Faith and Doubt

Matthew 14:22-33

IN the fourteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus asks the sinking disciple Peter as He rescues him while walking upon the waves, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

It is true that Peter sank in his venture of faith, but he walked further upon the water than any other mere man ever walked. He sank because he saw the wind boisterous and was afraid—that is, he took his eyes off Jesus and fixed them on circumstances. Back of it all was doubt that crept in and upset the firmness of his faith.

The Christian life is a “walking upon the waves” toward Jesus. But so many believers hesitate to leave the boat; they put first this foot, then that, into the water. There is nothing to fear if we walk toward Jesus and keep our eyes fixed upon Him. And even if our faith should momentarily yield to doubt, we may sink but we won’t drown. For He is there to hear our cry and rescue us.

Doubt manifests itself in many forms. Some people doubt whether they are saved. God’s Word has given us definite assurances of salvation—and to doubt our salvation, after we have trusted Christ, is simply to doubt God. We say we are doubting self, but really we doubt God—for salvation does not depend upon self but upon God. Such passages as Acts 16:31, 2 Timothy 1:12, John 3:16, 36, and the whole book of First John, as well as many other passages, give us God’s clear word of certainty. And if we are not certain that we ever trusted Christ truly for salvation, we can trust Him at any moment and be certain!

An old saint, who lay dying, moaned that in his feeble mental condition he had forgotten all the promises of God and could recall none of them. “But God has not forgotten,” wisely suggested the old minister who sat beside him. How precious that, though we forget, God does not!

Some doubt the doctrines and teachings of the Word and find it hard to believe some of the Bible. There is much there which I cannot understand, but none that I do not believe. I know that if I cannot understand a passage that does not mean that it cannot be understood. Doubt was the serpent’s weapon in Eden. He raised a question: “Yea, hath God said?” In His wilderness temptation our Lord met the adversary with “Yea, God hath said!” There are too many question-mark Christians—and not enough of the exclamation-point kind!

Many more are bothered not so much with doubt of salvation or of the Scriptures but practical doubt in everyday matters. Peter believed in Christ, but he broke down here in a practical crisis. Theoretically we believe Romans 8:28, reading it some pleasant summer afternoon under a shade tree in a hammock. But when trouble, sickness and death arrive, is our theoretical faith actual?

Peter took his eyes off Jesus. We must keep “looking unto Jesus” and “consider Him… lest we be wearied and faint in our minds.” Doubt spoils the faith-life. We shift from Christ to circumstance. Like the Samaritan woman, we argue that “the well is deep” (John 4:11). Like Martha, we reason that “he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). Like the Emmaus disciples, we reason that “this is the third day” (Luke 24:21). Against all that comes our Lord’s challenge: “Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”

Believing is seeing.

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