Faith and Doubt A Lesson by Ps Chris Field

My recent Doubt Dungeon post led to further thoughts about how doubt blocks faith.  So here is a fresh analogy for the place of faith and doubt in our lives.

I pointed out in Doubt Dungeon that doubt blocks our will.  When we have doubts we are afraid to engage our will to make a choice, since we might be making the wrong choice.

So doubt is a terrible force to allow into your life as it destroys your capacity to make choices and move forward.

Biblical Insight

The Bible speaks about how doubt disables our will, so this is not some mere psychological observation, but a principle that we need to be aware of.  When you have doubts about the choice to make you “halt”.  You are blocked from moving forward.  The ancient Hebrew word used for halt speaks of dancing from one foot to the other, unable to step forward.

“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long will you halt between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” 1Kings 18:21

Having doubts leads you to struggle between two opinions, so you become “double minded”.  And that makes you unstable.  You cannot make clear, effective decisions that you will stick to.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8

The Springboard

To give practical form to how doubt and faith work in your life I suggest the idea of a Faith Springboard.  Imagine you have a springboard, similar to those used in athletics to launch a person forward.

Faith is a Springboard that launches you forward in the things you are believing for.  With faith you connect with God and receive His blessings.  God is pleased when you use faith.

However, your faith springboard must be plugged in.  While normal springboards don’t need any power source, your faith springboard needs to be plugged into something.  It needs to be plugged into your Will.

Unless you “choose” to believe, your belief machine (springboard) sits idle and gathers dust.  No matter how many times you look at it or talk about it, your faith will not work until you activate it with your will, by choosing to believe.

So, to get the picture clear, you have a springboard of faith that will catapult you forward in the things of God, but your must activate it with your will, by making a choice to believe.

Faith is choosing to believe.  Faith and the will need to work together.  It is “you” who believes God, with your will.

Abraham Believed God

The most famous man of faith in human history is Abraham, who believed what God promised him.  God told Abraham he would have a son by his wife Sarah.  Abraham and Sarah were already too old to be parents, but Abraham made a choice to believe God.

We know from the New Testament that faith is the only thing that pleases God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that God exists, and that God rewards those who diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

When Abraham chose to believe God, God was pleased and God blessed him.

“For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3

Abraham believed God.  He didn’t get carried away in some emotional high, but he chose, with his will, to trust and rely on what God told him.  When Abraham chose to activate faith, by his will choosing to believe God, God credited Abraham with righteousness.

And that is the model for salvation in every generation since then.  We are not made right with God by anything we do, except the choice of our will to believe what God says.  Since Christ’s sacrifice for us 2,000 years ago, we must choose to believe in Christ as our saviour.  Then we are forgiven and made a child of God.

Just as Abraham had to use his will to choose to believe God, we also must use our will to choose to believe God.

Enter Doubt

When doubt comes into the picture it has the effect of pulling the plug on our will.  Faith needs our will to make the choice to believe.  Doubt pulls the plug, so our will is no longer connected to our faith.

When we ‘doubt’ we suddenly have a dead springboard.  It doesn’t work any more.  That’s not because doubt is greater than faith, but because doubt disconnects our will.  When we won’t “choose to believe” our faith lies dormant.

Faith in God is still the most powerful force we can activate.  But it cannot help us until and unless we make a personal choice to believe.  Doubt frightens us off making that choice, and so our faith sits like a broken down machine, unable to do for us what it is designed to do.

Activate Faith

We all need to activate our faith.  We need to choose to believe in God and to trust God’s Word.

If you activate your faith you can keep on springing forward in the things of God.  If you let doubt disable your will, faith will be of no effect to you.

Faith is a choice, not a feeling or some emotional state you get into after hearing a positive message.  It is a choice made in the cold light of day, that you will believe God to be God and believe His Word to be true.  Those who get swept along could easily be swept away, but those who activate their faith, by a choice to believe, squashing their doubts and stepping onto the springboard of faith, will be able to enter into the salvation and blessing God has for them.

So, the lesson is “Choose to Believe”.

Choose Your King

Your power of choice is incredibly important to you. No more so than with your choice of who to bow to. Ultimately you must bow your knee to Jesus Christ. You can do that in your life, now, and be happy about that for eternity. Or you will end up bowing your knee to Jesus Christ after this life is over, and having eternity to regret not having done it now.

Choice

Joshua, who led Israel into the Promised Land, understood the importance of making a choice about who you will bow to. He challenged the nation of Israel to choose who they would serve. He declared, as an old grandfather, that he and his entire household were dedicated to serve the Lord.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day who you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the water, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

So it is for each of us. We must make the choice of who we will bow the knee to.

That is why this post is titled, “Choose Your King”.

Abraham and Kings

Abraham did business with kings. He negotiated with them. He rebuked them. He feared them. He did battle with them. He fought on their behalf. So Abraham had opportunity to reveal how a man of God should deal with kings.

The historical record lists a group of warrior kings who oppressed parts of Palestine in the days of Abraham. There is no record that they oppressed Abraham personally, but Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was living in Sodom, and so came under the oppression of these kings.

“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.” Genesis 14:1,2

War of the Kings

When the local kings rebelled against the oppressors war broke out. The dominant kings invaded the land, attacked the rebelling cities and took them all captive.

“And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” Genesis 14:8-12

Abraham’s Army

Fortunately for Lot, Abraham had his own standing army. And that army was an impressive force. Abraham had 318 trained servants in his household who were prepared for warfare.

“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.” Genesis 14:14-16

That’s a pretty good effort. Four kings which dominated the region and beat all that was before them were overpowered and defeated by a small private army. It begs the question of what “trained servants” means and what kind of ‘training’ Abraham gave them.

King Rejected

Obviously Abraham was a hero after such a victory. The King of Sodom was overjoyed to receive his people and goods back. Abraham was like an angel to him. So the King offered to give a huge reward to Abraham.

However, Abraham declined to take anything from the King. Abraham did not want it to ever be said that the King of Sodom had made him rich. Abraham allowed his own servants to receive a reward, but he refused for himself.

“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to yourself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich” Genesis 14:21-23

Abraham rebutted the King of Sodom, refusing to receive anything from him.

King Honoured

On the same day Abraham rejected the King of Sodom he met yet another king and gave that king total adoration. Now, isn’t that interesting? Abraham did not treat all kings equally. Abraham rebutted one king and fell at the feet of another.

The Bible records that Abraham met Melchizedek, the King of Salem, or King of Peace. Some even suggest that Melchizedek was King of the Heavenly Jerusalem (see the word “Salem” in the word Jerusalem).

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he (Melchizedek) blessed him (Abram), and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered your enemies into your hand. And he (Abram, later called Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek) tithes of all.” Genesis 14:18-20

Spiritual King

We learn later, in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, that this meeting was very significant.

“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like the Son of God; abides a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” Hebrews 7:1-4

This King of Salem was a divine and eternal being. I believe that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. He brought “bread and wine” to Abram, just as Jesus gave His disciples the Communion (Eucharist) meal at the last supper, in which He said, “This is my body… This is the New Covenant in my blood”.

So Abraham fell down and worshipped the spiritual king, but did not give place to the wishes of the wicked earthly king.

Wicked King

How do we know that the King of Sodom was a wicked king?

Not long after Abraham had rescued the city from the invading kings that whole region was destroyed because of the homosexuality of the men. The King of Sodom ruled a land of sensual, sexually abhorrent men. No righteous king would have created a culture so wicked that God would destroy it.

The King of Sodom presided over a nation of men who had lost their manhood. They had taken up a ‘lifestyle’ which cut the gizzards out of their personal moral authority. That is why they could not defend themselves, while a few hundred morally pure men under Abraham’s command could rescue them all. When men live for sex and abandon their calling as real men they also lose their moral might as men.

The King of Sodom had created a nation of wicked men. So it could hardly be argued that he was anything but a wicked king.

Choose Your King

Satan comes to us with all the grandeur of human kingly authority and offers us wealth and all that man could think valuable. But we are to reject that offer, even if it seems we are offending the King.

Christ comes to us with all the grandeur of heavenly kingly authority and challenges us to lay down all for him. We are to run to Him and gladly suffer the loss of all things in order to have Him as our Lord and King.

Abraham had no difficulty in choosing which king he would bow the knee to. But we get tangled up in the compromise of wanting wealth from earthly kings, through certifications, welfare payments, concessions, grants, funding, approvals and the like. We fall down and worship the “kings of Sodom” without realising the spiritual compromise that we enter into.

When we bow the knee to the “heavenly King”, ensuring our devotion to God’s divine leadership in our lives, even shunning the gifts offered us by earthly kings, we remain in the place where God’s blessings can manifest in our lives.

Shortly after Abraham’s sunning of the King of Sodom the city was destroyed and Abraham received the promised heir.

My wish for you is that you escape the destruction of the earthly kings and receive the fullness of God’s promises in your life instead.

The Children’s Bread

Citizens of any nation have a special status, based on their inherited right, or chosen right for those who take on citizenship. Jesus Christ celebrated that special status, so it is enshrined in political reality. Sadly we are seeing an erosion of this special status, so it is timely to investigate our God-endorsed rights.

Children

Jesus Christ spoke of the natural national citizens as “children”.

On one occasion Peter made a mistake in his encounter with the administrators of his day. Peter was approached and asked if his master paid tribute money. Peter unwisely said that he did. Jesus then challenged Peter about Peter’s thinking on this matter.

“When they came to Capernaum those that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Does not your master pay tribute? He said, Yes. And when he came into the house Jesus detained him, saying, What do you think, Simon? Who do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute from? Is it from their own children, or from strangers? Peter said to him, From strangers. Jesus said to him, Then the children are free. However, so we don’t offend them, go to the sea and cast an hook, and take up the first fish that comes up; and when you open his mouth, you will find a piece of money: take that, and give to them for me and you.” Matthew 17:24-27

Why Children

Every citizen is a ‘child’ of the cultural family to which he or she belongs. That is significant and I will probably discuss that point in more depth at some other time.

Suffice it to say right now that what starts as a ‘family’ really should stay as a family. However, what tends to happen is that our leaders stop being ‘fathers’ to us and become greedy brothers and sisters who sell out the ‘family’ for personal status and reward.

Good government does not penalise its own family, but rewards it. Good government creates a wonderful environment for its own children. Good government then taxes the foreigners (“strangers” in the words of Jesus) for using the resources that really belong to the children.

Oh that it were so in our nations today!

In many western nations today the foreign entities can operate within the country with great tax advantages and privileges, while the children are heavily taxed to pay for the borrowings of their leaders (their ‘fathers’?) who have placed them in an unhappy place of national penalty.

Hmmmm…..

The Children’s Bread is for the Children

Jesus spoke of ‘children’ in a political sense on another occasion. He spoke to a foreigner who was seeking His power for a family need. In that conversation with the Syrophenician woman Jesus affirmed His personal calling to the nation of Israel. His power, miracles and grace were intended for the nation of Israel.

Israel was by that time a nation that had existed for more than a millennium. It is easy to forget, after such a long time, that the nation is really a ‘family’. The original children of Israel were the literal children of a man named Israel. As the families grew over successive generations the ‘children’ grew in number to be a national entity in their own right. But they were still ‘children’ of Israel.

In political terms this foreigner was not a member of the family of Israel. Rather than being a child in the family she was something else, like a family pet. Jesus pointed this out by saying that it was not right for Him to take what belonged to the children and to give it to the dog.

While Jesus’ comments sound offensive to our ears it is important to note two things. The woman was not upset. She recognised that His statement was true. She was outside the Kingdom and had no right to the things she requested. She was not a child of Abraham or a descendent of Jacob (Israel). Jesus’ words were not an insult, but a statement of truth acknowledged by the woman herself.

Further to that, Jesus was happy to hear her appeal and expression of faith and to grant her what she asked.

She said (in essence), “It is true that I am a dog, but even the dogs get to eat the crumbs which are dropped by the children. Since not all of your blessings will be enjoyed by the children you can spare one of the crumbs for me.”

“a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she begged him that he would cast the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not right to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs. And she answered and said to him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said to her, For this saying go your way; the devil is gone out of your daughter. And when she came to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” Matthew 7:25-30

Your Bread

We have seen that Jesus used the notion of ‘children’ to speak of both political realities (paying tribute) and spiritual realities (claiming the blessings belonging to God’s people).

You too are a child and have your own bread. So, what is your bread? What is it to which you have political and spiritual right?

As a citizen of your nation and culture you are entitled to the freedoms and protections afforded to you. You should not be abused by the fathers of your culture and nation. They should be providing you the special blessings which you are entitled to as a member of the family.

As a child of God you are entitled to an amazing range of spiritual and practical blessings reserved for the ‘children’. In fact, you have the right to walk and live in a state that is described as ‘glorious liberty’ (wonderful freedom), as God’s child.

“Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21

I encourage you to enjoy the bread that is yours, both politically and spiritually. You are fully entitled to those blessings and it is your responsibility to protect and preserve them so that your own children can enjoy them as well.

Politics in the Bible

Expanding a point made in a recent post about God’s Supremacy [The Supreme God] I want to celebrate with you the place of God in politics, by showing you politics in the Bible.

God as the Ultimate Political Figure

Reading through Isaiah recently I was struck by the familiar words of Isaiah 66:1.

“Thus says the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build to me? And where is the place of my rest?”

I was reminded of Isaiah’s vision, described in Isaiah 6:1.

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.”

There is no more powerful political symbol than the throne. While some modern monarchs are reduced to a mere formal role in their society, the throne still bears the age-old significance of ultimate authority.

Of Thrones

The fact that God is seated on a throne immediately speaks of his political authority. Thrones are the places from which the rulers speak. It is their place of power over all in their dominion.

Yet thrones do not always prevail. That is to say that one kingdom will be overthrown by another and the old throne of authority will be displaced. This has been the process of history. Kingdoms come and go and kings reign for a season before being replaced by an alternative kingdom.

God’s Enduring Throne

The Bible tells us that God is on a throne. That throne is special in several ways. It is ‘supreme’ in several ways.

Firstly God’s throne is in heaven. His is not an earthly throne that draws its scope from earthly territory. God’s throne is in heaven, so its scope spreads from there. Earthly geography is just a small portion of the realm over which His throne presides.

Secondly, God’s throne is an eternal throne. It is not vulnerable nor will it ever be replaced by some competitor, or superior force from another land.

“Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of your kingdom is a right sceptre.” Psalm 45:6

Historical Evidence

God’s primacy as the supreme political force in human history should be evident in human history. If it cannot be seen in practice then its reality becomes irrelevant.

Do we see God interfering with human political process? Do we see God exercising His personal political authority over the political affairs of men?

The short answer is ‘Yes’. So let me summarise some of the historical evidences.

Confrontation of Rulers

We see that God’s people were able to confront kings and act completely independently of the prevailing political landscape. God’s people were able to defy kings and rulers, without resorting to violence and without recourse from those they confronted.

Consider the examples of Moses challenging Egypt’s Pharaoh and of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego defying Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar.

Pre-emptive Prophetic Announcement

To prove God’s hand in the political affairs of men we have several examples of God pre-emptively announcing what would happen politically in the future.

God told Abraham about the defeat of Egypt half a millennium before it happened. Daniel prophesied of Alexander the Great and his achievements before they occurred.

God gave Nebuchadnezzar a summary of world kingdoms and their relative significance spanning many centuries into the future.

The prophets warned Israel and Judah of their captivities long before the various invasions and conquests took place.

Present Day Evidences

Current evidence of God being still on the throne and supreme over the events of human politics includes the existence of the nation of Israel. Prophecies of this restoration, against all the odds of human history, were made in Bible times, dating back almost 2,000 years.

The existence of the political entity of Israel is clear evidence that God’s place over the affairs of nations persists to this day.

Another evidence is the persistent ability of righteousness to prevail. If God was not involved in the political affairs of present-day human experience then the opportunity for evil to prevail would be enormous. Yet we see that righteousness still prevails. Evil processes, regimes and purposes, while able to emerge for a season, are brought down and replaced by that which is more reasonable and blessed.

Good Men of Good Intent Still Prevail

Despite the enormous economic and political influence of those who wish to exploit, control and abuse others, men and women of good intent continue to prevail. People with nothing on their side but principle, faith and character have been able to topple regimes, change laws, liberate people and change culture.

This is evidence of God’s sovereignty. God promises His people that if they will do such inane acts (in apparent practical terms) as repent and pray, they will have power and influence over the affairs of life. These otherwise insignificant men and women can achieve much, and they still do today.

God is Still on the Throne

God is the Lord of all the earth. His throne is in heaven and His eyes are on the earth. Any one individual who will be God’s agent in any situation or culture can prevail against all the forces known to man.

No political power, economic contract or military infrastructure can overthrow God, nor can it frustrate the man or woman who is acting in God’s supreme authority in the affairs of mankind on the earth.

The Bible as a Political Text

The world has many celebrated political texts which illuminate various political perspectives. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a political treatise in story form. His “1984” is similarly charged with political messages. Hitler had his Mein Kampf. Marx relied on Darwin’s Origin of Species. Mao had his Little Red Book. Political texts come from the Greeks and Romans, along with many writings from before and since.

The Political Bible

But have you ever considered the Bible as a Political Text? I had never given the matter any thought until recently. I had unconsciously ascribed the Bible to the “Religion” Category. Many people who oppose the Bible are keen to promote it as nothing more than a book of religious sentiment. Sadly, unthinking Christians (and I include myself in this category) have allowed unbelievers to tell us how we can use the book God gave us.

Consider the Evidence

The Bible is the book from which a whole nation was governed for thousands of years. Did you get that word ‘governed’? The Bible supervised the Jewish nation through the stages of personal sovereignty, communal governance, prophetic leadership, judges, kings, priests and messianic ministry.

The Bible prescribes personal responsibility, communal accountability, leadership jurisdiction, limitations of power, prescribed punishments for crimes, payments of levies, interplay of priest and civic leaders, court procedures and so on.

And not only are these things discussed in practice and theory, they are demonstrated in the accounts of people’s lives.

Living in a Political World

Daniel and his three friends lived under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and successfully confronted that king’s authority, relying on the principles given in the Bible.

Moses confronted the political power of Pharaoh, doing most of his business with that world ruler in Pharaoh’s own court.

Abraham dealt directly with the Abimelech (Canaanite leader) of his day, and so too did Isaac.

Jesus Christ was tried and crucified in the Roman courts and the Apostle Paul made many appearances before Roman appointed rulers.

The people of the Bible interacted with political powers and relied on the teachings of the Bible to empower them and to determine how they stood before those kings.

Some Amazing Political Statements

Consider this quick pick of hot political statements straight from the pages of the Bible.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Jesus Christ, Mark 12:17

“Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above: therefore he that delivered me to you has the greater sin.” Jesus Christ, John 19:11

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” 1Peter 2:17

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Have Another Look

I trust that these few examples are enough to fire up your interest in the Bible as a Political Text. You just might be amazed at the political wisdom and the personal authority you can operate by, once you see what the Bible is really saying.