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Pastoral Letter - 07 Oct 18                                                 

Dear Calvarians,

Fearless or faithless

Is it right to question God?

Isaiah 41:21 "Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob."

Facing Challenges in Life

Many Christians today are too fearful to come face to face with the reality of their faith. This could be because there is a lingering doubt in their minds as to whether a certain matter is right or wrong for them to pursue. Or perhaps, they are just unable to clearly articulate their doubts and thus they are withholding from asking altogether. This silence may eventually lead a person away or further from the truth. Ignorance or the lack of knowledge is never blissful! 

This is particularly true with children and young believers who are vulnerable in their beliefs. They are constantly bombarded with worldly views of unbelieving friends and even situations which are different from what they have initially been taught. They waver when their simplistic faith is put to the challenge in a real world. Can they possibly survive the onslaughts of the world's temptations and trials? 

Is Doubting Wrong

Doubting is not necessarily evil or wrong. The word has been mistaken to mean unbelief, which is tantamount to sin. But understood clearly it really means to be "in two minds". While unbelief which is very often condemned in the Bible because of its nature of refusal to believe, doubt if properly answered, could lead to the strengthening of one's faith. We are encouraged to voice our concerns to God and would then lend our ears to hear His still small voice speaking to us. Sometimes, it may be necessary to borrow the languages and words of the Psalmists and the prophets, so that we can soundly express our fears and doubts to God, without getting out of line. 

Biblical Examples of Doubters

The Patriarch Job is one good example of bringing his questions to the Lord and enquiring for the real reasons for all these "misfortunate" in his life. Job 13:3 "Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God". And again in Job 23:4 "I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments". There are hosts of other examples of men and women of faith who very strongly argued with God and sometimes demanding for His quick answers and relief. Robert Davidson in his book "The Courage to Doubt" cited Moses in crisis as voicing questions in a midst of a critical situation (Exodus14:15). The prophet Elijah was venting his feelings about the dealings of God in his life (1 Kings.19:4). Jeremiah was unhappy about his being "used" of God (Jeremiah 20:7). Many prophets were also unsatisfied with the timing of God's fulfillment of their prophecies. Do all these complaints to God lead them further from God? Nay, rather they have a firmer grip on the faithfulness and mercies of God instead, even if they were reprimanded for doing so, it was worth it! 

Hudson Taylor's Example

The life of Dr. Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the 19th Century has greatly impacted many who read his biography or his books. One of his most prominent features was his frequent clearing of his doubtful mind through the constant communion with His Heavenly Father. A letter he wrote to his sister revealed his inward struggles, "Well, dear, my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally and for our Mission of more holiness, life, power in our souls. But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for meditation--but all without avail. Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me." 

But God's answers to his enquiring and troubled mind brought so much strength and power for him so that he was able to do more for God, even in the midst of criticism from other missionaries. His faith was greatly established through God's assurances to his many whys, hows, whens and wheres! 

A Families of Doubt

Os Guinness has in his book, "Doubt: Faith in two Minds" identified 7 common 'families of doubt', see in which category you fall into: 

Doubt arising from ingratitude

Doubt from a faulty view of God

Doubt from weak foundations

Doubt from a lack of commitment

Doubt from lack of growth

Doubt as a result of unruly emotions

Doubt from fearing to believe 

Each of these doubting situations, when dealt with gently and with sufficient proofs from the Bible will lead the doubter to grow from faith to faith and into a stronger relationship with God. 

"Authentic faith is not a synonym for superstition or credulity or lazy inactivity. It rests on the faithfulness and the fatherliness of God, and is accompanied by sensible precautions and actions." John Stott 

Dear readers do not hesitate to ask God confidently for answers to your enquiries to matters of faith, relationships, careers or life. You will find in the Bible the necessary wisdom, grace and direction needed to soothe all your unnecessary burdens and pains in this your pilgrimage here on earth.                                                                            

Lovingly in Christ

Pastor Peter 

 

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