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Summary: Character Study - Thomas - – sermon by Gordon Curley. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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SERMON OUTLINE:

The Realist (John 11:6-16)

The Questioner (John 14:1-6)

The Doubter (John 20:24-29)

SERMON BODY:

Ill:

• 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.

Ill:

• 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?

Answer:

• Doubt is different to unbelief

• “Unbelief is when we know what is right, but refuse to obey and trust.”

Ill:

• 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 who came to Jesus 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."

Note:

• 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 handpicked this man called Thomas,

• He called him for a high calling

• i.e. An apostle and in time Thomas would fulfil that calling!

Note:

• In the gospel of John, Thomas gets three occasions when he is the focus:

• In fact, John is the only gospel that makes any real mention of him;

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