Hello, friends and family!

I’m sure many of you have noticed my lack of blogging, and I wanted to share the reason for that with you today.

Ever since I could remember, I believed in God and the Bible and Creation and all those things. One of my earliest memories is talking to my dad about sin and how we need to be saved. When I was about five years old, I prayed and confessed my sin and received Christ during bedtime prayers with my grandpa on my mom’s side. Until about two months ago, I was a Bible-believing Christian who wanted to please God and would witness to people and write a blog about being a Christian.

But, over the course of time, I had doubts. I didn’t have trouble believing in Creation. I knew there was evidence for a flood. I knew it was possible (even likely) that God created man out of the dust of the earth, not apes or whales or cows. I didn’t for a moment find it hard to believe that Jesus was a person. And I never doubted that He could have been God or that He could of risen from the dead. I just had misgivings here and there.

There were two main causes for my doubt. First, I was disappointed with the actions of so-called Christians. Not only others, but myself. I wondered (and still wonder) why it would please God more to let us struggle than to make living perfectly an easy thing. I always thought “if the Spirit of Almighty God is living in you, then why and how do you act that way?” My second struggle was the idea of Hell. I couldn’t believe that a good God would send people to a place of eternal fire and bitter torment forever. I could understand punishment. I could understand separation from God. But… eternal punishment? Why not “annihilation of the wicked,” like the Seventh-Day Adventists believed? Why not just a less enjoyable place than Heaven (even that would be torture if enduring for eternity). I felt that no normal human being would do that to anyone. I doubted that Hitler himself would sit at the edge of Hell and look down upon thousands of Jews for more than a few thousand years. At some point, some inkling of compassion would bubble to the surface of that dark soul.

These doubts grew stronger and came more to the forefront of my mind. At some point, I gave up believing. And, while I would never say I am an atheist (more of a firm belief that there is no God or gods) I would have to identify as agnostic (the doubt that there is a God, kind of the “well… I don’t know” position).

Typing those words is surprising to myself. I never thought I would doubt. I believed the Bible with all my heart. I had committed my life to Christ. I wanted to follow every bit of God’s Word. I don’t know what happened. And, I know, the idea that Satan or his demonic force attacked me in some way may be a wise explanation, but it feels like an easy answer. Instead of giving guidance in my doubt, one may find it easier to conclude that Satan has gotten a hold of me. Maybe someday I will believe that. Actually, I’m pretty sure that one day all these doubts will fade away and the God that I have loved will show Himself to me. But I don’t know. I can’t know.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Because I know you care about me and I was encouraged to by my dad. Many of you are friends from church. Some of you are uncles and aunts and cousins. Some of you are grandparents. Some of you are dear brothers and sisters that I’ve met while operating this little blog. And I’m sharing this with you because I know you will do all that you can to help me. I want to believe. I want this. But I want to know that it is true. I don’t want to convince myself of something that isn’t reality. I pray that God will use this Christmas reminder of Jesus to show me His love and give me faith again.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please comment or send me an email or talk to me at church. I want to hear stories from your life. I want to know if you ever doubted, and how God has given you faith.

Until next time,

LeviGrant

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26 thoughts on “Truth and Doubt

  1. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
    -C S Lewis
    Hi Levi,
    One comment about God sending ppl to eternal Hell. I believe Bible teaches that each of us gets a choice between Heaven or Hell. If you were to remove a burning sinner from Hell, dust him off, quench the embers, and place him at the gates of Heaven and gesture for him to enter in, he would dart back to Hell faster than light because the sinner believes that an eternity with God is more unpleasant than eternity in torment. Jesus indicated that there are levels of pain and torture and everyone that choses Hell also choses the depths to which they sink. Similarly, the saint gets to chose how much of the grace of God he gets to enjoy, based to a large degree on how we lived our lives here. I have chosen to believe the promises of God, and that an eternity with Him is better than anything else.
    Caleb

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  2. Levi – I am going to keep it simple and straight forward my friend. You have the foundation of God in you. Keep the faith, even if the size of a mustard seed..and that is sufficient for now. I lived a very self-willed life for 39 years. I have seen and dealt with adversity. I have seen God work in people that were left for dead. My point is, sometimes we need to realize adversity in our own lives to feel the impact God has on us and in us. You have a lot of great people to support you right now until you find your way back to allowing God to support you again. God speed to you Levi and God bless you in your journey!

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  3. Hey Levi!

    I’m not family or a friend, but I’ve read a few of your posts and enjoyed them. It took a lot of courage to post this, and I applaud that. A lot of Christians can be pretty harsh toward the very idea of doubt. As you have said in your post, Christians can be pretty lousy in general. I know. I’ve experienced it. But there is more to the story.

    As others have said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for you to doubt your faith. In fact, it can be a good thing. Indeed, we should doubt everything, and this includes our doubt.

    I wrote a blog post on this subject awhile back, and you may or may not find it encouraging, but I’ll leave a link here in case you’re interested.

    Keep pursuing truth, where ever it leads!

    http://reaganramm.com/its-okay-to-doubt-your-faith/

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  4. Levi, I am so grateful to see all the encouragement you have received in these comments as well as in the people I see talking with you. These people are preaching the Gospel to you again and again. We all need to hear it and be reminded of who our great God is. Keep seeking Him. I’m rooting for you. I’m praying for you. And I know you story isn’t over. I love you, Buddy! Christina

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  5. Dear Levi,

    Northeastern Baptist has been our church home for several years now. My age lies somewhere between the ages of your parents; I know them through church and I am friends with them on Facebook. I remember when you started your blog. I clicked the link and read these posts by a boy who was in the age range of my two oldest children and thought to myself what an insightful and mature boy you were; that at your age to have such strength of faith and insight was just incredible! Quite frankly I think what you are experiencing in this season of doubt and questioning and suspension of belief is what most people go through in their late teens and early twenties. Whether we grow up in a home saturated in the love of Christ and founded on Truth or in a home where that love and belief hovers in the background, still finding it’s way, or a home without God or a home with the angry, judgmental God, each believer goes through different growing pains. If one grows up in the church, with a family of faith and true relationships with God, at some point they have to ask themselves if they really believe it, if they accept it personally; to make it their own. Or, they decide to explore the world we live in, see what they’ve been “missing”. Some grow up as cultural Christians, others with parents whose faith is immature and still growing in fits and starts. As each of us grows and matures the bottom line is that we all have our own journey, our own time of choosing to grab onto the Word (Jesus and scripture) or choosing a different path, even if it is only for a time.

    I read your most recent post Sunday morning. As I was driving to church and mulling over what you had shared, the scriptures on becoming a new creation came to mind. When we accept the grace given in salvation we become new creations, born again. Unfortunately, just like a newborn babe, newborn believers have to be nurtured, fed; they need to be taught, they grow and learn and make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and keep trying. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always pleasant. Temper tantrums abound. Pouting, crying, lashing out; this happens in spiritual rebirth as it does in physical birth. But, as Paul and James say, we run our race, we build perseverance and we persevere. We strive towards perfection yet we will never be perfect this side of Heaven. Our loving Father knows that. Jesus our Lord knows that. The Holy Spirit knows this; which is why He is also called Comforter, Counselor, and why He goes to God on our behalf when we have no words of our own. That morning in the sermon, Pastor Coon spoke about how believers face three Enemies: Satan: by telling lies cloaked in truth, inflicting physical suffering (only with God’s knowledge), and playing on our pride. Then there is our own flesh, which constantly wants it’s own way; by the natural desires we are created with (and can get out of control), wanting what we see around us, and finally that pride we have that Satan likes encouraging us to be puffed up with. Our final enemy he says is the World. It is alluring to us. It plays on our “flesh”. Paul says something to the effect of, “I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want to do”. I find that personally encouraging. If such a warrior of faith and prayer struggled against what is our/my own worst enemy (my self), then it is normal that I will struggle too. We are promised good things, and we are promised suffering and hardship. It just isn’t very popular to talk about the tougher, less pleasant promises in scripture.

    There are times I struggle with why God allows what He allows in the world; I struggle with what appears on the surface to be harmless. Then I remember God is Holy. He made the rules, the boundaries to keep us safe, to make us truly free, to give us a life of abundance. I remember that He is longsuffering and I remember that in allowing all of us free will, freedom to make our own choices, that we all benefit or suffer from one another’s actions or inactions. None of it happens without His knowledge, without His will or His permissive will. His patience is not to be misconstrued as forgetting or ignoring or even acceptance. He doesn’t want any one to be lost. He waits. And waits. And waits some more. He respects the choice they make to believe or not believe (rely on, trust in, lean on) Christ the Savior. I don’t know that I’ve ever come to a time in my faith journey where I no longer believed. I’ve gone through times where by all appearances you wouldn’t know I loved God, times of living my own way. I did go through a time of feeling and carrying great shame and not wanting Him to see me, not wanting to talk to Him or have Him know what was going on. I was afraid to seek Him. But when I did I realized He knew everything anyway and He still loved me, He was still willing to forgive me. I realized He was there all along, waiting.

    Feelings are useful; they serve a purpose and they are a part of the human makeup. Feelings can also be misleading, unreliable, even misdirected. We cannot let our feelings rule us. There are times we have to act despite our feelings, we have to choose to be loving when we don’t feel the love, choose to trust when we’re afraid, choose hope when all feels hopeless; choose not to act, when we feel like we just have to “do” something! Sometimes we have to “fake it till we make it” and the feelings quite often will actually follow. I’m not saying to “fake” belief. But you may have to choose to believe before you “sense” the belief. You may have to choose to trust that He is real, is Who He says He is until you sense His Presence again. You may have to step out in faith and trust the Bible really is His Word until you get further in your own study and research of Scripture. Even then not everything will make sense. He tells us “…your ways are not my ways”, in Isaiah 55:8. In Proverbs 3 we are told not to rely on our own understanding. One resource that is a great study which asks and answers why we believe what we believe is the Truth Project, which was put out by or is a part of Focus on the Family. I know it is difficult to wrap your head around all of this. That is ok. This time of questioning and doubt will be a way to connect to others in the future. God will use this for good. It may be exactly why He is allowing it.

    Yours sincerly, with hope and prayers,

    Karen

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  6. Hi again, Levi,
    By the many comments above, it’s plain to see you are well-loved & surrounded by godly advisers for which I’m sure you’re thankful.

    I just finished watching Bill Crowder of Daily Bread give an interesting talk with humor on Joseph. Here’s the link – the youtube of this is him in a blue shirt, dark vest behind a podiium – hope you can access it:
    http://odb.org/video/mistakes-made-beautiful/

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  7. Hello, Levi!
    Someone suggested I read your latest blog and so I did. You are a good communicator–just like God!

    I have read with interest almost all of the commentary given so far. Yes, we’ve all struggled with doubts and must figure out faith for ourselves. John the Baptist asked, “Are you the Anointed One or shall we look for someone else?” And Jesus stated that no one greater than him had ever lived. Being authentic in our struggles is healthy.

    I could tell you of great testimonies of transformations I’ve seen in lives of people I know. I could list resources that are helpful as well. Sometimes when I wonder if God is present and listening, I read Job 38, 39. God didn’t mind Job’s assumptions etc. but he told him to “man up” and listen! It’s humbling.
    We are spirit beings and unless we open our spirit to the Spirit of the Living God, nothing makes sense. His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts like our thoughts. We can’t understand him from an intellectual viewpoint. We can’t even comprehend Him with our Spirit because there are so many facets to His nature.

    Several years ago I was overwhelmed with caring for my mother who suffers with dementia; I had to take a walk just to regain some calm. I took my camera and began to practice some macro photography. I zoomed in on a bright yellow wildflower that was about one inch in diameter. When I uploaded it onto the computer I was astounded by the image. The flower wasn’t as defined as I wanted it to be but there in front of me…peeking behind one tiny petal…was a miniature grasshopper that I didn’t see with my naked eye. I had an epiphany in that moment. It reminded me of one of God’s names–El Roi–the God who sees me. This image represented one square inch of the universe–complete with color, design and purpose. Why would I ever think the God of the universe didn’t have my back in every situation? I have never looked through the lens of the camera the same way since that day. To quote Dr. Charles Stanley, “I don’t just take photographs. I go looking for God!”

    It’s a lifelong journey and we come to different understanding as we mature. I grew up in a very legalistic church so finding freedom from that is ongoing. There’s only one thing in this life I know to be true for me: God is faithful! I don’t get His ways much of the time, but He’s always there in every breath I take. He’s rooting for you to discover your purpose. No other god does that. The God I know and love transforms my life and gives me purpose in living.

    Enjoy the journey of discovery, Levi!

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  8. Levi,
    Not sure if I can add anything here, but I want you to know I truly am a friend, though we have never met. I feel I got to know you through your writings, you are very gifted. You are a communicator. I know how difficult it can be to struggle with doubts, been there. First I would ask you if physically you are doing well, I mean have you had a check up recently? Sounds silly I know, but sometimes a physical condition can cause depression etc. Assuming that is not the case Let me share what has helped me. I took out a hymnbook, started reading songs, discovered many of the most loved hymns were written by believers who struggled at one time or another with their faith. On Christ the Solid Rock comes to mind. One verse says “When all around my Soul gives way…

    Here is the hymn:

    1. My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
    o Refrain:
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
    All other ground is sinking sand,
    All other ground is sinking sand.
    2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
    I rest on His unchanging grace;
    In every high and stormy gale,
    My anchor holds within the veil.
    3. His oath, His covenant, His blood
    Support me in the whelming flood;
    When all around my soul gives way,
    He then is all my hope and stay.
    4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
    Oh, may I then in Him be found;
    Dressed in His righteousness alone,
    Faultless to stand before the throne.

    Praying for you my friend! Your are important to many, and you have a great group of supporters, you will get through this and be stronger than ever! Will share more later if you want, but will not pester you.

    Jim

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  9. I’m posting a bit of personal stuff, but I figured if someone came across it, it might be helpful to them. Also, feel free to not approve this; it is gigantic.
    —–
    Hi Levi,

    My name is William, and I am a friend of Lissy’s; we were counsellors this summer at Barakel.

    Thanks for sharing some struggles you are going through. I went through something similar, and I will try to help you. Though, I tend to rush to put a big bandaid on things to help, so I would still get advice from others and in a different format than this. I will share some things that helped me, but our experiences are not quite the same.

    I have divided it into three parts; Part 1 is my story, Part 2 contains helps (unloading everything), Part 3 addresses some of your doubts (as best I can; I could do a lot more studying on the subject and still be lacking)

    –Part 1 – My story
    I grew up in a nominal home; I came to know the Lord sometime in the middle of my sophomore year in high school. I thought about going for ministry after high school.

    Right after high school, I took classes online through The Master’s College. I started in July, and by September my head was inflated with pride. I thought I knew more than my pastor because I had taken a few survey courses! What vanity!

    I came to realize that I could not be thankful, which is part-and-parcel with pride (Romans 1), and I asked the Lord to humble me. Thankfully, he did, and what hell indeed my life became. I fell a number of times into sin that I had struggled with as a non-Christian, as well as sins of covetousness and desire for wealth that just frothed up to the surface. During that time, I also took an intro philosophy class through TMC, which hurled me further into a sea in which I was already drowning. Often, I felt like I floated on a piece of wood in a sea with 30 foot swells, with surf being rammed down my nose and throat.

    (Looking back, I really do not think it was taught well, and actually caused major problems. The course was set up to look at various philosophies, but it did not give a Christian answer to it, just a summary [The books were written by Non-Christians too, and I had to write a paper on a article from a philosophy journal; the article also introduced me to things I was not prepared to handle.] The professor’s view of apologetics was off, and any thing he said about why he took philosophy only exacerbated my problem of autonomous thinking. A thorough Biblical theology, which in scripture I see to be the basic structure outlined by Calvinism, does not allow for absolute autonomy of man metaphysically, ethically, or epistemologically from God. Recc. resources later.)

    The Lord came to show me the evil of my own heart. Now, when I think of horrendous evils, of brute acts of sinfulness, I do not think, “I am so glad that I do not do such things,” but, “except for the grace of God, there go I.” We are all Adam, and we have within us the seeds of such evils.

    In regards to certainty, because of my rationalism I ended up not being able to know anything for certain. To give you an example, I literally would open and close my hand in front of my face and question whether it was there or not. It was absurd. Likewise, all non-Christian worldviews and philosophies will lead to the death: ethically and epistemologically. We can never be separated from our metaphysical environment, that is, the creator-creature relationship; we are made in God’s image in a world created by God. Even to know ourselves, we must know something of God because we are created in God’s image, which is what Calvin says in his Institutes. Our ethical rebellion (and radical corruption) leads to the problems of interpreting the world, knowledge, and behavior.

    You have struggled with this for 2 months; I struggled with this for over 2 years. I quite understand, at least in part, some of what you are going through. I too felt like declaring agnosticism, but I thought that in doing so I would cause grief in the hearts of my mom, sister, and friends. I felt that if I declared that, their own faith would be damaged, and if I did, they help could not help. I too wanted with all my heart to be done with my doubts; I prayed many times, “help my unbelief” and “where shall I go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” I did not stop going to church, praying, going to almost every church event, and helping out in ministry. I let a few of my pastors know I was struggling.

    — Part 2 – Helps

    1. I got some help from my pastors, friends, etc. I think it is wise that you are doing so.
    2. Do not neglect to meet with you church family. (Hebrews 10:25)
    3. Do not neglect the reading of God’s word. Consider John 8, when Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (8:31-32). Abide in the word! Cling to it, even if you cannot understand everything at the moment! Those who fall away (1 John 2:9), subtract (Rev.22), twist (2 Peter 3:16), or go beyond the teaching (2 John 9) do not have God. When my college pastor struggled with similar things, he clung to John 8; cling to it as well.
    4. Get grounded in a solid view of God, and man. Theology gives rise to your apologetic, and really, to how you view the world. You apologetics should not determine your theology, that is backwards. Here are some recommendations on apologetics and theology:
    – Apologetics – A Justification of Christian Belief by John Frame (Frame has a number of other published words, but they are a bit more technical; they are worthy, but they may just be too much for a high schooler; it may be of some use later. On evolution, The Ultimate Proof of Creation by Jason Lisle is a bit more suited to high schoolers and Lay, but it does not cover as much theology, only method.) I would really recommend Frame’s book. College and I still find it a hard read
    – The Potter’s Freedom – James White
    – Listen to solid sermons and podcasts. Here are some: John MacArthur’s Grace to You: James White (Alpha and Omega), The Dividing Line; Albert Mohler, The Briefing; and Reformed Forum, Christ the Center (They are presbyterians, so often both your dad and I will disagree with them, but they still have helpful material). ItunesU also has courses and lectures from Westminster and Reformed Theological Seminary. Again, they are Presbyterians, but it may be useful. Scott Oliphant’s Apologetics 101 or Doctrine of God might be helpful.
    – Flee any known sin in your life; for young guys especially, not only physical sexual immorality, but mental sexual immorality as well. This battle will only be won if you are looking at Christ. It will be incredibly harder with the struggles you are going through now.
    – Note on Apologetics: You will become unbalanced if you view apologetics as scoring points, or trying to prove things to yourself and others, basing your faith all on a few arguements; this would just be another thing with which you would focus on yourself and your struggles. You would topple over if you do that; our faith rests not in men, but on God. You will never have all the answers, and that is okay. One of the chief problems of unbelieving thought is will try to have comprehensive knowledge of everything; we cannot do that because we were not made to have comprehensive knowledge. We must rest that God knows everything, and therefore we rest on his rationality. That being said, Apologetics should be done out of love for the Lord; a desire to know him and a desire to see others come to know him, not to score points against the unbeliever.
    – Also a note on Apologetics: Apologetics does not save any unbeliever. It is helpful for clearing debri in the mind of the Christian and debri before the non-Christian, but “salvation is of the Lord.” Apart form the Spirit of God, I could provide the clearest testimony to the truthfulness of Christianity and the lie of the unbeliever and him still reject the truth.
    5. Be praying

    — Part 3 – addressing some of your doubts; but these are going to ramble a bit.
    1. In regards to your first doubt; the short answer (and not exhaustive; this is just what is coming to mind) is that God saved us to be part of his body, in which believers build each other up in the knowledge and love for God. God saved us to redeem us from our lawless acts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting on our blessed hope . . . (Titus 2:11 and following; look up the rest of it.) God saved us for his glory; we are not our own; God uses our circumstances and our failings to see more of who he is and how great a savior he is. God saved us to be a witness in the world. Paul himself struggled with the flesh (Romans 7) and God even gave him a “Thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12) to keep him from becoming Proud. Our sinful flesh will never be gone until we die. We are both new in Christ with the Holy Spirit, yet still have the old nature in the flesh (Galatians 5). It has often been the case that persistent temptations, alongside other sins that God reveals to me, are things that make me see my need for Christ and to keep me on the path. It is a prod to remind me to be diligent.
    2. On universalism; stop thinking about what you think God should be. You do not determine who God is; you must get that from scripture. If your theology is determined on what you want God to be, you will never arrive at God, but only an image of yourself. You are also looking at it from the wrong point of view; you are starting with man and then trying to rationalize form there. If you are going to start anywhere, you need to start with the triune God as he has revealed himself in scripture. On this point, you might find it beneficial to read some good material on the doctrine of God and the doctrine of man (Frame’s book, the doctrine of God may be of use[though, I have not read it yet], or Calvin’s Institutes).
    3. God is good, but what does the goodness include? What categories are you bringing to scripture instead of taking the categories out of scripture. He is good, he is love, but he is also just.
    4. Doctrine of man; my conviction of man is this: If you somehow took someone out of hell, dusted of the embers, and put him before the gates of heaven and asked him, “Would you like to enter,” he would spit at the door, take the Lord’s name in vain, and jump back into hell. Why should someone who hates God even desire to be in the loving presence of God. Unbelievers will not instantly love what they hate here after death.
    5. Given that, why does God send people for hell? God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in eternity past planned the end from the beginning; that includes people going to hell and that includes saving individual people apart from anything that they had done or will do. It is all of grace; God would be perfectly just in sending everyone to hell. The question is not, “why does God send save some and not others,” but, “why does God save anyone at all?” Why create, having planned that Adam would (freely, in a creaturely sense) fall? At this point, I must point you to the cross. The purpose of creation was Jesus Christ and the full display of God’s love and justice. On my view, man is not a puppet, a 2-d thing where God controls human like a video game. It is a diamond; God’s sovereignty includes means, and that means includes men following their desires (Genesis 49; Acts 4; and all the evil that Christ suffered), and it includes the incarnation; God himself entered into time to redeem his people; time and human choice has meaning to God as he himself became a means in that fabric of time he created. Romans 8-11, a major passage on God’s sovereignty ends with praise at the inscrutable ways of God.
    6. Notes on above posts; I would not recommend Lee Strobel; Stroble tries to establish a neutral ground, which man does not have if God has made himself known to people and they actively suppress it (Romans 1). I hold to a presuppositionalist/covenantal apologetic. To say that an evidentialist has no presuppositions, and to say that a presuppositionalist uses no evidences are both false. I believe that you should use evidences to expose stupid arguments made by unbelievers, but not as a way to “prove” Christianity on the basis of a so-called “neutral” ground that the unbeliever accepts. This sort of apologetic 1) will only give you a shoddy probability argument that Christianity is true, and 2) will allow the unbeliever, on the basis of his presuppositions, to evade the absolute truth claims of Christianity by positing his presuppositions as a way out (If I present the theory of the resurrection, he can say can say about somone being rasied from the dead, “strange things happen in a random universe” or “we will someday figure out how he did it with science”; unless his foundational principles are challenged, he will never be consistently challenged). The unbeliever is opposed to the Christian view at every point. The Christian must show that the unbeliever cannot make sense out of the world on his own presuppositions. The hard line materialist cannot account for logic or the uniformity of science.
    7. Also a note on an above post: Faith as an irrational leap is not what faith is as defined by scripture. Faith is trusting in God’s word, which is certain, even if we cannot see the outcome of the promises yet. We trust God, we don’t make blind leaps of irrationality into the dark. What scripture says is true in reality.
    8. I tend not to attribute too much to Satan, though he is certainly an active influence behind non-Christian beliefs, working right alongside the depravity of man, which welcomes any excuse to get away from the true God.

    I hope this have been helpful. Your dad and your sister have my number if you ever like to call, but I think I’ve pretty much unloaded. You can also contact me by Facebook or email.

    May the Lord bless you as you seek to walk in the light of his word,
    William Schaerer
    Post Tenebras Lux

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  10. Hello Levi, My sister and her husband [a Doctor] worked in Saudi Arabia last year. Their colleagues at the hospital found a young Muslim girl in the sand, beaten and left for dead by her father. Her crime: she had begun reading the Bible.

    So the hospital workers were sure she was there about two weeks, which was physically impossible in the heat of the desert. In response to all their questions she said, “A man in a white robe with a gentle face came every day and gave me water to drink.”

    Now you might say “Wow Mrs. Wendt…I can’t possibly believe a story like that. Well, Levi it does not matter. My sister knows these people, and the story is 100% TRUE.

    So ask yourself, “What truth is in the Bible that this family so feared? Some Muslims read the Bible underground for several years before they commit to Christ since they know it is a death sentence to willingly follow Christianity. Why? The word ISALM means “to submit.” Do you think Jesus came chopping off heads to force followers to come? Now ask yourself why not? He would have “SENT” them to Hell. Muhammad killed thousands and thousands with his own sword to MAKE them convert. This is not a Savior.

    Who was Hell created for? In Revelations it teaches us that it was made for judgment on Satan and his fallen angels. God did not create the Garden of Eden and then make Hell for Adam and Eve because they disobeyed. How could overlook punishing Satan? He is holy. He could not.

    I would tell you to begin reading the whole Bible. Try a modern English translation that speaks to your heart. Check out Bible Gateway online. . Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

    If you want to hear the story of a vengeful God whom you can never please, read the Quran. If you want to read about a loving Heavenly Father whom you can actually please not just appease, read the Bible.

    Ezekiel 18:23.Do you think I take any pleasure in the death of wicked men and women? Isn’t it my pleasure that they turn around, no longer living wrong but living right—really living?

    Meditate: When you take a walk, take a verse with you and talk to God about it. His Spirit will work in your heart. Jesus was not afraid of talking to Thomas when he doubted. What you really crave is His Spirit convincing you, not just nice people doing it. Bring God all the doubts and do not hide them. Praying for you, Mrs. Wendt

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  11. Hey Levi,

    I spent the last couple hours writing a response. I am going to proofread it a couple times and then post it or send it to your dad through and email.

    It might not be ready until tomorrow.

    I went through something similar for a while, and I hope that you will find it helpful.
    William

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  12. Levi,

    Thank you for being honest. I admire your openness. It takes a lot of courage to share your struggle with your audience.

    Your struggle does not surprise me. You have had a very good upbringing and have had solid biblical teaching. But you’re getting to be to the point where you are going to naturally question what you’ve been told and what you believe. Having doubts at your age is not uncommon. It shows that you care about what you put your trust in. It needs to be real for you to trust it. That is a very good thing. It means that you want to be genuine. If you don’t believe something you don’t want to fake it. That is GREAT! It’s also great that you know WHAT you have doubts about. The problem comes when you give up BECAUSE you have doubts.

    The answer is going to come from a deeper knowledge of God. You need to know more about God. Don’t pull away from God…get closer to Him. That’s the safest place for you to be and it’s the only place to find your answers. Pray for God to show you Himself. He will! In His way and in His time.

    And while your getting closer to God, don’t watch the so-called christians too closely. It will either pump you up with pride (which is not a good thing) or you will get very discouraged. We all struggle with sin. Not because we don’t have enough faith, or because the devil made us do it. We struggle because our bodies are not redeemed yet. Because our bodies are not redeemed and we struggle, we experience the grace of God and through it Christ is glorified because of what He did on the cross.

    Here’s how I understand it to work. At the point of salvation our sin if forgiven. Christ took the punishment for us and our sin is removed from us….forever! All of it! All the sin that we will ever commit is gone! Does that mean that we don’t sin? NO! It means that it is forgiven! When God sees us He does not see sin because it is forgiven. Praise God for that! Christ gets all the glory for that! But we still live in a body that is unredeemed. We still suffer earthly consiquences, and satan still accuses us. But Christ’s sacrifice appeased God’s requirement for sin. So, why did God leave us in a body that will still sin? I think God did this so that we would come to know just how sinful we really are. Because, without knowing just how sinful we are, we wouldn’t really know His grace. I also think He left us to struggle so that we would know that we need His help. We can’t do life without His help! We need Him and He knows that….but we don’t know that until we struggle and sin. It’s in the struggle and sinning that we learn that we need God. I mean REALLY learn it.

    Hell is a real place that we all were destined for. God in His grace made a way for all to be forgiven. No one deserves forgiveness, we all deserve hell. It’s true, God is good, and He is loving, but He is also righteous, and Holy, and Just. He is also wise! I love this quote from A. W. Tozer, “All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could his acts not be better done; a better way to do them could not be imagined. An infinitely wise God must work in a manner not to be improved upon by finite creatures.” -From ‘The Knowledge of the Holy’ by A.W. Tower

    You will find your way in the struggle if you don’t give up. Keep seeking God!

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  13. It has been a long time since I have read it, but Lee Strobel’s book– The Case for Faith, may provide some answers that resonate with you. The author used to be an atheist and investigative journalist. He writes like he is conducting an investigation asking tough logical questions (some of the same ones you are asking.) Other Christian apologists provide answers to his questions.
    — Praying

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  14. Levi – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here and for asking for prayer and input. Those closest to me know the depths of my depravity and sin. And God knows far better than they. I am so far from deserving His grace but through faith in Christ I’m blessed to have been forgiven my sins. I know this in my heart. I don’t doubt this. But I do still find myself daily having to fight sin. How frustrating to me that I struggle to do what I know will please God. I’m praying for you Levi that God through His Word as you hear it proclaimed and read it for yourself will strengthen you, give you faith and give you confidence to trust in Him and the promises in the Bible. I’m here for you and would be honored to talk to you or exchange email any time.

    -Uncle Kevin

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  15. Levi,

    Thank for your willingness to be open and honest about what you’re wrestling with. I think it’s important to deal with our questions. From experience, I can tell you that the God of the Bible can handle what you’re asking. God is not going to fall to pieces if we ask questions. Trust me on that. 🙂 You are not the first person to have these questions and you won’t be the last.

    Do you have the YouVersion app? There’s a “Through the Bible in 90 Days” reading plan on there that I have found very helpful lately. There is time to slow down and dig deep, but a sprint provides a good big picture view of Who God is and what He has done. I think that I am more convinced than I have ever been of God’s holiness, righteous, and justice, as well as His patience, love and care for people after reading through the Bible last spring with that plan, especially while reading the Old Testament. I think it took me about an hour and ten minutes a day to get through each reading. Sometimes I read it myself, and sometimes on my more distracted days, I’d listen to the audio and follow along.

    I believe that all human beings are born with a sinful nature and that we all choose to go astray by default. I think that the history of God’s people throughout the Old Testament bears that out. I don’t believe that God “sends” people to Hell, exactly. I think that history shows time and time again that we are running toward hell full speed ahead until God steps in. We may not be full blown evil like Hitler, but we tend to place ourselves into the position of God when left to our own devices. I know that in my own life I too often choose whatever is comfortable or easy over what would honor God the most, and to my shame, that’s with the full knowledge that He sent His precious Son to suffer at the hands of brutally cruel men and to die for my sins. We are all works in progress, though, and we all struggle with “Why did I just do that even though I knew I shouldn’t?!” It’s that old sin nature that keeps cropping up. Did you ever hear Pastor C’s skunk story? 🙂 God knows how we are and loves us anyway. We are free to go straight to God when we screw up and move forward in His grace and strength. We are also free to have an attitude of forgiveness toward those who hurt us and move on, even if they never seek our forgiveness. God is faithful to deal with sin, whether it’s ours or someone else’s.

    Speaking of other peoples’ sins, try to keep in mind that we’re not all in the same place on life’s road and believers have not necessarily all been convicted of the same areas of sin at the same time and we need to be gracious with them. Even though you may have been convicted, for example, of the need to stop eating two dozen Sweetwater’s donuts (yum!) every day because it’s poor stewardship of the body God gave you, I may not have been yet because God has convicted me of the need to shut my mouth in other contexts. You can trust God to deal with peoples’ sinful ways in His time – you can prepare for the occasion that He might use you to show them what they’re doing. If He were to reveal all that we need to work on at once, we would be crushed under the weight of it, I’m sure. Looking back, I am positive that I would be. Also, I think that often times we don’t see how God is already at work in a believer’s life.

    I have wondered why God allows terrible things to happen to people as well. You know, I can honestly say that if not for the difficulties in my own life, regardless of why they happened – my own misstep, someone else’s, or God’s judgement on me – I don’t think that I would recognize God’s hand in my life or appreciate all that He has done. It’s often not until after I survive a hard situation that I can look back and recognize that He had already been through it ahead of me and had left evidence of His care.

    God is faithful, Levi, and He cares that you have these questions! May God bless you in your search for answers!

    Love,

    Mrs. Hill

    P.S. Come down and visit us sometime, especially if you like history. This is the place to be! 🙂

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  16. Levi, I can completely understand where you are coming from. You need to understand that Satan is alive and well on planet earth and will do anything to shut you up and extinguish the light that glows within and all around you. I know you are a child of God and while you may doubt Him, He will never doubt you. Just remember, as far as other Christians you know, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger. I will keep praying for you diligently, I love you dearly !!!

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  17. Happy to talk about it with you. Lots of stories, but I’ve had several discussions about science vs faith. Those might be interesting to discuss with you.

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  18. Thank you, Levi, for putting into words the doubts that you have and so many of us have had. You are a special, thoughtful and talented young man that God has created and He is with you and will make you stronger as you go through this trial. Faith is just that–FAITH– you can’t see or feel or understand but you accept! I have no doubt that our God is guiding you to the kind of faith and strength that can only be gained through trial and doubt! You are loved. I will pray for you, Levi and you will BELIEVE again.

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    1. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better in the past year. Thank you for your kind hugs and comments. I’m slow to repeat the same things I’ve typed out in responses to other people, but I want to say that I think all these prayers are doing something. 🙂 Thank you. -Levi

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  19. Hey Levi;

    Doubt can be the back door of faith. The Lord may be preparing you for a deep and meaningful ministry in the lives of others.

    I will pray for you that God will make himself clear to you. At your age I remember thinking; “Why do I believe?” I began to read and search. It helped me to read Josh McDowell and C. S. Lewis. Today I would read these, Ravi Zacharias, and Lee Strobel… but most of all I would pray and seek the truth of God though his Word because faith comes by hearing.. the Word of God. I have found the messages and books of Tim Keller helpful, especially his book A Reason for Faith.

    You have to trust something. You have to worship something. You have to believe something.

    The questions about eternal punishment make me think this… where did you get the idea of what is good and kind and fair and right? Do you ever think about that?

    These are just some initial thought. Feel free to private message me or connect through e-mail at ken@kenpierpont.com

    It always helps me to remember that belief like love is mostly a choice you make not a feeling.

    I love you, Levi.
    Uncle Ken

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    1. I think that that is true (in reference to your first paragragh). And I think… Somehow, things are changing. In some mystical way I feel as if the only explanation is the many prayers that I know have been offered for me. I’ve also been encouraged reading CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Another commentor mentioned Job 38 and 39. I read that last night and was really moved. Also… thank Hope for her incredibly kind message. That was really impactful to me as well. Love you, Uncle Ken.
      -Levi

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  20. So sad about your doubt, Levi. Many have had honest doubts before you. The Deceiver always allures us with his old question, “Did God really say?”, wanting us to doubt God’s goodness.

    I trust & pray that you’ll work through this & come to a fuller understanding of the loving, sovereign God who, “does all things well”. “His ways are not our ways”, & sometimes we finite human beings need to humble ourselves & realize that more’s going on behind the scenes than we can comprehend. That’s where faith comes in.

    There seems to be 3 great questions we must settle:
    1. Is there a true God?
    2. Is He good?
    3. Will I follow His will as revealed in His word?

    Shalom, my friend!
    Great Grandma Myrna
    from Western Canada

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    1. Thank you for your kind emails and comments. I was really encouraged by this note. I never really thought that one would be able to so visibly see the power of prayer, and yet, I feel that is the only explanation to the change I’m experiencing in my life. I have not come to complete faith, nor do I fully understand Hell now, but things are changing. Thank you for your prayers. -Levi

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