24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So, he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving but believing.”28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
When we walk into a church building and sing the hymns and worship songs, pray, and have conversations concerning our walk with Jesus we try our very best to give the impression that we believe and never doubt God as our Lord whom always does good to those who love Him.
And yet in the valleys and on the mountaintops, we have moments when the Devil plants seeds of doubt into our minds and as a result we sometimes question not only the path God wants us to take in life but also our salvation and His very existence! In the face of such doubts we should cry out like the father in Mark chapter nine, “I do believe, help me God with my unbelief,” but refuse to do so for what would the other members whom are “strong in the faith” think about our apparent weakness?
After all, if we told them that there are times when we doubt God would ever forgive our heinous sins, that we sometimes wonder if there are other gods or paths to heaven, whether we are important to God, or even our occasional doubt that we are saved, would they not frown and see us as mere babes or worse yet not part of God’s family?
When it comes to overcoming doubt, I think there is much that we can learn from Apostle Thomas. In the message today, we are going examine four stores in the life of Thomas that clearly demonstrates that those whom obtain a strong faith are precisely the one’s that cry out to God daily help me with my unbelief!
Background on Apostle Thomas:
Today we are going to look into the life of Thomas “the doubter.” What little that can be known about Thomas comes mostly from four biblical accounts of his life as found in the book of John (11:1-16, 14:1-7, 20:24-29, 21:1-25).
Thomas appears in the middle of the lists of apostles either being paired with Matthew or Phillip (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). While we know almost nothing of Thomas’ ministry role amongst the twelve disciples, there is considerable ancient testimony that Thomas carried the Gospel message as far as India. While some scholars claim that Thomas wrote several gnostic texts such as the Gospel of Thomas, Acts of Thomas, Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Hymn of Jude Thomas the Apostle in the Country of the Indians, due to a lack of proof of authorship and due to these texts containing theology contrary to Scripture makes this claim to be untrue.
When it comes to how Thomas was martyred, ironically as one “whose faith came of age when seeing the spear mark in his Master’s side,” he died for his faith by being run through by a spear!
Except for Judas Iscariot, no apostolic legacy has been defined as negatively as Thomas’s based mostly on a singular event. To start off this event we are told that when Jesus first appeared to the twelve disciples Thomas was not present (verse 20). While the reason for Thomas being absent is not given, one can’t help but wonder if Jesus’ crucifixion left him feeling alone, rejected and forsaken and was therefore in no mood to socialize.
When the disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, one would have expected him to be excited but instead with great pessimism he refused to accept the claim until he had “visual proof” of both seeing and touching the nail marks in Jesus’ wrists and the spear mark in His side (verse 25).
A week later Jesus again appeared to the disciples and this time Thomas was present (verse 26). Upon appearance Jesus told Thomas to see and touch His wounds and in doing so to “stop doubting and believe” (verse 27). There is no indication that Thomas needed to touch but mere sight to speak one of the strongest speech given of Jesus’ deity, “my Lord and my God” (verse 28). Jesus then stated that it is good that Thomas’ sight led to belief, but it is even better when people believe despite… never having seen Him (verse 29)!
We whom believe without having physically seen Jesus should not wave our condescending finger at Thomas but learn from him and the other disciples on how to handle doubt. Thomas was not the only disciple with doubt for none of the other 10 believed until they saw their risen Savior in the flesh…
9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
So…it is safe to say that, Thomas was not the only one who doubted. If the Devil planted seeds of doubt in the disciple’s minds, he will in ours as well. Just because we have doubts does not mean that we are mere babes in Christ or that we have lost our salvation!
Remember, even though the disciples doubted the resurrection, their status as being a disciple that would one day sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:30) was never revoked.
Our high priest Jesus does not treat our doubts with fierce anger and condensation but understands and is sympathetic towards our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).
Like Thomas… we must never forget that despite what we do Jesus’ love for us is unconditional! When we cry out to Him “I do believe, help me God with my unbelief” it is not a sign of immaturity but of great faith as one who knows they are utterly dependent on Jesus, our bread of life (John 6:35) and only means of attaining spiritual maturity and holiness!
From Thomas we learn that the only way to overcome doubt is to humbly come before our sympathetic high priest Jesus and acknowledge that we don’t know the way we are to live our lives and therefore desperately need Him to reveal it to us! Human confidence in one’s path does not make one spiritually mature but naïve to think one’s thoughts could ever be equivalent to God’s thoughts (Isaiah 55:8)!
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
The response to experiencing doubts upon the mountaintops and in the valleys should never be to pretend to have holy living figured out so that one might impress other members of the church but to cry out to God for wisdom and discernment as to what steps Jesus wants one to take!
In response to our humility and faith James 1:5 promises that the light of the world (John 8:12) will not only generously light the lamp before our feet (Psalms 119:105) but will also enable us to accomplish more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21)! Doubt is overcome not by human effort alone and certainly not by human pride but is granted to those whom put their trust in Jesus (Proverbs 3:5-6)!
Every believer should acknowledge that Jesus is Lord…Here is a familiar story of when Jesus found out the His dear friend Lazarus has died…
4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
The final passage that I want to review speaks volumes about Thomas’ character. Jesus had just left Jerusalem where the Jewish leaders had tried to seize and stone Him for claiming to be the Son of God and was now ministering beyond the Jordan (10:22-42). Jesus was sent word that the one He loved… His friend Lazarus was sick (verse 3). Despite His love for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus Jesus decided to wait another two days before He announced to the disciples that they were going back to Judea (verses 6-7).
Jesus’ failure to respond immediately to the news that Lazarus was deathly ill was not due to a lack of love but due Lazarus already being dead and due to His desire to have the Son of God gloried (verse 4) by raising one whom had been dead for four days. Upon hearing that Jesus wanted to go to Bethany which was near Jerusalem the disciples questioned the wisdom of such a decision. While the other disciples appeared to be afraid to return to such a hostile territory, Thomas boldly told them “let us go, that we might die with Him (Christ – verse 16)!
From Thomas we learn that when Jesus is not the Lord of our life in all that we think or do, spiritual maturity becomes unattainable. “Thomas looked death in the face and choose death with Jesus rather than life without Him.” While there is no place where we can go where God’s love (Romans 8:37-39) and presence are not accessible (Psalms 139), there are many times in our lives that we refuse to acknowledge His nearness and right to rule over our lives!
It is precisely in these times that doubt rules our hearts and paralyzes our walk with Christ! The key to spiritual maturity then is to continually deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).
I think it is better to die with Christ than to be left behind to walk on our own self-designed path (Proverbs 14:12) that merely appears to be holy but totally misses the mark of what God has equipped us to do in His kingdom (Ephesians 2:10)!
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Those whom obtain a strong faith are precisely the one’s that cry out to God daily help me with my unbelief! Only faith…not works, can bring acceptance with God. But good works are the vital and indispensable consequence and evidence of life with God.
God chose His elect to make them holy sons and daughters and He has now fashioned them to be new bearers of His image, designed for the kind of life that conforms to Gods character. Our good works are the fruit of salvation, and not its cause! And those who do not have good works show that they do not have saving faith!
If uncertainties have smothered your confidence in the Lord, remember His power so evident in the empty tomb. The crucifixion was not the end of the story…and neither is doubt that we sometimes face. Chose the path of faith and declare that triumph lies ahead. Allow His resurrection to strengthen your hope, renew your certainty and your greatest victory!
Pastor Richard Santos
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