I know of only one person who I believed was being used by God significantly who had not been though some sort of faith crisis that caused them to doubt their beliefs at their deepest level . . . I am getting ahead of myself.

As many of you are aware, I deal with many people who are doubting their faith. To be more specific, these are Christians who are going through some sort of faith crisis where they no longer believe with the simplicity that characterized their belief before. This is becoming increasingly common in a world where sheltered or isolated beliefs are not only impractical, but a thing of the past (and this is good!).

However, most of us really don’t know how to deal with this. We don’t know how to deal with it when it comes to our own doubts, much less other peoples’!

At the risk of presenting a bit of a caricature, let me give some tongue-in-cheek ways in which various theological systems deal with Christians who are going through such a crisis of faith:

Baptists: They are still saved, no matter where their doubts take them. They just need renewed assurance.

Calvinists: They were never saved to begin with. They need to have the Gospel presented to them.

Charismatics: They are demon-possessed. They need to have an exorcism.

Arminians: They are in the process of losing their salvation. They need to stop sinning or be argued back into the faith.

I don’t know if I agree or (necessarily) disagree with any of these options. What I would disagree with is that we can address these situations with a neat, one-size-fits-all response to individuals in crisis.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, but I thought I would try to give some points of advice not to those who are in the middle of this faith crisis, but to those who are seeking to help those whom they love through this crisis in a positive way.

1. Have mercy on them.

Jude 22 is a verse that is quite neglected. It says for us to “have mercy on some who are doubting.” If we don’t approach people with genuine mercy and love, we cannot expect to be Christ for them in what might very well be the biggest struggle they have ever faced.

One of the things I have been exposed to since “entering” the ministry to those who are doubting is how traumatic this time of life truly is for them. If you have never been through it, it will be extremely difficult for you to understand. In fact, the default position for many of us is to judge and condemn those who are doubting. When someone’s doubts are not processed properly, and all they find is condemnation and judgement from the community of faith, this intensifies and prolongs the problem. You would not believe how many Christians who are going through this crisis are seriously considering suicide. From their perspective, their entire worldview is collapsing beneath them.

I won’t get too much into the story, but I have been through this crisis at the deepest level. It nearly killed me. Simply to have someone there having mercy on me, being there for me, not waiting for the other shoe to drop, but in full support and love was so important. Those in doubt need to know that you are not ever going to leave or forsake them. That is being Christ to them (Heb. 13:5). Be as understanding as you can even if you have not been through this.

2. Realize that these are often the birth pangs of deepened faith

I almost put “these are the birth pangs of true faith,” but that is saying too much. You see, when we are children, we receive our faith from our parents in a mediated way. This does not mean that this faith is not true, but for the most part, it is untested. It is the trials, temptations, and suffering of life that test our faith (Job; Rom. 5:3-4; Luke 8:5-15; Jam. 1:3).

For those of us with children who are going through this, we cannot panic . . . please don’t panic. Yes, it is incredibly difficult to watch your child (or friends or loved ones) go through this. Just like when your child is hurt, you want so much to endure their pain in their stead. When our children are going through a faith crisis, we want God to shift the burden to our shoulders. I will talk about how we can bear this burden with them, but we cannot (and should not want to) bear this burden for them. Our faith must be tested if it is to grow. Periodic faith struggles are the norm of the Christian life. When I am at my best, I worry most for those who have never been through any faith crisis. To me, this normally means they don’t take their faith too seriously. But for those who do take their faith seriously, the crisis is sure to come. And to those whom God is going to use in a particular way, the crisis will be more particular.

Whether it is an intellectual, emotional, or spiritual difficulty, we must realize that God uses these trials to deepen faith. In this, while we don’t like to see loved ones in pain, we can rejoice in what God may be doing through this time.

3. Be ready, but don’t manufacture answers

The last thing those in the throes of crisis need are manufactured, cliché answers. In fact, these will almost always make the crisis worse. People normally go through these trials because they are thinking deeply about their faith. They are critically examining it, possibly for the first time. Sound-bite answers from us only reinforce a naive picture of faith. People in crisis have a new ability to tell if you are being fake, even when you don’t know it yourself.

Be ready. Be honest about your faith. Enter into the crisis with them and find answers together.

I remember when my mother had her ruptured brain aneurysm at age 56. This came just on the heels of my sister’s death. We were all at the hospital groping for hope and wondering why God was attacking us (as we saw it) in such a way. My little sister was in the deepest crisis of us all. When my cousin came in to offer spiritual support, he said this: “While the pain you are going through is bad, you have to remember that God lost his own son.” My sister would have none of it. She responded without hesitation, “Yeah, but at least he got his son back after three days.” Now, my cousin could have stuck to his guns and continued to promote the validity of his wisdom, but he did not. He joined with my sister and said, “By God, I never thought of that.” He then remained silent. That meant a lot. It meant that he was not just trying to offer advice that he had never thought through himself, but he was willing to shoulder the burden that unexpected difficulties bring to our faith.

4. Help them to focus on the things that make or break their faith

Often, during this faith crisis, it is not just a room getting rearranged or a bathroom remodeled, it is as if the entire structure is falling down. It could be something as small as someone at school ridiculing them for believing that a donkey talked, a discovered discrepancy in what Christ said in Matthew compared to Mark, or a science class presentation on the theory of evolution (none of which affect any issues foundational to our faith). However, for those who have never been prepared for these challenges, they can not discriminate between essentials and non-essentials. For many, everything is an essential. Their theology is a house of cards. Once one card falls, no matter how small, the entire house comes tumbling down.

I remember when I had an existential crisis in the mid-nineties. It was over tongues. I grew up as a hard cessationist, believing that the gift of tongues ceased in the first century (I am still a cessationist). The way I was taught was that if someone speaks in tongues today, they are demon-possessed. There was simply no question about it. I was as sure (emotionally) about this as I was anything. Why? Because that is what I was taught and no one ever told me there were other options, much less other legitimate options. When I read Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, I was thrown into a mini-crisis for two reasons (even though I was not close to becoming charismatic): 1) I could not work into my practical theology the idea that Jack Deere – who, though a tongue-speaking charismatic, believed just about everything else I did concerning Christ – could be demon-possessed; and 2) I wondered why I was misled (from my perspective) for so long into thinking that all tongue-speakers were demon-possessed. My thought was, if I trusted my former teachers for so much (and they seemed so certain), what other things were they wrong about? Christ’s resurrection? The Bible’s authority? The Baptist way? But the issue of tongues is certainly not an essential issue. Why should the entire house fall when this card is taken away?

As people go through this crisis, we can do much to lessen the its effects if we can help those going through it gain some perspective. Someone may be questioning the legitimacy of their belief in the rapture, whether or not the Apocrypha is part of the canon, if Hell is eternal, if God changes his mind, whether Christ can work through other religions, or whether the Bible is inerrant or not. These are all important issues, but not foundational issues. Where you land on these issues does not speak to the ultimate truthfulness of the Christian faith.

Whether the crisis of faith is brought about due to intellectual or emotional reasons, it will help to encourage people to look to core issues of the faith and then move out from there. I think the core issue of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Christ. All dominoes fall from there. It is also the easiest to rest our intellectual heads on. I have yet to meet someone who was going through a prolonged crisis of faith who was well established in the historicity of Christ’s resurrection.

5. Encourage them to live according to the faith they still have

Doubt is not unbelief. Doubt is the bridge that moves our current faith to perfect faith. That bridge will always be there until death (or until Christ comes). However, those who are going through a faith crisis don’t naturally see things this way. Once doubt comes in and infects their life on a conscious level, they interpret it as outright unbelief. They don’t know how else to process it. They think that they are on an inevitable road to complete unbelief. Unfortunately, because they think this way and because many Christians treat them as if they had the plague, they begin to immediately live as unbelievers. If sin were not the instigating problem before, it definitely becomes the chronic problem now. It is important for those who are struggling with doubt to not let their doubt influence their lives to a point that they start living as if they are unbelievers. Encourage the doubter to continue to live as a Christian, even if they don’t feel like one anymore.

6. Realize that there is no timetable here

Each person is unique. Just like with depression, the faith crisis has no timetable. For some people, due to personality and life circumstances, their crisis will last a very long time. The more contemplative (and compulsive) might suffer with this intermittently for their entire lives. I know that is a long time to teeter on the edge of unbelief, but this is sometimes God’s method. Who knows how long Job was in his faith-defining crisis? One thing is for sure: it was not an overnight thing. So be patient. Join with the doubting in prayer for as long as it takes. Be kind, knowing that such problems are not uncommon to man.

7. Help people work through their sin

I saved this one for last intentionally. Normally, this is the first place that Christians go when a loved one is going through this crisis. The reason why people jump to this conclusion is hard to know, but I think it helps us to mentally put doubt into a discernible box. It also helps us to find a quick solution. “Oh, you are doubting your faith. Okay, then quit sinning. Next!!” As I have said before, the problem is not always this simple, but sometimes it is. Personal sin is a faith drainer. We cannot live in disobedience to God for too long without it taking a significant toll on our faith. Many times people experience a faith crisis because there is some deliberate sin that they are not dealing with.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that there is hardly a sin that is not deliberate. And we are all sinners. Therefore, we are all in deliberate sin. But God deals with us in different ways. Some sins, in order for us to stay in them, take a toll on our mind and worldview as we attempt to justify them. For example, a Christian living in homosexuality is one thing. This is a definite sin and will take its toll in many ways. But a Christian living in homosexuality and trying to justify this biblically is another thing. The toll here is not only a moral, social, and physical one, but one that corrupts the mind. The mental gymnastics required to make the Bible subjective enough to justify homosexual behavior are not going to remain isolated to this issue alone. Sooner or later, the mental paradigm that was created to make one sin viable will corrupt everything else.

In short, if there is something that we know we are supposed to be doing and we are not doing it, but instead justifying our behavior, doubt will soon spread and the crisis of faith will be hard to overcome. We need to gently ask these types of questions when the time is right. Simply accusing people of some deep-rooted personal sin right from the gun can be judgemental, embarrassing, and will not promote welcoming ears. Ask if there is any sin that they know of which might be causing this. If they say no and there is nothing that you know of which is sure to be the cause (for don’t we all know of some sin in the lives of loved ones), then don’t push this issue. You can return to it periodically when the crisis is not over and faith has not been restored.

Conclusion

Though a Calvinist, it should be obvious that I am not interested in the, “Was this person ever really saved to begin with?” question. It is an important theological question, but does not practically have any relevance here. I treat those who confess the faith as believers and work from there. I also treat each individual as if this person can truly lose their faith. After all, there is a faith that does not save and we need to hold this out as a real option. We may eventually find out that this person was not a believer, but we should cross that bridge when it becomes evident to all parties.

I am a perpetual doubter and am learning to live with it.  I don’t rejoice in my doubt and don’t really wish it upon anyone else. However, I have come to realize that it almost always makes my faith stronger in the end so long as I am not apathetic about it.

Back to where I started: I knew of one person who I believed was being used by God significantly that had not been though some sort of faith crisis that caused them to doubt their beliefs at the deepest level. Every other believer that has been of significant influence in my life has their “story.” Though not every one of them is confident enough to make their crisis known, I always make it a point to try to bring it out of them. I just figure it is there and under the right circumstances they will feel comfortable enough to share it. This has always been the case, save this one person. I just held out that this person was some sort of anomaly. He was an example of someone who either was so strong in the faith that doubt could never affect him, or one whom God was content not to put through such a trial. However, this changed one year ago, as this pastor went through his own crisis of doubt. He now has his “story” too. I believe that everyone who is used of God significantly will have their story. So take heart.

I hope this has been helpful. Soon I will write to parents about how to prepare for and prevent this type of faith crisis in their children. There is no way to prevent the trials, but there are definite things we can do ensure that our children do not sink into the depths of despair while their faith is growing.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    30 replies to "Dealing with the Doubting: How to Have Mercy on Loved Ones Who Are Doubting their Faith"

    • Sarah

      You cannot know how much of a blessing this website has become to me in the past couple of days. I read the posts and think, “Me. Me. That’s me. Uh-huh. Yes. Yep. Me again.” Just knowing that there are faithful Christians who have gone through this makes the trial easier to bear. I thought I was all alone in this, but now that I know I’m not, I am content to make the journey as God has willed for me. I have doubts right now, but I take comfort in Christ’s words in John 20—“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

      I pull myself up by my baptism, as Rich Lusk says, and remember who I am. Not who I feel like, but who I am. I am a child of God. He has made very real promises to me, he will be faithful to fulfill them. And even as I struggle, he will not let me go.

    • C Michael Patton

      Sarah, there are not many things that make me happier than comments like that!

    • Boz

      doubts, questions and scepticism are to be encouraged, not avoided. It shows maturity of character and humbleness of spirit. Question everything!

      Michael, maybe you can write an article with this title:

      Dealing with the Certain: How to Tolerate Loved Ones Who Are 100% Certain (and not afraid to tell you about it)

      🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      Box, that would indeed be a good one!

    • Sarah

      My mother is one of those to whom has been given a simple faith. We’ve talked about this many times and she has said, “I have never once doubted. I was told it, I believe it, and that’s just the way it is. I don’t understand how anyone can question it.” She doesn’t search the depths of the more complex issues; ontology, teleology, all the -ologies are foreign to her. Sometimes I wish I could have such a childlike faith. And knowing she feels that way makes it impossible to discuss things like this as well. It’s a territory full of pressure-sensitive land mines when you think about finding someone to talk to.

    • Ben Thorp

      “It is an important theological question, but does not practically have any relevance here.”

      What an amazingly helpful piece of truth. I pray that we would all have the difference to know when we’re being asked a theological question and when it’s a personal, practical question.

    • ryan

      Excellent work and very encouraging. Though it doesn’t make a crisis of faith any more pleasant, showing that it is not only expected in the journey to deep faith but in some way prescribed makes it all the more bearable. THANK YOU

    • “I pull myself up by my baptism”, that is very good.. I like that! Lusk is a FV guy, btw. We need a few more! This Anglican Reformed believes in “covenant & sacraments” too.

    • Steve Drake

      Michael said,
      ‘Soon I will write to parents about how to prepare for and prevent these type of faith crisis in their children. There is no way to prevent the trials, but there are definite things we can do ensure that our children do not sink into the depths of despair while their faith is growing.’

      Please do not encourage those parents to encourage in their children an ‘I-don’t-know-and-it-doesn’t-matter’ opinion about the origins debate. The Word of God is much too important for that kind of lackadaisical attitude.

    • Sarah

      @Fr. Robert, Rich is a good personal friend and his ministry made a great impact on me in the early years of the controversy. My husband holds the position Rich had before he went to Birmingham (at “The FV Church”) and I’m guessing you know a lot of the same people I do. You could define me covenentally and sacramentally as FV though I try to avoid labels as far as they go for obvious reasons. (If you’ve followed the controversy, you know why.) I am the copyeditor for Athanasius Press, and Rich’s book Paedofaith changed my world concerning exactly what faith is, just as Jordan’s Through New Eyes taught me how to see, well, through new eyes. Through this season in my life, even though it’s hard to discern when and with whom to converse and confess, I count myself doubly blessed to be in the circle of great and compassionate Christians like Jim Jordan, Peter Leithart, Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, and my husband. Glad to have met you. I have a special place in my heart for Anglicans!

    • Sarah

      @Fr. Robert, I forgot to mention that that is not a direct quote, but a paraphrase (I believe) of Nevin maybe? Forgive me if the source isn’t entirely correct. Rich would often talk about our identity in Christ. When children leave the house, we should say after them, “Remember who you are!” and if they are straying, we “jerk them up by their baptisms” and remind them that they belong to Christ. That is very comforting to me in times of uncertainty.

    • @Sarah: That’s grand! The FV, simply is just that a “Vision” (But large V), and one that the Reformed need so badly! I can be critical however of the FV, when I think it needs it! We must be careful with some of the “covenantal” ideas and statements! Sadly often they are simply mis-stated, and stated incorrectly, of course mostly by those who are against it, and don’t understand it. But I have heard a few FV’ers over press it a bit also. But I am in agreement with the FV overall! And yet, I am not a NT Wright fan myself, and I am not close to the NPP. I tend closely to Luther, and Calvin at least as Reformers, and I see some of the newer Calvin studies (Canlis, and Billings), as just top of the rock! Union with Christ, etc., Billings new book is just a sweet read!
      Indeed very glad to meet you also! Btw, I just finished Leithart’s, Athanasius recently. Very good! 🙂

    • Indeed Sarah, Baptism is such an important Sacrament, I am close to Luther there, though not “Lutheran” really, but classic Anglican (Thirty-nine Articles, etc.)

    • Sarah: Oh Nevin and Schaff, “Mercersburg” would that more Christians today knew of their lives and work!

    • Sarah

      @Fr. Robert, amen and amen! Mercersburg is where much of Rich’s passions lie and as I type this I am eyeballing a Nevin book on my table that I need to read. I sure didn’t mean to hijack this thread! Then again, it is always encouraging to meet such fun people by unexpected means. It reminds us that we’re never alone. The Lord bless you!

    • @Sarah: I must shout out, for Reformed people to read John Williamson Nevin’s book: The Mystical Presence: A Vindication Of The Reformed or Calvinistic Doctrine Of The Holy Eucharist! My copy is Wipf and Stock.

      Myself, as an Anglican I am perhaps even closer to Luther here also (on the Eucharist), but in reality this great mystery ultimately defy’s definition, save to say that the Lord is “present”! But certainly not because of any “priesthood” in itself.

      Thanks CMP, to allow us to share some of the people and the so-called history of Mercersburg!

    • Garry

      I went through an extremely painful crisis of faith early in my Christian experience. Whenever I tried to share my struggles, I received either non-helpful pat answers or puzzled looks of non-comprehension. My impression was that I was the only person to have this problem. Doubts were never spoken of nor dealt with specifically in any Bible study group, fellowship or church teaching context.

      Through prayer, consistent Bible study and Christian fellowship, God brought me through the doubting, and I delight in sharing my experience with others, along with what I have learned that helped me deal with my doubts and end up with a stronger, enduring faith.

      Most people who experience doubts are reluctant to share these openly because they think that other believers have it all sorted out, and that their faith must be sub-standard.

      Doubts are a normal part of Christian life experience and should be dealt with openly, honestly and pro-actively in the context of our church fellowship.

    • Oun Kwon

      Hi CMP,

      Why are you still obsessed with ‘tongue-speaking’? Please get over with it. Have something to edify the believers and forget about self-satisfaction, self-experience, etc. that is, self-pride. Such tongues – just cut them off rather than going into a Gehenna with a long smooth sleek rolling tongues.

    • @Oun Kwon,

      Sir, who made you the “prefect” of doctrine here? Scripture, exegesis (that’s interpretation and analysis..explanation, from the Text itself), that is needed, and too the help of theology – the study of the doctrine of God!

    • Steve Martin

      “Help people work through their sin?”

      That sounds like a formula for doubt and frustration if I’ve ever heard one.

      We can’t work through our sin. Sin is our nature. It stays with us all throughout life. You manage one sin and another pops up like that game at the arcade where you hit the gophers with a big hammer.

      “We are to consider ourselves dead to sin” -St. Paul

      Not because of anything that we do, say, feel, or think…but because in baptism our sinful self was put to death with Christ (Romans 6). And the new person raised with Christ.

      This is why Luther said that we ought to return to our baptisms daily. Not as a rabbits foot , but as a return to what God has done for us, what He has promised us in our baptisms.

      This is a good way to reassure someone of their faith. Tell them that this whole thing does not depend on you…but on what God has done for you, is doing for you, and will yet do for you.

      I do believe this is why the Lord gave us the great gift of the Sacraments. That we might have the assurance of our salvation, from an external Word. Not from our internal…whatevers.

      Thanks.

    • Richard Coords

      The article is not exactly correct in the “Calvinism” caricature. It assumes that the Calvinism caricature would have it that the person was never saved. Not so, according to John Calvin, who discussed this very point, in terms of believers becoming unbelievers. Calvin’s point was on “temporal grace,” which said grace being removed. In other words, the “elect” person received an irresistible grace to overcome total depravity, only for said “temporal grace” to be withdrawn, and thus person “justly” [somehow] fall away.

      John Calvin explains: “Let no one think that those [who] fall away…were of the predestined, called according to the purpose and truly sons of the promise. For those who appear to live piously may be called sons of God; but since they will eventually live impiously and die in that impiety, God does call them sons in His foreknowledge. There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of some arrogated or *temporal grace*, are called so by us, but are not so to God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.66)

      Calvin adds: “Yet sometimes he also causes those whom he illumines only for a time to partake of it; then he justly forsakes them on account of their ungratefulness and strikes them with even greater blindness.” (Institutes of Christian Religion, 3.24.8)

    • Richard Coords

      Calvin writes: “Whoever has sinned, I shall delete him from the book of life. … But the meaning is simple: those are deleted from the book of life who, *considered for a time to be children of God*, afterwards depart to their own place, as Peter truly says about Judas (Acts 1:16). But John testifies that these never were of us (1 Jn 2:19), for if they had been, they would not have gone out from us. What John expresses briefly is set forth in more detail by Ezekiel (13:9): They will not be in the secret of My people, nor written in the catalogue of Israel. The same solution applies to Moses and Paul, desiring to be deleted from the book of life (Ex 32:32; Rom 9:3): carried away with the vehemence of their grief, they prefer to perish, if possible, rather than that the Church of God, numerous as it then was, should perish. When Christ bids His disciples rejoice because their names are written in heaven (Lk 10:20), He signifies a perpetual blessing of which they will never be deprived. In a word, Christ clearly and briefly reconciles both meanings, when He says: Every tree which My Father has not planted will be rooted up (Mt 15:13). For even the reprobate take root in appearance, and yet they are not planted by the hand of God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.151-152)

      John Calvin comments on Hebrews 6:4-6: “…God certainly bestows His Spirit of regeneration only on the elect, and that they are distinguished from the reprobate in the fact that they are re-made in His image, and they receive the earnest of the Spirit in the hope of an inheritance to come, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I do not see that this is any reason why He should not touch the reprobate with a *taste of His grace*, or illumine their minds with *some glimmerings* of His light, or affect them with some sense of His goodness, or to some extent engrave His Word in their hearts. Otherwise where would be that passing faith which Marks mentions (4.17)? Therefore there is *some knowledge in the reprobate, which later vanishes away* either because it drivers its roots less deep than it ought to, or because it is choked and withers away.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.76)

    • Richard Coords

      One member of The Society of Evangelic Arminians writes: “The Calvinist’s assurance is obliterated by the fact that God ordains the illusory salvation of the seemingly-saved folks. This makes them a special sub-set of the damned. In Calvinism, God glorifies Himself by damning the ‘eternally reprobate.’ But the seemingly-saved folks have the unique privilege of ‘glorifying’ God in their earthly lives, by appearing to be saved on their way to Hell. Because God has pre-ordained this, there is nothing any apparently saved person can do. God has ordained the illusion! Of course, this brings up another question: Why is the God (who is Himself truth) ordaining such an illusion? How can God be truthful if He unconditionally pre-ordains illusions? And what kind of God could or would ordain such an illusion for the sake of His glory?” (Society of Evangelical Arminians)

    • Richard Coords

      Typo in my first post. I meant that the *non-elect* person gets an irresistible grace, overcoming total depravity, to take on the appearance or illusion of salvation, until their temporal grace is pulled out from under their feet, but there is one more issue. I think the article is mistaken on the difference between the “Baptist” and the “Calvinist” caricatures. I have a quote from Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, who took the route ascribed to Baptists, that is, of reassurance:

      Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, recalls: “I frequently meet with poor souls, who are fretting and worrying themselves about this thought—‘How, if I should not be elect!’ ‘Oh, sir,’ they say, ‘I know I put my trust in Jesus; I know I believe in his name and trust in his blood; but how if I should not be elect?’ Poor dear creature! you do not know much about the gospel, or you would never talk so, for he that believes is elect. Those who are elect, are elect unto sanctification and unto faith; and if you have faith you are one of God’s elect; you may know it and ought to know it, for it is an absolute certainty. If you, as a sinner, look to Jesus Christ this morning, and say—‘Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling,’ you are elect. I am not afraid of election frightening poor saints or sinners.” (Election)

    • […] Dealing with the Doubting As many of you are aware, I deal with many people who are doubting their faith. To be more specific, these are Christians who are going through some sort of faith crisis where they no longer believe with the simplicity that characterized their belief before. This is becoming increasingly common in a world where sheltered or isolated beliefs are not only impractical, but a thing of the past (and this is good!).  However, most of us really don’t know how to deal with this. We don’t know how to deal with it when it comes to our own doubts, much less other people’s! […]

    • Steve Martin

      The Sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper are there that we might have assurance.

      They are there (God gave them to us) that we might not have faith in our faith…

      but faith in God.

    • Steven King

      Very interesting. God seems to be showing me that I should move into irenic circles in my life. I can say I have had faith crises.

      Thank you for a great post.
      -Steve King
      Booksatthebeach.blogspot.com

    • The faithful Christian can always work thru the writings of John Calvin, he is always solid and pastoral, though certainly not infallible. But quoting the Evangelical Arminians certainly is not helpful here, for they are simply wrong in their basic presupposition of the doctrine of God. The historical Reformational and Reformed Christian simply must maintain this position of a God that is Sovereign, Providental, and just GOD!

      And yes, our faith is always a gift..but pressed itself thru faith/works, which God Himself works out in the life of the believer in Justification and Sanctification, but always of Justification and Faith itself. “The cause moving God to predestinate unto life, is not the forseeing of faith, or perseverance, or good works, or of any thing which is in the person predestinated, but only the good pleasure of God himself . . . Such as are predestinated unto life, be called according unto God’s purpose (his Spirit working in due season), and through grace they obey the calling, they be justified freely, they be made sons of God by adoption, they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ, they walk religiously in good works, and at length by God’s mercy they attain to everlasting felicity. . . The godly consideration of predestination and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, ang unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members . . . on the contrary side, for curious and carnal persons lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s predestination is very dangerous.” (Irish Articles 1615) These creedal statements are themselves biblical, theological and historical in the Church ecclesiastical!

      The whole point and issue here is really Christ! If we love Christ and walk in faith, both works and predestination become less of an issue (in themselves), and Christ comes to the fore in the life and light of the believer and godly Christian. And thus this itself is the very evidence of both real Christian works and predestination, being seen in the life of the fruitful Christian! Note, even for those that don’t understand these issues correctly, as our so-called Arminian brethren, etc.

      Finally in our time, we see and need the whole “sacramental” life of the Church…’Word & Sacrament’, Baptism & Eucharist, which are both before the heart & mind of the Christian.

      A few of my thoughts as a Reformed, Historical and Anglican Christian! 🙂

    • *Providential

    • […] He also gives some very prac­ti­cal advice for those who know Christians doubt­ing their faith. […]

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