Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we seek to understand what happens when faith and doubt collide.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
When Faith and Doubt Collide
"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, ‘‘Lord I believe: help thou mine unbelief.’’" Mark, Chapter 9, Verse 24
Brothers and sisters, this morning we shall observe what happens when faith and doubt collide. We hope to shed some light on the conflict between the material nature and the spiritual nature of mankind and in the process gain new insights into the necessity of faith (although as long as we are human doubt will be manifest. And even though the doubt remains, it becomes powerless to derail the whole hearted belief in supreme values. We shall briefly narrate the nature of the conflict and hopefully arrive at some new understanding of the need for faith in the face of doubt.
It has been said by those who do not believe in God that the object of faith is a purely imaginary reality and that, because of the damage done by those who act on their faith projections on behalf of this imaginary god, humanity would be better off if such faith assertions were vanished from the face of the earth. They allege that all such faith phenomena such as hope, trust, guidance and direction, and the desire for eternal life b can be explained by psychology and biology. Doubters content that even faith itself can be explained by an evolutionary process.
They maintain that the prayers of these believers have no destination other then the origin of their own minds and that any solace or guidance received comes from their own selves. They maintain that there is not a shred of objective evidence to justify their claims either of a god or a relationship with this so-called god. They point to the believer’’s holy and sacred books that supposedly contain information about the character of God and his dealing with mankind as nothing but an inconsistent mass of contradictory and barbaric information.
They point out that the so-called ““religious”” book conflicts with the facts of science, facts that are well known and accepted as true. Such things as the earth being only four or five thousand years, the sun standing still, a universal flood, walking on water, healing the sick through miraculous means, and resurrection of the death are an affront to the common experience of human beings. If these things did happen, why are they not still happening? And why if Jesus raised himself from the dead did he not show himself to those who did not believe in him? Surely such an appearance to non-believers could settle this argument.
Non-believers maintain that we live in a world subject to precise laws that govern all physical phenomena. They maintain that when the mortal life comes to an end, nothing else survives. Death is the end of the drama of life, just as birth is the beginning of it, and the life process occurs between these two benchmarks.
They disavow that a god is essential to having a moral nature, that atheists are moral and are good citizens, even better citizens than some believers. They maintain that man is mortal and that nothing can change that fact, that man should adjust to that fact, and live his life to the fullest while it lasts. They have personalized nature as the source of reality that human beings experience. They have been able to demonstrate using their science that certain areas of the brain are responsible for the religious states that believers experience, and they maintain that this is proof that nothing outside of the human brain is responsible for their alleged faith position. If a god does exist, why does he not just reveal himself to the satisfaction of us all, and then the question will be settled?
Consider this quote about their position: "To the unbelieving materialist, man is simply an evolutionary accident. His hopes of survival are strung on a figment of mortal imagination; his fears, loves, longings, and beliefs are but the reaction of the incidental juxtaposition of certain lifeless atoms of matter. No display of energy nor expression of trust can carry him beyond the grave. The devotional labors and inspirational genius of the best of men are doomed to be extinguished by death, the long and lonely night of eternal oblivion and soul extinction. Nameless despair is man's only reward for living and toiling under the temporal sun of mortal existence. Each day of life slowly and surely tightens the grasp of a pitiless doom which a hostile and relentless universe of matter has decreed shall be the crowning insult to everything in human desire which is beautiful, noble, lofty, and good."
The believer, however, maintains that the information they posses is not subject to objective proof. They assert that their faith is the mechanism whereby they know God and can sustain a relationship with him. They believe that God guides and directs them, that he answers their prayers, and cares about them. They believe that God is their Father and they are his children. When it comes to explaining any inconsistencies in their believes, they fall back on their faith. This faith that they have withstands all challenges to it. And they maintain that the very fact that they hold such undaunting faith is proof that it is valid, and that it is valid because of what it causes them to believe and act on. They maintain that if their faith were not a bonafide reality, they would never devote their whole lives to it and would not enter the bonds of death being faithful to this reality. They would not continue to pray to and worship a God who does not exist, or if he existed did not care for them.
They say that science is mistaken. Believers maintain that the sorry end of mankind as projected by the atheist has no fact in truth. Consider this quote that summarizes their position: "But such is not man's end and eternal destiny; such a vision is but the cry of despair uttered by some wandering soul who has become lost in spiritual darkness, and who bravely struggles on in the face of the mechanistic sophistries of a material philosophy, blinded by the confusion and distortion of a complex learning. And all this doom of darkness and all this destiny of despair are forever dispelled by one brave stretch of faith on the part of the most humble and unlearned of God's children on earth. This saving faith has its birth in the human heart when the moral consciousness of man realizes that human values may be translated in mortal experience from the material to the spiritual, from the human to the divine, from time to eternity."
"Lord, I believe. I pray you help my unbelief" is the status of the human believer. There is this urge to believe but it is countered by the urge of unbelief. This state can only be ameliorated by the persistent and relentless pursuit of spiritual values. There is proof of God in man in the form of the divine spirit, but such proof cannot be demonstrated to the outside world. God is so real that no proof other than the experience with him can be given. To those who believe, the proof lies in their personal experience. To those who do not believe, no amount of proof will suffice; even if God was to appear before them in person, they still would not believe. This, in fact, was demonstrated when God took the form of a human being and lived among mankind. We simply must exercise faith when it comes to spiritual realities.
Faith is such an important quality for mankind that it must not be tampered with; it is the badge of survival, and those who do not have it, must be given time and experience to acquire it. The collision of faith and doubt undoubtedly provides an opportunity for choice. To those who have faith, it provides a test of their conviction; for those who don’’t, it is an opportunity for them to possess themselves of this one essential survival quality. And this conflict will continue until the human nature has decided once and for all which path it will follow. "A bruise reed shall he not break and the smoking flax shall he not quench." He would "have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." There is an old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’’t make him drink--but you can make him thirsty. But even though the Father can make us aware of the need for salvation, by making us thirsty for truth and hungry for righteousness, the choice to eat or drink remains ours.
This concludes today's message on understanding what happens when faith and doubt collide. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.