For Doubting Christians! Pt. 1
Reading John Ch. 11 v 16 + 14 v 5 + 20 v 19-31.
Preached By Ken Humphries,
The question often arises in my own mind and heart.
What kind of Christian are you?
An old writer, speaking of people as stewards of God, urges upon them as wise traders and servants to look to themselves carefully, and take care of four houses that are under their charge.
1. The warehouse--or heart and memory--where they should store up precious things, holy affections, grateful remembrances, celestial preparations, etc. Without a good stock in the warehouse there can be no good trade.
2. The workhouse--or actions--where they retail to others for God's glory the grace entrusted to them, teaching the ignorant, comforting the poor, visiting the sick, etc. We must be active or we cannot be acceptable servants.
3. The clock-house--meaning speech--which must always, like a well-timed bell, speak the truth accurately; also meaning observance of time, redeeming it by promptly doing the duties of every hour. We must use time well, or our spiritual gains will be small.
4. The counting house--or the conscience--is to be scrupulously watched, and no false reckoning allowed, lest we deceive our own souls. The Master will call for our accounts; let us keep them honestly.
C. H. Spurgeon.
I want if I may to share with you some thoughts on four lesser-known characters in the New Testament.
Didymus the Doubter! Demas the Deserter!
Diotrephes the Dictator! Demetrius the Dependable!
This study looks into the kind of Christian Thomas was! We will call him—
Didymus the Doubter!
By the way, the name Didymus is Aramaic for twin. Didymus the double was well named for his doubts were double those of any others. And to be truthful, how many of us could identify with Thomas in this area of life.
There is more faith in honest doubt; Believe me, than in half the creeds;
So penned a poet (witless lout) to praise the doubters doubtful deeds.
But let me whisper in your ear, there’s no such thing as honest doubt:
For doubt will doubtless disappear if it is honest out and out.
Can’t we all identify with doubt?
Doubt takes from us peace and tranquillity:
Doubt plunges us into the dungeon of despair:
Doubt places us into the castle of depression:
Doubt binds us and renders us faithless:
And yet how real it is. How often it steals in upon us and causes us sleepless nights and agonising days.
Thomas or Didymus has his name recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and The Book of the Acts, but it really is simply a recording of his name only.
If we want to know more of the little record there is of Thomas, it’s John we need to look to.
In John’s brief account of Didymus the Doubter we can learn a number of things that may interest us.
The Cause Of His Doubt! John 14 v 1-6.
A Lack Of Faith! John 14 v 5-6.
My favourite way of illustrating [trust] is to recount what I'm told is a true story. I don't know that it is, but I've read in several places that it is.
A famous tightrope walker once strung a cable across Niagara Falls from the American side all the way to the Canadian side. To the applause of thousands of people, he would walk across that tightrope right on the very edge of the falls, the rushing, cascading waters thundering underneath him. He would walk back and forth, people applauding wildly. Then to further wow the crowds, he would put a blindfold on and go back and forth. Then he would ride a bicycle back and forth, and then he would push a wheelbarrow back and forth. Every day, people came out to watch him. He quite simply was the greatest.
As the story goes, one day while pushing the wheelbarrow back and forth, he called out to the crowd on one end, inquiring whether or not they thought he could successfully push the wheelbarrow across with a human being riding in the wheelbarrow. The crowd went berserk: "Surely you can. You're remarkable. We've watched you for days. We understand and appreciate your skills. We believe in your abilities. You are the greatest." On and on they went, to which he responded, "Then someone volunteer. You come right up here, single file, form a line, and get in the wheelbarrow to prove your trust in my ability." A deafening silence overtook the crowd. There were no takers. Christianity today Magazine!
I have heard people say, well if we had better preachers today it would strengthen our faith, yet is it not amazing, Thomas had for three years listened to the best preacher this world had ever heard, the Lord Jesus Christ, yet doubt still haunts him and lingers in the depths of his heart.
For all that time period he had been taught, loved, cared for, had things explained to him by the dear Saviour but still doubts lingered.
Jesus taught about life and how to live it, Jesus taught about people and how to love them, Jesus taught about death and how to die, Jesus taught about resurrection and how to believe it. And that is only the tip of the iceberg of Jesus teachings. Added to that, the disciples could testify to the fact of seeing Jesus perform, do many wonderful works in the name of God the Father.
He taught them about building His Church; He taught them to understand that they would be the foundation or building blocks of His church. In three and one half years they had heard more and been taught more than anyone did, ever.
Yet when the disciples tell Thomas of seeing Jesus after His resurrection he just won’t believe them. He cannot take it in, he simply will not believe it, and without doubt there was a singular lack of faith.
It is always weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning and mistrusting. What can we do if we wear ourselves to skin and bone? Can we gain anything by fearing and fuming? Do we not unfit ourselves for action, and unhinge our minds for wise decision? We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith. ... Oh for grace to be confident in God. C.H. Spurgeon.
The cause of Thomas’s doubt was lack of faith! I believe it may well be the very thing that causes our doubt, leading to a do nothing lifestyle. I mean, how many people simply because of doubt and fear just do nothing.
Dr. Vance Havner. Negative, uncertain, doubtful living poisons body, mind, and spirit; fills insane asylums, penitentiaries, graves, hell itself.
A Liberal Idea! John 14 v 5-6.
The Bible says Philippians 2 v 5.
"Let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ Jesus"
But Thomas says I have a mind of my own. He had already decided what kind of Messiah, what kind of man Jesus was to be. Isaiah 53 had already revealed this Jesus was indeed to be the suffering Son of Man and the reason for it. Jesus Himself had made clear that He would suffer and die and go back to the Father in Heaven.
"Thomas said unto Him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?"
Now, Thomas deserves some credit here, for he was not a man to pretend a faith he did not have. And we should thank Thomas for such a stirring question. You see if Thomas had been in harmony with the Lord Jesus Christ he would have picked up on the statement Jesus had been making and things would have been at least, clearer to him.
But Thomas has his mind set already; he has his own idea. Like Namman of old, he thought the prophet would do what his mind had conceived but no, the prophet does exactly what God’s mind had conceived. That’s what Jesus is doing, what God’s mind has conceived. See the need beloved for having the mind of Christ, it really will make life a lot more understandable.
I say it again; even the greatest preacher did not have the impact on Thomas he should have. Why? A deep lack of faith and a mind, or idea all of his own.
Thomas had his mind closed to what the most wonderful preacher this world had ever heard was saying. It was not getting through; it did not sink in.
"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
C. A Love Of Logic! John 20 v 25.
"The other disciples, therefore, said unto him, we have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe."
Believe what you do believe and stick to it, but don't profess to believe more than you intend to stick to. If you say you believe God is love, stick to it though all providence becomes a pandemonium shouting that God is cruel to allow what he does. Oswald Chambers.
The world’s attitude is, seeing is believing, but Jesus said to Thomas.
John 14 v 29.
"Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
Jesus turns the logic of this world upside down!
Those today who crave miracles and signs are out of line with the Lord’s method in this age of people’s faith being based solely on God’s Word. As Paul put it, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" Romans 10 v 17.
Those who insist on signs, wonders, and miracles can have them—at a price. Satan is only too willing to oblige. After the church age when God once more takes up direct dealings with the nation of Israel, signs and miracles will resume. Pentecost was only a partial fulfilment of Joel 2 v 28-31. In the book of the Revelation we see God’s "two witnesses," performing miracle after miracle Rev. 11 v 3-6. They of course will be opposed by counterfeit, satanic miracles. The church age however is one of faith, not sight. Hence the Lord’s special beatitude to us. Do not depend on feelings! Deepen faith!
"There is a touching fact related in a history of a Highland chief, of the noble house of McGregor, who fell wounded by two bullets at the battle of Prestonpans. Seeing their chief fall, the clan wavered and gave the enemy an advantage. The old chieftain, beholding the effect of his disaster, raised himself up on his elbow, while the blood gushed in streams from his wounds, and cried out loud, 'I am not dead, my children. I am watching to see you do your duty.' These words revived the sinking courage of his brave Highlanders. There was a charm in the fact that they still fought under the eye of their chief. It encouraged them to put forth they’re mightiest energies, and they did all that human strength could do to turn and stem the dreadful tide of battle.
"And isn't it impressive to believers that they contend in the battlefield of life under the eye of the Saviour? Wherever they are, however they are oppressed by foes, however exhausted by the stern strife with evil, the eye of Christ is fixed most lovingly upon them. Nor is Jesus the only observer of their conduct. They are also 'a spectacle unto angels.' They are 'surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.' Human and angelic minds are the spectators of deeds. Thus is the theatre of life made sublime. Believers contend for salvation under circumstances sufficiently grand, and with results before them sufficiently awful to arouse their most latent powers, and to stimulate them to strive bravely, vigorously, and perseveringly even unto victory."
D. Wise. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon.)