For Doubting Christians! Pt. 2
Reading John Ch. 11 v 16 + 14 v 5 + 20 v 19-31.
Preached By Ken Humphries,
2. The Consequences Of His Doubt!
There is of course always a consequence to sin. We may in a very real sense know forgiveness from the Lord when we call upon His name and repent but beloved, the consequence always remains.
Thomas Hurt His Own Character!
He lived a full week in misery, doubt and fear because he could not settle his heart and mind on what to believe. As I have already said he had heard the best preacher this world, and certainly he himself, ever witnessed. Instead of joy and rejoicing he was totally miserable, it was gloom and doom all through the week. He had let doubt rob him of the joy of the Lord.
Like Christian and his companion in Pilgrim’s Progress, straying into by-path meadow then captured by giant despair they were cast into doubting castle. Giant despair would pay them a visit and every time he did they were beaten with his crab tree cudgel until black and blue, starved of food, told to commit suicide. There they lay, beaten and hungry in doubting castle, until suddenly Christian says, what a fool I have been, lying here in this awful place, when I have the key in my bosom that will open every lock in this castle.
His companion said what key? Why the key of promise said Christian! What’s the key of promise? What God reveals in His word!
How often beloved we become downhearted and morbid when all the time God’s Word stands safe and secure. We are robbed of our joy; we become totally despondent with everything and everybody. We blame our partner for not being spiritual enough, we blame the church for not being interested enough, we blame the pastor for not being caring enough, we blame the office bearers for not doing enough, we blame the members for not calling enough.
What’s happening, well we have been putting together a patchwork quilt religion as Thomas did and thus we get a patchwork quilt result.
Our generation is exposed to more religious ideas than any people in history.
We are inundated with all kinds of deviant teachings that claim to be truth. The undiscerning person has no means of determining what is truth, and many are baffled by the variety of teachings. It is no wonder so many dear folks are confused. But here’s the point, why should people who believe the Bible and affirm that Jesus is Lord of all people be led astray or confounded by competing doctrines?
Scripture warns that the church will be invaded with doctrines of demons, destructive heresies, myths, falsehoods, perverse teachings, commandments of men, human traditions, empty philosophy, vain deceit, speculations, lying spirits, worldly fables, false knowledge, and worldly wisdom. Jesus warned that false prophets would show up at church as wolves in sheep’s clothing Matt. 7 v 15. Paul told the elders at Ephesus that savage wolves would enter in, not sparing the flock Acts 20 v 29. "And from among your own selves," he added, "men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" v 30.
He wrote Timothy and said, "Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" 2 Tim. 3 v 13. He also wrote, "The Spirit explicitly says that in; later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" 1 Tim. 4 v 1.
An almost inexhaustible gullibility has destroyed people’s will to be discerning. Therefore the church is shot through with confusion, error and doubt. And what happens? It’s the character of the individual that falls foul and is deeply hurt simply because we will not take God at His Word!
"Give the Bible to the people, unadulterated, pure, unaltered, unexplained, uncheapened, and then see it work through the whole nature. It is very difficult indeed for a man or for a boy who knows the Scriptures ever to get away from it. It follows him like the memory of his mother. It haunts him like an old song. It reminds him like the word of an old and revered teacher. It forms a part of the warp and woof of his life." Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) Past President U.S.A.
B. Thomas Hurt His Own Christ!
By that I mean he was hurting the testimony of the Christ of God whom he claimed to love, follow and serve.
By his own actions he was accusing the Lord Jesus Christ of being a fraud or at the least untrustworthy. According to Thomas, the words spoken by Jesus had proved to be false and untrue.
We learn something here. Thomas was separate from the rest of the crowd when Jesus first appeared to them after the resurrection. If only he had remained in close proximity to the others what a different outcome we might have seen.
"Church-goers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out." Billy Graham.
And that beloved is how Thomas hurt his own Christ. By his doubt and disbelief he brought shame to the truths of Jesus Christ.
Listen beloved, we need to lay hold on this truth, what we do has a knock on effect on the whole church. We are not islands unto ourselves.
A church that functions well will function together! Or put it the other way!
A church that functions together will function well!
You might well ask, well how can we do that? "Discipleship"
Now there are two things here in need of saying!
(i) Determining the Church’s Responsibility!
A church must make a concerted effort to teach people the Word of God to bring them to maturity. Everyone is to be involved in that process: the teaching pastor is to perfect the saints, the saints are to do the work of their ministry so that the body of Christ may be built up. We are all to be involved in the process of discipling people.
Paul instructed Timothy to pass on what he had learned to faithful men who would "be able to teach others also" 2 Tim. 2 v 2. Older men and women are to teach the younger ones Titus 2 v 3-5. Even young men are to be examples to others Titus 2 v 6-7.
A Christian who isn’t discipling someone is a contradiction. He or she ought to be reproducing their life in the lives of others.
A church should emphasise discipleship. The design of the Christian church is not to have a professional preacher, financed by laymen who merely act as spectators. Every Christian should be involved in edifying other believers.
Well, that’s something we have not been about for a long time!
(ii) Delineating The Discipling Process!
a. Teach Biblical Truth:
The Greek word translated "disciple" (Mathetes) means "learner." If someone is a learner, someone else must teach him. Discipling Christians means teaching them biblical truth. When I disciple people, I give them tapes to listen to and books to read that deal with biblical subjects they need to understand.
Besides teaching from the pulpit, I teach them biblical truths on a personal level from the word of God.
b. Apply Scripture To living:
You need to make the Bible come alive to the person you’re discipling by making it practical. He or she needs to know how to apply biblical truth. You would be amazed how many learn principles that they never put into action.
We need to ask questions that prompt the disciple to think through his or her own set of circumstances from God’s point of view. They need to interpret life spiritually. For example a lady I was discipling was panicking over her personal and family problems. But when she began viewing those very real problems from the stand point of a Sovereign God and not from that of a desperate human, her panic disappeared. Biblical truth must be taught and translated into appropriated attitudes and actions. Truth will never do any good unless applied.
Solve Problems Biblically!
Biblical problem solving is a key to effective discipleship. People learn best when they have a need to know. One example is the way people respond to the stewardess giving safety instructions before takeoff. Few pay any attention to what is being said, except those who are on their first flight. The others have heard it all before and don’t expect to need to know it. However, if you looked outside of the plane and saw flames coming from the engine just as the stewardess said, "please take your emergency card," you would grab one of those cards. And if there weren’t enough cards to go round, someone would get hurt in the rush! The change of interest comes from suddenly needing to know.
You always learn best when you have to know the answers. Effective discipleship involves giving someone biblical answers to problems he or she has and teaching them how to apply those answers. Be ready to give an answer when required.
C. Thomas Hurt His Own Church!
Whatever Church Thomas will join himself to, his attitude here will not easily be forgotten. Instead of proclaiming the truth of the resurrection he’s preaching his own rationalism. I will not believe! Unbelief was the scourge then and beloved it’s the scourge of the church today.
"Every man will have to decide for himself whether or not he can afford the terrible luxury of unbelief." A. W. Tozer.
Doubting such as Thomas portrayed will have a debilitating effect not only on the one who doubts but also on the rest of God’s people.
You see dear folks; the church is called to be effective in the world in which we live at whatever time we live. There is no time that is easy to be a member of a true believing church and witness for Jesus Christ.
The Church is to be a Saved Church! Acts 17 v 1-4.
The Church is to be a Surrendered Church! 1 Thess. 1 v 6.
The Church is to be a Suffering Church! 1 Thess. 1 v 6b.
The Church is to be a Soul-winning Church! 1 Thess. 1 v 7.
The Church is to be a Second-Coming Church! 1 Thess. 1 v 10.
The Church is to be a Steadfast Church! 1 Thess. 3 v 8.
"For the watching world, we ourselves serve proof that God is alive. We form the visible shape of what he is like." Philip Yancey.
"If we saw the Church as she is in the most generous souls who live most truly the life of the Church, she would appear most beautiful in our sight, despite the human imperfections which are mingled with the activity of her children. We rightly lament certain blots, but let us not forget that if there is sometimes mud in the valley at the foot of the mountains, on the summits there is always snow of dazzling whiteness, air of great purity, and a wonderful view that ever leads the eye to God." Christianity Today.