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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: gcurley@gcurley.info

SERMON OUTLINE:

(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)

SERMON BODY:

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.

• Quote:

• "Doubts are the grappling hooks by which the mountains of truth can be scaled”.

Question: What do we mean by doubt?

Answer:

• Doubt is different to unbelief

• “Unbelief is when we know what is right, but refuse to obey and trust.”

• And unbelief is always wrong!

Ill:

• 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.

Note:

• 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.

Ill:

• 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?

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