As a new Christian, how do I deal with doubt?
I read the bible and have accepted Jesus as my saviour. Unfortunately i still struggle deep in my heart with doubt. It all seems too good to be true! Am i truly a saved Christian when i can’t seem to find ‘the peace that transcends all understanding’?
It’s wonderful that you have accepted Jesus as your saviour. The Bible teaches us in Romans 10:9 that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” So you are saved. Your salvation does not rely on how you feel but on what Christ has done for you.
There is great assurance in the Bible for those who are saved, not the least of which is knowing that it is by God’s grace that we come to him in belief in the first place. Paul teaches us that:
“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
and the Psalms say
“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord , have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-8
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Having said this, there is also the reality of living in our broken world, with the bombardments of that world coming at us from every angle. One of the outcomes of this is the varying degrees of doubt most Christians experience. People’s doubts can arise from various sources. For you, it would appear that the lack of sensing “the peace that transcends all understanding” is making you wonder if you have saving faith.
The peace that Paul is speaking of in Philippians 4:7 (the “peace that transcends (NIV) or surpasses (ESV) all understanding”) is not a feeling of peace but the reality of peace beween us and God based on the saving work of Jesus on the cross. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and saviour, you have this peace no matter what you feel. In so many ways our salvation, at so great a cost to our Lord, showing such love and mercy by God and of which we are totally undeserving, does seem too good to be true. But God reveals to us in scripture that it is indeed true.
Once we have chosen to put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and saviour, we embark on a journey of living as God’s children. This will involve a growing in maturity (not necessarily a sudden leap) as we grow in our love, knowledge and service of God. What you do with your doubt can be the difference between helping you or hindering you in your Christian growth. If you use your doubt to spur yourself on to knowing God better, you will know God better. As you hold on to what you know is true despite your doubts your faith will hold its ground. As you read the Bible over time and try to understand God’s character as he reveals himself, and the promises he has made, the grace he has shown us in Christ becomes clearer. As you continue to pray and ask for God to work in you by his Holy Spirit, you will grow in faith and understand what you are reading more and more. As you go to church and hear the Bible faithfully taught, your understanding will increase. As you spend time with other Christians and learn from them you will be encouraged in your perseverence, understanding and faith. Ephesians 1:13 says “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory”. He has given you his Holy Spirit to enable you to grow as you continue to seek to serve him with the new life he has given you in Christ. Philippians 2:3 gives us the encouragement that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
So my prayer for you now is the same as Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (3:16ff)- “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart(s) through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”.
I hope this has been helpful to you Sandy, and that God will bless you with ever increasing faith as you continue in your Christian walk.
Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au