August 1, 2021

Coping With Doubts

Passage: John 20:19-31

The Apostles Commissioned
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were [a]assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Seeing and Believing
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, [b]“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That You May Believe
30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Coping With Doubt
John 20:19-31

Doubting Thomas
The week after Easter
Jesus answered the skeptics’ question
Seeing is believing
God is not observable, measurable
Is it sinful to have doubts?
Jesus accepted Thomas, met conditions
Even Jesus had doubts – on the cross

Sincere Doubt is Okay
Struggling with faith brings firmer convictions
There is dishonest doubt: trap of pride, shock value, attracting attention
Arrogant excuse for not believing
Cover-up for deep moral problems
Honest doubt is not content, smug
Takes faith seriously, with integrity
Needs adequate rational, intelligent support

Common Doubts
How could a good God allow such evil in the world?
If Christianity is such a great religion, why are there so many hypocrites in the church?
Couldn’t God create the world by evolution over billions of years?
How could Jesus be both man and God at the same time?

Are Faith and Doubt Opposites?
Opposite sides of the same coin
Doubts are the questions faith produces
Backhanded faith
If we didn’t believe in a good God, we wouldn’t be surprised about evil
Doubt is part of faith – if we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need faith

What can we do?

  1. Concentrate on the Positive

What are the bedrock things that we don’t doubt?
Example: the problem of good
It’s easier to be evil – lie, cheat, destroy
If there is no God, why is there any good?
Example: the problem of organization
How can inert dirt spontaneously produce living matter capable of reproducing itself?

  1. Suspend Judgement

Put our questions prayerfully on the “back burner”
Be content to live without answers
Refrain from judging God, until we get more information
If we knew everything all at once, there would be no learning, no adventure, no anticipation of heaven

  1. Pray About It

Prayer melts stubborn doubts
Jesus heard Thomas’s conditions and met them
We can be blunt with God
He's got big shoulders – present our case
Nothing is the same when seen inside the framework of honest, seeking prayer

  1. Maintain Christian Fellowship

Seek out those who do believe
Our first instinct is to cut ourselves off
Thomas wasn’t there
Fellowship with believers rekindles the fire
Iron sharpens iron
Believers need to be challenged: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Faith at its Best
Simple trust in a person
His sinless character, the depth of His costly love
If we can’t trust Jesus, who can we trust?
Jesus Himself is the Answer
“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (v.27)

Jesus’ Blessing on Us
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29