8 Quotes From “When Faith Fails”

We’ve all been there: an unexpected calamity has rocked our faith, making us question what we previously believed to be true. What do we do with these times of doubt? Dominic Done has given us a helpful resource in his book When Faith Fails. Please check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“An anonymous fourteenth-century mystic once said that we find ourselves ‘in a cloud of unknowing.’ That is why we doubt. We don’t always see the sky. However, what we have to be reminded of here is that all of this was part of God’s design. He purposefully made it like this. He built limits into the system. It wasn’t an accident. He knew we would have to live with so many unknowns. And yet He chose for the human story to look this way. … When God decided to create, He could have said yes to a thousand other possibilities. But He didn’t. He chose this world. He chose you. He chose me. Limits and all. And still, He called it ‘good.’ All of this means that doubts are normal. They’re a natural consequence of living in this world.” 

“If all we care about is certainty, we lose the beauty of mystery. If all we value is explanation, we lose the joy of exploration.” 

“We need to stop vilifying those who live in the tension of conflicted faith. Doubt isn’t a malevolent demon that we need to exorcise out of our brothers and sisters with sanctimonious words. It’s part of their story. It’s part of my story. Jude 22 says, ‘Be merciful to those who doubt.’” 

“What if God made the world like this to push us to deeper faith? … Doubts aren’t just an obstacle; they’re an opportunity. Uncertainty can lead us into the beautiful mystery we call God.” 

“What’s vital to note here is that when the Bible uses the word doubt it’s different from the word unbelief (Matthew 14:31 and Hebrews 3:19). This is important because some Christians assume that doubt and unbelief are synonymous. They’re not. Doubt can lead to unbelief, just as doubt can lead to faith. But the two are not the same. Doubt says, ‘I am unsure of what is right.’ Unbelief says, ‘I don’t care about what is right.’ Doubt is searching for the light. Unbelief is choosing to gouge out your eyes. Doubt is pursuing truth, wherever it may lead. Unbelief is content with a lie. Doubt exists somewhere between belief and unbelief. Doubt is the moment of tension, which in and of itself isn’t good or bad. It’s somewhere in between. … Doubt isn’t the end of the story; it’s the suspense within it.” 

“Doubt’s greatest strength is secrecy.… But if we name our doubts and drag them into the light, we may find resolution, or we may discover the tension of authentically living in a doubt-filled faith.” 

“Abraham and Sarah doubted God’s promise (Genesis 17:17-22; 18:10-15). Gideon doubted his calling (Judges 6:36). Job doubted God’s character (Job 7:20-21). John the Baptist, whom Jesus called ‘the greatest of all the prophets,’ doubted if Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-6). Peter doubted his faith (Mark 14:66-72). Thomas doubted the resurrection (John 20:24-29). The list goes on. Scripture doesn’t edit out the stories of those who struggled to believe. It weaves their heart-rending struggles into the narrative.” 

“If your faith is being shaken by the suffering you see, don’t be content with cheesy Christian truisms or Facebook clichés. … Lean into the chaos. Cry out to God. Talk to people who have gone through pain and have come out on the other side awash with hope. Immerse yourself in Scripture’s lament and redemption. Dare to say, ‘I will not let You go until You bless me.’” 

Poetry Saturday—Our Sins The Cause Of Christ’s Death

Infinite grief! amazing woe!
Behold my bleeding Lord!
Hell and the Jews conspired His death,
And us’d the Roman sword.

O the sharp pangs of smarting pain
My dear Redeemer bore,
When knotty whips, and ragged thorns,
His sacred body tore!

But knotty whips, and ragged thorns
In vain do I accuse;
In vain I blame the Roman bands,
And the more spiteful Jews.

‘Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were;
Each of my crimes became a nail,
And unbelief the spear.

It was you that pulled the vengeance down
Upon His guiltless head;
Break, break, my heart! O burst mine eyes!
And let my sorrows bleed.

Strike, mighty grace, my flinty soul,
Till melting waters flow,
And deep repentance drown mine eyes
In undissembled woe. —Isaac Watts

Overcoming Unbelief Before It’s Too Late

Unbelief can shut down the “Shalom Cycle” that God intends for our lives. Even worse, unbelief can put us on a slippery slope that could be disastrous for our future! So it is vital that we understand what unbelief is, how we can recognize it in our own lives, and the steps we can take to recover from unbelief. 

First of all, let me remind you of what the Shalom Cycle looks like—

Quite simply, when we are grateful for what God has already done for us it fuels our trust in God’s future grace to meet our needs. 

But when we forget to be grateful and gratitude turns to grumbling, unbelief displaces trust.

A good way to remember how unbelief works is thinking of it as an un-complete faith. An un-complete faith is lacking power to trust God because of one of two reasons:

  • Either we don’t know there is a promise available to us,
  • Or we know of a promise but don’t think it applies to our circumstance. 

J.C. Ryle pointed out that, “Unbelief has a power to rob man of highest blessings.” 

Hebrews 3 shows us that left unchecked and uncorrected, unbelief can turn into disbelief. You can remember this word by defining it as a complete disintegration of faith. Notice in Hebrews 3 how quickly the word unbelieving becomes turns away from God, and how closely associated are the words unbelief and disobeyed (Hebrews 3:12, 19-20). 

We need to correct and reverse unbelief as quickly as possible. We do this through capturing our thoughts—or thinking about what we’re thinking about—and identifying three warning signs: 

  1. Worrying all the time—God wants you to enter His rest, not wallow in worry (Hebrews 3:11) 
  2. Making contingency plans—the Israelites forgot to be grateful and they grumbled instead. The next step (since they didn’t trust that God’s future grace would take them into the Promised Land) was to disobey by concocting a Plan B: “Let’s go back to Egypt.” 
  3. An inward focus on self-preservation—we no longer encourage others but think only of ourselves (Hebrews 3:13). 

If you detect any of these warning signs, quickly repent (Revelation 3:2-3) and then run to Jesus for help. One of the most honest prayers you can pray—and one of the prayers Jesus answers the quickest—is “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24). 

“Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

Take control of grumbling by gratitude
Take control of unbelief by repentance and running to Jesus for help
Then help others take control of their unbelief by encouraging one another daily

Join me next Sunday for the final message in our 4-part series on God’s Shalom. 

8 Quotes From “The World’s Last Night”

In seven essays expressly shared to get the reader to think in terms of eternity, C.S. Lewis masterfully practices his craft. Check out my full book review of The World’s Last Night by clicking here. Below is just a small sampling of a few of the outstanding quotes in this book.

“Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men.”

“Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate.”

“Scientists are mainly concerned not with believing things but with finding things out. And no one, to the best of my knowledge, uses the word believe about things he has found out. The doctor says he ‘believes’ a man was poisoned before he has examined the body; after the examination, he says the man was poisoned. No one says that he believes the multiplication table. No one who catches a thief red-handed says he believes that man was stealing. The scientist, when at work, that is, when he is a scientist, is labouring to escape from belief and unbelief into knowledge. Of course he uses hypotheses or supposals. I do not think these are beliefs.”

“Since most men, as Aristotle observed, do not like to be merely equal with all other men, we find all sorts of people building themselves into groups within which they can feel superior to the mass.”

“‘Good works’ in the plural is an expression much more familiar to modern Christendom than ‘good work.’ Good works are chiefly alms-giving or ‘helping’ in the parish. They are quite separate from one’s ‘work.’ And good works need not be good work, as anyone can see by inspecting some of the objects made to be sold at bazaars for charitable purposes. This is not according to our example. When our Lord provided a poor wedding party with an extra glass of wine all round, He was doing good works. But also good work; it was a wine really worth drinking.”

“Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.”

“It would be difficult, and, to me, repellent, to suppose that Jesus never asked a genuine question, that is, a question to which He did not know the answer. That would make of His humanity something so unlike ours as scarcely to deserve the name. I find it easier to believe that when He said ‘Who touched Me?’ (Luke 7:45) He really wanted to know.”

“For what comes [after Christ’s Second Coming] is Judgment: happy are those whom it finds labouring in their vocations, whether they were merely going out to feed the pigs or laying good plans to deliver humanity a hundred years hence from some great evil. The curtain has indeed now fallen. Those pigs will never in fact be fed, the great campaign against White Slavery or Governmental Tyranny will never in fact proceed to victory. No matter; you were at your post when the Inspection came.”

This Is War!

light-and-truth-revelationIt is inner warfare—The 7th [chapter] of Romans is the description of this, the battle between faith and unbelief, between the spirit and the flesh. This war is private, solitary, with no eye upon the warrior; fought in the closet, on the knees, with the Bible as his weapon. …

It is outer warfare—The enemies are legion; the world, with all its enmities, snares, pomps, pleasures; satan, with his principalities and powers; both of these in combination hating, persecuting, attacking. This is ‘the great fight of afflictions’ (Hebrews 10:32). Thus it is so far public, before men; ‘we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.’ …

It is daily warfare—It is not one great battle, but a multitude of battles, constant warring: there is no intermission and no discharge in this war. The enemy wearies not, ceases not; nor must we. We wake to warfare each morning, and go out to warfare each day. Everywhere we find the enemy posted, sometimes openly, sometimes in ambush. The conflict is life-long, and it is daily.

It is warfare not fought with human arms—The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We do not war after the flesh. It is in divine strength; with the sword of the Spirit; clothed in the whole armor of God. …

It is warfare in which we are sharers with Christ—He first fought the good fight, as the Captain of our salvation, the Lord strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle. The inner warfare indeed was not His, but all the rest was. He fought, when here, the same battles as we; and it is into His warfare that we are called to enter.” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth: Revelation

10 Quotes From “The Christian In Complete Armour”

the-christian-in-complete-armourChristian, are you ready to do spiritual battle? You need to make sure you are properly equipped with all the armor God has for you. Check out my review of William Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour by clicking here, and then enjoy this first set of quotes.

“Christ’s blood is the only wine which gladdens God’s heart and satisfies His justice at the same time. … No grape of our own harvest is pressed into this sweet cup. It is as if Christ says, ‘When [God] comes to comfort you with the forgiveness of your sins, He will take of mine, not anything of yours. I purchased your peace with God with My blood, not by your tears of repentance or morning for your sins.’”

“Unbelief is a sin-making sin. … It is a sin which holds out last on the battlefield, the one which the sinner is least aware of, and which the saint ordinarily conquers last. It is one of the chief fortresses to which the devil retreats when other sins are routed.”

“Do you take pleasure in choosing Christ? Do you go to Him not only for safety but also for delight? As the lover said of her bridegroom, ‘I sat down under his shadow with great delight’ (Song of Solomon 2:3). This must be a deliberate choice, wherein the soul seriously weighs the covenant Christ offers and then chooses Him.”

“Faith puts forth an assisting act in prayer. … It assist the soul with persistence. Faith is the wrestling grace. It comes up close to God, reaches out to Him, and will not easily take a denial. … Never before could the Christian know what to do with a promise in prayer until faith teaches him to press in to God with it, humbly yet boldly. … Prayer is the very breath of faith.”

“If a group of men and children were to wade through a brook no deeper than a man’s head, the men would have a definite advantage over the children. But if they tried to cross the ocean, the men as well as the children would need a ship to carry them. And only the insane would try to wade through without the help of a ship just because they are a little taller than the rest.”

“Beware of opposing the Spirit. Does He beam light from His Word into your understanding? Be careful what you do with this candle of the Lord that lights your mind; do not pride yourself in this new insight, or it may be snuffed out in an instant. If the Holy Spirit confirms the light in your understanding so that it sets your conscience on fire with the awareness of sin, do not resist Him. … satan longs for you to quench the Spirit by trying to calm your own conscience.”

“Christian, there are many delights which saints traveling to heaven meet on their way there, besides what God has for them at the journey‘s end. It is the Christian whose faith is strong enough to act upon the promise who finds and possesses these pleasures.”

“A person should no more sit down and be content in his unresolved doubt than one who thinks he smells fire in his house would go to bed and sleep. He will look in every room and corner until he is satisfied that everything is safe. … In spite of his doubts the true believer leans on and desires still to cling to Christ. While Peter’s feet were faltering beneath the water he was lifting up prayer to Christ.”

“Have you ever freely given yourself up to Christ? Everybody professes this, but the presumptuous soul, like Ananias, lies to the Holy Ghost by keeping back the most important part of what he promised to lay at Christ’s feet. The enjoyment of lust is entwined about his heart and he cannot persuade himself to deliver it up to God’s justice. His life is bound up in it, and if God will have it from him He must take it by force; there is no hope of gaining his consent. Is this the picture of your faith? If it is, you have blessed yourself in an idol; you have mistaken a bold face for a believing heart.”

“Faith strips away the veil from the Christian’s eyes so he can see sin in its nakedness before satan disguises it with flattering costumes. Faith enables the soul to recognize not only the nature of sin void of all true pleasure, but also the temporal quality of its frivolous elation. Faith persuades us not to give up God’s sure mercies for satan’s transient thrills.”

I will be sharing more quotes from this book soon. To be notified as soon as those quotes are posted, be sure to subscribe to my blog. In the meantime, every day I share inspiring quotes on Twitter and Tumblr, so make sure you follow me there too!

The Danger Of Unbelief

Horatius Bonar“Unbelief in Scripture is spoken of as the sin of sins. As faith is the root of all good, so is unbelief of all evil. God hates it; Christ condemns it; our own hearts cannot but say it is evil. ‘The evil heart of unbelief’ is the most evil of all. … Unbelief is injustice—

  1. To God—It assumes that He is not to be trusted or credited; that He is not the being that He has said He is. It does gross injustice to His whole character; His love, His grace, His veracity, His unchangeableness. It misinterprets and misrepresents Him in all respects, and so dishonors Him, and separates us from Him.
  2. To Christ—It rejects the testimony which God has given of Him; it refuses to accept the character which the Father has given of Him, and treats Him as one like ourselves. Every act of unbelief, every doubt, every suspicion is an injustice to Him—to one who has not deserved such treatment at our hands. It keeps us apart from Him, and Him from us; it will not allow us to be satisfied with what Scripture has revealed concerning Him.
  3. To the Holy Spirit—All unbelief is a rejection of the Spirit’s testimony to the Son; a grieving of the Spirit. It is a doing injustice to His love and power; to His willingness to bless. It is making Him a liar. It is casting discredit on that Book which He has written for us concerning the love of God.
  4. To the Cross—All unbelief, more or less, directly assails the cross. It says—(1) That Cross is insufficient, it cannot save unless assisted by goodness in us; (2) That Cross may save ordinary sinners, it cannot save me; (3) That Cross is not the place of substitution, but merely of example of a divine self-surrender. Thus it insists that we shall not take our peace from the cross alone.
  5. To the blood—The special thing which marks the Cross is the blood; and unbelief specially sets aside the blood in its value and efficacy. It refuses to take peace from the blood alone. …
  6. To the gospel—It makes void the good news, and turns them into evil tidings, or at least into no tidings at all. It makes the faith which receives the gospel a work to be done, a condition to be performed; and upon the right doing of that work, and the right performance of that condition….

“Unbelief checks prayerfulness—Prayer implies expectancy: ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’ Where unbelief comes in, this expectancy is stopped; and prayer becomes irksome, and in the end brief and infrequent.” —Horatius Bonar

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