Is questioning a sin? Does faith cancel out knowledge? Is doubt the opposite of faith? Does questioning show a lack of faith? Does God value blind obedience?
“Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth;
and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
ASK ~ SEEK ~ KNOCK
A question is merely a request for information. Over and over the Scripture recommends knowledge and wisdom (information) be increased.
“But grow in grace and in the KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 3:18.
“Add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue KNOWLEDGE,” 2 Peter 1:5.
“If ye KNOW these things, HAPPY are ye if ye do them,” John 13:17.
BEFORE you can be HAPPY doing, you must first KNOW the Scripture for “these things.” Paul could say, “I KNOW in whom I have believed,” 2 Tim. 1:12. Can you say that? Knowledge precedes belief. Answers to questions that ring with truth increase knowledge and bring about growth, conviction and strength.
Questions add to knowledge, which supports faith. If you don’t KNOW something–you can’t believe it. Faith and knowledge are not opposites and are not mutually exclusive. We grow in knowledge by asking, seeking, knocking, hearing, learning, listening, questioning and proving things for ourselves. For protection, a wise believer filters beliefs, claims or practices through the screen of the Scripture. No Scripture advises a minister to refuse to answer honest, sincere questions. No Scripture prohibits or discourages believers from asking questions. Indeed, there is much to the contrary. God is not the author of confusion. According to the Bible, God’s children have a perfect right to ask questions, in order:
To prove what is true
To better defend your faith
To grow in knowledge
To avoid being deceived
To know what you believe
Ask – To Prove What is True
The writer of Acts commended those of Berea in Acts 17:11 because “they searched the Scriptures daily” to see “whether those things were so.” They didn’t accept Paul’s words at face value, but compared them with the Scripture for themselves. Proving that “the things” Paul was telling them lined up with the Scriptures generated in them a strong belief and conviction. Verse 12 states that as a result of their searching, “many of them believed,” and those who searched were given the title: “HONORABLE.” Comparing men’s words to the Scripture is an “honorable” activity, and was commendable.
How could it be wrong today to carefully compare men’s claims and teachings with the Scriptures to see if “these things are so”?
Paul’s warning in 1 Thes. 5:21 to “PROVE ALL THINGS” directs believers to question. Paul advised: “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” Eph. 5:10. Proving or testing involves evaluating the CONTENT of what is said in the light of the Scripture, in order to determine if the message is good or worthy of acceptance. Since Paul recommended all men’s words be tested, how could it possibly be wrong today to test the teachings of men? “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Rom. 12:2.
Ask – To Better Defend Your Faith
Jude 3:1: “…exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”. 1 Peter 3:15: “but be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” How can you defend what you do not understand? How can you answer if you don’t know? How are you going to know the answer if you don’t ask? Paul energetically defended his faith and was often found reasoning and disputing with others. (See Acts 17:2, 17; 18:19; 19:8-9; 24:25.)
Ask – To Grow in Knowledge
Paul advised, “Study to show thyself approved unto God…rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Tim 2:15. “Study” in Greek meant to exert oneself, to endeavor, to give diligence to discerning between truth and error. God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will reject thee,” Hos. 4:6. The consequences are serious for those who reject knowledge and “willingly are ignorant,” 2
Pet 3:5. Paul often gave information to remedy ignorance. He prefaced some of his remarks with: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant…” Jesus told some who because of their ignorance had drawn erroneous conclusions: “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures,” Matt 22:29. Paul encouraged some to be wise and KNOW God’s will for themselves: “Wherefore be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is,” Eph. 5:17.
Ask – To Avoid Being Deceived
Paul warned the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians against believing everything MEN said. “Let no man deceive you with vain words,” Eph. 5:6; “Be not deceived,” Gal 5:6; “That ye be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” Eph 4:14. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men…and not after Christ,” Col. 2:8.
How do you keep from being deceived? How do you determine if some words are empty or vain? To “beware” of MEN, one must be skeptical, question and prove. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1. It is taking Scripture out of context when verses directing us not to question GOD are used to “prove” it is wrong to question MEN.
Ask – To Know What You Believe
When Jesus talked to the woman at the well in John 4:22, he commended those who were knowledgeable of what they worshiped: “ye worship ye know not what: we KNOW what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.” Do you know what you worship and why? Can you defend your faith? Luke plainly set out the facts in Luke 1:4 so Theophilus would, “know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.”
When the disciples asked Jesus questions, He usually told them what they wanted to know. They learned by listening and asking questions. Remembering all the earnest prayers of Paul that believers might “…be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9); that they would have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ (Eph. 1:17); that they might know what is theirs in Christ (Eph 1:18–23) and comprehend the breadth and length and depth and height of it (Eph. 3:18); and after all Paul went through that they might “have the full assurance of understanding” (Col. 1:28–2:2) Are we not responsible for using our limited intelligence to the fullest extent possible to learn all we possibly can about God and His will?
By examining your beliefs, priorities and thinking concerning God, you are continually aligning them more closely with His Word and will. We grow in knowledge by asking, seeking, knocking, hearing, learning, listening, questioning, and proving these things for ourselves. Knowledge supported by the Scripture leads to certainty. Knowledge paves the way for deeper faith, commitment and joy.
Skeptical Thomas wasn’t with the group of disciples when Jesus first came to them, and the witness of others was not sufficient for Thomas to believe. Thomas is best known for his statement, “Except I see…I will not believe,” found in John 20:25-29. Did Jesus scold Thomas for wanting to make certain himself? No, Jesus obliged him, and said, “Thomas, reach hither thy finger and behold my hands…be not faithless, but believing.” He gave Thomas exactly what he needed to believe. Thomas doubted the disciples’ words, NOT the words of Jesus.
Where does the Bible ever indicate it is a sin to doubt the words of MEN? DOUBT is skepticism that doesn’t buy anything at face value. A skeptic doesn’t jump to conclusions; withholds judgment pending all the facts. A person doubts and questions because they are awake and alive spiritually; because they are following the Scriptures and are “testing the spirits,” and “proving all things.”
What is the relationship between faith and doubt? Is doubt the opposite of faith? What is the opposite of faith? The opposite of faith is the absence of faith, non-faith; the opposite of belief is non-belief. It is NOT doubt. Doubt is often erroneously equated with unbelief–but they are far from being identical! Doubt is NOT unbelief–it’s faith in the making. When doubt is resolved, the result is deeper faith.
Ask – It’s Your Right and Responsibility
Do you have the right to question an authority over you? In most instances–YES! Everyone has this right–unless you’re a prisoner, soldier, slave or citizen of countries where dictators rule, etc. You have the right to question men because YOU are individually accountable to God. God’s children have chosen God’s Word as their only authority, and Jesus as their Lord and Master. Since you are not under the authority of another man, you are free to question men, especially when it concerns -things that pertain to your soul. On Judgment Day, you won’t be able to blame anyone besides yourself for your actions–you’ll be individually accountable. So you can’t afford NOT to question men! With knowledge comes responsibility; and with responsibility comes accountability.
In science, there is no matter too sensitive or too delicate to be probed. Because science’s supreme goal is TRUTH, there are no sacred truths that cannot be questioned–no forbidden questions. Science has nothing to hide. Likewise, shouldn’t the same be true about a religious belief system whose God cannot lie, and which purports to be God’s Truth on earth? Can its leaders also say in all truth that there is no matter that cannot be probed; nothing that cannot be questioned in the quest for TRUTH?
Scripture Misused to Discourage or Evade Questions:
1 Tim. 1:3-4: “That thou might charge some that they teach no other doctrine. Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.” [Note: The history of a fellowship 100 years old hardly qualifies as “endless genealogy.” Further history and genealogy are not synonymous]
1 Tim 4:7: “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”
2 Tim. 2:14: “That they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”
2 Tim. 2:23-25: “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.”
2 Tim 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but…shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
2 Tim. 6:3-4: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words.”
Tit 1:14: “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”
Titus 3:9: “But avoid foolish questions and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
2 Pet 3:16: “…in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
In Conclusion: When scripture is used to imply a questioning is wrong or a sin, the scripture has been misinterpreted, misused or taken out of context. Asking, Seeking, Knocking are privileges and rights of God’s children that He has promised to honor with Giving, Finding and Opening.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened, Matthew 7:7-8
CAN YOU AFFORD TO “FOLLOW IN A FAITH THAT QUESTIONS NOT” ?
By Cherie Kropp
January 4, 2007