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Fundamentals of Belief

Recorded on April 25th, 2021

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Doubting keeps us from all the beauty that God has for us, keeps us from seeing the resurrection of Christ… But doubting is normal – it just doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live there.

Transcript of Sermon:

Today we are in mark 9 verses 14 through 1929 you can read them from the screen or on the scripture that’s in front of you or on the screen in front of you depending on which screen we’re talking about this one here your one at home our scripture says to us today when they came to the other disciples they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them as soon as all the people saw jesus they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him what are you arguing with them about he asked a man in the crowd answered teacher i brought you my son who was possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech whenever it seizes him it throws him to the ground he foams at the mouth gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid i asked your disciples to drive out the spirit but they could not you unbelieving generation jesus replied how long shall i stay with you how long shall i put up with you bring the boy to me so they brought him when the spirit saw jesus it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion he fell to the ground and rolled around foaming at the mouth jesus asked the boy’s father how long has he been like this from childhood he answered it has often thrown him into the fire or to water to kill him but if you can do anything take pity on us and help us if you can jesus said everything is possible for the one who believes immediately the boy’s father father explained i do believe help me overcome my unbelief when jesus saw that the crowd was running to the scene he rebuked the impure spirit you death and mute spirit he said i command you come out of him and never enter him again the spirit shrieked convulsed him violently and came out the boy looks so much like a corpse that many said he is dead but jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to the feet and he stood up after jesus had gone indoors his disciples asked him privately why couldn’t we drive him out he replied this kind can come out only by prayer this is the word of god for the people of god thanks be to god as i was reading this scripture i thought a lot about one of the disciples who has a special name a disciple who we usually only talk about with an added adjective his name is thomas doubting thomas and i was thinking a lot about thomas because i was starting to feel bad for thomas i mean if you think about it thomas was just a disciple wow just gonna wait a minute until that car goes to i mean come on you’re not allowed to have a car like that kid anyway sorry for those of you at home that was very large anyway so doubting thomas the poor guy he’s a disciple just like all of the rest of the disciples he went everywhere the disciples went he learned like just to the rest of the disciples he gave up his entire life like every other disciple did he learned like they did he was there at jesus’s miracles he went out into the towns like the other disciples sit did doing the work that jesus called them to do he shared the good news yet in the end in biblical reports and thousands of years later what do we call this man we know him not by the name thomas we know him by one incident in his life we know him as doubting thomas and he’s called doubting thomas because at the end of things he had a moment of doubt a moment of uncertainty a moment of sheer humanity if you ask me poor thomas you see when jesus was resurrected from the grave thomas had some issues believing that this was true in fact thomas said unless i see it with my own eyes friends i cannot believe and you know what i’m guessing most of us might have been the same yet thomas for the rest of history is going to be known not as the disciple thomas but as doubting thomas but i wonder i wonder if there is some humanity in that for you and for i for you and for i whatever i wonder if it’s a good thing for us because thomas gives you and i some hope because the reality is even though you and i a lot of us call ourselves believers a lot of even though you and i have spent time with jesus even though you and i have seen jesus and god do amazing works in our lives we still have moments of doubt and uncertainty in our faith and i wonder if thomas poor thing being labeled doubting thomas doesn’t give us some hope and giving somebody to identify with and letting us know that this is human yet at the same time not a place where we need to stay and this is something that jesus is talking about here in this scripture of mark you see both the disciples and the father of the child who is plagued by this impure spirit have some issues with doubt in this scripture this scripture is all about doubt it’s not so much about jesus doing the healing it’s not so much about the impure spirit coming out of the child we’ve seen jesus do this it’s not the first time right it’s about the responses of the father and the and the disciples to a moment in time it’s about how they handle that moment it’s about what they do with their own belief about who jesus is and what jesus is capable of it’s also about who they are in relation to jesus so when we look at the scripture we first have to remember what the context is right context is so important when we look at scripture and every time we’ve been going through mark we’ve been looking at the context because it makes it so much richer and this context has us coming right out of the transfiguration james and john and peter and jesus were just on the mountain seeing jesus transfigured into a glorified presentation of his body getting a glimpse of the glory that is to come because just before that they had been told that jesus had to die had to die and had to go away and not only did jesus have to die but they were going to have to continue to do the work that jesus was doing and we know that just like us they were thinking ain’t no way can’t not happen i can’t do this work i’m not capable of doing this work i’m not prepared to do this work not only that but i don’t want you to go jesus i love you jesus i’m gonna miss you you’re my friend you’re my pal i don’t want to do life without you so these are the one two three steps that lead us to this moment they’re sad they’re a little bit down trodden and then a few of them get this brief glimpse of glory and then they come to a moment where the rest of the disciples have tried to do the work that they had been empowered by jesus to do authorized by jesus to do yet somehow they haven’t been able to do it and so they’re all struggling in a in a moment of doubt a moment of uncertainty a moment of what in the world is going on here and they also have these teachers of the law these people who have never really believed these people who are mockers hecklers basically going around saying ha ha told you told you you weren’t special told you this man jesus wasn’t special told you you couldn’t do anything good can you imagine what that must have felt like for them to be trying to do the work that they’ve already done before and been successful at to be trying to do something really important that they knew really needed to happen for this beautiful child to not be successful in it and then to have people around you heckling you in the midst of it and then for the father for the father to go to these people believing believing that they were supposed to be able to do something about it and then not have anything happen see we all have expectations when we come to jesus we have expectations about what jesus is going to do what jesus is capable of doing and then when we get there and we don’t have those expectations fulfilled that ugly little seed of doubt that usually lives way back in the back of our head especially as believers starts to come to the forefront of our faith of our living and of our relationship with others and with christ and so what jesus does in this moment is he relates to both the disciples and to the father and let’s take the father first because really he relates to the father and the son first the father says to jesus the father says my son is sick he has this impure spirit is so bad in fact that it’s tried to kill my child multiple times and he says jesus please if you can not if you’re willing but if you can will you heal my child and jesus basically looks at him and says if i can what do you mean if i can i’m jesus if i can if i can and i think that’s what doubt does with all of us it takes us from this place of i brought my child to you to heal because i know you can do this yet what i think you can do hasn’t happened so i’ve gone from knowing you can do it knowing it’s possible to well wondering maybe could it be possible to thinking well if you could maybe might maybe might might could you do this for me if you can sir would you please sir we go from being certain to wondering and to doubting there’s a part of us believes but then there’s a part of us that’s uncertain and what does jesus say to him in this moment jesus calls right to that right to that uncertainty jesus goes right to the heart of the matter and jesus says everything everything is possible for those who believe not for me jesus doesn’t say everything is possible for me everything is possible for me jesus son of god son of man no jesus says everything is possible for those who believe reminding us not only of who jesus is but of who we are as children of god you see as children of god when we accept christ into our lives we are given authority under the power of jesus now we’re not given jesus’s power don’t mistake the two we’re given jesus’s authority over those evil things in this world and in that authority jesus works his power through us and in this world but when we doubt and when we’re uncertain we can’t wield that authority we can’t stand strong in that authority we must be certain and so immediately the man goes i believe i believe i do but at the same time um yeah no i doubt and i need you desperately to help me in my unbelief and i love this response so much i think it’s beautiful i think it’s so human and i think you and i can learn a lot from this response instead of trying to hide our doubt instead of going to god saying if you can if you find yourself doubting if you find yourself wavering if you find yourself on the edge of uncertainty i pray to you to be like this man and to say jesus i believe you can do all things jesus i believe that this is possible for you but there’s a part in me that is wavering and i pray i pray that you help me with my unbelief because our power over unbelief our authority under unbelief comes from jesus and the way that we work through these things is in prayer and is in relationship with jesus moment by moment day to day it’s in prayer so we learn from this moment that doubt has power but the way to get rid of that doubt is to submit it to give it right back is to acknowledge it not hide from it because certainly jesus knows when we’re doubting certainly it is clear but we submit it in prayer and then the disciples in this moment the disciples should have been able to help this child they’ve helped other people other children just like this human so why weren’t they able to this time and after they leave the crowd they ask jesus this and he reminds them that some of these spirits some of the things that they’re going to come up against in life in their ministry in their day-to-day dealings with the world can only be helped through prayer and fasting it’s not enough just to wield the authority of jesus we have to first connect with jesus in prayer and fasting and they didn’t do that they didn’t first submit to jesus they didn’t first submit they didn’t first ask they didn’t go to prayer they didn’t go to that place first they just tried to do it all through their own power instead of first praying if they had first prayed if they first sought the presence of god they’d been able to do it themselves they’d been given the power to do so they’d forgotten they’d forgotten the call and the way to the call in their lives as i was reading through this and studying some different commentaries about this i found a really helpful tool for you and i as we encounter doubt in our lives because the reality is you and i all have doubt i just know that to be true i know that as we go forward boldly in faith we are going to encounter walls that we did not expect we are going to encounter environments relationally that are harmful that are hurtful that are difficult and we’re going to ask god to help us with those and it’s going to be a long road and the longer the road gets the more we’re going to wonder are you in this jesus are you working on this jesus we’re going to encounter health problems that we pray and pray and pray about and we don’t see the kind of work that we think should be happening and we’re going to wonder where are you god and it’s going to cause some niggling doubts to show up in our faith we’re going to pray for somebody that we love dearly and they’re going to pass away and we’re going to wonder why why did that have to happen if you are god if you could do differently why did this have to happen we’re going to struggle in marriage we’re going to fight and we’re going to battle and sometimes we’re going to lose that fight and we’re going to ask god why in the world did this have to happen god why couldn’t you fix this for me god and i don’t know what battles are before you i don’t know if they’re about your work i don’t know if they’re about your schooling i don’t know if they’re about your mental health i don’t know what it is for you that you’re struggling with that you’re seeking god in but i know that sometimes along the journey you’re gonna come up against a wall and you’re gonna wonder and so for us when we’re wondering for us when we come up against the wall i find these questions posed by chuck swindoll to be really great questions to help us along the path to faith to to not being a doubting thomas to to keep us from adding doubting to an adjective of our names so the first question is this the first question i think for a lot of us will be really simple because i think a lot of us can answer in the affirmative to this question it’s this do you really believe that god can do anything do you believe that jesus has the power that jesus says he has do you believe that god has the power that god says god has do you believe that anything is possible in the hands of god do you really believe that and for me over time i’ve come to learn that yes yes i believe that yes i believe that anything anything is possible with god but question number two is where me personally your pastor gets tripped up all the time all the stink and time just put periods between all of those words because this is where i get tripped up am i willing to let god define what anything is see i say that god is able to do anything but i want to define what that anything is i want to go to god with the problem and have the definition in the solution all laid out i want to tell god what the anything that needs to happen is i want to say to god hey god i love this church that i’m at they’re really great people we’re doing really great things together they love me a lot they love my kids a lot i love them a lot can we just stay together it’d be really great but god says are you willing to trust me with what the anything is i’m asking you to do this are you willing to trust me with the end of that sentence sometimes i want to say no well sometimes i do but then i just relent and say oh fine because that’s the hard part of faith because sometimes it’s a lot bigger than just a job change sometimes about life and death sometimes it’s about the beginning and end of a marriage sometimes about the beginning and end of a financial situation that changes everything in your world but we have to be willing to let god define what that anything is the third question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not we’re willing to stop stressing while we give up anything you see all that time we spend stressing about that anything it’s time that we’re supposed to be doing other great things it’s time that we’re supposed to be praying it’s time they’re supposed to be being proactive and good things but when we stress about the thing that we’re trying to give up to god we’re not doing anything good so do you really believe that god can do anything are you willing to let god define what that anything is and then are you willing willing to stop stressing and then ask god to help you stop stressing because sometimes that’s hard and then the last thing are you willing to accept god’s answer to what that anything is are you willing to live into it are you willing to take the anything and to run with it like it’s the best thing that you’ve been given trusting that what god has in this season is what meant to be and that god will bless it even if it’s the end of something that you have loved see doubting keeps us from all of the beauty that god has for us doubting keeps us from seeing the resurrection of christ but doubting is normal but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live there instead of doubting we can ask god just like this father did help me help me in my un belief so let us instead of being like doubting thomas let us bring courage like this father to surrender our doubts to god and to do those four things to decide whether or not we believe god can do anything to let god choose what that anything is to give up our stress and then to accept with joy what that anything god chooses is and to run forward knowing that what god has for us will be blessed and will be beautiful let us pray god we love you we thank you with our heart and souls for the life that you have given us for the word that you have given us we thank you for challenging us it’s hard to say thank you for that sometimes but we know that in challenges you grow us and form us into creations that better reflect your son and as we reflect jesus this world changes and this world god needs desperately to change so many shootings so much violence so much pain is happening right now every day and the only way that’s going to change is if you help us to be the people we were created to be and lord we submit that to you in this moment help us lord to trust you with all things it’s in the name of jesus we pray amen