For Doubting Christians! Pt. 3
Reading John Ch. 11 v 16 + 14 v 5 + 20 v 19-31.
Preached By Ken Humphries,
The Cure For His Doubt!
Where John was concerned, the resurrection of Christ made a powerful demand on the intellect; where Mary Magdalene was concerned, the resurrection made a powerful demand on the heart; now, with Thomas, the resurrection made a powerful demand on the will!
You see the problem with Thomas was doubt, but doubt reinforced by stubbornness and will. Thankfully, we discover, in this section of Scripture Thomas finds a cure for his doubt. John 20 v 24-29.
The Church Of Christ!
"But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came." John 20 v 24.
Thomas is a vivid reminder of all those believers who for one reason or another absent themselves from gatherings of God’s people as though it mattered little. Listen folks, please take note of this thought, the only other person absent from that first important gathering with the resurrected Jesus was Judas. That’s the kind of company wilfully stays away from joining themselves with God’s people at the appointed time. Before Jesus left them He had instructed them to gather in that upper room and wait until He would appear unto them. That was an appointment with the dear Saviour they should not have missed on any account. Beloved, appointments with God should always be kept. Hebrews 10 v 25.
" Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the day approaching."
One of the very real signs of true faith, by way of response to the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be found in our expression of love to each other. And how best can I display that love?
Through fellowship with the people of God. Our Text from Hebrews says, "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together". The Jewish people were having a very difficult time breaking with the covenant and traditions of the past. They kept going back to the temple sacrifices and rites; they were still drawn by the legalism, ritual, ceremony, and the outward things of Judaism. So the unknown penman to Hebrews is telling them, one of the best ways to hold fast to the precious things of God, the real things of God that are found only in the new Covenant of Jesus Christ, is to maintain earnestly and guard jealously, fellowship with the people of God. There they could love and be loved; there they could serve and be served. There is no better place to strengthen faith in Christ, or to hope continually in Him, than the church, His body!
"And so much the more as you see the day approaching" (drawing near)
What did the writer mean by that statement? Well, there are those who say it refers to the imminent destruction of the temple, which would bring to an end all the sacrifices and rituals of that religious system. The Old Covenant could not by any stretch of the imagination continue to function without the Temple, which when the book of Hebrews was written was about to be destroyed by Titus. But I believe the primary reference is to the coming of the Lord, which of course, makes the passage apply to all of us. Beloved, the only place we can remain steadfast until Jesus Christ returns is with His people. We desperately need each other, we desperately need to be in fellowship with each other, which in turn will strengthen and encourage us day by day.
"For the early Christians, "koinonia" was not the frilly "fellowship" of church-sponsored, biweekly bowling parties. It was not tea, cookies, and sophisticated small talk in Fellowship Hall after the sermon. It was an almost unconditional sharing of their lives with the other members of Christ's body." Ronald J. Sider.
B. The Christ Of The Church!
Charles Colson told the following story in an address at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi:
I love the illustration about a man named Jack Eckerd. A few years ago I was on the Bill Buckley television program, talking about restitution (one of my favourite subjects) and criminal justice. Bill Buckley agreed with me. A few days later I got a call from Jack Eckerd, a businessman from Florida, the founder of the Eckerd Drug chain, the second largest drug chain in America. He saw me on television and asked me to come to Florida. He agreed Florida had a criminal justice crisis, would I come down and do something about it? And we did. We got the attorney general of the state, the president of the senate; we got on Jack Eckerd's Lear jet; we went around the State of Florida advocating criminal justice reforms, and everywhere we would go Jack Eckerd would introduce me to the crowds and say, "This is Chuck Colson, my friend; I met him on Bill Buckley's television program. He's born again, I'm not. I wish I were." And then he'd sit down. We'd get on the aeroplane and I'd tell him about Jesus. We'd get off at the next stop, he'd repeat it, we'd do the same thing again, and I'd talk to him about Jesus. When we left I gave him some of R. C. Sproul's books and I gave him C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, which had such an impact on me. I sent him my books. About a year went by and I kept pestering Jack Eckerd. And eventually one day he read some things including the story of Watergate and the Resurrection out of my book, Loving God, and decided that Jesus was, in fact, resurrected from the dead. He called me up to tell me he believed that, and I asked him some other things. When he got through telling me what he believed I said, you're born again!" He said, "No, I'm not, I haven't felt anything." I said, "Yes, you are! Pray with me right now." After we prayed he said, "I am? Marvellous!" The first thing he did was to walk into one of his drugstores and walked down through the bookshelves and he saw Playboy and Penthouse. And he'd seen it there many times before, but it never bothered him before. Now he saw them with new eyes. He'd become a Christian.
He went back to his office. He called in his president. He said, "Take Playboy and Penthouse out of my stores. The president said, "You can't mean that, Mr. Eckerd. We make three million dollars a year on those books." He said, "Take 'em out of my stores." And in 1,700 stores across America, by one man's decision, those magazines and smut were removed from the shelves because a man had given his life to Christ. I called Jack Eckerd up. I said, "I want to use that story. Did you do that because of your commitment to Christ?" He said, "Why else would I give away three million dollars? The Lord wouldn't let me off the hook."
Isn't that marvellous? God wouldn't let me off the hook. I don't know any theologian who's better defined the Lordship of Christ than that. And what happened after that is a wonderful sequel and a wonderful demonstration of what happens in our culture today.
We are caught up with this idea that we've got to have big political institutions and big structures and big movements and big organisations in order to change things in our society. And that's an illusion and a fraud. Jack Eckerd wrote a letter to all the other drugstore operators, all the other chains, and he said, "I've taken it out of my store. Why don't you take it out of yours?" Not a one answered him. Of course not--he'd put them under conviction. So he wrote them some more letters. But then Eckerd's Drugs began to get floods of people coming in to buy things at Eckerd's because they'd taken Playboy and Penthouse out. And so People power removed the magazines from their shelves and then Dart Drug removed them from their shelves and then Revco removed them from their shelves. And over the period of twelve months while the pornography commission in Washington was debating over what to do about pornography and while they're trying to come up with some recommendations for the president about what to do which will result in laws which if Congress ever passes them will be sued by the ACLU and will be tied up in the courts for 10 years--meanwhile, across America, one by one, stores are removing them. And the 7-11 chairman, who sits on Jack Eckerd's board, finally gave in two weeks ago and 5,000 7-11 stores removed it. And in a period of twelve months, 11,000 retail outlets in America removed Playboy and Penthouse, not because somebody passed a law, but because God wouldn't let one of his men off the hook. That's what brings change. LORDSHIP! End quote!
My brothers and sisters I care not what it is you are involved in, through this work a day world. You may be at home looking after children, you may be in an office with the worst kind of people, you may be in the workshop of one kind or another, you may be in the business world, wherever you are, with Jesus Christ as Lord you will never be the loser, you will always be a winner.
John 20 v 19-23. Expound and explain!
Thomas was absent and look what happened!
John is very blunt about this v 25 "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came." He missed it all!
Imagine that! The very first appearance after His resurrection to His disciples. What must that not have been like? And Thomas missed it!
Why? Because not was he not present, and why was he not present? because Christ was not Lord.
Thomas was hiding in a corner somewhere. Well, even if it is true and Jesus is going to appear there’s no point in me going, I mean, He did not want me as one of His favourites, I was not one of the three He always had close to Him. Sure I have always been a back marker, I am not an up front man, nobody knows I am here. I’m not one of the Lord’s blue eyes, it hardly matters if I am there or not! And because of such an attitude he missed the best blessing of his whole life. He did! Man, Jesus breathed on them and the very power of God fell on them. A once in an earth time experience, never to be repeated, he missed it all because Christ was not Lord of all.
"Make me a captive, Lord, And then I shall be free; Force me to render up my sword, And I shall conqueror be. I sink in life's alarms when by myself I stand; imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand." George Matheson.
C. The Word Of The Christ!
You see, Thomas like all the rest had the words, which Christ spoke before His crucifixion. Ah! That was not enough for Thomas. Unless I see, and feel for myself I will not believe. Not you guys, not the Words of the Lord, not any body or anybody’s word. It’s not enough; I need more than that!
And beloved, before we start to tut at Thomas, the truth of the matter is doubt does the same to all of us.
We have the whole, complete Word of Jesus Christ. God speaks to us today in and through the Words of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and still it is never enough.
Through the book of Joshua alone He has been reminding us that we have---
The Promise of His Presence! The Promise of His Power! The Promise of His Place! The Promise of His Prosperity! The Promise of His Plan! The Promise of His Possessions! The Promise of his Promises!
And still it’s not enough. We walk with our heads down in the dust of the ground looking at the muck and the mess around us instead of looking up at the one who has already given us the victory.
"Only by desertion can we be defeated. With Christ and for Christ victory is certain. We can lose the victory by flight but not by death. Happy are you if you die in battle, for after death you will be crowned. But woe to you if by forsaking the battle you forfeit at once both the victory and the crown." End quote! Bernard of Clairvaux.
Our God has called us to be faithful unto the end, whatever that end may be. There is a cure for Doubt and that cure is to be found in our continuing to the end.
"When William Carey began thinking of going to India as a pioneer missionary, his father pointed out to him that he possessed no academic qualifications that would fit him for such a task. But Carey answered, "I can plod." How true it is that God accomplishes mighty things for his kingdom through those who are willing to persevere, who are willing to plod faithfully through one difficulty after another in the power of the Spirit." James S. Hewett.