jesus was born and he fulfills them all to a “T”. That’s reality.
11. The odds of someone fulfilling just 8 of these prophecies are 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Not 1 in 10 or 1 in 100 but 1 in 10 with 17 zeros after it. That’s only 8 of the more than 300. The odds of someone by chance fulfilling 332 are astronomical.
12. One person illustrated it this way: Let’s say you have 40 archers all at different ranges and they have between them 330 arrows and they all are shooting at one target but the target is hidden. What are the chances that they would all hit the target with all 330 arrows and all hit the bull’s eye? Jesus fulfills them all and it isn’t by chance that he does it’s because God ordained it so. That’s reality. These are the things we go back to when our faith is wavering. We go back to truth.
You like me and like John and like others most likely will go through times of wavering faith. If you never have and you never do God bless you and praise Him for that but for those of us like John you’re not wicked or sinful but you do need to go to God with it and make sure you look for your answers in reality and truth not feelings of situations.
Go to God because if you don’t base your faith on reality and you base it on feelings or your situation your faith may become nonexistent.
God in God’s strength this week and seek him out in times of wavering faith.