Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 12: What to Do with Doubt
As we draw near to Jesus, and rejoice in the
fullness of His love, our doubt and darkness
will disappear in the light of His presence.
Many, especially those who are young in the
Christian life, are at times troubled with the
suggestions of skepticism. There are in the
Bible many things which they cannot explain, or even
understand, and Satan employs these to shake their
faith in the Scriptures as a revelation from God. They
ask, "How shall I know the right way? If the Bible
is indeed the word of God, how can I be freed from
these doubts and perplexities?"
God never asks us to believe, without giving
sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His
existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word,
are all established by testimony that appeals to our
reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has
never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith
must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those
who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those
who really desire to know the truth will find plenty
of evidence on which to rest their faith.
It is impossible for finite minds fully to comprehend
the character or the works of the Infinite One.
To the keenest intellect, the most highly educated
mind, that holy Being must ever remain clothed in
mystery. "Canst thou by searching find out God?
canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper
than hell; what canst thou know?" Job 11:7, 8. [p. 106]
The apostle Paul exclaims, "O the depth of the
riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways
past finding out!" Romans 11:33. But though "clouds
and darkness are round about Him," "righteousness
and judgment are the foundation of His throne."
Psalm 97:2, R.V. We can so far comprehend His dealings
with us, and the motives by which He is actuated,
that we may discern boundless love and mercy
united to infinite power. We can understand as much
of His purposes as it is for our good to know; and
beyond this we must still trust the hand that is omnipotent,
the heart that is full of love.
The word of God, like the character of its divine
Author, presents mysteries that can never be fully
comprehended by finite beings. The entrance of sin
into the world, the incarnation of Christ, regeneration,
the resurrection, and many other subjects presented in
the Bible, are mysteries too deep for the human mind
to explain, or even fully to comprehend. But we have
no reason to doubt God's word because we cannot
understand the mysteries of His providence. In the
natural world we are constantly surrounded with
mysteries that we cannot fathom. The very humblest
forms of life present a problem that the wisest of
philosophers is powerless to explain. Everywhere are
wonders beyond our ken. Should we then be surprised
to find that in the spiritual world also there are
mysteries that we cannot fathom? The difficulty lies
solely in the weakness and narrowness of the human
mind. God has given us in the Scriptures sufficient
evidence of their divine character, and we are not to [p. 107] doubt His word because we cannot understand all
the mysteries of His providence.
The apostle Peter says that there are in Scripture
"things hard to be understood, which they that are
unlearned and unstable wrest . . . unto their own
destruction." 2 Peter 3:16. The difficulties of
Scripture have been urged by skeptics as an argument
against the Bible; but so far from this, they constitute
a strong evidence of its divine inspiration. If it
contained no account of God but that which we could
easily comprehend; if His greatness and majesty could
be grasped by finite minds, then the Bible would not
bear the unmistakable credentials of divine authority.
The very grandeur and mystery of the themes
presented should inspire faith in it as the word of God.
The Bible unfolds truth with a simplicity and a
perfect adaptation to the needs and longings of the
human heart, that has astonished and charmed the
most highly cultivated minds, while it enables the
humblest and uncultured to discern the way of
salvation. And yet these simply stated truths lay hold
upon subjects so elevated, so far-reaching, so infinitely
beyond the power of human comprehension, that we
can accept them only because God has declared them.
Thus the plan of redemption is laid open to us, so that
every soul may see the steps he is to take in repentance
toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,
in order to be saved in God's appointed way; yet
beneath these truths, so easily understood, lie mysteries
that are the hiding of His glory—mysteries that overpower
the mind in its research, yet inspire the sincere
seeker for truth with reverence and faith. The more [p. 108] he searches the Bible, the deeper is his conviction that
it is the word of the living God, and human reason
bows before the majesty of divine revelation.
To acknowledge that we cannot fully comprehend
the great truths of the Bible is only to admit that the
finite mind is inadequate to grasp the infinite; that
man, with his limited, human knowledge, cannot
understand the purposes of Omniscience.
Because they cannot fathom all its mysteries, the
skeptic and the infidel reject God's word; and not all
who profess to believe the Bible are free from danger
on this point. The apostle says, "Take heed, brethren,
lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief,
in departing from the living God." Hebrews 3:12. It
is right to study closely the teachings of the Bible and
to search into "the deep things of God" so far as they
are revealed in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:10. While
"the secret things belong unto the Lord our God,"
"those things which are revealed belong unto us."
Deuteronomy 29:29. But it is Satan's work to pervert
the investigative powers of the mind. A certain pride
is mingled with the consideration of Bible truth, so
that men feel impatient and defeated if they cannot
explain every portion of Scripture to their satisfaction.
It is too humiliating to them to acknowledge that they
do not understand the inspired words. They are unwilling
to wait patiently until God shall see fit to reveal
the truth to them. They feel that their unaided human
wisdom is sufficient to enable them to comprehend the
Scripture, and failing to do this, they virtually deny
its authority. It is true that many theories and
doctrines popularly supposed to be derived from the Bible
have no foundation in its teaching, and indeed are [p. 109] contrary to the whole tenor of inspiration. These
things have been a cause of doubt and perplexity
to many minds. They are not, however, chargeable
to God's word, but to man's perversion of it.
If it were possible for created beings to attain to
a full understanding of God and His works, then,
having reached this point, there would be for them
no further discovery of truth, no growth in knowledge,
no further development of mind or heart. God
would no longer be supreme; and man, having reached
the limit of knowledge and attainment, would cease
to advance. Let us thank God that it is not so. God
is infinite; in Him are "all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge." Colossians 2:3. And to all eternity men
may be ever searching, ever learning, and yet never
exhaust the treasures of His wisdom, His goodness,
and His power.
God intends that even in this life the truths of His
word shall be ever unfolding to His people. There
is only one way in which this knowledge can be
obtained. We can attain to an understanding of God's
word only through the illumination of that Spirit by
which the word was given. "The things of God
knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God;" "for the
Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of
God." 1 Corinthians 2:11, 10. And the Saviour's
promise to His followers was, "When He, the Spirit
of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.
. . . For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it
unto you." John 16:13, 14.
God desires man to exercise his reasoning powers;
and the study of the Bible will strengthen and elevate
the mind as no other study can. Yet we are to beware [p. 110] of deifying reason, which is subject to the weakness
and infirmity of humanity. If we would not have the
Scriptures clouded to our understanding, so that the
plainest truths shall not be comprehended, we must
have the simplicity and faith of a little child, ready to
learn, and beseeching the aid of the Holy Spirit. A
sense of the power and wisdom of God, and of our
inability to comprehend His greatness, should inspire
us with humility, and we should open His word, as
we would enter His presence, with holy awe. When
we come to the Bible, reason must acknowledge an
authority superior to itself, and heart and intellect
must bow to the great I AM.
There are many things apparently difficult or
obscure, which God will make plain and simple to
those who thus seek an understanding of them. But
without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall be
continually liable to wrest the Scriptures or to
misinterpret them. There is much reading of the Bible that
is without profit and in many cases a positive injury.
When the word of God is opened without reverence
and without prayer; when the thoughts and affections
are not fixed upon God, or in harmony with His will,
the mind is clouded with doubts; and in the very study
of the Bible, skepticism strengthens. The enemy takes
control of the thoughts, and he suggests interpretations
that are not correct. Whenever men are not in word
and deed seeking to be in harmony with God, then,
however learned they may be, they are liable to err in
their understanding of Scripture, and it is not safe to
trust to their explanations. Those who look to the
Scriptures to find discrepancies, have not spiritual [p. 111] insight. With distorted vision they will see many causes
for doubt and unbelief in things that are really plain
Disguise it as they may, the real cause of doubt
and skepticism, in most cases, is the love of sin. The
teachings and restrictions of God's word are not
welcome to the proud, sin-loving heart, and those who
are unwilling to obey its requirements are ready to
doubt its authority. In order to arrive at truth, we
must have a sincere desire to know the truth and a
willingness of heart to obey it. And all who come in
this spirit to the study of the Bible will find abundant
evidence that it is God's word, and they may
gain an understanding of its truths that will make
them wise unto salvation.
Christ has said, "If any man willeth to do His
will, he shall know of the teaching." John 7:17, R.V.
Instead of questioning and caviling concerning that
which you do not understand, give heed to the light
that already shines upon you, and you will receive
greater light. By the grace of Christ, perform every
duty that has been made plain to your understanding,
and you will be enabled to understand and perform
those of which you are now in doubt.
There is an evidence that is open to all,—the most
highly educated, and the most illiterate,—the evidence
of experience. God invites us to prove for ourselves
the reality of His word, the truth of His promises. He
bids us "taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm
34:8. Instead of depending upon the word of another,
we are to taste for ourselves. He declares, "Ask, and
ye shall receive." John 16:24. His promises will be [p. 112] fulfilled. They have never failed; they never can fail.
And as we draw near to Jesus, and rejoice in the fullness
of His love, our doubt and darkness will
disappear in the light of His presence.
The apostle Paul says that God "hath delivered us
from the power of darkness, and hath translated us
into the kingdom of His dear Son." Colossians 1:13.
And everyone who has passed from death unto life
is able to "set to his seal that God is true." John 3:33.
He can testify, "I needed help, and I found it in Jesus.
Every want was supplied, the hunger of my soul was
satisfied; and now the Bible is to me the revelation of
Jesus Christ. Do you ask why I believe in Jesus?
Because He is to me a divine Saviour. Why do I believe
the Bible? Because I have found it to be the voice
of God to my soul." We may have the witness in
ourselves that the Bible is true, that Christ is the Son
of God. We know that we are not following cunningly
Peter exhorts his brethren to "grow in grace, and
in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ." 2 Peter 3:18. When the people of God are
growing in grace, they will be constantly obtaining a
clearer understanding of His word. They will discern
new light and beauty in its sacred truths. This has
been true in the history of the church in all ages, and
thus it will continue to the end. "The path of the
righteous is as the light of dawn, that shineth more
and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18, R.V.,
By faith we may look to the hereafter and grasp
the pledge of God for a growth of intellect, the [p. 113] human faculties uniting with the divine, and every power
of the soul being brought into direct contact with the
Source of light. We may rejoice that all which has
perplexed us in the providences of God will then be
made plain, things hard to be understood will then
find an explanation; and where our finite minds
discovered only confusion and broken purposes, we shall
see the most perfect and beautiful harmony. "Now
we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as
also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12.
Click here to read the next chapter:
"Rejoicing in the Lord"