Religious doubts are universal.
“Doubt is the ants in the pants of faith that keep it moving” – Frederick Buechner
It makes sense that so many people in our technologically-and-scientifically-advanced world would have doubts about God. Believe it or not, the freedom to have these doubts is a sign of maturing faith. Doubt is indicative of moving from a childhood faith to an adult faith. It’s the difference between your faith versus your parents’ faith.
But, when we squash these doubts, it declares God may not be able to handle it.
If we use the phrase “because I said so” or “because the pastor said so” when navigating questions and feelings of doubt, it screams of an insecurity that we don’t know why we do the things we do…that our guidelines may lack validity. The same is true for God. And the same is true for the Church.
When the Church answers fact-based questions with faith-based answers, it’s like we’re saying, “because He said so.” This connotates that God can’t handle doubts, questions, concerns, etc.
Atheism isn’t necessarily appealing, but with answers like “because He said so,” Christianity has lost its appeal.
If you’ve lost or are losing faith in God, the god you lost faith in may have never existed in the first place. For instance, you may have heard Christians project condemnation or judgment from the “Bible-tells-me-so God”.
Christians, perhaps you were taught, as many of us were:
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
This is where our trouble began. Implication: The Bible is the reason we believe.
If we maintain that mentality, we’ll hear phrases like this, “I can believe Jesus loves me, because that’s in the Bible,” or, “The Bible says it; that settles it!”
The problem with that is… if the Bible is the foundation of our faith, then…as the Bible goes, so goes Christianity.
We’ve learned that much of what is in the Old Testament is disputed historically and archeologically: no evidence of a worldwide flood, no evidence of the exodus. The creation story is reflected in several ancient mythologies. Isaiah didn’t write Isaiah.
If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, then it’s all or nothing!
If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, then Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards that comes tumbling down when we discover that perhaps the walls of Jericho didn’t.
If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, if the whole Bible isn’t true, the Bible isn’t true!
Christians feel pressure to defend the Bible in order to defend their faith. This puts the BIBLE at the center of the debate. This is extremely unfortunate and unnecessary.
If you stopped following God because of the Bible, you left unnecessarily. Christianity does not exist because of the Bible.
It’s the other way around. Here’s why.
Christianity made its greatest strides during the hundreds of years before the Bible even existed.
The church gained extraordinary influence including the Codex sinaiticus; the first “Bible” was compiled in the middle of the fourth century.
The documents that make up the Bible were copied and distributed from Jerusalem to Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, and the Mediterranean Rim. They did not make copies of the Gospels because they believed they were inspired. They made copies of the Gospels because they believed they were true.
Christianity was not born on the back of “The Bible Says!” The questions were not about the Bible…they were, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” The first, second, and third-century Christians, who faced tremendous hardship, believed Jesus loved them BEFORE the Bible told them so.
The Bible is a complex book of documents recording true events that took place.
The original version is the defensible, endurable, persecute-able, fearless, compassionate, compelling version.
So maybe the song should go…”Jesus loves me, this I know…” :
- For John, who watched his friend die and later had breakfast with Jesus on the beach, tells me so.
- For Luke, who interviewed eyewitnesses to confirm his death and resurrection tells me so.
- For Paul, a converted, self-righteous, Jesus-hating Pharisee risked his life to tell me so.
- For his original followers were martyred for believing it was so.
- For the early church defied both empire and temple, convinced it was so.
People followed Jesus after the resurrection because of the resurrection.
The evidence was overwhelming for his death and resurrection. There was nothing “religious” about their faith.
So why do we read and trust the Bible to grow our relationship with God?
Just as what Jesus said about himself turned out to be trustworthy, what Jesus said about God can be trusted. The Gospel writers documented what Jesus said about God.
When it comes to God, Jesus is our most reliable source.
In those early, well-attested-to documents, Jesus says several defining things about God. John documented several of these statements.
Here’s what John recorded about what Jesus said about His God:
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (They don’t get it. We wouldn’t either. It’s too staggering.) 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (“Jesus, we all want to know what God is like. Could he make an appearance? It would be enough for us too!”) 9 Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. 10 The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. (You want to know what God says? Listen to me. You want to know what God is up to? Watch me.) Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. John 14:7–11
John 4:24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (God is Spirit. Spirit is impersonal. Jesus came to make God personal.)
Luke 11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father . . .’” (God is Father. When in doubt, think of the perfect Father. It’s the best relational picture that exists. )
1 John 4:16 God is love. (God is Love. If you’ve ever said, “I believe in a loving God,” that is a distinctly Christian idea. That idea entered history here.)
We trust that God will use the Bible to draw us unto Himself.
As you continue to seek to understand who God is and the relevance of the Bible to your life, we welcome doubts. We believe that, if we truly seek the character of God through prayer and the Bible, He will reveal himself to us.
We invite you to read the book of John with us. As you read, seek the answer to the question, “Who does Jesus say that God is?”
To explore God alongside others in the Round Rock, Hutto, Pflugerville and Austin area, check out Legacy Church. We’re fighting normal every week together. Join us Sunday morning at 11am at the Old Settlers Association in Round Rock.
*This message has been adapted from Northpointe Community Church’s series, Who Needs God?