Do you know who said those words, “Stop doubting and believe”? I’ll set the stage. Jesus had been crucified and rose from the grave on the third day. He appeared to His disciples who were locked behind closed doors because of fear from the Jews and said to them, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). Thomas was not with them at the time.
Later, when they told Thomas, he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25).
How many of us are just like that? Oh, we say we believe–that we have faith–but in actuality we only believe what we can see, and we have very little faith to believe otherwise. And faith that only believes what it can see is no faith at all. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see [emphasis mine].”
I’m not pointing fingers. There are times when we exercise great faith–faith that God will keep us safe in the midst of major adversity and circumstances (remember that He never deserted Job even though from all outward appearances it sure looked like He did a time or two). Adversity is one of the greatest challenges to our faith and we either collapse under the pressure or let our faith shine in the midst of it (and a lot of the time we waffle between the two).
Back to the story . . . a week after Jesus appeared to His disciples they were assembled in the house again behind locked doors and Thomas was with them. Jesus appeared in the midst of them and again he said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:26-31). Here’s the rest of the dialogue from those verses:
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
In order to stop doubting and really believe, we must first truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God . . . .
Stop right there. Do you believe this? No, not your church or your friends or your family, but YOU. Do YOU really believe this? If you doubt this at all, your faith has no anchor. Perhaps you’re grown up in the church and know all the right words to say. Or you work in a Christian organization and are surrounded by other Christians and you’ve picked up the lingo and become a part of the crowd. But do you really believe–believe in Jesus Christ; believe that He is the One and Only Son of God; believe that He died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the grave to give you new life both now and for eternity? Do you really believe this?
When push comes to shove and our lives fall apart, DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN HIM? Or do you believe in yourself? Do you try to manipulate your circumstances to your advantage? Do you get angry or balk under the weight of your trial? Perhaps you are a person with a fair amount of power or money and can order people around. Do you do that instead of relying on God to direct your path? Perhaps you have always relied on your own wisdom, but what happened to seeking God’s wisdom? Perhaps you have known people who really depended on their faith in God when they couldn’t see through their circumstances to the other side and you thought they were foolish. . . maybe even a bit crazy. Maybe you think spiritual warfare is nothing more than a caricature of the devil dressed in a red suit with a pitchfork in his hands.
Do you really believe in Jesus? Or do you just say you do? Reading Hebrews 11 will give you many examples of people who lived by faith:
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
“By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him [emphasis mine].
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:1-16).
And the list continues through the end of the chapter: “By faith Abraham offered Isaac . . . by faith Jacob . . . by faith Joseph . . . by faith Moses’ parents . . . by faith Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter . . . by faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land . . . by faith the walls of Jericho fell . . . by faith the prostitute Rahab was not killed . . .” and the list goes on and on. And the last two verses in Hebrews 11 states: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Heb. 11:39-40).
Do we exercise the kind of faith they exhibited–faith beyond seeing, faith that sustained them when they died, faith that kept them looking for a country of their own–longing for a better country–a heavenly one (vv. 13-17)? And don’t miss that very last verse (v. 40): “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
“Something better . . .” and His name is Jesus!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).
Yes, let’s “stop doubting and believe” and . . .
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith . . . .”