ASK BOB: “What advice can you offer a doubting Christian?”

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

 

QUESTION

Mr. Russell,

I am a junior in high shool. Recently, I was talking with my friend, who has grown up in a Christian home, about God and the Bible. He brought up good points about some contradictions in the Bible, the legitimacy of some stories, and the logic behind some things throughout the Bible. All of the points he made were very solid and I am now in a conflicted state. Part of me is thinking about what he said as being true, but the other part of me wants to stand strong in my faith as I have grown up in a Christian household. I want to disregard my friend’s skepticism but must admit it troubles me. Could you pray for my friend and me and also give me advice on what to do?

 

ANSWER

Dear Student,

Your question about the truthfulness of the Bible is a very important one. There is a short list of supposed contradictions in the Scriptures. Most of them are easily explained and are not contradictions at all.  A few are more difficult to answer but I assure you there are answers…you and your friend just need to hear what those answers are.

Since you didn’t specify what contradictions your friend referred to, I can’t be specific in my response. However, let me assure you, there are people much smarter than I who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and there are people smarter than I who reject it.

The Bible claims that, “…all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). It seems to me that most who reject that claim do so not because of intellectual doubt but because of moral doubt. They don’t want to believe the Bible is God’s Word because if it is true they would need to humble themselves and repent of the sin in their life. Jesus said, “Light has come into the world but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

One of the reasons I believe the Bible to be God’s Word is that I have seen it dramatically change lives. It does what it says it will do.  It works!

I have a friend, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, who was living a totally secular, materialistic life as a very successful physician on the East Coast.  But the emptiness of his own life and the chaos in the world troubled him so much he began to investigate various world religions. Late one night, when activity in the ER was slowed, he picked up a Bible in the hospital waiting room and began to read about Jesus. The word of God burned deep into the soul of this brilliant doctor and for days he continued to read and study the Bible.

A few months later Matthew gave his life to Christ, quit his practice, simplified his life and began a dynamic writing and preaching ministry that now is impacting the entire nation. He and his Godly family will testify to the power of God’s Word to transform lives in a positive way.

The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The best way to increase your confidence in the Bible is to read it and study it. People read books about the Bible but what is most needed is simply reading the Bible itself. It rings true!

Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  

Billy Graham said his ministry took on a new anointing when he went to his face before an open Bible and basically said, “Lord, I can’t explain or understand everything in this book, but I accept it as your Word by faith and I will preach it as true.” From that time on he witnessed God’s Word taking root in people’s lives and transforming them in a positive way.

If you feel you need to study some apologetic writings about the Bible, I’d suggest you’d begin with Lee Strobel’s book, A Case For Faith.  Or you may want to read a Christian classic, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Let me know what you think of them.

In the meantime, I will pray for you and your friend. Please remember some of the most ardent followers of Christ went through a period of questioning, including John the Baptist and Thomas. There’s an old saying, “He who never doubted, never thought.” If you’re questioning, you’re in good company as long as you care enough to study and discover God’s truth. I’m confident you will do that.

– Bob Russell

 

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