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April 2017

Stop Doubting and Believe

Thomas doubted the Resurrection of Jesus, even though he had lived with Jesus for three years, heard him taught with authority, saw his great miracles and healings, in addition to have seen Jesus raise three people from the dead, including Lazarus, who had been in the grave for four days!

The disciple Thomas, because of his stubborn unbelief in the resurrection of Jesus, is commonly referred to as "Doubting Thomas".

From what we can tell in other accounts of God's Word, Thomas was far from a coward. In fact" he appears to be one of the most fearless and courageous of all the disciples, so much so that when Jesus said he was going again to the dangerous area of Judea to raise Lazarus form the dead, Thomas boldly said in John 11: 16, "Let us also go, that we may die with him!"

Nonetheless, Thomas, after witnessing the bloody, death of Jesus on the cross, despaired in stubborn unbelief. Perhaps this despair was the reason that he wasn't with the other ten disciples when the Resurrected Jesus had appeared to them.

Whatever the reason for Thomas' absence, when he was told by the other disciples, along with the women, that Jesus was alive, he refused to believe! For eight long days Thomas doubted!

And if Thomas would've continued in his stubborn unbelief, he would have joined Judas, as being one of the 12 disciples to spend an eternity in hell!

Martin Luther says of Thomas, "Thomas is stubborn and will not believe .... and because of this, the beloved disciple will thus himself will also be lost and condemned. For there can be neither forgiveness of sins nor salvation if one believes not, since therein lies all the virtue and power of faith and eternal life,"

"As St. Paul says: 'And if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith is also vain; ye are yet in your sins'. To perdition will St. Thomas also go, he will not be saved but wills to be lost, because he will not believe that Christ is risen. And he would have perished and have been condemned in his unbelief had not Christ rescued him from it by this revelation.

Unbelief in God's Word, particularly the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is a serious matter! Not only is unbelief the root cause of sin, but ultimately such unbelief can lead to an eternal destiny in hell. Romans 14:23 warns us that "everything that does not come from faith is sin", and Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please God!"

Thomas' sin of unbelief is recorded in God's Word for all to read and know about, but what about your own unbelief and doubts?

What if there existed a record for all to see and witness of the times when you have doubted God and refused to believe what He has said to you in His word? When you have taken a skeptical view towards God's promises, and have fallen for the schemes of the devil, who fooled Adam and Eve by asking them the question, "Did God really say that?"

In fact, how often have you doubted God's Word this past week? Or even just today? As you take time to reflect upon all the many times you have doubted God and His Word, you don't have to look far to find a modem day "doubting Thomas" in the present, for all you have to do is look into the mirror and you can see a doubter, just like Thomas was, staring right back at you

We aren't sure why such a courageous individual as Thomas fell into unbelief. But we do know this:

Jesus, as God in flesh, had mercy on Thomas and did not leave him remain in his doubtful state. And this same God, in his mercy, does not want you to remain in your doubts. For as 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us, "He wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth".

Thomas overcame his doubt through seeing and touching the very scars and wounds of Jesus.

However, Jesus says to Thomas in verse 29, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed",

And every Christian today whose faith is grounded in the Gospel message, as preached through God's Word, has this blessing. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit working through God's Word, can you have faith to overcome the doubts of the world, the devil, and your sinful flesh.

This is why God has you reading this article, at this very moment, in order that you might have faith that is "sure of the things we hope for, being convinced of the things we can't see" (Hebrews 11: 1). For as Romans 10: 17 describes, "Faith comes through hearing, and hearing by the word of God". This faith is not only pleasing to God (cf. Hebrews 11:6), it ultimately saves. And so Jesus is saying the same words that he spoke to Thomas to you: "Stop doubting and believe!"

When you find yourself doubting God's promises to answer your prayers, as a dear father answers his dear children: "Stop doubting and believe!"

When you find yourself doubting God's promise to provide all your needs in life in abundance: "Stop doubting and believe!"

When you find yourself doubting God's promise to work out all things for your good, as one of His beloved children: "Stop doubting and believe"

When you find yourself doubting all the other promises found in God's Word that are Ye:S and Amen in Jesus Christ: "Stop doubting and believe!"

The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof that God keeps His Word.

As Romans 8:32 asks, "He who did not spare His own son, shall he not with him give us all things?"

May this year's Easter Celebration be a special time of faith-building in the lives of Messiah's members and friends, as we are reminded that: Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!

May God the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace, namely God's Word and Sacraments, result in Messiah being known as a church of great faith!

"Stop doubting and believe!"

Because He Lives!

Pastor Wendt

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