We have been talking about doubt and faith. How God has made it so that our faith in Him is based upon reasonable conclusions – but He has always left a shadow of doubt. In fact, we could even say that God has built this into the very framework of what He wanted this world to be.
Why? Because faith is a choice… between trusting in God or trusting in something or someone else. He gives us enough (ample!) evidence for His Presence and His Nature, but stops short of making His Presence and Nature undeniable. He leaves it to us to choose to believe in Him… or not to believe.
But there are always consequences for our choices. Both positive and negative.
Have you ever heard of Charles Templeton? How about Billy Graham? Back in the 1940’s Templeton and Graham were contemporaries. Friends. Companions. And both were on the cutting edge of the new evangelistic movement.
Many have said that Templeton was the brighter star – that if he had continued down the same path as Graham, we may have never heard of Billy Graham. He was that gifted. That versatile. That dynamic. That influential. That effective.
But there came a crisis moment, for both men, where they needed to make a choice about the course of their lives.
At about that time, the Bible was beginning to come under increasing criticism. Textual scholars, archaeologists, and some in the arena of science were casting huge doubts on the veracity of the Bible. The pressure was building as “learned” conclusions were being formed… “the Bible was not really the Word of God, but rather, the work of men. A great literary work… but certainly not a gift from a divine Creator. And most definitely NOT the authoritative proclamation for our daily lives.”
Both Templeton and Graham wrestled with these “findings.” Both men sought to stand for truth – and if the Bible was only the work of men… it should be exposed as such.
Recently, I watched a documentary about Graham’s solution to all this questioning. It was to seek God, out in the woods. After much soul-searching and wrestling with his doubts, he took his Bible, laid it on the stump of a tree and made his choice.
In spite of all the modern voices, he would take his stand on the One Voice Who was assuring his heart. He would declare the whole Bible to be wholly true and it would be his sole source of authority.
As most of you know, the hallmark of Billy Graham’s messages was a simple statement that he declared time and time again: “The Bible says…” And millions of people through the years have heard and responded to his words.
As for Templeton? He chose the other path. He allowed his doubts to fill him with unrest. He chose to believe in what the doubters were declaring rather than taking God at His Word. Later, he renounced his faith in Christ. His autobiography recounted his struggle with faith and doubt – and how he could no longer believe in the God of the Bible.
These two men give us a striking illustration of the importance of choosing to live by faith, rather than by the voices of doubt.
There will always be voices to attack the Word of God (it all began with a serpent in the Garden!) to undermine its authority over our lives.
The Bible is a timeless Book – as relevant to our lives now as it was centuries ago (oh, and by the way, all the “learned” conclusions raised in the 40’s have all been disproven).
I agree with the apostle’s conclusion: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2Tim. 3:16)
The only real question is… will we choose to place our faith in it?