Confronting Unbelief – Ron Graham – email@example.com
“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” Romans 3:3. Although Paul was questioning rhetorically, and his focus was on the Jews, we can reflect on his question and apply it to today’s unbelieving world. What if some refuse to believe in God? Does their unbelief nullify the believer’s faith in God? Paul goes on to say “Certainly not” God is truth, men are liars.
As Christians, we will undoubtedly encounter unbelief unless we are living with our heads in the sand or under a rock somewhere. The work place for instance can be a harbinger of unbelief. Our fellow employees, our bosses, the owners of companies, and even the suppliers of goods to those companies can all give battle against your faith in Christ.
“I have to say, with Paul, ‘What if some did not believe?’ It is no new thing; for there have always been some who have rejected the revelation of God. What then? You and I had better go on believing, and testing for ourselves, and proving the faithfulness of God, and living upon Christ our Lord, even though we see another set of doubters, and another, and yet another ad infinitum. The gospel is no failure, as many of us know.”
What Spurgeon is saying is that no matter how many times we’re confronted with unbelief we have to make a stand. We are to focus on God’s word and hold firm to our faith. We are to go forward acknowledging our strength is in Jesus and we trust Him to get us through. Whether or not these doubters be offensive and blasphemous, Jesus fights those battles for us.
Those people who are caught up in the deception of unbelief and who actually belittle and mock us, in all actuality are our mission field. The thief on the cross hanging next to Jesus, who at first ridiculed Jesus as did many others who were present at Christ’s crucifixion, eventually had a change of heart. “Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:42. Jesus recognized that change and as soon as the man asked Jesus to remember him Jesus responded affirmatively. “And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43. That one time mocker of our Lord is now in Heaven serving God. Jesus encountered much unbelief, people with their eyes closed and their hearts cold as ice. But what a great example He gives us in this story of the thief on the cross, a man who moments earlier was destined for hell.
Jesus tells us over and over again that many will reject Him and His message, and take the wide road that leads to destruction. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Matthew 7:13.
All those walking dead and completely deceived individuals living a life of full blown unbelief, to us seem to be steadfast in their rebellion against God. They can have a change of heart, though; anyone can change. Only God knows who will accept the prodding of the Holy Spirit. That change of heart might even come from one word spoken from someone like you or me out of a love filled heart for the lost.
Unbelief needs to be confronted no matter what the circumstances. Charles Spurgeon wrote the following example “An army chaplain once said to the Duke of Wellington, ‘Do you think that it is of any use our taking the gospel to the hill tribes in India? Will they ever receive it?’ The duke replied, ‘What are your marching orders?’” The Duke of Wellington was a military man who knew the necessity of following commands, and his response to that chaplain must give us all pause to remember our Saviors final command. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:19.
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 13 we’re told Jesus went into His own country and while preaching there was confronted with much unbelief. This unbelief was painfully obvious to Him. “And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.” Matthew 13:57. Jesus’ very own countrymen were offended in Him. The Greek word for offended actually means “to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey”. Because of their unbelief His countrymen lost out on much. “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:58. Unbelief hinders and even impedes God’s wonderful blessings.
Mark, explaining the same set of circumstances in his Gospel, says Jesus marveled at their unbelief. Indeed it must be amazing to God to watch our unbelief. With all the evidence of His creation confronting us daily I can see God standing by our side as we wallow in unbelief, shaking His head and muttering the word “Morons”. Certainly God’s exasperation with the unbelief in this world must be hurtful to our Creator.
Besides all the unbelief Jesus confronted, Paul, Peter, John and the rest all had their mockers and revilers as they attempted to spread the Gospel. The Old Testament prophets as well had their doubters. There will come a time when we will need to shake the dust off our shoes so to speak, and move on. We should never get discouraged with spreading the Gospel, because as we move on, the Holy Spirit stays behind and does a work on that individual that we can’t see. We may never witness the fruit of our labors as we endeavor to confront unbelief. That doesn’t mean fruit doesn’t appear.
Believers must always be on guard against unbelief. There are many who are steeped in unbelief and as such they have buried themselves in sin. And they don’t want their sin exposed, or even spoken about as sin. We get bombarded almost daily with doubt about what we believe. Doubt is a lead-in to unbelief even among believers. Doubt is expressed by many, even evangelical Christians.
There are those who teach the word, spreading their own unbelief over the airwaves as they proclaim many falsehoods that should actually be shunned. There are still those professing Christians who are opposed to me writing these commentaries and through some very articulate speech actually condemn me for my interpretation of scripture. I’m continually confronted with scripture verses taken out of context to promote someone else’s agenda. This also is a form of unbelief.
Many Christians teach there won’t be a rapture of Christ’s Church, or that we are living in Christ’s millennial reign now. Some say the millennium is only an allegory and that it’s not something that is going to happen in the future. They say Jesus isn’t coming to earth to rule and reign for 1000 years because He is ruling and reigning now in our hearts. There are many foolish people spreading this type of nonsense perhaps thinking they are being a light, but in all actuality their minds are deceived and they are deceiving the minds of their listeners. A little seed of doubt instilled in a person’s mind and voila, before you know it full blown unbelief.
Unbelief can lead to a denial of the truth of the scriptures and ultimately even to the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ. God hates unbelief because we are given the truth through the obviousness of His creation and through reading and hearing His word which is truth. God’s word is disparaged continually which is no different than calling God a liar.
So how should believers continue in the face of such unbelief? With steadfastness, and through the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. It’s never our strength that leads us to witness, nor is it even our idea. It’s always the Holy Spirit’s prodding to get us into a position to confront unbelief. As believers, witnessing/evangelism is our responsibility and there should come a time when we look at the task Jesus has set before us with much anticipation.
Unbelief is sin, there’s no question about that, and it’s an inexcusable sin if that person dies in that state of rebellion. This rebellion is spreading like wildfire around the world and at times there seems to be little or no reason for it. If we allow the doubt and unbelief that’s permeating this world to creep into our Christian witness, sooner or later we’ll begin to look at this godless generation as being so far gone that there is no possibility of turning it around. We will convince ourselves that the Holy Spirit is done and there’s nothing else for us to do but wait on the Lord’s up call.
Confronting doubt and unbelief can be a daunting task, especially if one is unprepared. I’ve learned that when you’re least expecting it, a question will be hurled at you, and it usually comes from someone who is purposely trying to trip you up, make you stumble, and if possible get you to doubt God’s word. More often than not, the questioner isn’t even concerned with the answer. But if the correct answer is given that person might just walk away with a different outlook about God.
So how do we become prepared to give the correct answer? All the answers God wants us to use in these situations are in the Bible. A systematic study of His word will supply us with a plethora of knowledge above and beyond what any unsuspecting doubter will be able to contend with. Remember, to study the verses in context and with understanding of who is being addressed (i.e. a Pharisee or a forgiven sinner) and with a good concordance to see the meaning from the original languages. Doubters/unbelievers many times take delight in presenting us with a question which can make a Christians cringe and squirm in their seats.
A question that almost always arises from these doubters, out of ignorance as well as unbelief, is this, “Where did Cain get his wife”? Diligent studying brings about God’s response to questions like these. The answer to that question is in your Bible. The first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, will enlighten you if you’re still searching for the answer.
In these last days before Jesus’ return, unbelief will increase substantially (it’s quite pervasive now). Unbelievers and doubters will continually present us with questions, some seriously searching for the truth but others who just delight in confrontation. To the unprepared some of these questions will seem to be impossible to answer, but that’s only because of a lack of knowledge of God’s word. There are many wonderful truths in the Bible just waiting to be discovered. As we discover these truths and our knowledge increases we are better prepared for confrontation. Get out your Bibles, a confrontation with unbelief is headed your way.
God bless you all,
All scripture verses are from the