I RECENTLY wrote and warned AGAINST making a religion of your doubts, as do the Roman Catholics and some other groups. All that is in that booklet presents the truth as a very serious matter, a concept in opposition to faith, and making it a traditional dogma to justify never coming to a high degree or even full assurance. It was pointed out that if you refuse to BELIEVE what the Bible teaches about it, and then cry about so many doubts, then you cannot expect in faith for God to reveal more when you so deny His very word He has already spoken for your joy and edification. Thus you are guilty of making a religion of your doubts, no matter how truly justifiable a measure of doubts may be! Doubt and faith are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Incidentally, those whose “mantra” is “No one can go beyond hope,” that is not in reality the blessed Hope, a lively, faith-filled expection that the Bible speaks of. And Christ IS the Hope of the believer, an anchor of the soul, with one prong of that anchor in your soul, and the other prong of the anchor established in Heaven. That is faith and assurance in the Lord Jesus Christ, the birthright of the child of God, the sheep who hear the Shepherd’s voice and they follow Him. (See John 10.)
But is there ever a time when to doubt is a GOOD thing? Is there a time when a person should indeed doubt, and if truly a child of God he MUST examine himself? Let’s look.
Many years ago I heard a sermon at a meeting held so the people could hear an evangelist, and he was a sovereign, free grace preacher. This night he was speaking on the Perseverance (or Preservation) of the Saints. He asked, “Are you so sure YOU will persevere?”
He told of an experience to cause us to examine our own hearts. I do not recall whether he was one of the preachers in the account, or if he was recounting the experience of another evangelist. No matter, the truth is still there. The experience was that of a pastor of a church who was holding a “revival” meeting, hoping it would be a revival. So the pastor and and the visiting evangelist went walking throught the neighborhood to invite people to the meeting for the week. They came up on the porch of a man nonchalantly slouched in his chair drinking his beer. Upon giving the invitation for him to come to the meeting, the man replied, “Don’t worry about me, preacher. I was saved when I was eight, and you know what they say, ‘Once saved always saved.”
Though that phrase is true, I hope my reader knows that it is misapplied and misused and false when deceived people use it that have never been “born-again” by the act and work of the sovereign, discriminating Holy Spirit of God.
The evangelist I was listening to, the one preaching on Perseverance, also said, “Most people who claim to be DEAD to sin, have not even been shot at.” So you can fear for that man on the front porch.
As the evangelist continued his story, he said that the evangelist and the pastor went on to another house where one of the members of that church lived. She was a respected and loved sister in that church, but she had not been to church meeting for three weeks. The pastor asked her WHY? What was the problem? She replied, “Oh preacher! I am not worthy to sit in the house of God. One night I spoke very ugly to my husband. How can a real Christian do that?” She went on to express that she was too sinful and unworthy to sit in the house of God.
Then the evangelist I was listening to asked the congregation the question: “Which of those two individuals do you have the most confidence in as being born again, and that will persevere [by God’s preservation] to the end?” The man SHOULD have doubted his salvation; the woman had a right to doubt, but she should have immediately fled to the Lord in in godly sorrow and repentance to receive fresh grace and succor and cleansing. John the apostle says in 1 John 2:1, “Little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin NOT. And if any man sin, WE have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
He continues: “And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” This is NOT saying that Christ covers for the sins of every child of Adam, but John is teaching that Christ is the Advocate not only for those Jews who are believers and followers of the Lord, but that believers in ALL the world, whether Jew or Gentile, find the same Savior to be theirs also. The whole tenor or the New Testament, as well as the Old, bear this out.
But again, John continues: “And hereby we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. . . . He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked. . . . But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.
In the first chapter of the same book of John, he says,
“And these things write we unto you, THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL.” You should know that you cannot experience full joy without assurance! Living in perpetual doubt and believing the child of God can go no further, and making a religion of that LACK of faith, is what will ROB you of joy and peace!
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Then in chapter 3, John says, “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. . . . My little children, let us NOT LOVE IN WORD, neither in tongue, BUT IN DEED AND IN TRUTH. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.”
In chapter 4, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us His Spirit. . . . And we have KNOWN and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
Finally, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother WHOM HE HATH SEEN, how can he love God whom he hath NOT seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
It is no wonder we are instructed to EXAMINE ourselves, whether we be in the faith. When we fall short of such things as John talks about, we SHOULD examine ourselves and renew our faith and confidence by fleeing to Christ Jesus. At such times doubt can be a GOOD thing. But then we should immediately flee to our heavenly Advocate in sorrow and repentance and be cleansed anew, and have renewed fellowship with our Lord and Savior.