Chapter 12—What to Do With Doubt

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Many people are tempted to doubt that the Bible is God’s Word because they do not understand and cannot explain parts of the Bible. This is often true of those who have been Christians for only a short time. Satan tries to shake their faith in the Bible as God’s message to us. These people ask, “How shall I know the right way? If the Bible is truly the Word of God, how can I become free of doubt?”

Many ideas that some people say come from the Bible are not found in it. These ideas are very different from the Bible teachings. They cause people to doubt God’s Word. But we cannot blame the Bible. We should blame the wrong use of the Bible.

God always gives us facts and reasons before He asks us to believe. We know He lives because He is the Creator. He shows us His character by what He does for us. We know His Word is true because things have happened the way He said they would.

Yet God does not make it impossible for us to doubt. Our faith must rest on good reasons, not on absolute proof. Those who wish to doubt may do so. But people who really desire to know the truth will find good reasons to believe. They can rest their faith on the Word of God.

It is impossible for our minds to understand fully the character or the works of God. Even the brightest, best educated people cannot fully understand such a Holy Being. He will always be a mystery. Job said, “Can you discover the limits and bounds of the greatness and power of God? The sky is no limit for God, but it lies beyond your reach. God knows the world of the dead, but you do not know it.” Job 11:7, 8.

The apostle Paul wrote, “How great are God’s riches! How deep are his wisdom and knowledge! Who can explain his decisions? Who can understand his ways? As the scripture says, ‘Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give him advice?’” Romans 11:33. Even though “clouds and darkness surround him; he rules with righteousness and justice.” Psalm 97:2.

As we see how God deals with us and try to understand why He has led us the way He has, we can know that He is a God of love, mercy, and power. We can understand only as much of why He does some things as is good for us to know. We must trust His loving hands to lead us the rest of the way. His heart of love will do what is best for us.

The Word of God, like the One who gave it, can never be fully understood. We cannot fully explain the sad story of how sin came into the world. We are not able to understand how the Son of God became a man. Nor can we understand just how we are made righteous and how we will be raised from the dead. But we must not doubt God’s Word because we cannot understand some things it tells us about.

In the natural world are many things we cannot explain. The wisest people cannot fully understand the smallest forms of life. Everywhere are wonders we do not understand. Should we then be surprised to find things in the spiritual world that we cannot explain? Our minds are too weak and narrow to reach these higher thoughts. God has given us enough reasons to believe that the Scriptures are inspired.

The apostle Peter spoke about letters Paul had written. He said, “There are some difficult things in his letters which ignorant and unstable people explain falsely…. So they bring on their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:16. Parts of the Scriptures are hard to understand. Because of these parts, some people say they do not believe the Bible. But the hard parts really show us that the Bible is from God. We cannot understand everything about God in the Bible because our minds are not as great as His. His greatness and goodness cannot be fully understood by human minds. The very grandness and mystery of the Bible should help us to have faith in it as the Word of God.

The Bible brings us truth that satisfies the needs and desires of every heart. This truth is given in such a simple and interesting way that it surprises and pleases the best minds. Yet it makes clear even to humble and uneducated people how they can be saved. These simply stated truths also touch on subjects that are too hard for us to understand. We accept them only because God spoke them.

God’s plan by which we are saved—the plan of redemption—is opened up to us in the Bible. We all may see the steps we must take in repentance toward God. We are shown the faith that we must have in our Lord Jesus Christ if we want to be saved.

Yet beneath these truths that are easily understood are mysteries that need much study. We must search the Scriptures to find answers. When we sincerely search for truth, we are rewarded with faith and love for God. The more we search the Bible, the more sure we are that it is the Word of the living God. We bow before the One who has shown us these truths.

We know that we do not fully understand all the truths of the Bible. Our minds cannot take hold of all the things understood by God’s mind. Our weak, human minds cannot always understand the way God works.

Some people doubt God’s Word because the meanings are not always clear to them. This is a real danger even to people who say they believe the Bible. The apostle says, “My friends, be careful that none of you have a heart so evil and unbelieving that you will turn away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12.

It is right to study closely the teachings of the Bible. It is good to search “even the hidden depths of God’s purposes” (1 Corinthians 2:10) as given in the Scriptures. “There are some things that the Lord our God has kept secret; but he has revealed his Law.” Deuteronomy 29:29.

Satan tries to get us to use our minds in the wrong way. When some people study the Bible, they feel they must be able to explain everything it says. They are proud, and they feel unhappy when they come to parts that are not clear to them. It humbles them to say that they do not understand all of God’s Word. They are not willing to wait until God is ready to show the truth to them. They feel that their own understanding should be enough. When they cannot understand some parts, they say the Scriptures are not from God.

Many ideas that some people say come from the Bible are not found in it. These ideas are very different from the Bible teachings. They cause people to doubt God’s Word. But we cannot blame the Bible. We should blame the wrong use of the Bible.

We do not fully understand God and His works. If we could, there would be no more truth to discover. There would be no further growth of the heart and mind. God would no longer be first and above all. Let us thank God that He is greater than we are.

God is infinite. “All the hidden treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge” are in Him Colossians 2:3. In heaven people will be forever searching to learn how great is His goodness. They will be ever learning how wise and how powerful He is.

Even in this life God wants to be ever opening the truth of His Word to His people. There is only one way we can receive these truths. We can understand God’s Word only through the light that comes from His Spirit. “Only God’s Spirit knows all about God.” “The Spirit searches everything, even the hidden depths of God’s purposes.” 1 Corinthians 2:11, 10.

The Savior’s promise to His followers was “When … the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth…. He will take what I say and tell it to you.” John 16:13, 14.

God wants us to use our reasoning powers. The study of the Bible will strengthen these powers and lift our minds as no other study can. Yet we must be careful not to make reason a god, for it can be as weak as the human mind or body.

We must have the simple faith of a little child who is ready to learn. We must ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. Then we will have a clearer understanding of the truths of the Bible.

We are made humble when we realize how wise God is. His greatness and power are beyond our understanding. We should open His Word as though we were coming before God Himself. In Bible study, reason must see a power greater than itself. Heart and mind must bow before the God who spoke of Himself as the great I AM.

Many things at first seem hard to understand. But God will make them plain to us if we ask Him for understanding. The Holy Spirit will guide us and help us not to change the meaning of the Scriptures or to misunderstand them.

Sometimes when people read the Bible, it does not help them. It may even do them harm. Doubts come into the mind when the Word of God is studied without prayer. Our thoughts must be fixed on God when we open the Bible. We must be ready to follow His leading, for without God’s help our minds may be clouded with doubt. Then Bible study could lead to unbelief.

Satan guides the thoughts when people do not ask for God’s help as they study the Bible. They may make mistakes in understanding the Scriptures no matter how well educated they may be. It is not safe to trust what they say the Word means unless they are obeying God.

Some people read the Bible to try to find mistakes. They have not given their hearts to God, so they think they find many reasons for not believing. Doubt makes it hard for them to understand truths that are plain and simple.

In most cases the real cause of unbelief is the love of sin. When we are proud and sin-loving, we do not welcome the teachings of God’s Word. If we are not willing to obey God’s Word, we are ready to doubt. We must have a sincere desire to know the truth and a willingness to obey it. If we study the Bible with a willing heart, we will find good reasons to believe that it is God’s Word. We will understand the truths that will bring us salvation.

Christ said, “Whoever is willing to do what God wants will know whether what I teach comes from God or whether I speak on my own authority.” John 7:17. We should not question and find fault with the truths we do not understand. We must walk in the light that we already have, and then we will receive greater light. By the grace of Christ we must do every duty that has been made plain to us. Then we will be able to understand and do those things we now doubt and question.

We all may find out whether God’s Word is real and His promises are true when we study the Bible for ourselves and see if God keeps His promises. God tells us to “find out for yourself how good the Lord is.” Psalm 34:8. We must not depend on the word of another, but find out for ourselves. God says, “Ask and you will receive.” John 16:24. He will keep His promises. They have never failed; they never can fail. As we come near to Jesus we rejoice in His wonderful love. Our doubt and darkness will fade away in the light of His presence.

The apostle Paul says of God, “He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us safe into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Colossians 1:13. When we have accepted salvation, we are able to say “that God is truthful.” John 3:33. We can say, “I needed help, and I found it in Jesus. Everything I needed was given me. The hunger of my heart was satisfied. The Bible shows Jesus Christ to me. Do you ask why I believe in Jesus? Because He is to me a divine Saviour. Why do I believe the Bible? Because I have found it to be the voice of God speaking to my heart.” We can know in our hearts that the Bible is true and that Christ is the Son of God. We can know that we are not following false and foolish ideas.

Peter tells his brothers to “continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18. When the people of God are growing in grace, they will understand His Word better and better. They will see new light and beauty in its holy truths. Light and truth have been given to the church in all ages, and they will be given until the end of time. “The road the righteous travel is like the sunrise, getting brighter and brighter until daylight has come.” Proverbs 4:18.

By faith we may look to life in heaven and take hold of God’s promise that we will forever grow in understanding. In heaven our powers will unite with God’s powers, and we will be brought in touch with Him from whom comes the light of truth.

We can be thankful that in heaven all the things that we do not understand now will be explained and made clear. We may now see only broken plans and failure, but then we shall see God’s perfect and beautiful plan for our lives. “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me.” 1 Corinthians 13:12.

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