Dealing with Doubt
Title: Dealing with Doubt?
Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6a
Thesis: To provide reasons why we can have confidence in Christ in the midst of criticism.
D.T.: Don’t give up on the Gospel!
A common theme in the NT: There is such a great need to grow and mature in our faith.
Illustration: Discovery channel lions always attach the weakest, slowest and smallest of the herd. The devil is a roaring lion, seeking whom he will devour. Why we must mature, that we might stay faithful in the midst of doubt and difficulty.
9A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” 12This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. 13Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”(NIV)
Better to die in the Lord that live without him…be strong, stay faithful
1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so. 4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.(NIV)
1. Paul’s focus was to encourage the believers in Thessalonica to stay strong in the midst of coming scoffing and criticism. He reminds them of the reliability of them as messengers and their message. 2. He also is revealing an example of Christian living in his pure conduct among them.
Ever struggle with doubt? Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. We all have doubts at times. But we must be prepared when doubters come with their arguments to destroy your faith rather than build it up. Ever feel beat down by someone’s scoffing or the arguments of unbelievers? Paul’s encouragement benefited the men and women of Thessalonica and God has preserved that message to benefit us today as well.
Encouragement & Example
Maybe you have been discouraged and filled with doubt hearing…
- “Christianity is just a crutch for the weak!”
- Underlying assumption = MOTIVATION 4 FAITH – duped/prey on weak
- 1 Thess. 2:1-2
- Paul spreading the faith in the midst of opposition
i. Escaped stoning in Lyconium, stoned in lystra, flogged severely & imprisioned in Philippi
- The difficulty in swimming upstream in a culture going down the drain. “Even a dead fish can swim downstream.”
All of the apostles were insulted by the enemies of their Master. They were called to seal their doctrines with their blood and nobly did they bear the trial.
Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia.
Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward.
James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem,
James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
Bartholomew was flayed alive.
Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he preached to his persecutors until he died.
Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
Jude was shot to death with arrows.
Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.
Such was the fate of the apostles, according to traditional statements.
- “A 2,000 year old book has no relevance for today!”
- Underlying Assumption – Origin of the Gospel #. 1 Thess. 2:3-4
- The Gospel not invented, but revealed from God
Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, former professor of Semitic philology at Princeton Theological Seminary, said, “After forty-five years of scholarly research in biblical textual studies and in language study, I have come now to the conviction that no man knows enough to assail the truthfulness of the Old Testament. Where there is sufficient documentary evidence to make an investigation, the statements of the Bible, in the original text, have stood the test.”
And the noted Dr. J. O. Kinnaman said: “Of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by the archaeologists, not one has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies one word, phrase, clause, or sentence of the Bible, but always confirms and verifies the facts of the Biblical record.”
- Consider the contrary: Men’s hope in material things, vain philosophies, and worldly wisdom.
“The only dependable fortune teller I have known,” said Theodore Roosevelt, “is the life insurance man. He tells you what is going to happen, and it does.” The one certainty of life is that life here does not last.
What can be more relevant than a loving God with a purpose and plan for your life in the midst of things which do not last, and hollow and vain philosophies which lead no where.
- “Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites!”
- Underlying assumption the messenger discredits the message. #. 1 Thess. 2:5-6a
A pious church member, who thought himself to be a great Christian, says Warren W. Wiersbe, visited the Junior Department of the Sunday school. The Superintendent asked him to say a few words to the boys and girls. He stood pompously before them, and asked, “Why do you think people call me a Christian?”
There was an embarrassing silence, then a small voice from the back of the room said, “Because they don’t know you.”
- The integrity of the Apostles: Paul knew the skeptics and false teachers would attack his credibility to undermine his gospel.
History declares that Henry Clay was about to introduce a certain bill in Congress when a friend said, “If you do, Clay, it will kill your chance for the presidency.”
“But is the measure right?” Clay asked, and on being assured it was right said, “I would rather be right than be president.” Paul’s sacrifice.
- Let us live in such a way that our lives rebuke those with such arguments which attempt to excuse themselves from considering the cross.
Never, never, never, never give up. Let your doubts spur you to deeper faith and trust in God. Those who trust in the Lord will never be ashamed!
Conclusion: The importance of growing and standing strong in the faith because it is of greater worth than gold. Don’t let doubts and difficulties in life stunt your spiritual growth! Satan uses doubts to destroy your faith while God uses them to grow it. In this world, we will be continually confronted with doubters, scoffers, storms and derision. It is my contention that there is no firmer footing, no solid rock, no foundation or anchor for your soul than what is found at the cross of Christ. All doubters and scoffers will be silenced when they stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and our faith will be vindicated!
The Long Silence (pg. 336) The God on the Cross
That God hung on a cross –
Christianity is not crutch, its centerpiece is the cross. You don’t lean on a cross, you hang from it and there you die.
Christ is relevant today. The cross is immensely relevant! Without the cross I would argue that this world becomes entirely irrelevant and cruel! John Stott tells of an account in Eliezer Wezel’s book NIGHT Cross of Christ 335.
Christians are a bunch of hypocrites? Perhaps some…but not all. May God give us the strength to live lives and die deaths that rebuke such accusations. But if you are struggling in a difficult, discouraging and doubting situation…remember those who have gone on before you who were where you are today and overcame. They fought the good fight, finished the race, and most of all, kept the faith. Never, never, never, never give up!
The gospel is trustworthy. Place your trust in Christ today.
Confess and be immersed in Christ today!
Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.