Summary: Jesus and John the Baptist (Doubt) - Luke chapter 7 verses 18-35 - Sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: email@example.com
(1). JESUS & JOHN’S DISCIPLES:
• An anxious request (19-21)
• An astute reply (21-23)
(2). JESUS & THE MIXED CROWD:
• An affirmation of John (24-28)
• An angry rebuke (30-35)
Question: What do these people have in common.
• Abraham, Sarah, Moses, the Israelite nation, Gideon, Zechariah…
• And if you haven’t guessed yet, then let me add Thomas & John the Baptist to the list.
Answer: They were all doubters in the Bible.
• Abraham - When God told him he would be a father in old age.
• (Genesis chapter 17 verse :17).
• Sarah - When she heard she would be a mother in old age.
• (Genesis chapter 18 verse :12).
• Moses - When God told him to return to Egypt to lead the people
• (Exodus chapter 3 verses 10-1).
• The Israelites - When they faced difficulties in the desert
• (Exodus chapter 16 verses 1-3).
• Gideon - When told he would be a judge and leader.
• (Judges chapter 6 verses 14-23).
• Zechariah - When told he would be a father in old age.
• (Luke chapter 1 verse 18).
• Thomas - When told Jesus had risen from the dead.
• (John chapter 20 verses 24,25).
• John the Baptist – as we will see in today’s passage;
• Even the great JTB, the forerunner to Christ, had doubts!
When it comes to the subject of doubt:
• Some here today maybe surmised to now;
• That opinions among Christians vary greatly regarding doubt.
• To some, doubt is wrong and shows a lack of faith and trust in God,
• To others, it is essential to any intelligent pursuit of the truth.
• Quote: Alfred Lord Tennyson:
• “There lives more faith in honest doubt, than in all the creeds”.
• When it comes to the problem of doubt:
• I believe it is possible for both faith and doubt to coexist.
• "Doubts are the grappling hooks by which the mountains of truth can be scaled”.
Question: What do we mean by doubt?
• Doubt is different to unbelief
• “Unbelief is when we know what is right, but refuse to obey and trust.”
• And unbelief is always wrong!
• Naaman – General of the Syrian army (2 Kings chapter 5 verse 12):
• Told by the prophet of God to wash in the river Jordan seven times – but he refused;
Saying; “the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel?
Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage”.
• “Unbelief is when God says something to us, but we refuse to do it.”
• That is wrong and ‘unbelief’ in the Bible is a sin, because it is disobeying God.
Doubt is very different to unbelief
• Quote: “Doubt is when you want to believe but you are not sure you are able to.”
• And that is not a sin.
• ill: A man once came to Jesus (Mark chapter 9 verse 24) and said:
• “I believe help me over-come my unbelief!”
• In other words he wanted to express faith,
• But he was unsure if he could.
• Doubt often comes to us when we reach the limits of our understanding.
• When we cannot with our inadequate minds figure things out.
• Or when we encounter a sudden, unexpected calamity.
• When life takes us through twists and turns that make absolutely no sense.
• Or when we pray for a certain thing and the exact opposite occurs.
• Or when we obey and do what is right and suffer miserably for it.
• Or when we take a course at school or college;
• That seems to make more sense than the faith we have been raised in.
• Or when someone we respected and look up to;
• Suddenly denies the faith and walks away.
• These are the kinds of circumstances that often raise unsettling questions.
• And cause us to doubt God.
Most Christians, at one time or another have had to do battle with doubt:
• Now I believe that having doubts is not wrong!
• Often they can lead us to a deeper stronger faith.
• By the time he was 19 years old.
• G. Campbell Morgan had already enjoyed some success as a preacher
• But then he was attacked by doubts about the Bible.
• The writings of various scientists and agnostics disturbed him
• (e.g. Charles Darwin, John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, and Herbert Spencer).
• As he read their books and listened to debates,
• Morgan became more and more perplexed.
• Question: What did he do?