Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!
Have you ever doubted the reality of your salvation? Do you find yourself questioning your faith? Think about the times that has happened, and it is likely that at the time of your doubt you were experiencing some kind of stress, emotional hurt, or physical pain. It is when the circumstances of life don’t seem to be turning out to our satisfaction that we doubt our security in Christ.
Why is that? I believe it’s because we still don’t have an adequate understanding of the nature of God. The factors that determine the security of our relationships with people tend to become the same factors with which we measure our security with God. That is an error on our part. We feel secure in relationships when we receive emotional and physical benefits, with the added bonus of warm, fuzzy feelings. When conflicts arise and tensions mount, we feel less secure. Only rarely do we find that person who so completely loves us that our trust in their love overcomes any conflicts and tensions so that we always feel secure. But that is how our relationship with God is to be.
Times of doubt will arise. Doubt is a natural part of the human thought process. It is how we respond to doubt that matters. Doubt is the product of one of three things: emotional distress, intellectual ignorance, or human experience. Following the resurrection of Jesus, we saw all three modeled in different people. Mary doubted because she was emotionally distressed. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were ignorant of the Old Testament prophecies and had not intellectually put all the pieces together. Thomas had heard all the prophecies and had even heard Jesus declare that He would rise on the third day, but he chose to remain in the box of human logic and experience until it was proven to him otherwise. But Jesus met all these people at the point of their doubt and convinced them that there was something far greater than experience, emotion, or intellect upon which to base our relationship with Him – faith in who He is.
When times of doubt about our relationship with God arise, I believe our faith is being misdirected away from God and onto ourselves. At the core of our thought process is the false belief that we have to keep ourselves secure in Christ. We determine our success at keeping ourselves saved by examining our emotions, our actions, and our circumstances. If we wake up and find that we don’t feel in love, then we must not be. If we find that our friend or spouse has not called us or been close to us for a certain period of time, then our relationship must be falling apart. If our actions don’t produce the desired response in the life of our friend or spouse, then our relationship is questioned.
We do all those things with God as well. If we don’t feel spiritual, get positive responses to our spiritual activity, or experience negative circumstances, we doubt our relationship with Christ. We don’t believe we have done enough to make Him keep loving us. But in reality, what we doubt is the very nature of God and His promises.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to be able to rejoice in the relationship we have with the Lord even when all circumstances and emotions are standing opposed to it? Yes, it is! I purposefully stated that in the present tense because that is my humble condition of faith right now. No matter what the circumstance or emotion, God is my God, and great is His faithfulness. Let the rain fall. Let the storms of life blow their hardest. Let evil abound and injustice flourish. Let the economy fail and let wars increase. Let persecution grow and let death knock at the door. All this will be only for a time, and then God, my God, will send the Son. The storms will cease. Evil will be destroyed. Justice will reign. Peace and prosperity will govern. Pain, tears, and death will be wiped away forever. All because God is God and He cannot and will not fail.
Doubt is the enemy of faith because it attacks the character of God. But remember these words of Peter – read them carefully and thoroughly, and let them be the basis of your faith which will result in rejoicing.
1 Peter 1:3 – 9 (NIV) 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.