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  • Writer's pictureTrace Pirtle

Overcoming Doubt and Strengthening Faith

This post offers five phases for overcoming doubt and strengthening faith as Christians: Awareness, Doubt, Submission, Action, and Transformation. Let's use the Great Commission as an example.

"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)

We'll use the Great Commission because it applies to believers and non-believers: those who are saved and those who are not. I chose this example because I've recently gone through the phases myself.

Strengthening Faith: Awareness Phase

Until November 2023, in all my "church hopping" adventures, I never recall anyone saying that the Great Commission applied to me. Specifically, no one ever overtly said that I needed to share the gospel with non-believers. No mention of the importance of sharing my testimony as a defense for my hope in Jesus (1 Peter 3:15).

And what about the Bible itself? I surely would have read Mark 16:15-16, but once again, I was unconscious and unaware of Jesus' command to "GO!" How could I have been so deaf and blind to something so important to my walk and others' salvation? But it will be unmistakable when God wants us to become conscious and aware of His plan.

That's what happened on that Sunday morning in November 2023. I was led by the Holy Spirit to a small Independent Fundamental Baptist church. The sermon was on the Great Commission. Not only was Mark 16:15-16 referenced by about 10 others to reinforce the point.

The pastor looked at me from the pulpit and said, "We are going Soul-Winning...door-knocking...from 9 am till noon this coming Saturday!"

WHAT?! Me? God made sure I was aware of His Great Commission. It wasn't a suggestion. It was a non-negotiable command. What I would do with it was up to me. The first thing I did was to dive into the "doubt phase."

Strengthening Faith: Doubt Phase

Beginning that Sunday afternoon, my doubts intensified. I came up with every possible rationalization for why God wasn't talking to me.

First, He was talking to His disciples over 2000 years ago, each uniquely qualified to share His Word! Second, I had no training in what to say to a "lost person" because I was still somewhat unsure of my own location.

But we can't hide any thoughts or doubts from God. He already knows! And then, as I was confident that my doubts were justified, I noticed a book that my nephew had sent to me a week before. The title is "The Golden Path to Successful Personal Soul Winning" by Dr. John R. Rice. I was consumed by the book! Every objection and rationalization was perfectly addressed.

My "silver bullet" doubt, the one that says, "I am not qualified" to share the gospel was easily addressed. Dr. Rice says that if anyone can find John 3:16 in the Bible, they are ready to share the gospel with anyone.

Since I was aware of John 3:16, I knew it was time to submit to God's will.

Strengthening Faith: Submission Phase

Although I've been a slow biblical learner, I'm not slow to my own learning and experiences.

For example, I am keenly aware when I feel "pushed" into an action. I immediately rebel to being pushed. Instead, I'm patient to wait for those opportunities where I feel "pulled" in a direction. I haven't gone wrong many times when I was pulled rather than pushed.

So it was natural that I would wait for the Holy Spirit to either "push" or "pull" me toward the Soul Winning Saturday. Soul Winning Saturday morning arrived and there was ZERO sense of being pushed or pulled. So, I just made a free will choice to Go!

Strengthening Faith: Action Phase

There is something exhilarating about straying so far from one's comfort zone. I had never even considered door knocking, let alone awakening to the fact that God was expecting me to do it. But again, He neither pushed me or pulled me. It was my decision.

But then as I walked, knocked, talked, and shared alongside the pastor, I experienced a beautiful sense of peace and joy. Like your spirit is smiling inside and being expressed outside. Peak experience.

After three Saturdays of door knocking, following the Great Commission, I realized that God had used an "old school" technique with me. He had thrown me in the deep end of the pool to teach me to swim. It didn't kill me, but it did make me stronger in my faith.

In fact, when God takes you that far out in faith, knocking on doors like a Mormon missionary, everything else is easy! Talk to a stranger at the hotel about the Good News? Easy! Share your testimony with a waiter? No problem.

Oh yes, your rational mind says, "there is no way I'm going door knocking," but if you do, God will open your eyes, heart, and spirit in ways you could never imagine. This one is a life changer!

Strengthening Faith: Transformation Phase

The best way I can describe the experience of the transformational phase is by using a computer analogy. Have you ever been frustrated with a computer that was slower than a sloth with a GPS? And then, the computer gets a tune-up and it loads before you hit enter?

That's been my experience. Before the Soul Winning Saturdays I was slow and sluggish in my walk with the Lord. The Cross felt unusually heavy each morning as I hefted it over my shoulder and slogged off into the world.

But now, my prayer time is alive and active. My Bible study sessions actually provide tangible, actionable steps for me to take when I leave the house. And, the Cross isn't a burden to carry, it's a blessing!

Concluding Thoughts

In this post I've offered five phases for overcoming doubt and strengthening faith as a Christian. The phases include: Awareness, Doubt, Submission, Action, and Transformation. I used my own experience as it relates to the Great Commission (see Mark 15:15-16).

Can you see how these phases could apply to your own strengthening in faith journey? If so, let me know! I'd love to hear about your experiences with overcoming doubt and strengthening in faith. May God bless you abundantly as you are transformed in His Spirit.

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About Me

Image of Dr. Trace Pirtle sitting on park bench identified as Jesus.

Greetings, I'm Trace!
I'm a retired counselor education professor who spent 35 years in the "helping professions." I'm a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as a Missile Launch Officer with I.C.B.M's during the Cold War (1980's). Today, I'm an "all-in" believer working full-time for our Lord Jesus Christ. I've included my personal testimony if you are interested. 
May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

In His Service,

Trace Pirtle

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