Sermon #1895[1]                                                                   Miscellaneous Sermons


      Title:                                 Wherefore didst

 thou doubt?


      Text:                                  Matthew 14:31



Open your Bibles with me to the 14th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. We will begin reading at verse 22. This is that very familiar story of our Lord Jesus sending His disciples across the Gennesaret Sea to Gennesaret. Constraining them to do so, the Master sent His faithful disciples right into the eye of a severe storm; but in the fourth watch of the night, the Lord Jesus came to them walking across the storm tossed sea. Let’s beging reading in verse 22.


(Matthew 14:22-33) “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.


When I read those words early Monday morning they pierced my heart like a barbed arrow. — Wherefore disdst thou doubt?That is my subject. — Wherefore disdst thou doubt?


The Lord Jesus had bidden Peter to come to Him. We are told (verse 29) that when he stepped out of the ship onto the raging, storm tossed sea, Peter “walked on the water to go to Jesus.” But then something happened. — Taking his eyes off the Savior, Peter began to look at boisterous wind and the raging sea. When he did, “he was afraid” and began to sink beneath the waters. At last, he cried, “Lord, save me!” — “And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (v. 31)


How my blessed Savior has sharply exposed my unbelief to me and reproved me with these words: — “Wherefore didst thou doubt?” The message by which He has spoken to my own unbelieving, doubting heart, I believe He has given me as His message to you. Wherefore didst thou doubt?



Three Favorite Subjects


Here are three things revealed in Holy Scripture that I try to always keep before me, three blessed Gospel truths that ought to both sustain our souls in peace and sustain our hearts with confidence before God. These are not new things, but the three things I try to set before you every time I preach to you. Without question, these are my three favorite subjects, both for personal, private meditation and for preaching. By these three blessed facts of Divine Revelation my faith is continually strengthened, my soul is continually encouraged, and my heart is continually comforted in this world so constantly filled with trials, temptations, and troubles.


Divine Sovereignty


(Psalms 115:3) Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.


Here the psalmist David plainly declares the great supremacy and glorious sovereignty of our God. Our God is supreme over all the gods of the world. He who truly is God is God who rules over all things, at all times, in all places, absolutely. He is the absolute, unrivaled Sovereign of the universe, who always does His will in heaven, earth and hell. — “He has His way in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him — What doest thou?” The God I worship, trust and love is in total control of the universe!

  • Sovereign in Predestination!
  • Sovereign in Creation!
  • Sovereign in Providence!
  • Sovereign Salvation!




(2 Corinthians 5:21) He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


With those words, the Apostle Paul sets before us the effectual, substitutionary atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God was made to be sin for His people. He died under the wrath of God for His elect, for every sinner who trusts Him. Thus He accomplished our redemption and obtained our eternal salvation. As He was made to be sin for His people by having our sins made His, even so, by that same wonder of justice and grace, by that same wonder of truth and mercy, all for whom He died are made to be the very righteousness of God in Him. — His righteousness is made our righteousness! — We are made the very righteousness of God in Him!


Divine Providence


(Romans 8:28) We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.


Here the inspired Apostle declares the holy, wise, good, adorable providence of our God. Nothing is more comforting to a believer’s heart, nothing so effectually quietens our fears as the assurance of our heavenly Father’s good providence.


Proposition: The assurance of God’s sovereignty, of the redemption of our souls by Christ’s sin-atoning death as our Substitute, and of God’s adorable, good, and wise providence ought to keep our hearts in peace and ought to keep us from all fear, unbelief, and doubt before Him.


Five Statements


May God the Holy Spirit enable me to speak to your hearts. I want to reprove my own heart and yours for our horrible, inexcusable unbelief while, at the same time, encouraging us truly to trust our great, gracious, glorious God. I am going to make five plain statements. As I prepared this message, these five statements were like barbed arrows piercing my heart. I trust they will be the same to you. These are five heart-piercing, convicting, humbling facts.


Isaiah 41:10


First, I want us to look at Isaiah 41:10…


1.    We have entirely too many fears for a people to whom the Lord God has said,— “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)


Why can’t we believe God? Has He not proved His great faithfulness to us? David heard God’s promise and believed Him. His faith in God gave quietness to his heart. God’s promises quientened his fears. Didn’t they? — “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4) — “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalms 4:8) — “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” (Psalms 27:10)


Matthew 6:28-30


Now, look at Matthew 6:28-30.


2.    We have far too much anxiety and worry about earthly, material things for a people to whom the Son of God has said — “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)


It is written in the Scriptures, — “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)


Why should I worry, fret and pace the floor by day and by night, when God my Savior has promised that my Father will for His sake provide me with everything I need in this world? Why should I concern myself about that which God, who cannot lie, has promised?


Look at Matthew 6 again, verses 31-34.


(Matthew 6:31-34) “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”


John 6:37


Turn to John 6:37.


3.    We have far too many doubts concerning God’s mercy, love, and grace for a people to whom the Lord Jesus Christ has said, — “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)


Listen to this, too, — “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand!” (John 10:28)


I have preached about this many times. I know that many of you have trouble here. And I acknowledge that I do, too. My shameful, sinful, baseless doubts are inexcusable. I will not attempt to justify them or excuse them.


Upon what grounds dare we call into question the mercy, love, and grace of God? We have absolutely no reason to entertain any doubt concerning Him! Did He promise; and shall He not fulfill it? Can God’s promise fall to the ground? Can the Almighty fail? Perish the thought!


Mr. Spurgeon once said, “The Scripture says, ‘He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life.’ I believe the Son of God. I have life!”


Why should we question that, ever? Paul was a sinner, just like us, saved by grace, just like us. But he didn’t question God’s promise (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:6-8; Romans 8:31-39).


(2 Timothy 1:12) “I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”


(2 Timothy 4:6-8) “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”


Five Bold Challenges of Faith


(Romans 8:31-39) “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?


(32) He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things?


(33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.


(34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.


(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


I am not going to doubt God’s love because of something I have thought, or said, or done. His love is unconditional and free! I am not going to question His grace because of my sin. His grace superabounds where sin is found! I am not going to be suspicious of His mercy because I do not deserve His mercy. His mercy is for the undeserving! I am not going to doubt His faithfulness because of my unfaithfulness. His faithfulness stands forever!


(2 Timothy 2:13) “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”


(2 Timothy 2:19) “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”


John 16:33


Look next at John 16:33.


4.    We spend entirely too much time grumbling and complaining about our trials and troubles for a people to whom the Lord Jesus has said, — “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)


We ought not be surprised when troubles come our way. We ought to be surprised when they don’t come! As long as we live in this world, we are going to have trials, troubles, temptations, and sorrows.


God in Israel sows the seeds

Of affliction, pain and toil.

These spring up and choke the weeds

That would else o’erspread the soil.


Every ounce of gold that has ever been perfected and made valuable has been refined by fire. And if God puts the gold of His grace in us, He will also make us pass through the fire.


(Isaiah 48:10) “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”


(1 Peter 4:12) “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”


Trouble is not a strange thing. For the believer, the absence of trouble is a strange thing. Yet, when we meet with some great difficulty, some heavy trial, some heart-breaking sorrow, though we may not say it, our first shameful, wicked thought is usually — “Why me?” Our first thought really ought to be — “Why not me?”


Shall I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to when the prize

And sailed through bloody seas?


Š      Our trials are nothing compared to what others have had to endure before us.

Š      Our sorrows are nothing compared to the sorrows our Master endured to have us.

Š      Our griefs are nothing compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us!


Hebrews 11:8-10


Turn with me to one more text — Hebrews 11:8-10.


5.    We have entirely too much attachment to this world and to this present life, for a people who are looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God.


(Hebrews 11:8-10) “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (9) By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (10) For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”


(2 Corinthians 5:1) “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” — The sooner, the better!


We know that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!” — We have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Believers are a people who long to be with Christ. Yet, it is so difficult for us to be torn loose from this present existence called life! I can’t explain that. I just know it’s so.


I know this too: The only way for us to be delivered from these carnal principles, the only way we will ever be delivered from the cares of this world, the only way we will ever be saved from our fears, concerns, doubts, grumblings, and attachments to this world is to find something better.


Illustration: The little boy at Stalnaker’s Restaurant


Our religious works will be dropped like a hot potato, if we ever see and get hold of Christ’s finished work.


Our boasted good deeds will be of no value, if we are allowed and made to see what Christ has done for sinners.

Š      His Incarnation (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Š      His Representative Obedience (Philippians 2:5-7)

Š      His Substitutionary Death (2 Corinthians 5:21).


Our righteousnesses will appear to us as they really are, as filthy rags, if ever we behold the righteousness of God in Christ.


Our goodliness will wither and die like mown grass in a furnace, if we ever see the goodness and glory of God in Christ (Isaiah 6:1-6). If ever we see Christ there will be no more

Š      argument about our goodness!

Š      debate about our worth!

Š      fuss about our will!


Like that little boy in the Stalnaker’s Restaurant, you’ll drop your worthless, greasy, empty corn-cob of self-righteousness when you see Christ in His redemptive glory!


Even so, our fears, our doubts, our grumblings, our complaints against our little trials, our murmurings against our God’s providence and purpose will disappear in proportion to the faith we have in His promises (Isaiah 43:1-5; 46:4)


(Isaiah 43:1-5) “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west.”


(Isaiah 46:4) “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”


The more I believe His “I WILL,” the less I will fear. The less I believe His “I WILL”, the more I will fear.


It is I


Let’s go back to Matthew 14 for a minute, and I will wrap this up. — Look at verse 27. Remember, it was the Lord Jesus who sent His friends into the storm, who sent them away from Himself. He seems to have done so specifically that He might come to them when they desperately needed Him, that He might speak these words to them, and make Himself known to them in a way that was not otherwise possible. Surely, that is the case with you and me. Listen, then, to the voice of your tender, omnipotent Savior in the midst of your storm. ― “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.”

Š      It is I” who raised the tempest in your soul, and will control it.

Š      It is I” who sent your affliction, and will be with you in it.

Š      It is I” who kindled the furnace, and will watch the flames, and bring you through it.

Š      It is I” who formed your burden, who carved your cross, and who will strengthen you to bear it.

Š      It is I” who mixed your cup of grief, and will enable you to drink it with meek submission to your Father's will.

Š      It is I” who took your strength and health, your peace and tranquility from you.

Š      It is I” who made the light darkness about you and raised the contrary winds.

Š      It is I” who have done all these things, not against you but for you, not to hurt you but to do you good.




I have said all that to prepare our hearts to take this word from God home. May God the Holy Spirit cause us to believe it, teach us to understand it, give us grace to walk in the light of it, and daily apply it to our hearts effectually to quieten our fears.


(Romans 8:28) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”


In all things, listen, ask God to give you grace to hear the Savior’s voice.Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” Rejoice, my soul, rejoice! — “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you!” — “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” — O my soul, “O thou of little faith, Wherefore didst thou doubt?










Don Fortner



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[1]     Danville — Sunday Morning — March 13, 2010

      Kingsport Sovereign Grace Church, Kingsport, TN — (03/13/11 PM)

      Tape:                                AA-10

      Reading: Isaiah 38:1-40:2