In my last post (June 15) we looked at the story of “doubting Thomas” found in John 20. Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead unless he saw and touched Jesus’ wounds. We observed that his doubt had turned into disbelief.
So the crucial question is this: if you are struggling with a disbelieving doubt towards the Christian faith, how do you overcome it? I suggest we look at Thomas’ story and how he conquered his doubts. John 20:26—28 describe Thomas’ encounter with the resurrected Jesus and provides three pieces of evidence that point to Jesus’ divinity. First off, even though the doors were locked, Jesus suddenly appeared in the room. His resurrected body was not bound by the laws of nature. Secondly, Jesus told Thomas “go ahead and touch the wounds in my hands and side.” Even though he was not physically present when Thomas made his declaration of doubt, Jesus supernaturally knew about it. Thirdly, Thomas responded by making a new declaration: “my Lord and my God!”
Make no mistake: the words Thomas uttered are one of the strongest statements of the deity of Jesus Christ in all of Scripture. In fact, previous to this moment, no other person had declared Jesus as God, other than Jesus himself!
You know it’s OK to have some doubts about the Christian faith. But if you are going to call yourself a Christ-follower, you cannot doubt the deity of Jesus Christ. Our whole faith is built on the fact that Jesus is God.
The great writer C.S. Lewis framed it this way: either Jesus is a Liar, a Lunatic or he is the Lord. Think about it: if someone claims to be God, there are three options: he is a fraud; he is mentally unstable; or he’s right.
The evidence of this story indicates that Jesus is indeed God and Jesus wants us to believe it. He said to Thomas “Stop doubting and believe.” In the original language it says “be not faithless but faithful.” Point blank Jesus confronted Thomas and said “stop being a non-believer and become a believer.”
The same applies to you and me. Jesus is saying “stop being a non-believer and become a believer.” The reason the Apostle John tells us this story and in fact, the purpose John wrote his gospel was so that you and I would believe in Jesus.
Nevertheless, even Jesus admitted that faith is not easy. After Thomas’ declaration, Jesus told the disciples “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
However difficult it may be, it is still possible to believe without seeing. How does that work? The answer lies in John 11:40. Right before Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, he asked Martha, the sister of Lazarus a rhetorical question: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Most of us are like Thomas rather than Martha: we say “I will believe if I see.” But God says “Believe in me and then you will see.” You must first surrender your desire to see and touch and then God reveals to you his power and glory. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s how God operates.
Here’s the bottom line: from a rational standpoint all the evidence you need to believe is in Thomas’ story if you choose to accept his testimony and transformation. But if that’s still not enough, then ask God for the faith to believe. Eph. 2:8 tells us that “faith is a gift.” A story in Mark 9:24 corroborates this truth. A father whose son was demon-possessed and mute came to Jesus and asked for help. Jesus replied “Everything is possible for him who believes” The Father responded “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” This man got it: he asked for more faith and then Jesus cast the demon out of his son.
If you lack faith, simply ask for it. Tell Jesus “help me overcome my unbelief” and he will give you the gift of faith.