Doubt can be a hard thing to master. In today’s feedback, CMI’s Lita Cosner provides some biblical principles to help deal with doubt.
My name is Ryan, I’ve asked a few questions before mostly on trivial matters but this is going to be more specific and deeper.
First with my testimony, I was born and raised in a Christian home. I grew up hearing the Bible stories and always desired to live a godly life, I asked Jesus to be my Saviour and Lord probably 100 times while growing up, never sure if He granted my request. In January 2010, I came to an understanding knowledge of what Jesus Christ had done, that He alone had fully satisfied God’s wrath on the cross and that I believed that He died for my sins and I received the cross as God’s satisfactory work for my sins, knowing full well that He rose on the third day because He conquered sin I came to believe that this was the moment of my true conversion.
However over the past 2 years it seems I have been slipping into an increasingly terrifying spiral of doubt and unbelief. It started with the idea that I was going to go on the internet (youtube, specifically) and share the gospel with the unsaved world. well, my plan backfired and the world instead has increasingly been influencing my way of thinking in regard to Textual criticism, evolution, history, science, false Messiah’s (Horus, Mythra, other things on Zeitgeist), etc. I think you know what I’m talking about because I have read all sorts of articles on your website and have other creation magazines. I love your information! But when I try to commit my heart to trust the Lord more and repent of doubt I have all those old idea’s pulling me away. I believe Jesus died and rose again, but I feel like I’m not convinced enough. I am asking just now because I was just recently reading James 1 and it talks about a double-minded man being unstable in all his ways, and my study Bible renders this as an unsaved person, which I would be inclined to agree with.
If double-mindedness is what I am, how can I render my heart back in full conviction to the Lord and if it’s hopeless, then what good is apologetic’s if real true Christians never struggle with their faith?
I trust the Lord will provide you with the answers.
Thanks for writing in.
The first thing we have to establish is that salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It doesn’t depend on us—thank God! If it depended on us, it would never work (our inability to save ourselves is the entire reason Jesus had to come to save us). You say that you had a moment of true conversion—if that’s the case, then that had nothing to do with how ‘good’ you were at believing the right stuff; it’s completely the work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ. I think that should give us tremendous comfort, because if God cared enough about our eternal destiny to send His own Son to give Himself for us, and then for the Holy Spirit to give us a new heart and convert us, how can we think He won’t be faithful to keep us in the faith?
I think many Christians who have thought about their faith have experienced some measure of doubt for a season. The answer is not to create a division between ‘reality’ and ‘religion’—that will not work for the long-term, and it’s not necessary, in any case. I’m going to give you some advice that can help if you really want to be committed to Jesus. However, some create their own spiral of doubt because they don’t want to trust Jesus. I don’t know you, so it would be irresponsible for me to assume that you’re one or the other. If you want to continue spiraling in doubt, you will, and it will eventually lead to outright unbelief. But if you want to get back on firm footing in your faith, I suggest that these are a few steps to start:
Are you in a Bible-believing church? If so, you need to talk to your pastor about these doubts. Can he answer your questions? If not, respectfully I think given your struggles you need to find a new church. The answers are out there, and in your particular case, it’s important that your spiritual leader be able to help you through this process.
Completely stop your interactions with the YouTube sites that are causing you to doubt. Even those of us who are very experienced with dealing with God-haters can feel ‘beat-up’ when we have to deal with them on such a frequent basis. But it can really damage people who are less prepared to handle it.
Instead, spend more time in Scripture and reading sound apologetics material that can help you answer the questions that you have (incidentally, your list of questions is easily answerable). Attend church very regularly. Personally, the only way I’m able to handle the onslaught of skeptical attacks is to spend more time in Scripture and in fellowship at church than I do dealing with God-haters. God gave us Scripture and the Church for a reason, and He never meant for us to practice our faith in isolation from them.
Perhaps most importantly, sometimes one’s prayer life suffers when going through something like this. Don’t let that happen—keep praying.
You say that 3 years ago you came to an understanding of the Gospel and you believed in Jesus for salvation. If you still believe the Gospel is true, and that Jesus is your only hope for salvation, then you are saved regardless of other doubts. Don’t confuse doubt about secondary things with losing your salvation—hold onto the Gospel, and trust that the answers to your questions will be forthcoming as you prayerfully search for them. I hope that this is helpful.
I have been debating on-line since 2008, and initially experienced much the same thing as Ryan. However, after a few years, I would have to say that the opposite is now true.
I would say that my opponents continually try to 'blind me with science' (which is the so-called science which has blinded them)
I therefore like the quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “If you can't explain it simply you don't understand it well enough” and try to keep arguments simple. This works very well when defending Creationism for the Theory of Evolution cannot be explained simply (arguably not at all)
Some, I find become open-minded, and some become silent, so with the help of CMI I feel I am doing some good. However, there are those who have decided that they do not want to believe in God, and they tend to resort to personal attacks which can discourage some. Even that though can be seen as encouragement, especially when considering the words of Margeret Thatcher, which I very much like. "I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single...argument left."
Be certain, Ryan, that the world has no answer, can offer no genuine reason to cause you to doubt.
Israel S., Philippines, 20 April 2013
Beautifully written, and very encouraging. I can relate to Ryan to some extent. Despite having heard of flood geology in my elementary days, over ten years of evolutionary bombardment from the school system and mass media had really gotten to me, and before I found this site, I was very close to reaching a compromise position, because such doubt.
Indeed, meditating in the living word of God does much to help heal doubt. My prayers go out to Ryan, and to you people of CMI, who continue to fight the good fight and run the race.
May the LORD give him comfort, and continue to bless your Ministry!
Yours in Christ,
Raymond B., New Zealand, 21 April 2013
Dear Ryan, I hope I can help. Christ died for our sins and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world. That's a fact. It is a fact of history, it is the good news of the gospel and nothing can change it. Whether you believe it or not, or whether you confess your sins or not does not change the fact, and it is completely irrelevant to your state of mind. So how is it then that men will be lost? Jesus tells us in His description of the work of the Holy Spirit. John 16:8 "And He, (The Spirit) when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;" etc.
Jesus here tells us what the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit is. It is to refuse to believe in Jesus, who He was and what He did. You can't change what Jesus did with your sin, that is set in concrete. But you can refuse to believe it. That is all you can do with Jesus.
So what is going on in your life? "All they that live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer perscution." "You must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of heaven." The enemy's chosen form of torment for you is doubt. And remember from Job, he would not be permitted to do this without permission from God. So, 'Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus.' That's what Jesus told you to do. Look I have written books and papers in defense of the faith and I hear from Jesus every morning, (My sheep hear My voice.) but I still have days of doubt. I have learnt to see through them knowing that tomorrow the Son will shine again. Doubts are feelings, nothing more and nothing less.
Peter N., Australia, 21 April 2013
I fully agree with Lita re churches, Bible study and prayer.
You mentioned Zeitgeist (presumably the film) which was shown to us by a relative a couple of years ago. We watched it a couple of times and I was really surprised by the obvious lies, half truths and deception in it. But if you know your Bible, know your history (both church and other history), then the film is clearly just sensationalist hype that avoids the 'inconvenient' truths which, when known, prove that the film is simply a good yarn stitched together from selected rubbish.
But then, the film only claims to be 'entertainment' - it never claims to be a credible documentary - and it certainly is NOT credible. The 'entertainment' claim is an excuse for the lies, distortions, and misrepresentations presented. After all, why spoil an entertaining story with some inconvenient truths?
It's the old story: To recognise any forgery (e.g. Zeitgeist) spend time becoming thoroughly familiar with the works of the Artist (the Bible and other true history), as well as with the Artist (God the Holy spirit in prayer). That is a good antidote to doubt.
Richard L., United Arab Emirates, 21 April 2013
Dear Ryan, may God give you total victory and joy.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us we risk carrying unnecessary weights as well as actively-impeding sins. The better we detach them from us, the lighter feet we have as we more joyously run the race set before us. Doubts are unnecessary weights, or worse. The Bible tells us how to detach them.
We get rid of false obligation to “hollow deception” (Colossians 2:8). Satan wants us to believe that we have to hold onto doubts to keep intellectual honesty. It’s the other way around. If we don’t detect wrong speculation from human-wisdom authority figures for what it is--**non-compelling** guesswork—we trap ourselves into the toughest prison in the world—false obligation—with our wrongly informed consciences being our cell guards.
That verse tells us to spot the speculation—the “fundamental principles of this world”. The Greek schools of philosophical worldview, mentioned earlier as “philosophy”, all went wrong because of their wrong foundational interpretive presuppositions. **We do keep clean consciences and intellectual honesty while declining non-compelling speculation**. So… ask, “What are the actual hard facts (the direct measurements/observations)? Where do they end? Does the conclusion come only from them or from a speculative add-on?”
We also have to do this investigation prior to seeing if we can fit the claim into the Bible (2 Cor. 10:5), taking this truth-claim captive; and we have to do so with **all** truth claims (1 Thess. 5:21), no matter how strong the sensibility that we don’t have to. Obey the Bible in this, and be liberated! (This is what CMI models.)
murk P., Canada, 21 April 2013
Lita is right - "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" - it is His initiative that saved us - and He will finish what He started (Phil 1:6)
It seems to me that you are certain of your doubt-which i understand from having dealt with that in the past
Do you see the irony?
The people you try to reach must reject certainty - because temporal / spatial beings
(humans) cannot know everything
Yet the denial of certainty is a certainty
God made it so plain for us - Rom 1:19
You must place Him as the starting point for your ability to reason (Prov 1:7)
Reason is a tool - your opponents view it as the ultimate authority
If you start your reasoning with God as the anchor - you cannot reason away from Him
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...Rom 12:2..
Do not live in the futility of their thinking...
you see everyone must have an ultimate authority or the first commandment would make no sense
if the ultimate authority is not God - inconsistency must exist in order to try to reconcile internal tensions in peoples worldview
Why is it that no one can live even a split second
with a contradiction between their belief of reality and their experience ? (Rom 1:19 again)
If you are doubting think about it - investigate if you are certain of your doubt. - if so where does this certainty come from?
certainty can only have one possible source
for no one else is strong enough to guarantee it.
thus all thinking opposed to truth is futile (Eph 4:17 again)
and all this thinking is subject to duplicity (Prov 11:3)
thanks be to God who gave us a spirit of a ....sound mind
work it out brother
Hans G., Australia, 21 April 2013
Right advise from Lita, trust in the Holy Spirit, He always let you know if the spirit is from the Father you are confronting.
Also it can help to go back to Genesis where can clearly be seen the roots of human behavior; lust, deception, lies, doubt, envy, pride, selfish etc.
I for my part love to take the mockers and scoffers on because I know I got the truth and I know they are wrong. Their field day last only as long as they live and I let them know this.
It might not directly the line CMI takes but I can't go against the powerful delusion God sent them
Robert S., Australia, 21 April 2013
There is no Christian that does not go through a period of doubt/unbelief at some stage, because doubt is inborn in all of us.
"The art of doubting is easy, for it is an ability that is born with us; we derive it from our parents"*
When doubt arises, fight it.
"We must constantly fight against doubt and unbelief, so great and difficult a matter is faith"*
And we should not be shy when it comes to getting our share of grace.
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16
Christ understands what is going on because he has been there himself.
"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15
The verses of John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8, 9 state that the work of redemption has already been organised and completed by God on our behalf and for his glory.
Our salvation is not subject to our own wills but to God’s will alone, which is just as well, given our weaknesses.
"But now that God has put salvation out of the control of my own will and put it under the control of his, and has promised to save me, not according to my effort or running, but according to his own grace and mercy, I rest fully assured that he is faithful and will not lie to me, and that moreover he is great and powerful, so that no devils and no adversities can destroy him or pluck me out of his hand [“…neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28]. I am certain that I please God, not by the merit of my works, but by reason of his merciful favour promised to me... This is the glorying which the saints have in their God."*
Chandrasekaran M., Australia, 21 April 2013
Ryan’s struggle in his mind (ie self-talk) is a good sign in the sense that the new man (ie the last Adam - Jesus’ nature) is alive and that there is a struggle between the new man and the old man (ie the first Adam’s fallen nature).
We receive the new man as free gift only by believing in the Lord Jesus and accepting Him as the only saviour. When we receive the new man, though the old man is crucified, the old man is still not fully dead.
As Lita mentioned, as we walk with the Lord Jesus in our day to day life, the new man should increase and the old man should decrease in every walk of our life. For 2 Peter 1:3 says "... His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."
John L., Australia, 21 April 2013
Ryan, the problem between us and God is our sin. God solved the problem by sending Jesus to pay for our sins by dying on the cross. let me tell you my own story, Ryan. As a young man never having heared the Gospel clearly proclaimed, I became aware of my sinfullness. At first I couldn't confess my sins to God because I felt that if I did he would never speak to me again! Eventually, though, I plucked up the courage and poured it all out to him. At the same time I offered him the rest of my life to do his will. He forgave me just like the Father and the prodigal son in the Bible. God does not play "hard to get" with us sinners who come to him. After all, he is the one who made the way for us. It was his idea. Jesus said "him who comes to me I will not cast out". Now logically, if he does not cast us out, he takes us in. You have to decide what to put your faith in. Will you trust in your feelings or in what God has said? Ryan, just trust him to be the God he says he is. And when it is hard to trust, just trust him anyway. Repent, confess, trust. Give yourself a score out of ten on each of these points. I'll be praying for you.
Glenf H., United States, 21 April 2013
This may be a little blunt for CMI to print, but it sounds as though all this person needs is some more in depth information and training in the why's and wherefore's of Christianity. While you cannot educate the wrong out of someone, or argue them into Christianity if they truly wish to resist it, someone who genuinely is open to the truth will see it when it is presented. I have been on the net for some time discussing such matters with atheists/evolutionists, and all that they have managed to convince me of is how incredibly naive, contradictory, illogical, and unreasonable such a worldview is. I never ceased to be amazed at the convoluted acrobatics, the mental gymnastics they are willing to go through to remain delusionally convinced that they are right. Website such as CMI, ICR, AIG, Tektonics, and Apologetics Press more than provide enough information to answer the level of what atheists/evolutionists have to offer. And of course learning how to apply a straightforward reading of your Bible is extremely helpful. No need to worry, even if you do not have an immediate answer, prayer and a little research will generally get you where you need to be as far as finding the truth. Do not fear the atheist/evolutionist. From what I have seen, though they may at times they may talk a good game, in the end it amounts to just so much wind and noise...they have nothing but the emptiness that is the inescapable conclusion to that worldview. Their outright ludicrous arguments lead nowhere...but the dedicated atheist will never admit it.
M. A., Canada, 21 April 2013
The writer said that he 'asked Jesus to be his Saviour probably 100 times'. That's a problem! Salvation is a GIFT and you don't ask for a gift. The Bible says to BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus, no asking, no praying, just understanding that one is a sinner in need of salvation and believing that the Lord Jesus paid it all: 'it is finished' is a beautiful, comforting sentence, especially when doubts arise.
A. R., United Kingdom, 21 April 2013
As usual, Lita has offered some very helpful advice. As she says, even seasoned apologists can get down if they spend too much time reading and listening to sceptical materials.
It's vitally important to keep yourself grounded in God's word. I'd spend time completely away from YouTube - in fact, some of the comments on there are so poisonous that it's probably not the best place to try to witness. Take time to read your Bible, pray, speak with mature Christians who will give you support and guidance, read some good books, - the important thing is to get back fully in touch with God. Remember that it's a relationship, and relationships need to be maintained. Then read some good apologetics material (or watch some videos), but make sure you keep up your relationship with God.
When you feel ready to go back to witnessing on the Internet, remember that you are to witness in God's power, not your own. Ask your friends to pray for you. When you see a sceptic posting or video, look at it critically. Ask "How do they know that?", and look to see if the writer or producer has got their info from reliable sources (often they haven't), or if they've made logical leaps based on unfounded assumptions (very common). Often, their arguments sound a lot less persuasive when you've looked at them logically and biblically. A good apologetics book will help with this.
Don't feel the need to answer straight away - go and look at sites like this for helpful info. And pray for wisdom to answer wisely. Another thing is to hone your apologetics skills on a site like Creation Conversations, where you will have support from folk who hold similar positions.
Remember that the point is to win souls, not arguments. And once again, keep yourself well spiritually nourished!
Randy S., United States, 21 April 2013
The human heart is evil. Why even trust your doubts? If you have met the Lord, you will not soon doubt him. You may actually be struggling with ‘denial’. That is hideous. Do not go through with it. The human heart protects whatever it loves and cherishes. Do you cherish the Lord? If yes, you will not doubt nor deny him. So overwhelming will your love and devotion for him be that you will hate yourself for even a stray thought to the contrary. Why care what science says, or professors, or friends/peers? It could only be because you love yourself more than him. You know him and believe him because you have met him. You know the Word he has given you it true. Let the world go their way to perdition. You follow your Lord. Go with him to the end. But don’t forget your cross. It doesn’t work without that instrument of mockery, cruelty, death. So what is it? Are you going to deny him? Decide today. Do not wait. Today, determine to be ‘in’ and not ‘out’. And this time, never look back.
David D P., South Africa, 21 April 2013
Well done, Lita. Your comments are good, clear and straightforward guidance. Doubts can be extremely destructive - can one consider any "better" example of doubt being destructive than Eve way back in the Garden of Eden?
Lee H., United States, 21 April 2013
May I add to Lita's list of suggestions for "Dealing with doubt"? It is this: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem..." Psalm 122:6.
Jesus himself longs for the peace of Jerusalem in Matt 23:37 and in verse 39 He explains that His Second Coming is directly tied to the people of Jerusalem (i.e. Jews) accepting him as Messiah (verse 39).
Find and participate in a prayer/study group mission-focused on the peace of Jerusalem and the turning of the hearts of its people towards their Messiah.
Do this and you will be blessed and strengthened and draw closer to God.
John C., United States, 21 April 2013
Well spoken, Miss Cosner!
Perhaps my testimony may shed some interesting light off the facets of this subject:
Before coming to Kentucky I was involved in an active prison ministry. I found that most of my time was spent helping men realize that God took their earlier confessions of Christ seriously, and that if they had done what the Bible had said, they were saved as the Bible had promised!
The overwhelming majority of these men lost confidence in Christ when their educations led them to lose confidence in Creation--so much so that I started dedicating a portion of my time with them (a sound byte really) to Creation Topics. It was enormously gratifying to see the lights go on in these men's eyes, as well as a little righteous indignation at the way they had been lied to. Many of them rededicated their lives to Christ, and to my understanding, are serving Him outside the walls as well.
Keep your work going, you are filling an enormous gap in the church's need to spread the truth! Thank you for re-assuring this person's heart!
P. G., United States, 21 April 2013
When our Lord Jesus taught some spiritual things to his followers many of them turned away and followed him no more. He asked the other disciples if they also were going to leave. Their response was "Where else would we go? Only you have the words of life." That answer is as true today as it was 2000 years ago. Follow Jesus because he is the way, the truth, and the life. The people and ideas trying to lead you away pretend to have answers, but consider their end is eternal destruction.
Briefly a few additional points: 1)Not everyone is called to every ministry, as brother Paul said when discussing gifts of the Holy Spirit. The "God-haters" as Ms. Cosner accurately described them, are not "the unsaved world" to whom one might be called to preach the gospel. They have heard the gospel and rejected it. Remember what Paul and Barnabas did when the gospel they preached was rejected - they went to others who would hear it.
2) The apostle Paul wrote that we should think on things that are pure and true and honest and virtuous and of good report. So do this.
3) As Ms. Cosner said, salvation is of God, and faith itself is a gift of God. He told us that if we ask for more of the Holy Spirit, he will give us liberally. So be diligent to give thanks to God for the faith he has given you. Be diligent to ask him for more of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and for more wisdom, and more faith.
4) Don't try to finish in the flesh what you started in the spirit. Wisdom of men is foolishness to God. He will certainly humble those who are exalting themselves against him.
Finally, if possible read God's word every single day of your life. If your time is your treasure, put it where you want your heart to be.
B. O., Canada, 21 April 2013
Dear Ryan. I would like to encourage you in those times to think, "What will I lose if I reject God? Do I want to pay that price?" I came from a religious cult and spent years repairing and healing. I know what doubt can do to a person. Lita's advice is very good. God bless you and keep you. Keep going to His well. He will fill you and deepen your desire to know Him. Let God deal with the doubters. It's not worth it to lose what you have gained.
Pat G., United States, 22 April 2013
I would like to add some suggestions to the excellent ones Lita Cosner has given you.
I had a friend (whom I suspect is with the Lord now) who told me once that she knew a Christian woman who was always happy and full of joy, but she didn't feel it. I told her that salvation isn't a matter of emotion. It is a matter of God saving us, regardless of our emotions. I told her don't feel you have turned your back on God if you don't feel joy all the time. Jesus said for us to take up our cross and follow Him. That implies that we will experience suffering, and that can include emotional suffering. But God is faithful to cleanse us of all sin. He paid an infinite price for each one of us, and no one can pluck us out of His hand. Remember the prayer, "Lord I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." Pray that prayer. When you find yourself experiencing doubts, pray to God, and tell Him that you are having doubts, and your heart doesn't even WANT to set aside your doubts, so He will have to help you.
You were saved when Jesus died on the cross. You were chosen from the foundation of the world. Your destiny is certain. In looking for a church, find one where the pastor preaches the basic Gospel message in every sermon. If you don't hear that, they have their focus on the wrong things. Look for a church where there is deep doctrine in the hymns and songs. Altar calls are irrelevant, by the way, because the Holy Spirit causes our faith to begin with. We can't make the first move. The basic Gospel message is that God gave us the law to show us that we are sinners, but Jesus died on the cross, and lived the perfect life on our behalf, and if we accept this and yield to Him, we are saved, without adding anything at all.
Pat G., United States, 22 April 2013
Never decide that we can help in our salvation in any way. Saving us is God's job, and God condemns the blasphemy of us trying to do His work. Works are instigated by the Holy Spirit and are a RESPONSE to saving faith. We do good works in gratitude for our salvation, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Jesus saved us completely. It is finished. May the Lord bless you with the peace that passes all understanding and keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Jared R., United States, 22 April 2013
Lita is right on about with her advice about staying off of You Tube. I have tried some of the same tactics that you have in the past. What you must understand, is for the folks out there in hyper-space don't care about the facts. If Jesus revealed himself to them, they would still reject him. They do not want to be held accountable to a higher power. They reject anything except themselves. Don't be discouraged, we have science and more importantly an empty grave on our side. Thank You CMI and God Bless
Steve C., United Kingdom, 22 April 2013
Thank you for the sound reply to that young person's concerns about doubt. I think there is a terrible onslaught against the Church in these social network sites which I realise can attack people when they are lonely.
I would recommend a thorough engagement with apologetics and to ignore some postings from militant atheists which are just misleading and don't even have a very sound basis for argument. I lead an apologetics group at my church in England and it gives a good basis for seeing where some opponents of the faith are coming from and why they are wrong from the outset. (We UK Christians LOVE Richard Dawkins, he gives us so much ammunition!)
Another thing I have been considering is that a lot of doubt and unbelief is about how we feel, not what we think. Obviously correct thinking is paramount, but I think we underplay emotions. The driving force of what we do should be governed by our love for the LORD – including apologetics. (I teach Art History and I am beginning to think that our current culture is not as influenced by the Enlightenment as it claims, it is far more influenced by Romanticism and Rousseau's dictum: "I feel therefor I am". During the Enlightenment theists were able to hold their own intellectually).
I pray everyday for your work and that you will go on being filled with the Spirit of God.
Francis R., Zimbabwe, 22 April 2013
Very good advice, Lita. If I may weigh in with my two cents worth?
Ryan, read Matt 13:1-23. Then take a step back and try to identify within which category you stand in regard to receiving of the Word? I would classify you as “rocky ground”. In that case you definitely need to prepare your heart to not just receive the word for a short time but for that very Word to grow and develop within you. Once it is firmly rooted within you only then will you be able to withstand the onslaught of worldly wisdom. Your desire to share the gospel is most commendable but you were not sufficiently prepared for this. No army sends fresh recruits into battle but first trains them so that they are fully equipped in the knowledge of weapons and tactics. You need to prepare yourself in similar fashion.
To this end, as Lita advised, attend church regularly, especially Bible study classes. I would go one step further and say determine your pastor’s/minister’s stance on creation and Genesis. Is he a theistic evolutionist? If so, immediately seek a Bible-believing church that believes in biblical creationism (i.e. that God created in six ordinary 24 hour periods of time, Adam and Eve were the first humans on earth, and through their sin death came into this world). But above all read your Bible (preferably a word-for-word/literal translation) and allow the Holy Spirit to give you understanding of what you are reading. Discuss what you read with other members of your congregation (or other believers) so that you may gauge your level of understanding and progress.
May God bless you and nurture you into a strong, steadfast believer. (And keep reading articles from CMI and other creationist sites – they will add strength to your faith)
F. G., United States, 22 April 2013
I would add that Ryan needs to keep in mind that there will always be people giving contradictory and dishonest "information." It will always be people who aren't submitting to Biblical values (such as "you shall not bear false witness") who are being dishonest, and yet they will generally try hard to do so with the superficial appearance of honesty and authority. Perhaps Ryan needs to pray for the ability to discern when "information" with the appearance of being convincing or authoritative is in fact false or misleading.
GARETH H., United Kingdom, 22 April 2013
Good advice Lita.
I would also add, read one article a day from creation.com. That way over time you will build up a sound knowledge base, from which to counter every false arguement you come across. Always remember Satans only tool is deception, his aim is to keep us from the truth.
Josef L., United States, 22 April 2013
what do you think of 1 Pet 3:15 in regards to answering internet skeptics? I know online debates can really drag on. But the problem is, I always feel like I should say something if the skeptic has responded; otherwise I feel like I wouldn't be following 1 Pet 3:15 and I'd be afraid that observers who are earnestly seeking might think that the skeptic's argument is unanswerable. So how do you draw the line of when enough is enough?
Also, speaking of 1 Pet 3:15 (while I'm on the topic), I know some Christians that can't handle debate because it makes them tense. That is some people just aren't good with confrontation at any level. How do you feel that those Christians should handle skeptics if confronted online or I guess in real life?
Lita Cosner responds
Peter had in mind people who would see the Christian's conduct in daily life--so it applies to coworkers, friends, non-believing family, etc. But I don't know if it applies to a random Internet person who we don't really know. Also, it says "to anyone who asks you"--how many Internet skeptics are genuinely asking as opposed to trying to wreck the faith of anyone they encounter? I believe there is a place for putting these sorts of people in their place (respectfully, of course), but I don't know if 1 Peter is where I'd turn to find the justification for it.
I think the general principles I gave in the reply to Ryan apply in any such case. If you feel called to 'do battle' with atheists on the Internet, make sure your own 'spiritual batteries' stay charged with plenty of prayer, Scripture, and Christian fellowship, and stop the debates if they start to hinder your own faith.
John G., United States, 22 April 2013
My Name is John & I have been a Christian for
over 50 years. EVERY Christian at times has doubts. That is our nature. Through the years,
the wolrd system, ruled by Satan & his helpers,
will attack you mind. This battle will end with the return of Christ or your personal death which
brings you into the real presence of Jesus in Glory. Remember! Glory is the destination of ALL
believers. Believers are Kept, sealed, & delivered
by God the Holy Spirit. The world, with its system
of thought, is led by Satan. His war is with our minds, & he is real. Pray. When Any doubt concerning the truth & love of God for you enters your thoughts, take these doubts to the cross &
lay them there. Our Lord will show you the EMPTY TOMB against which there IS NO defense.
Christ is REAL & He lives within you! The relationship that you NOW have with Him is the
most important thing in you life. Work at strengthening that relationship! When individuals,
situations, thoughts come to you share them with
your ressurrected Lord!
Count the cost! If you ARE wrong about
being a Christian, make a list of ALL that you will
loose. If Christ is not risen & He is NOT our Lord,
where do those ideas put us? We die, we go into
nothingness! THAT IS WHAT SATAN & THE WORLD TEACHES. Let the indwelling Christ speak to your spirit. Give him your doubts & rejoice in the Fact that you are a co-heir with Him destined for Glory!
It is NOT the amount of ypur faith that you have, it is in WHOM you place that faith.
If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, & have believed the Goodnews about Him,
you are a Chritsian! Rejoice! Do not continue with doubts! Rejoicing in Christ will lift you up,
bring you into His Presense, calm your doubts.
Thomas K., United States, 24 April 2013
I can completely understand your struggle with doubt, having gone through it myself over a decade ago. The key to getting out of your painful situation is to study through all of the relevant evidences. Faith is not blind belief and God does not ask us to have faith without evidence. To the contrary, He's given the evidence of creation to demonstrate His existence, His 'eternal power and divine nature' (Romans 1:20). Extended study of creation science--in other words, study of the actual, observable facts, not just evolutionary (mis)interpretations--will eventually restore a firm conviction of the Creator's existence. Regarding Biblical inspiration, a extended study of fulfilled prophecy will restore your confidence that the Bible is uniquely God's word. Along the way, history and archaeology will provide the necessary evidence to roughly date the manuscripts and affirm the historicity of the accounts. Those are your three steps: Creation science; historicity of the Bible; fulfilled prophecy. It took me years to work through it all, but it was worth it. You've been given some good advice in Lita Cosner's article and some of the comments; a sound church is very important and regular Bible reading is vital. But your doubts must be addressed by careful, thorough study of the evidence which God has made available to us.
L. K., Ukraine, 24 April 2013
Dear Ryan, just hold on! I believe that we all can have doubts sometimes... I'd like to share my own experience... Well, sometimes (that's when I feel depressed, weak and most miserable, and mostly that's when I start feeling sorry for myself) ideas like these visit my mind, "What if all that I believe is not true? What if this evolution is true? What if there's no God and everything I've experienced before is a mere deception?" And these are the moments when I feel most frustrated, lonely, but then I recall that God needs my faith, I should have that faith, no matter what, and God will help me, and then I just think, "I'll hold on to Jesus, I'll hold on this saving Truth, no matter what," and in a while God calms my spirit... And that's when I again can see the foolishness of the idea that this world, which in the bondage of destruction and death but yet so wondrous, arose by itself... For so many things in it proclaim the love and glory of the Father!
Well, it's just that I've never seen the Father, but when I'm sincere in my prayers, I feel He's there to listen... Dear Ryan, He's here, He'll hold you and He won't let you go, unless you want to leave Him. We can stumble, do wrong things, but we should be sincere with God and never stop believing in Christ and His Sacrifice...
Denese K., South Africa, 26 April 2013
Dear Ryan, My own testimony starts out exactly like yours. May I share some of what I have learned:-
Not all doubt is bad, but what you choose to do with it matters. Doubt is prompted by the Holy Spirit when we need to change, but by the Deceiver when we need to stay right where we are. Doubt saved me from the unbiblical beliefs of the denomination that I was raised in. I encourage you to ask questions of any and everyone who will listen, and sift through their responses. You mention specifically: “I believe Jesus died and rose again, but I feel like I’m not convinced enough.” Pester people in your church circle to help you grasp a fuller understanding of that issue. Remember, Jesus said; "Ask, Seek, Knock!" There will come a point of understanding where the puzzle pieces lock in place so beautifully that doubt will not return. Use the same approach every time a new question or doubt comes up (and they will!). And be prepared to act, according to where the Truth leads you.
Prayer is surely the most important action to take, coupled with committed reading of scripture. Specific prayers that helped me were: 1) To ask God to reveal His will; 2) To pray earnestly to not be deceived; and 3) To pray for Wisdom, as Solomon did. Then trust God to answer your prayers accordingly. You will be astounded at how answers are suddenly revealed to you with new understanding that can only be the Holy Spirit illuminating them for you. This will come from Scripture that you read and simple, straightforward answers from people you ask. Expect to go on a journey of discovery. When the answers line up with what you've been praying for, you will have an incredible testimony!
Geoff C. W., Australia, 3 May 2013
On the matter of online discussions, I wonder if it wouldn't be best for Christians to do so in groups of at least two. I can see a number of advantages in this: combined wisdom in responses, supporting and praying for each other, having God in the midst (two or three gathering in His name), and barbs from the enemy not so effective, as there would be more than one target (who is the enemy aiming at?)
I haven't tried this. Has anyone?