I’m reblogging this post from January 2015. It summarizes a number of issues related to faith and doubt, with links to past posts, if you want to read more. I’ve been getting a small but steady stream of traffic to this article for several months now – but I can not determine where the traffic is coming from. Thanks to whoever has shared it.
What will it take for you to believe?
Any sensationalism inevitably is frustrated by the law of diminishing returns. People are never satisfied. They always want one more sign, one more miracle, one more show. To have maintained His influence over the people by the use of miracles, Jesus would have had to produce greater and greater sensations. Because the natural, carnal heart can never be satisfied, this year’s miracle would have become next year’s bore. His followers would only have been lovers of sensation, not lovers of God.
Reference: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Matthew 1-7, Moody, 1985, p. 94-95.
I recently came upon the above comment by John MacArthur, and it got me thinking about issues I have previously blogged about. Whether it is evidence in the academic sense, or evidence in the miraculous sense, some people say they will not believe until… another question is answered or God reveals himself in a special way to them.
Yet, as I discuss in another post some people seem caught up in a never-ending search for answers. Will any answers satisfy them? They doubt any answers or explanations that are provided. Or, if they do accept an answer, they immediately follow it with another question. They are always one question away from believing! And I wonder… Are they really in the pursuit of truth, or do they just want to stay in a perpetual state of uncertainty? At some point, enough must be enough. Exercising faith is integral to all areas of life, not just the spiritual or religious realm.
And in regards to the miraculous, I’ve heard people say that in order to believe, God would have to personally communicate with them or perform some type of miracle in their life. Of course, they have stipulations. It would have to obviously be God and not be attributable to other causes. But there are so many ways to rationalize or explain things away. The voice or vision or miracle was…a hoax, technology, mental illness, coincidental, a side effect of too much drinking, etc. Again, is it possible to satisfy them? Believing is seeing, but seeing is not always believing. [Evidence does not produce faith.]
If you’ve not read my blog before, don’t misunderstand. I am not advocating a naive, believe anything, or non-questioning faith. A thinking and analytical mind can keep us from falling for falsehood. A skeptical approach can protect us from deception. But at some point, enough must be enough. Faith must enter the picture. A little bit of faith can shed tremendous light on our path, and bring us understanding that we lacked before.
And remember, faith and doubts are not opposites. Doubt can get unfairly maligned. The very nature of faith requires less than 100% certainty. Genuine faith is always going to be mixed with some doubt. Doubts can actually be an expression of faith, or strengthen our faith. As Tim Keller states it, “A faith without some doubts is like a human body with no antibodies in it.” [Scroll down here to read the entire quote.]
But how do you get faith? What is faith? Does faith come from God or ourselves? These are good and challenging questions. I think there is a degree of mystery when it comes to faith. When I survey the Bible verses on this issue, I observe a tension between the divine and human elements. There can be danger in over-emphasizing either side of the matter.
For example…Instead of stepping out in faith, someone may sit around waiting for that “special moment” when the gift of faith will arrive! But that moment may not come until we have a heart to believe or a willingness to exercise faith. Again, there seems an overlap of sorts between God and us. [Definitely read the tension post if this issue concerns you.]
Maybe some of us are just too focused on faith! We need to stop looking to faith. Faith can become an end rather than the means to an end. We forget about the object of our faith: Jesus Christ. We can end up running around in circles – wondering if we have enough faith, trying to increase our faith, searching for more answers or evidence, paranoid of blind faith, etc. Meanwhile we are neglecting the object of our faith – the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is what it is ultimately all about my friends. It’s about Jesus. Don’t get sidetracked. Consider HIM. Have you? Maybe you think you have, but have you really? Don’t reject Christianity based on second-hand info or hearsay. Read through one of the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) in the New Testament, or better yet, read all of them. Christ’s disciples were transformed by Him. The writings of John, Peter, Paul (and others) in the New Testament also teach us much about Christ. Please be sure you’ve truly considered Christ before rejecting it all.