When in doubt, examine your doubts.
JULY 15, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
When in doubt, examine your doubts. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
This is Key Life here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to teach this week. Zach’s the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re a struggling believer, you’ve come right place.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thanks Matthew. And thank you all for tuning in on Wednesday. It’s been so good to be with you all this week. Steve will be back on Friday for Q & A with Pete. I hope that you will tune in then. Uh, but let’s, let’s jump right back in to where we are. Uh, we’re starting a series this week that will last for three, uh, three parts. Uh, I’ll be back in August for part two. And then again in September for part three. And it’s a series that I’ve titled When in Doubt, where we’re looking at John’s letter to the early church, First John, to look at our doubts, how do we express our doubts? How do we wrestle with our doubts? What do we do when we start having doubts? And maybe, maybe you’re a long time. Christian, maybe you’ve loved Jesus for most of your life, but maybe if you’re honest, you’ve got some doubts now. Maybe you grew up in an environment where you were never allowed to express your doubts. Maybe because of everything that’s happening in the world, you have doubts. Um, and, and I think this letter to the church that John writes as a very old man is a helpful letter for any Christian who’s wrestling with doubts. And maybe your doubts come because you’re just not getting better. Like maybe a, I know for me, a lot of times, my greatest doubts with God come from my own inability to be better when I’m struggling with sin or when I fall back into a besetting sin. That’s usually when I struggle, because I think man, if this stuff is true, if God is real, man, I should be a lot better than I am. I shouldn’t be still struggling with this. And so wherever you find yourself in doubt, um, I, I hope that this week and in the subsequent weeks weeks that I’m here, uh, will be helpful for you, uh, and, and knowing what to do with those doubts. And so yesterday we talked about the fact that John and his letter to the church goes all the way back to the beginning. He wants to point us to God who is relational. You know, a lot of us think of God as being all powerful. Um, and he is, but at his core what’s existed before all eternity was relationship, because God is a triune God, because of the Trinity God the father, God the son and God the Holy spirit. We know that for all eternity, there’s been relationship. That there’s been this loving relationship within the God head. And that kind of changes everything. That means that at the core of the universe, is not power, but love. That means that you and I were created, not out of, um, uh, a display of power, even though that is what it was, but it was out of an overflow of love. And if love birthed you, you matter. And so in the very beginning of John’s letter, he doesn’t introduce himself. He doesn’t say, Hey guys, it’s John. No, he just jumps right in. And he says that, which was from the beginning, that, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim concerning the word of life. The life appeared. We have seen it and testify to it. And we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the father and has appeared to us. John immediately starts his letter. So excited saying he has actually seen God. He has seen the resurrected Jesus, not only that he’s touched him, we’re told he even ate fish with the resurrected Jesus. So John, isn’t just speaking about something he’s heard about. He’s not speaking about some philosophy or some idea. He’s talking about a person, a person that he has been physically with. And in the Gospel of John, he records that experience of Easter Sunday. He talks about the fact that he got to actually see the resurrection take place. Now I want to look at that real quick. I know we’re, we’re really kind of looking at First John, uh, but I want to jump into the Gospel of John because I think they go together so well. Um, so in the Gospel of John chapter 20, starting in verse three, it says this. So Peter and the other disciple, the disciple is John. Who’s writing this. So Peter and the other disciples started for the tomb, both were running, but the other disciple, outran Peter and reached the tomb first, most unnecessary verse in all of scripture. Why do we need to know who ran faster? Verse five. He bent down and looked in at the strips of linen lying there, but did not go in, then Simon Peter, who was behind him, see what he did there arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head, the cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple who had reached the tomb first, we get it John. You’re faster than Peter. The other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. He saw and believed. Well, what did he see? At this point he actually hadn’t seen the resurrected Jesus. All he saw were some linens. When Jesus was buried, he was wrapped like a mummy with pounds and pounds of linens. In, in one of the earlier chapters of John’s Gospel, we’re told that these linens were covered in a mixture of myrrh and aloes causing the linens to weigh 75 pounds. So this, this is a heavy and thick wrapping. Now John is looking at the scene and he’s examining the evidence. He’s using logic, which ultimately leads to believing. He’s also probably thinking if someone saw the body, why would they unroll all the linens and carry out an oozing cadaver? He might even be remembering when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He wrote in John 11:44
The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, [take off his grave clothes] and let him go.”
You see John remembered the grave clothes needed to be ripped apart. They needed to be torn off Lazarus, but here lied these linens, untorn. And not only that, the face cloth was folded, neatly and placed separately. Y’all Christianity is more than thinking, but it’s not less. Faith often starts with reason. And then it goes beyond that. But it’s not, it’s not less than reasoning. Christianity is a thinking religion. And here we have John looking at the evidence, thinking it through and then believing. So when in doubt, if you’re struggling with doubts, John sang, all right, go back and examine the evidence examine what’s there. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. I know what’s there. Go back in and look at the evidence that supports the fact that not only is God relational, but the fact that God became flesh and dwelt among us, that God died and was raised from the dead. Christianity is more than thinking, but it’s not less. The intellectual atheist turned Christian apologist, Josh McDowell when asked what made him believe in Jesus. He says, for a very simple reason, I am not able to explain a way an event in history, the resurrection of Jesus. Now, listen, if you’re, if you’re listening to this and you’re not a Christian, and again, maybe you’ve just tuned into Christian radio because of everything around you just seems crazy and things are falling apart in your you’re so uncertain about so much. And so you’re like, well, why not give this a try? Why not? At least see if there’s some answers in Christianity. I want to encourage you. Yes, there are. But examine the evidence you don’t have to, you don’t have to just blindly believe everything. Like there is things for you to think through for you to wrestle through. You can go back and examine, um, the reasons, uh, for, for belief, you know, I, for a long time, uh, I always thought there was, there wasn’t really any historical or logical reason to believe in Jesus. It was just something that you needed to do. You just needed to believe in Jesus, but the Christian faith is factual. If it’s not true, there are plenty of easier religions to follow, to make yourself feel better. To give yourself some comfort in the time of suffering. If it’s not factual, don’t choose Christianity, but the Christian faith is history. So if you were unsure or questioning, let me just give you two things worth looking into. No first century witness, not a single one disputes, two facts about Easter Sunday. One that Jesus, his body was buried in a location known to the populace in Jerusalem that people knew where he was buried and two that Jesus’s body was gone by Sunday morning. So if you haven’t really thought it through, do. Pretend like you’re doing one of those podcasts, examining a cold case, you know, you’re, you’re doing a serial about the resurrection. Don’t walk away without examining the evidence for yourself. Don’t walk away without really thinking it through, because if it’s true, if it’s true, it changes everything. There’s an interesting book titled The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective by Pinchas Lapide. Now Lapide does not believe Jesus is the Messiah. He doesn’t believe he’s the son of God, but he does believe that Jesus was resurrected based on the historical evidence. He argues that the oldest accounts of Jesus’s resurrection are simple and unexaggerated, which contributes to their reliability. He says, and I quote, instead of exciting Easter jubilation, we hear repeatedly of doubts, disbelief, hesitation, and such simple things as the linen clothes in an empty tomb. He then goes on to say, if the defeated and depressed group of disciples overnight could change into a victorious movement of faith based only on autosuggestion or self deception, without a fundamental faith experience, then this would be a much greater miracle than the resurrection itself. If you haven’t really thought it through, do. Examine your doubts. We all have them. I have them. And listen, if God is powerful enough to defeat death, which is what Easter claims, which is what John is leading this letter to the church saying, he can handle any questions or doubts we throw his way and he will respond in a way that makes us thankful, it’s all about grace.
That was Pastor Zach Van Dyke, continuing to speak to us about what to do with our doubts. As Zach taught us, Christianity is more than thinking, but not less. So one of the things to do with struggling with doubt, go back and look at the evidence. Zach will return to finish the first part of this series tomorrow. Please make sure you join us for that. Hey, speaking of going back, you can go back and revisit any of our past Key Life episodes and Steve Brown Etc. episodes online at keylife.org. Also at keylife.org, you can sign up for our email. We call it Key Life Connection. It goes out every week with fresh posts from the site, plus every now and then we send some free resources or an early look at new content. If you listen to and like Key Life, that’s this show, you’ll definitely want to check out Key Life Connection. Also on keylife.org, you’ll find our latest digital magazine. It has loads of great articles from your favoriteKey Life contributors, tons of great resources there at keylife.org and it’s all free. Thanks to the generous financial support of folks, just like you. If you’d like to donate, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. Or you can mail your donation to
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