Don’t Doubt Doubt . . . .

doubt 1  Bring “Doubt” Into “The Study”

Mark Dever’s presentations on Preaching include an insightful section which deals with “doubt.”   Part of preaching includes dealing with an audience’s “doubt” as they listen to what is being preached and how it is applied to life.

audio clip of Mark Dever – On Preaching – #2

We want people to hear our message – to change from ignorance to knowledge of the truth.  So heart-felt informing is application.

Doubt is different than simple ignorance.  In doubt we take ideas and truths familiar to us and we question.

And this kind of questioning is not rare among Christians.  In fact – now -it may well be one of the most issues we thought to explore and thoroughly challenge in our preaching.

We may sometimes imagine that a little pre-conversion apologetics is the only time we preachers need to directly address doubt.

But friends, if that is the case that’s only because you’ve not been a preacher very long.

Some people sat and listened to your sermon last Sunday knew all the facts that you mentioned about Christ, or God, or Onesimus — may well be struggling with whether or not they really believed those facts to be true.

Sometimes such doubt is not even articulate — We may not even be fully aware of ourselves.  But when we begin searching them – to consider Scripture —   we find lingering in the shadows  — questionings –and uncertainties –and hesitancies — all of which make us sadly aware of the gravitation pull of doubt — off there in the distance — drawing us away from the faithful Pilgrim’s path.

To such people  — perhaps to such parts of our own hearts  — we want to argue for – to urge the trustfulness – the truthfulness — of God’s Word and the urgency of believing.

We’re called to urge on hearers — the truth that God gives.  We warn people who hear our messages to change from doubt to full-hearted belief in the truth.

Such urgent searching – preaching of the truth – is application.


The value of what Dever states is that he opens up and highlights an area that may well be missed, ignored, or dismissed by preachers in sermon preparation and preaching — as he himself states . . .

“We may sometimes imagine that a little pre-conversion apologetics is the only time we preachers need to directly address doubt.

But friends, if that is the case that’s only because you’ve not been a preacher very long.


There will be those listening who “doubt”  — not even because they are not believers, but because of a variety of easily dismissed, yet actually understandable, reasons . . . .

  • their personal experience — “yes, but then how do you explain . . . .”
  • unanswered prayers — always pray and do not faint
  • human categories of thought — “I don’t know if that can’t happen!”
  • previous messages on the passage — “I’m not sure you have that passage right.”
  • spiritual maturity — new versus seasoned believers
  • other doubting or faithless believers
  • exposure to a variety of religious books, mp3 messages, articles
  • a low view of God’s Word
  • an inadequate understanding of God’s power
  • listener’s translation
  • different understanding / interpretation of the verses
  • etc.


Mark Dever’s point brings another area of meaningful and thoughtful consideration into the study.  As you prepare, ask such questions as . . . .

  • Why would some struggle with this truth?
  • What causes some to doubt this biblical principle?
  • When and where have I struggled with what this passage is teaching?
  • As some are listening, what are they saying to themselves?
  • What would cause some to dismiss or marginalize this truth or principle?
  • What are some other “preachers” and “teachers” saying about this passage?
  • What is the thinking of “faithless” believers?
  • How does the world respond to this passage?
  • Maybe God can . . .  Maybe God will . . .  God’s won’t . . .
  • What “nightime” experience causes people to doubt?
  • Is it a “question” or a “doubt?”
  • What dreams does doubt kill?
  • How is fear the creator of this doubt?
  • Some say, “I believe, but help my unbelief” — as to???
  • What do people not know-understand-realize, which would kill their doubt?
  • etc.


Sample Preaching-Teaching Statements: To get the mental juices flowing . . . .

“There will be some here in this service who hear and see this truth taught in the Scriptures, who may not realize that within their minds and heart they are not so confident that . . . .”

“I well understand that there will always be some of God’s people who struggle with what is being taught in these verses.  Our experience is . . . . or . . . . or . . . . And because of that, we may easily wonder if this passage really teaches such. . . .   I understand that!”

“Some Bible teachers and preachers would teach that this passage doesn’t apply to God’s people today, that this truth is an Old Testament truth for the nation of Israel.  However, if it is also taught in the New Testament — and it is — then we need not have any doubts that God wants it as part of our thinking as well. . . . .”

“If you have been a believer any length of time, you know that this has not always been your experience — in fact — maybe the exception at best to what you have seen God do in your life — and there are reasons for that — reasons which do not invalidate what God has said and promised in this passage. . . . .”


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