Matthew 10:1-4 – These Guys Changed the World? Part 8 (Thomas)

Posted: November 26, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 10:1-4
These Guys Changed the World? Part 8 (Thomas)

Thomas was one of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles, specially chosen to spread the gospel after the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. The Apostle Thomas was not present when the risen Jesus first appeared to the disciples. When told by the others, “We have seen the Lord,” Thomas replied that he would not believe it unless he could actually touch Jesus’ wounds. Jesus later presented himself to the apostles and invited Thomas to inspect his wounds. Thomas was also present with the other disciples at the Sea of Galilee when Jesus appeared to them again.
Although it is not used in the Bible, the nickname “Doubting Thomas” was given to this disciple because of his disbelief about the resurrection. People who are skeptical are sometimes referred to as a “Doubting Thomas.” After the resurrection of the Lord Christ Jesus, Thomas went to Babylon; it is believed that he established the first Christian church there. Thomas is also known to have gone to Persia and from there he went to India and preached the Gospel making many converts. It is believed that Thomas arrived in India no later than 49 AD. It is also believed that the apostle Thomas evangelized as far as China, and while in India, he suffered martyrdom by being run through with a lance/spear in India by pagan priests who saw his message as a threat to their way of life. The apostle Thomas is said to have been a fearless evangelist and a great builder of churches.
What can we learn from Thomas today? First, we learn that the even the closest disciples of Jesus Christ, these 12 men, were sometimes quite clueless. Second, I think that it is important that we understand that the Christian faith welcomes close-up examination and questions. Finally, we see that as a result of learning more and going deeper into our faith in Christ, we grow some much closer to Him and it allows us to do great things for Him. We learn that knowledge and deeper understanding of our faith is not dangerous but a necessary part of growing in Christ.

The first thing we notice is that Thomas doubted the resurrection. He was clueless even after he had been around Jesus for about 3 years. He had witnessed miracle after miracle. He had heard Jesus speak of the kingdom of God with great authority. He had heard Jesus say that He and the Father were one. He had heard Jesus confirm Peter’s statement that He was the Messiah. He was there for it all. Yet, even after all that evidence right before his eyes, he would not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He must have been a very practical guys. You know the type. The guy that understands how things work. A guy that could diagnose problems and give answers based on the facts. The guy that always seemed to have a logical solution to things. He simply understood the nature of things. He understood how the world worked. And, well, people rising from the dead, the most permanent and unchangeable state of being known to man, was just not there for him. It would not have made any sense to this guy who was the logical process kind of guy. Are we not that way sometimes as Christ followers? We pray timid prayers because we don’t really believe that God can move in a certain situation. We may pray because that is the Christian socially acceptable thing to do. But do you really believe in the miraculous power of God? We cop out and cover our disbelief by saying that “whatever your will is God…” Where is our faith? How big is your God? We have seen him do miracles in our lives, in the life of our fellowship, in the life of our church? Do you have the faith of a mustard seed to believe that God can do anything? Or are you like Thomas who deep down just doesn’t believe that God can effect real changes in our temporal plane of existence. You think that God is no longer in the miracle business. You may even be one that tries to explain away Jesus’ miracles as somehow unique natural events with a logical explanation. As a result, you just don’t believe in God miraculously curing somehow with Stage 4 Cancer because of the faith and the prayers of fervent Christ followers. Are you a clueless Thomas or do you have a big faith in a big God who can do miracles even today?
The second thing that I take away from Thomas is that Jesus welcomed his examination of His body. This is so very true of our faith as well. Jesus welcomed questions and our faith built on this Son of God is the same way. Ours is a logical faith and through facts and history we can get you 95% of the way to the cross through overcoming your skepticism. The last 5%, rhetorically speaking, takes faith. However, we can get you most of the way to the cross through reason. A reasonable faith is one that Believing in something BECAUSE of the evidence. We hold a reasonable faith when we believe in something because it is the most reasonable conclusion from the evidence that exists. The Bible repeatedly makes evidential claims. It offers eyewitness accounts of historical events that can be verified archeologically, prophetically and even scientifically. We, as Christians are called to hold a reasonable faith that is grounded in this way. Even the resurrection is said to have been witnessed by thousands of people before Jesus ascended into heaven. The fact that Jesus is referenced in extrabiblical sources verifies that He existed. The fact that each of the New Testament books were written within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses who could have refuted the claims adds credence to our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Jesus’ enemies and the apostles’ enemies could have certainly refuted their testimony but that never happened and the stories were never and still have never been definitively disputed. Even the Scriptures themselves invite us to investigate. According to Pleaseconvinceme.com, “the God of the Bible does not call his children to obey blindly. The Bible itself serves as a piece of evidence, the testimony of eyewitnesses who provide us with reasons to believe. That’s why the scriptures repeatedly call us to have a “reasoned” belief in Jesus. Scripture tells us:

1. We should value reason so that we won’t be like “unreasoning animals” (Jude 4, 10)

2. We should love God with our “mind” as well as our heart and soul (Matthew 22:37-38)

3. We should remember that Jesus said that the miracles He performed were offered as evidence so we would “know and understand” that the Father was in Him and He was in the Father (John 10:37-38)

4. We should remember that God provided “proof” for all of us by raising Jesus from the grave (Acts 17:30-31)

5. We should remember that Jesus did not hesitate to provide additional “convincing proofs” (evidence) to the disciples, even after He had been resurrected from the tomb (Acts 1:2-3)

6. We should remember that Paul regularly “reasoned” with people as he provided evidence from the Scriptures and testified as an eyewitness to the resurrection (Acts 17:2-3)

7. We should use our minds to “examine everything” carefully (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)

8. We should resist the temptation to have blind faith, and should instead “test the spirits” to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1)

9. We should examine what we believe until we are “fully convinced” (Romans 14:5, 2 Timothy 1:8-12, 2 Timothy 3:14)

When we use our minds, investigate the evidence and become convinced, something wonderful happens; we have the courage to defend what we believe. Jesus gave us more than enough evidence to believe that He was who he said he was, and He never asked us to believe blindly. When Jesus asked us to have faith in Him, he asked us to accept what he said on the basis of the evidence that He gave us. The Christian faith is a reasonable faith. As Jesus invited Thomas to examine the evidence of the reality of the resurrection, He, too, invites you to investigate, to grow in your faith as a result of the examination. Do not fear asking questions, like Thomas, it will actually turn out to deepen your faith, like Thomas.
That last sentence of the previous paragraph leads us to our final point. It is our well grounded faith in Jesus that allows us to march boldly into the world and share our faith. Thomas went on to spread the gospel, some believe, as far as what it now modern day western China. Wow. A fisherman from Galilee preached the gospel in Persia, in India and maybe even in western China. That’s a pretty big jump from a guy who was just an average joe fisherman in Galilee. That’s a pretty big jump from a doubter to a man that willingly gave his life in the advancement of the gospel into non-Jewish lands who had never even heard of Moses much less Jesus. From his inquisitive mind asking the questions he needed answers to, he became convinced of the reasonableness of the Christian faith. He became convinced that Jesus Christ was the only way to the Father in heaven. Because of the knowledge he acquired about his faith in Jesus, he was able to defend his faith against the arguments of all the man-made religions he encountered in Persia, India, and China. He was able to convince others of the rightness of his claim that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God and who is the only way to the Father. In this day, many Christians have conceded that it is OK to believe in other faiths. Why? Because we don’t want to put the work to understand our faith. We would rather say that all roads lead to heaven than to cause conflict. We don’t want the conflict because we are unable to defend our faith because we haven’t really tried to understand it. We are for the most part shallow Christians who do not understand why we believe what we believe. Let us begin asking questions about our faith rather than blindly believing it and thus cannot defend it. Jesus welcomes your questions. He WANTS you to question. Just look at all the evidence just presented about how our faith is one that invites and demands you to question it. The only way you can defend your faith is to get answers to your questions. Christ is not afraid of your questions. Ask them. There is a world out there that has warped Jesus into something that He is not. There are those out there that have perverted Christianity into something it is not. There are those who try to defeat Christianity with what seem like logical arguments but are not. However, you and I sit quietly by because we do not understand our faith. Ask questions. Many of us have caused Christianity to drift away from its core just to be accepted by today’s society because we do not understand our faith. We sometimes do not stand up for our faith on potent social issues because we do not understand our faith. Ask questions. Read the Bible. Understand. Understand. Understand. Look at Thomas. He goes from a doubter of the resurrection to one of the greatest evangelists of the Christian faith. Tell me how that happened. He got answers to the questions that plagued him. Through those questions, he developed a well-grounded, reasonable understanding of our faith. That rock-solid understanding of the theology of our faith is what we need more of today. Ask questions. Get answers. Become a powerful spokesman for our faith through your reasoned understanding of the Christian faith.
Amen and amen.

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