I will tell you my secret: I have doubts.
I have spent my life studying and thinking and reading and teaching about God. I grew up in the church. I went to a faith-based college and then to seminary. I walked the straight and narrow. I never sowed any wild oats.
And I have doubts…
Is it okay if we ask questions and consider objections and wonder out load?
Is it okay if we don’t pretend that everybody is split up into two camps: those who doubt and those who don’t?
Is it possible – maybe even rational – to have faith in the presence of doubt?
Because I have faith too. And I have bet the farm.
John Ortberg, Faith and Doubt
Doubt. It is part of our human experience. John Ortberg, a renown pastor, author and speaker, and senior pastor, speaks opening of doubt. He has “bet the farm”, all that he has, that the God he writes about is indeed true.
Faith is not something to be taken lightly. Understanding the reasons we do or don’t believe is important. If you are in a season of unwavering faith, then you need to embrace the mission God has given you to be able to articulate what is true about God to those who are contemplating faith. Even with robust faith, you may go through unexplained times of questioning if God is really there. During a difficult season in life, you may question His wisdom or His power. If you have chosen not to believe, the stakes are too high not to understand clearly why you may have come to that conclusion.
Often when it comes to faith, we set a standard for belief that is higher than other aspects of day to day life. We constantly make decisions in life based on probabilities. We put faith in a car when we start the ignition that it won’t catch on fire even though all the ingredients are there for an explosion. When we eat, we make a probability decision that the food has been prepared safely and won’t poison us. When we place money in a bank account, we make a probability decision that our money is safe and will be returned to us.
When it comes to faith in God, we may need to make a decision based on probabilities. It is likely that God exists and we can know who that God is and what He is like.
Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20
Romans indicates that there is a general revelation about God that can be understood by all. Evidence of God can be seen in nature itself. You can know something about God because He is everywhere.
To build a case for faith, there are specific reasons to believe in God.
An Argument from First Cause
First Cause addresses the idea that since we live in a universe in which everything around us is contingent, there must be something outside of it that gives us its first cause – the reason it came to be. With the ongoing question of how did it come to be, then it had to come from something outside of itself. The primary question is whether the universe is self-existent or did something else bring it about. But if the universe is self-existent, then why is it in a state of constant decay? What you come to logically conclude at this point is not that the universe is self-existent, but that a self-existent being outside of the universe was responsible for its existence.
An Argument from Design
Something that is intelligently designed requires that it has an intelligent designer. The old adage is that a watch requires a watchmaker. In a more modern example, a smart phone requires an intelligent engineer. If you were to smash your phone or tablet into pieces and place those pieces in a bag, you can shake it forever, but those pieces are not going to randomly reform into the device you once held. If there is design in the world (and there is), then don’t we need a designer?
An Argument from Morality
There’s a sense of oughtness if the world that transcends religion, culture, and race. Despite different origins or lack of interaction, there are universal principles of morals that remain consistent: truth over lies, life over death, peace over violence. Sociologist Peter Berger refers to the universal desire to condemn and seek justice for a moral wrong as “an argument form damnation.” Once a moral wrong is identified, then it is an acknowledgment of a sense of morality. There is no reason for morality if there is no God.
An Argument from Jesus Christ
The most substantial reason to believe in God comes from Jesus Christ Himself. The historical existence of Jesus Christ is not disputed. Once His existence is established, then a decision must be made about the claims of Jesus Christ. Many consider Jesus to be merely a good teacher, but Jesus Himself claimed to be God. This claim demands further exploration. Jesus was either delusional or a liar or He is exactly who He said He is – God in the flesh. Good teacher is not an option.
The most reasonable explanation for Jesus is that He is God. Recognizing Jesus as God will move you from a general revelation of God to a special revelation that there is a God and His character is knowable. That He is perfect and just and cannot exist with imperfection. That Jesus was perfect and was sent to a cross on your behalf to take on your sin. If you acknowledge His sacrifice, Jesus, the Son of God, will stand before God the Father on your behalf. You will be made perfect through the perfection of Jesus.
The decision of faith is too important to take lightly. Consider where you currently stand in terms of faith in God and commit time to reflect or pray:
- If you are skeptical of the existence of God, ask that your eyes would be open to the general revelation of God in the world around you. Consider the four arguments for belief in God.
- If you are struggling with questions and doubts, identify your questions and doubts and confess them to God. Ask Him to guide you as you seek answers to the questions.
- If you have faith in God and aren’t currently facing a time of doubt, thank God for eyes to see the truth and consider how you can share your faith with others.