Monday, October 5, 2009

Are You a Doubting Thomas?

Everyone would agree things don't often go our way. My family was reminded of this just a couple weeks ago during our trip to Big Bear, when both kids got sick and our cabin getaway was cut short. It was tempting to think, "This isn't fair! We've waited so long for this!" But God had other plans. He helped us to trust in Him and remember "man plans his ways, but the Lord directs His steps" (Prov. 16:9).

A big question in life is, do we still trust in God, even when things don't go our way, and when life doesn't seem to make sense? As it turns out, our hearts are still full of unbelief. During the worship service yesterday, we studied John 20:24-29. We used the apostle Thomas as a case study in unbelief, so we can better understand our own hearts and learn to trust Christ more fully.

1. Thomas doubts (Jn. 20:24-25). Instead of rejoicing with the other ten disciples, Thomas insists, "I've got to see it to believe it. I absolutely will not believe that Jesus rose from the dead unless I see it for myself!" His response is wrong of course, but really isn't much different from the other ten (cf. Mk. 16:14). If you've ever had someone doubt your word, questioning your integrity or constantly checking up on you, then you know how painful it can be not be trusted. Christ is always worthy of our trust. Our doubt grieves and dishonors Him.

2. Thomas believes (Jn. 20:26-29). A full week later, Jesus appears to the disciples again, and this time Thomas is with them. He shows His omniscience and His love by granting Thomas' request and letting him touch the scars from the nails and spear. Finally, Thomas exclaims with full conviction, "My Lord and my God!" The key lesson of the passage appears in verse 29: "Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed" (ESV). Unlike Thomas, we do not get to see and feel Jesus for ourselves, but we are blessed if we trust in Him anyway. True faith is the "assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen," as Hebrews says (Heb. 11:1).

We concluded our time Sunday with several application questions:
  • Do I doubt Jesus' death and resurrection? Jesus died and rose again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4). But do I really believe that? Do I believe it was necessary for Him to die for me - that my sin was that bad? Do I believe He alone could fully pay the price, and that none of my good works earn any favor with God? Do I believe He is alive today and has conquered sin and death?
  • Do I doubt His total sovereignty? God does whatever He pleases, and causes all things to work together for good to those who love God (Ps. 115:3; Rom. 8:28). But do I really believe that? Or do I have to see it to believe it? When things don't go my way, do I question God's control? Do I believe He is in control of my health? Of my job? Of our government? Are there any areas of my life where I need to think afresh about God's total sovereignty?
  • Do I doubt His great love? God is love (1 Jn. 4:8) and has shown His love for us in the greatest way possible: by sending His only Son to die for us (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:16). There is nothing greater He could have done to show His love! But do I really believe that? When my family suffers, when disaster strikes, do I still believe that Jesus loves us (Rev. 1:5)?
  • Do I doubt His immanent return? Jesus is coming soon, and will come to judge every one of us. But do I really believe that? Am I living a life of holiness and anticipation (Titus 2:12-13)? Does my schedule and prayer life show that I am focusing on eternal things? Does my checkbook and credit card bill reflect that I am laying up treasure in heaven? Many of us have grown too earthly minded and need to begin living in light of Christ's immanent return. If I had only one more week left on this earth, how would I spend it?
None of us would probably deny these four truths. But when it comes to our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, we often fail to live as though they are true. We give lip service to these things on Sunday, but they often do not change our lives Monday through Saturday. In all of these areas, and every other area of God's character, Jesus would say to us today, "Do not be unbelieving, but believing...Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Sunday's message will be uploaded soon to our podcast site for free download.

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