Double-Minded, Doubting Christians?
A Study By Earl Jackson on Faith
James 1:6-8 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Christians "without faith" or with "little faith" seems like a contradiction in terms but it is a phenomenon we encounter over and over again in the Bible. Christians are supposed to be people of faith (2Cor. 5:7; Rom. 1:17). They are justified by faith (Rom. 3:28; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 2:16). Faith is said to be "the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8; Eph. 6:23). Christ is "the author and finisher" of it (Heb 12:2). It is said to be one of "the gifts of the Holy Spirit" (1Cor. 12:9). We are also clearly told that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6). So then, how is it that God is the one who gives faith, and He is also the one who repeatedly rebukes his people for not having it? If they do not have it, it is because He did not give it. Isn't that correct? This blows some peoples minds, and fractures what little theology they have, because they have never learned to think correctly about the God whom they serve. But it is actually all quite simple and easy to understand.
Here God says that a Christian who prays "without faith" must not vainly imagine that he will recieve anything from the Lord. He is called a double minded, unstable man. How is it that God commands us to pray and ask by faith, and then He chastises us and rebukes us when we don't have faith, when it is He who is the only one who can give faith? Does this seem strange or perplex you.
Take the case of the unbelieving disciples in Matthew 17.
t.17:19-20 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
This requires no in depth theological knowledge to understand. The disciples simply could not cast out a demon because of their unbelief. And then Jesus gives them a teaching on the simple yet mighty power of faith. When you disciples have faith, even a little tiny amount like a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible to you, and you shall move mountains like this one over here. The implication is clear... they did not even have a little faith! Does this seem strange to you? that they actually attempted to cast out a demon and work a miracle in the name of Christ, and yet Christ chides them for their unbelief? If faith is attempting the miraculous? then surely they must have had at least some faith? Christ said they could not perform the miracle because of their unbelief. It was cut and dry. They received nothing from the Lord because what they sought to do was without faith and was actually the product of doubting, double minded and unstable minds. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Jesus' teachings about faith are far different than the mush that we hear theologians and pulpiteers driveling out, when they tell us that "radical miracle working faith is only something that fanatical bug eyed Pentecostals and charismatics believe in". "That kind of faith", they tell us, "condemns people when they do not have enough faith and makes people feel guilty when their prayers are not answered". These people resist the plain teachings of Christ, that you do not receive answers to your prayers because you do not have enough faith. For them it becomes theologically incorrect to assert what Jesus asserts, and to teach what Jesus taught. It is too radical for their system of thought, because they are unstable double-minded unbelievers. They should be rebuked and defrocked. They should be chased out of their pulpits with baseball bats, because they clearly deny what Christ plainly says. When you directly contradict Christ due to your hatred of what He has said, you do not deserve to be called one of His servants, and you are certainly not qualified to be one of his teachers. If Christ's teachings about faith confuses you, and makes you feel uncomfortable, then straighten yourself out, and start thinking right about the matter. Look.
Matt. 21:21-22 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Mark 11:22-24 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
The issue is very simple, when you "have faith in God" you will not doubt when you tell the mountain to be cast into the sea, and whatever you ask God to do will be done. Plain and simple that's it. "It shall be done" leaves no room for doubt. Jesus Christ was not an idiot. He knew perfectly well what He was teaching. He knew that it was radical faith, and only radical faith which produced miraculous results. Why on earth would you ever have a problem understanding such a simple and clear teaching? Radical faith is real faith, and real faith produces miracles! That's what faith is, and that's what faith does.
Question: "Why could not we cast him out?"...
Answer: "Because of your unbelief". What is complicated about this? "Nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matt. 17:20).
But the double-minded, doubting kind of faith, possessing so many of our preachers, teachers, theologians and Christians today, is actually no faith at all. That's why they ask and do not receive. They are powerless, because they have no power. They get no results because they have no faith.
Matt 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
You err seriously if you think these verses belong only to some bug eyed fanatics who actually believe what Jesus taught. These verses belonged to Jesus and all His disciples. They, and many more like them, belong to all Christians, and they should especially belong to our modern preachers and teachers who are supposed to understand and practice the teachings of Christ.
Jesus scolded people everywhere He went for their lack of faith. He was never happy about the fact, when men did not have faith, but instead acted in unbelief. We know from the doctrine of total depravity that this is the normal condition of men by nature...to love darkness rather than light and to function by rationalism and intellectualism without faith. This is normal and is always to be expected. But is it ever acceptable? Not according to Jesus. Christ applauds men, heals them and performs great miracles in the presence of faith. But He condemns them, does not many mighty works among them, when he finds no faith.
I have often heard Luke 18:1-8 used to teach the idea of importunity in prayer, praying with persistence. But that is not the main thing that it is teaching. Look.
Luke 18:1-8 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Notice carefully that final verse where a somewhat cryptic question is asked. "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth?" (vs.8 ESV). Obviously it is not enough to stay long in prayer, and to do as the widow did in the parable and persevere in petitioning God for our needs. The final verse tells us what the real requirement for success is...FAITH! "Without faith it is impossible to please God".
The prayer of the double-minded, unstable man is not answered because of unbelief. The man doubts and lacks faith and therefore he receives nothing! "That person must not suppose that He will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:7). It is sinful presumption to assume that a Christian will receive any answers to faithless praying. That is what both James and Jesus taught.
No faith...no mighty works.
No Faith...no answered prayer.
No Faith...no healing!
No faith...no mountain moving!
No Faith...No casting out demons!
It's really so simple that it boggles the mind that the highfalutin theologians have a problem with it. In fact, they want to exorcise this kind of faith from our vocabulary and mentality entirely. They want nothing to do with it, and they warn against the dangers of being fanatical "like that". It's no wonder the modern churches are so powerless. They make a mockery of Christianity, because they have stripped it of it's most amazing asset...FAITH! They have removed faith from "the faith"! They have taken faith from the faithful. It has left them with an external form of godliness with absolutely no power (2Tim. 3:5).
James is very careful to remind us that Faith without works is dead (James 2:20,26). That is very important but How about this...FAITH WITHOUT FAITH IS DEAD ALSO! Talking about the faith without having any is absolutely ridiculous. This seems to be a huge problem in our modern evangelicalism, which has been denuded by the false doctrines of the cessationists. They have a Christianity with a Christ who can do nothing. They have a faith with not one ounce of faith in it! This is a gigantic problem, and anyone who has any enlightenment from the Lord at all, should be able to see the dire consequences of such faithless, unbelieving believing. Faithless belief is like no belief at all! Powerless Christians are not Christians at all. In fact Jesus said that one of their very marks as believers, would be that they would have the great power of the Holy Ghost upon them (Acts 1:8), and that they would do even mightier deeds than He did!
John 14:12-14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Powerless Christianity is not Christianity at all. It is an empty and worthless hoax. Why waste your time with a God who does nothing, because faith is dead? The "faith is dead" doctrine which fills every cessationist church is no different than the "God is dead" doctrine. Both are false, and both are useless wastes of time. This was not the religion of Christ or the apostles, and it is not my religion either. Faithless churches and faithless preachers ought to be boarded up, and the preachers tarred and feathered for blasphemy. Unbelieving and faithless ministers seeks to comfort themselves and soothe their warped consciences by telling themselves that their lack of faith is alright. After all, they don't want to look like a bunch of religious fanatics and kooks! They criticize those who actually teach what Jesus taught and they say we are offering people false hope when we tell them they can move any mountain in their life. But they are offering no hope at all! And instead they are offering false comfort, telling people it's OK to doubt, to disbelieve and to have no faith. They are warped! And the people who listen to them are just as warped as they are. In their mind it is better to have a paralyzed God who "can do no mighty works" down here on earth, than it is to believe, teach and follow the actual words of Jesus. Phooey on that! The Roman Catholic Church, as bad as it is, has far better doctrine than the cessationists. At least they have shrines you can go to for healing and relics and bones you can touch which will at least make you feel good. These cessationists have nothing. Faith without faith is dead. And people without faith are dead too!
In His own home town it is recorded of Jesus that "He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief" (Matt. 13:58).
In Mark 6 it is even more clear.
Mark 6:5-5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
Jesus marveled because of their unbelief? Does that not strike you as a most peculiar phrase? Compare that to the response of Christ to the Centurion for whom He wrought a great miracle in Matthew 8.
Matt 8:10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith".
In both accounts Jesus marveled. In Mark He marvels because of their unbelief, and in Matthew He marvels at the Centurions great faith, and he was a person who did not even claim to be a Christian! Yet Christ said he had the greatest faith he had ever found in all of Israel! That is utterly fantastic. The Centurion did not even claim to be religious, yet he had the greatest faith in all of Israel. In fact Jesus uses this case to teach that men would come from the far distant pagan lands to sit down at His Bridal table, but the religious crowd in Israel, who are called "the sons of the kingdom" (vs. 12) will be cast into hell. Talk about upsetting the religious apple cart?
Notice this, He marvelled not "at their unbelief", but "because of their unbelief". Their unbelief was not the object in which Jesus marvelled. It was the cause of His marvelling. It was as if Christ was amazed by the idea that God could be walking among these people, and the people could still have no faith. They had seen His works, they had heard His heavenly wisdom, they knew what He had been doing, they were aware of His claims; yet they were filled with unbelief. They came to the false conclusion that what He did He did as an agent of Beelzibub in some sort of complicity with the underworld! Imagine such deluded thinking? That is exactly the kind of thinking I hear in the speeches of the cessationist. They immediately go over to this idea that the Devil works miracles too. Such rapidity to blame Beelzibub for the works of the Holy Spirit is a sure mark that they have committed the unpardonable sin. While protecting their cherished cessationism, they slander God and Blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Be Careful friend. That is very treacherous ground, you walk on, when you stray from the actual teachings of Christ, and choose to follow abhorrent doctrines of men. Be very careful.
It is high time to restore this correct doctrine about faith to our lives and our churches. Instead of making exclusives and slathering our consciences when we don't get answers to our prayers, when we don't see healings and miracles happening, we need to be honest with ourselves. We failed because of our lack of faith! We did not succeed because we harbor too much unbelief and doubt. Don't delude yourself into thinking that you have strong faith, when you actually have no faith at all. Self-deception or feeling sorry for yourself, or thinking that God hasn't heard your prayers, are all false attitudes. God hears all things perfectly well, and the problem is not with Him, it is because your faith is weak or it is non-existent. Instead of making lame excuses for why you fail in praying and miracle working it's time you say what Jesus says. You failed because your faith sucks. How are you ever going to grow? How are you ever going to be challenged to attempt great things for God and to expect great things from God, if you are wallowing in self-pity and refuse to admit your weaknesses and failures when they occur? If you pretend that you are a success when you are a failure, that does not magically turn you into a success. If you have no faith, or weak faith, or deficient faith, or wavering faith, or unstable faith, or doubting faith, and you delude yourself into imagining that you have great faith, you are being ignorant and very foolish. Yet churches and pastors have been taking this approach for years, because if they exposed your lack of faith, they would be exposing their own lack of faith also. It is far easier to cover up this teaching, call it controversial, or fanatical, and pacify everyone's fears with the crazy "I'm OK, You're OK" nonsense.
Your not OK, and I'm not OK if our faith is all screwed up! Somebody has to say what Jesus said about this. It's high time to return this critical doctrine to our lives and to our pulpits and our churches! This is not complicated. If my prayers are not being answered, it's because my faith is deficient or missing altogether. It is not because God is deaf. It is not even because God is saying no. It is because my faith stinks! This simple fact is very basic, yet it is seldom heard or taught today. Why is that? It is far easier to sweep this all aside, and to pretend that we all have great and perfect faith. There's nothing wrong with our faith. How dare you suggest such a thing? Our faith is just fine. Hog wash. This doctrine deserves front and center space in the realm of practical Christian living. I can think of no more essential doctrine for successful Christian living than this. "The just shall live by faith". Is that actually how we are living?
So what is the deal with this after all? Faith can move mountains, but lack of faith moves nothing. Faith gets prayers answered, but doubting, and wavering is nothing but presumption upon God. Faith gets whatever it asks, and when it is present nothing shall be impossible. But unbelief paralyzes both God and the so-called Christians who try to function that way. He cannot do mighty works in the presence of unbelief, and so Jesus goes everywhere castigating and chastising people because of their unbelief. But the Bible teaches that faith is a gift from God. Isn't this a problem? Isn't this some sort of theological dilemma? The answer is no it is not! Faith is a gift from God, and if you do not have it you are in serious trouble! You had better get it. You had better seek Him while he may be found, and call upon Him while he is near (Isa. 55:6). That's why Peter calls faith something that is "precious" (1Pet. 1:1). Don't treat it as though it is ordinary or common, it is precious in deed. Jude says it is "most holy" (Jude 1:20). But there is no problem with God if you do not have it! If you do not have it, it is because He has not given it to you. And if He has not given it to you, then you better go to Him at once and get it! You will certainly go to hell if you have no faith, because their is no salvation without it (Acts 10:43; Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31).
But if you have no faith you can not blame God for that, even though He may not have given it to you. You cannot say "why have you made me thus?" (Rom. 9:20). No, you cannot charge God at all in this matter. Your unbelief, your doubt, your lack of faith is all your own fault, because "Faith comes by hearing the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). God gives it, yes, but He gives it through the word of God which he has already written and has already been preaching throughout all of human history. You have already heard enough of God's word to have more than adequate faith. He has even preached it to you in the stars and the creation which is all around you so that "you are without excuse" (Rom 1:18-20). If you do not have it it is your own fault. Read the Bible. Flee to Him and ask Him to give it to you, because without it you will perish.
John 20:31 But these are written (the Bible,the words of God), that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
2Tim. 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
1Pet. 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
The advice to be gleaned from this lesson, is really quite practical. It is summarized in the following verses. If you lack the kind of miracle working, mountain moving faith Jesus spoke about, then do what these verse verses show you to do. Quit playing games with God, and start living and walking by faith, because without it, it is impossible to please God, but with faith all things are possible.
Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"