Anchors for when your faith is drifting, Pt. 2
Updated: Mar 21, 2021
Anchor #1: God exists and His Word is True
Why Do we see so much design and beauty in the world? Why do we have a human soul? We were created by a wise, all-powerful, personal, immaterial being: God. How can we know what we know about God? This is because the Old and New Testament Scriptures can be trusted to give us an accurate representation of what God has said in history. A few reasons we believe that the Bible can be trusted is because of the many prophecies that have been fulfilled, the evidence for the empty tomb, and the fact that the disciples were willing to go to their death proclaiming that Jesus was raised from the dead. Thus, we are not entitled to create our own version of who God is, but we are obligated to respond to what has been revealed to us. Many times during ,a season of doubt, we are always tempted to re-fashion God into our image and think things like “well, the God I believe in does_________” despite what Scripture says. However, if Scripture is truly inspired by God, our starting place must be what He says, not what we want it to say.
Anchor #2: God is Sovereign and always keeps His promises.
We believe this because He has already fulfilled around 300 specific prophecies about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus (search Prophecies in biblearcheology.org). How many exact events need to happen for even one prophecy to be fulfilled? Since prophecies about Jesus have been fulfilled, then it must also be true that God stands outside of time, and is in control of time, and directs all events of earth history towards a specific end. Otherwise, how could exact prophecies be fulfilled if God is not in control of all things ultimately? This is called God’s Sovereignty. If God is not Sovereign and all-knowing, then how could we even trust that He is actually able to fulfill His word? Wouldn’t something unknown be able to thwart his plans then?
In fact, this truth is affirmed in the Bible in the book of Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” and in Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” ESV
Not only does scripture affirm that God is Sovereign over all things, but we can also be comforted by its affirmation that God is good in all ways.
Anchor #3: God is Good.
If there is no God, then we can’t really complain about the alleged problem of evil. Why? In an atheistic/naturalist worldview, there is no objective standard of "good" to compare something against and actually call it “wrong.” It just is. Famous atheist Richard Dawkins famously put it this way:
“The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference…DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” (Dawkins, River out of Eden: A Darwinian view of Life)
This is the only logically consistent view of evil and suffering in a naturalistic worldview: nothing is ultimately right or wrong. In this view, there is no way that we can even argue that Hitler was wrong objectively. He was just “dancing to his DNA” right? Is this the worldview that we really want to embrace?
If atheism is true, then there can be no unchanging standard to measure things against or even call them wrong. It just comes down to what you do or do not prefer.
Yet, since we DO have good reasons to believe that the resurrection of Jesus happened, we must ask ourselves the question: What do the cross and resurrection tell us about God? Many things. For one, it very simply shows us that God is very serious about justice. He cares so much about justice that He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus (second person of the triune God), the penalty for our sin. The death of Jesus on a cross also reveals to us that God has great mercy towards sinners. It shows us that anyone who places their trust in His Provision for our sins will receive mercy. Mercy is the turning away from what we deserve: God’s divine justice and wrath against sin and sinners (Romans 6:23; 1 John 2:2). This shows us definitively that God IS good and is not indifferent to wrongdoing and is still at work in the middle of situations that we can’t fully comprehend.
The resurrection proved that Jesus is God, that God the Father accepted his sacrifice on our behalf, that we also will be resurrected in a physical body like Jesus (1 Cor 15), that he is interceding in every believers’ behalf (Hebrews 7:25), and that he will return one day to claim his own people and bring justice to all wrongs done. Nothing ultimately will escape the judgment of God (Hebrews 9:27). If there is no God, there is no ultimate justice that will be done in the universe.
We must understand that we are creatures that are bound by space and time and thus we have limited knowledge about certain mysteries of God. God is not bound by space and time, and we must remind ourselves of that.
Just because you can’t fully understand or know everything there is to know about a situation, doesn’t automatically mean that God doesn’t exist or that He isn’t good.
Here are a couple of Scriptures that affirm the goodness of God:
“No one is good but one, that is, God.” Mark 10:18
“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8-> We have an unchanging standard.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” Psalm 34:8
In fact, the resurrection proved the goodness of God…
Since Jesus really did die and rise from the dead and promised to return to earth to judge the living and the dead, then we can trust that He will be perfectly just in all of his judgments on His return. Our understanding of certain things are happening may be limited; yet, that is why we are encouraged to:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Remember, if we have already established that God exists, He is Sovereign and good, then logically it makes sense to trust the Lord with all of our heart even though our own understanding is limited.
Anchor #4: Sin is always destructive
When we are struggling with something that scripture describes as sinful, many times we start questioning if it’s actually wrong and wonder if God is the one that is actually wrong. We can rationalize that this “desire” or activity makes us feel happy, thus it must not be wrong. In fact, we can even say, “Why would God allow you to even have these desires in the first place unless it was good for me?” We may then believe that God must have created us with these inclinations/desires on purpose and thus it must not really be bad. However, we run into a logical problem if we apply this same reasoning in other realms of our day to day life. What if you have a “natural desire” to hurt people or lie? You probably don’t want to accept that logic in that scenario; however, it’s the same logic applied to arguing in favor of embracing that which is against God's commands. For us to be logically consistent, we must stick with a view that can meet its own standard when applied in other examples.
The bottom line: Questioning God about sin comes down to questioning if God is actually good and right to say something is wrong. If God is good, shouldn’t He lead you to everlasting joy and pleasure in the next life AND in this life now? Yes, pursuing God is the greatest good and joy that we will ever know. However, according to scripture, apart from God opening up our spiritually blind eyes (2 Cor 4) and giving us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) or being born again into God’s family (John 1:12; 3:3), we will not find joy and pleasure being in relationship with God (Romans 8).
Since there is sin in this world and we are born with a sinful nature, our affections are disordered, and we don’t see God as we ought to. Additionally, God has not arbitrarily called things wrong just because He wants to make life miserable for us. For example, He has said that marriage and sex must be between one man and one woman for one lifetime because it best protects our heart/emotions, protects the flourishing of children in a stable environment and marriage reflects God’s relationship with us, His bride. Not only does God’s prescription for how we are to live lead to the best society, but it also will lead us into a more intimate relationship with our loving Father. This flows out of us first understanding that since we are accepted and loved by Him, consequently we want to obey because we know how good, pleasing, and perfect his will is (Romans 12:2).
In our struggle with temptation and sin, we must distinguish between our desire for sin and our acting that sin out.
Biblically speaking, we know that many of our desires can be sinful, and thus we should always avoid basing any self-identity on sinful desires. In fact, Jeremiah 17:9 affirms the level of depravity of the human heart and warns against us ‘following our heart’ by saying:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Thus, we must start by discovering an unchanging identity apart from our changing feelings or heart.
We must look to our identity as people made in God’s image. If we have placed our faith in Christ, then our identity is that of a “child of God”- the title which is given only to those that have placed their faith in Jesus and are born into God’s family (John 1:12). This identity is unchanging and can never be lost or taken away from us (see John 10:29-30; Romans 8:38-39)
However, if we have not placed our faith in Christ, we are building our ultimate identity around something IN creation instead of the giver of life itself (see Romans 1). This is called idolatry and is ultimately destructive.
Yet we can have hope. Sometimes our sinful desires or temptations completely leave us as we are sanctified in this life, yet sometimes believers continually struggle with those same temptations for a long time or their entire life. With that in mind, we are called to wage war against our sinful thinking and behavior by "putt[ing] to death the works of the flesh" (Colossians 3:5). We may continually struggle with inclinations that God says are wrong our entire life, yet one day God will completely redeem our broken and deceitful hearts.
We can anchor our lives around this truth.
One day we will no longer have sinful inclinations because we will be so overcome with fully being in God's presence and seeing Him as He is: All satisfying and good.
We will be able to perfectly receive God’s love, love him, and love others rightly. This is described perfectly in the Apostle John's letter to 1st century Christians:
“Dear friends we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like him because we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope purifies himself just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3, ESV
I believe it was put well by pastor John Piper that “God is most Glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."
Since knowing and enjoying God now and for all eternity is our greatest hope, why not anchor our life around the pursuit of knowing Him and fleeing all things that would keep us away from Him?
In summary, if we build our lives around these four anchors, I think we are on safe ground to openly express our doubt, frustrations, and questions as we try to cultivate a healthy environment around a pursuit of Jesus. So, when your friends or family members are struggling, read the psalms of lament together and then talk about what you can anchor Life around!