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Summary: 4 of 5 messages. This message addresses the challenge of doubt and how it can contribute to faith.

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I have questioned many things about our faith and the things of God. I am a skeptic. I admit it.

Whenever I hear about someone who is suffering from cancer miraculously discovering his or her cancer is gone, I wonder if it can be true. I doubt.

I read reports about God mysteriously working in people’s lives and I question whether their experiences are genuine or not. I wonder, I doubt, Sometimes I am skeptical.

Sometimes I wonder if God’s plan really works; if His Word is good for real everyday living.

I confess that there are times when I wonder if all that I say I believe is really real. There are days that I look through the stacks of sermons I have written and preached, and I question if it is worth the effort and time involved.

Do you understand what it means to be skeptical? – to question whether it is real? – to wonder if God is real? – to doubt?

There are times when while I am praying, I begin to wonder whether God hears me, whether there is even a God. What if this whole thing is wrong? What if Jesus was just a good man and there really is no heaven or hell?

Writer and preacher Lee Strobel says that there are three kinds of people in this room today. The first group would be those who have doubted. The second group would be those who haven’t doubted yet, but who will. And the third group would be those who are brain dead.

In other words, if you’re a thinking person at all -- if you seriously contemplate your faith and what it means to follow Jesus Christ -- the chances are that every once in a while you’re going to come down with some questions, some issues, some uncertainties, some doubts.

So, what doubts are you struggling with this morning?

Maybe you doubt that God has really forgiven you.

Or you wonder whether the Bible really is the Word of God.

Or you question why God lets people suffer.

Or you’ve been praying for help with a struggle in your life, but so far there has been silence, and you’re wondering whether anybody’s at home in heaven, or if there is, whether He really cares.

Maybe you have questions about how God created the world or even how He’ll end it.

Or you’ve said to yourself, “I think I’ve become a Christian, but sometimes I’m not sure. Maybe I wasn’t sincere enough when I was baptized.”

Maybe you doubt that God has really forgiven you. Or you wonder whether the Bible really is the Word of God. Or you question why God lets people suffer. Or you’ve been praying for help with a struggle in your life, but so far there has been silence, and you’re wondering whether anybody’s at home in heaven, or if there is, whether He really cares. Maybe you have questions about how God created the world or how He’ll end it. Or you’ve said to yourself, “I think I’ve become a Christian, but sometimes I’m not sure. Maybe I wasn’t sincere enough when I prayed.”

But these sorts of questions are not reserved for Christians alone. Many who have never trusted Christ are asking all the right questions – “Is there a God?” “Can I trust Him?” “Is Jesus for real?” and many others like them.

I want us to look at someone this morning that we might be surprised struggled with doubt. We call him “John the Baptist”

We’re going to look at his crisis of faith and the moment he had his greatest doubt. We’ll read of his story in Luke 7. As you look at the text with me, I’m certain you’ll be able to identify with much of what is revealed.

As we look together I want you to consider three questions: three issues that need to be raised in order to help you work through your own doubts about Jesus.

Question #1: Are You Really A Doubter?

18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Luke 7:18-19

I ask you that because the fact is that you need to be honest about what you are, because many people who say they are doubters or skeptics really are not. A doubter, or a skeptic is someone who has trouble believing something but will make the effort and take the time to investigate it.

In my first ministry in SJ I met with a man and his wife who claimed to be agnostics. They said that they didn’t know if there was a God or not.

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