Summary: A sermon dealing with the issue of doubt.

The Fork in the Road of Doubt

Numbers 13:26-33

John 20:24-29

As we travel life’s road we will from time to time become detoured onto a road called doubt. The road called doubt will always have a fork at the end in which you decide which direction to take. The determining factor to whether your doubt will be negative or positive is determined by this final decision of which road to take at the fork in the road of doubt.

You see on the one hand you have a road that will lead to skepticism and then eventually unbelief. The other road is one that will lead you to discover the truth and allow you to have greater revelation.

Doubt is not the opposite of faith. I have heard preacher after preacher declare that doubt is the opposite of faith, but that is not true. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. Doubt that is not responded to can lead to unbelief. They would have you to believe that they have never doubted or that they have arrived to a place that they are immune to doubt. We all have doubts. We may have doubts that are a continuing factor in our life. Yet, in the case of doubt it is not a sign of failure unless you choose the wrong road at the fork in the road of doubt.

Let’s take a look at the difference between the two roads. We will find these accounts in scripture. May we look together now and determine the outcome of choosing one road over the other.

First, let’s look at what happens when we choose to take the road that leads to unbelief. We will find this in the Old Testament book of Numbers 13:26-33. In this passage of scripture we see the Israelites being advised about the land of promise from representatives sent to spy out the land. The spies brought back the report of a land just the way God had described it. The land was flowing with milk and honey. It was grander than had been anticipated. They even brought back fruit from the land and displayed and them. They brought back a cluster of grapes large enough that two men carried the cluster on a pole between them. That must have been grapes the size of golf balls. They had to be larger than usual to justify two men carrying them on a pole between them.

They didn’t stop there they went on to say, “but”… Don’t you hate it when you here the word “but”? Whether it be from the mechanic that says we can fix your car, but…it will cost you. Sure we can help you, but…we are just to busy on that day. No problem we can fix your dishwasher, but…it will be about 4-6 weeks before there will be a service technician available. The word but wouldn’t be near as bad if we heard it used more in sentences like these. Yes, there is a finance charge, but…we will cover that for you. Sure, it is going to take a little more work to fix it, but…there will be no charge. We are extremely busy, but…we will work you in.

The spies concluded that it was everything that it was made out to be. The only problem was the inhabitants and their resources. They are bigger and their cities are fortified and are large. The people are descendants of Anak, which was a group of abnormally large people. The family of Goliath may have been descendants of these people. The spies said we are like grasshoppers to them.

Now I do before going on want to express that there were two of the spies who stood and tried to persuade the people of their ability to take the land. Joshua and Caleb proclaimed that if the Lord was pleased with them that He would give them the land.

Here is the fork in the road for the Israelites. They started on the road to doubt when they heard the report of the people that inhabited the land. They doubted whether they could conquer the people or not.

The fork in the road is to walk be faith and inhabit the land or turn done the road of unbelief. They choose the path of unbelief and were restricted to go into the land of promise.

Numbers 14:23-27

23. Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:

24. But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

25. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

26. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

27. How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.

I wonder how murmured the times that God has really moved upon me and I have declared the things that shall be. I wondered, when it was proclaimed that we would be the church of Northwest Alabama, how many said within themselves or to their spouse, “Yeah right. He needs to get his head out of the clouds.”

Notice that the Israelites said we can’t do it because of the people in the land. Yet, God said they have murmured against Me. When we question certain things within the church, such as the vision that I shared with you. You are don’t questioning me, you are questioning God’s ability to perform.

The issue facing the Israelites…

Was not the giants in the land, it was their doubt of God’s ability!

Was not the fortified cities, it was their doubt God’s power!

Was not the size of the cities, it was their doubt God’s strength!

When we chose the road of unbelief when we come to the fork in the road of doubt, it is God that we doubt. It is not the obstacles we face, it is not the size of the job to complete, it is not how impossible things appear, but it is our inability to trust in God.

If we doubt that the things promised to us will come to pass, we are not saying we aren’t able to perform. We are proclaiming for the entire world to see that we doubt that God can move here. The consequences of choosing the road of unbelief is that we miss out on God’s best for our life and for our church.

Choosing the road of unbelief is easier and safer it seems, but I love a quote that I ran across that states, “A ship is safest in harbor, but that is not what ships are made for.”

The other path that there is to choose from is the route that will lead to a revelation of truth. A doubt that is willing to ask the tough questions in order to find out more that just what is presented.

I had rather doubt something every now and then, instead of being gullible to everything that I am told. A pastor friend of mine told me some of the tricks he used to pull. One of the tricks that he used was he would pull up to a pond and ask the question, “I wonder how much cement it took to make that pond?” His date of course would say, “you don’t put cement in ponds.” He would reply, “if you don’t put cement in the bottom, the water would run right through the ground.” Sad to say but there was girls that believed him. At times we need to doubt in order to find out the truth.

There are two great examples to examine this principle of doubting. First, is John the Baptist. We know that he inquired to whether or on Jesus was the Messiah. It wasn’t he didn’t believe in Jesus but he wanted to know the truth. Doubting is not just about unbelief, it is about having two different possibilities and not knowing which one to believe.

We know that he believed that in Jesus. Remember at the baptism of Christ, John proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” John believed but wanted to know that he knew.

The word doubt comes from the same root as the word double. To doubt means to be double-minded. John didn’t have unbelief. He did know that if Jesus wasn’t the messiah he needed to be looking for someone else. So, he was got between to things. His mind was on the same route but had come to the fork in the road. He must make a clear decision in his head to whether or not this is the messiah or not.

We need to get to a place were we can confront our doubts. Seek the truth. Often people deal with doubt by trying to ignore it and pretend it is not there. When some people come to us with doubts and struggles concerning the Bible we tend to scold them and act as if those types of questions shouldn’t be a struggle. We should have an answer.

When John inquired of whether Jesus was the messiah or not, Jesus did not scold Him. John sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the one to come or should he look for another. The thing that Jesus did is the same reaction we should have. He didn’t say, “John, just believe in Me.” He sent assurance of the fact that He was the messiah.

Matthew 11:4, 5

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:”

“The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

John’s doubt was not a question of unbelief, but of a need to get the facts. The next one that is a good example of this is Thomas. We refer to him as “doubting” Thomas.

Let’s take a moment to consider this man named called Thomas. Was he a wishy washy person? Was he an unstable, unbelieving doubter? I really don’t believe so. I gather this opinion from John 11:16…

John 11:16

“Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

…These don’t sound like the words of an unbeliever to me. When someone is willing to die just to be true to a cause or to someone, they believe wholehearted in them.

Thomas received his nickname from the text we find in the 20th chapter of John.

John 20:24-29

24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

27. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

I would like to point out that it a seems to be that Jesus came in their midst just to confirm to Thomas and relinquish his doubts. When we are willing to ask the tough questions, He is willing to do what it takes to answer them.

In the case of the promise we have received from God. You may have doubts, but don’t let it become unbelief. Move onto the road of revelation that is paved with faith and watch God prove Himself.

Numbers 11:21-23

21. And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.

22. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?

23. And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord’s hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.

Let us not just believe everything and anything, but let us inquire the truth. There are some things we need to doubt. For instance when we read I the National Inquirer that Elvis is living in Hawaii, you might want to have a little doubt.

Doubt is not negative until we come to the fork in the road of doubt and choose the road of unbelief. Unless, of course it is the story of Elvis then the road of unbelief would be the proper road to take.

In conclusion, may our doubts be confronted today. I hope that you will stop ignoring the doubt and allow yourself to ask God the tough questions. Be honest with Him, you can’t hide your thoughts from Him anyway. Find a good Christian friend and share those doubts and ask the questions that you need answers to. Seek the truth, and the Truth will come to you.