Summary: Character Study - Thomas (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
• John chapter 11 verses 6-16
• John chapter 14 verses 1-6
• John chapter 20 verses 24-29
• Some people are household names:
• You know who they are, and what they do or are famous for.
• Pele - Football
• Pavoroti - Singer
• Dickens - Literature
• Picasso - Painting & Art.
• Morcombe & Wise - Comedians.
• Einstein - Science.
WHAT IS TRUE IN THE SECULAR WORLD IS MIRRORED IN THE BIBLE:
Some people are linked to things:
• Samson & Haircuts.
• Joseph & his coat.
• Jonah & Fish.
• Eve & Apple(!).
• Noah & ark.
• Gideon & Fleece.
Some people are linked to occupations:
• Peter: Fisherman,
• Rahab: Harlot,
• Zacceus: Tax Collector.
• Luke: Doctor.
Some people are linked to particular deeds:
• John the baptiser.
• Judas the betrayer.
• John the beloved;
• Peter the rock & Stephen the Martyr.
Our character study tonight:
• Involves a man who throughout Church history;
• Has had attached to him an unfortunate nick-name – ‘Doubting Thomas’.
• The New Testament gives him several names:
• He is called ‘Thomas the Apostle’, also called ‘Judas Thomas’,
• Or ‘Didymus’ which means ‘Twin’,
• But perhaps he is better known as ‘Doubting Thomas’.
When it comes to the subject of doubt:
• Opinions among Christians vary greatly.
• To some, doubt represents rank unbelief!
• Others, though, argue that it is essential to any intelligent pursuit of the truth.
• Quote: “There lives more faith in honest doubt, than in all the creeds.
• Pick up any Christian book of quotes,
• And you will find the great men & women of God split as to their opinion.
• Personally, I don’t believe that we must choose sides,
• When it comes to the problem of doubt:
• I believe it is possible for both faith and doubt to coexist.
• Quote: "Doubts are the grappling hooks by which the mountains of truth can be scaled”.
Question: What do we mean by doubt?
• Doubt is different to unbelief
• “Unbelief is when we know what is right, but refuse to obey and trust.”
• Naaman – General of the Syrian army (2 Kings chapter 5 verse 12):
• Told by the prophet of God to wash in the river Jordan seven times – but he refused;
Saying; “the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel?
Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage”.
“Unbelief is when God says something to us, but we refuse to do it.”
• That is wrong and ‘unbelief’ in the Bible is a sin.
• Because it is disobeying God.
Doubt is very different to unbelief
• Quote: “Doubt is when you want to believe but you are not sure you are able to.”
• And I do not believe that is a sin
• ‘Doubt’ is not being sure of the truth – and uncertain with your trust.
• Ill: Man in Mark chapter 9 verse 24: “I believe help me over-come my unbelief!”
I think that the doubt that Thomas expressed well in this quote.
"His doubt had a purpose. Thomas wanted to know the truth, his doubt gives evidence not of a lack of faith, but of a desire to have faith founded in fact not fancy."
• Doubt often comes to us when we reach the limits of our understanding.
• When we cannot with our inadequate minds figure things out.
• Or when we encounter a sudden, unexpected calamity.
• When life takes us through twists and turns that make absolutely no sense.
• Or when we pray for a certain thing and the exact opposite occurs.
• Or when we obey and do what is right and suffer miserably for it.
• Or when we take a course at school or college;
• That seems to make more sense than the faith we have been raised in.
• Or when someone we respected and look up to;
• Suddenly denies the faith and walks away.
• These are the kinds of circumstances that often raise unsettling questions.
• And cause us to doubt God.
When Jesus selected his disciples:
• He included one man whose name has become a synonym for doubt:
• Thomas – remember Thomas was not a mistake,
• He was chosen as a man of certain qualities!
• Jesus hand picked this man called Thomas,
• He called him for a high calling i.e. apostle and Thomas would in time fulfil that calling!
• More commonly known as ‘doubting Thomas’.
• And he has had many a twin since!
In the gospel of John, Thomas is mentioned in three times occasions: