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Jesus Loves Doubters - Matthew 11; John 20

Taught on | Topic: Doubt | Keywords: faith, doubt, skeptic, Jesus Christ, resurrection, proof, Christianity, unbelief, prophecy, belief, rational faith, evidence

Jesus never turned away the questions of a sincere searcher. I have personally wrestled with issues of faith and doubt on a number of occasions. Oswald Chambers quipped, "Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking." Today we will see how Jesus loved two doubters—both of whom were friends of His.

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2/1/2015
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Jesus Loves Doubters
Matthew 11; John 20
Skip Heitzig
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Jesus never turned away the questions of a sincere searcher. I have personally wrestled with issues of faith and doubt on a number of occasions. Oswald Chambers quipped, "Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking." Today we will see how Jesus loved two doubters—both of whom were friends of His.
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Jesus Loves People

Jesus Loves People

Jesus loves people—all people:prostitutes, drug addicts, abusers—and you. This profound truth is at the very heart of the gospel. Jesus loves the unlovable and touches the untouchable, and during His time on earth, He was compassionate and merciful toward people from all walks of life. What would it be like if you personally encountered Him? Join Pastor Skip Heitzig in this series to learn more about God's radical love for you and fall more in love with the living Savior.

Visit jesuslovespeople.com for more information on this series.

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Outline

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  1. Two Notable Doubters

    1. John the Baptizer (Matthew 11:1-6)

    2. Thomas the Apostle (John 20:24-29)

  2. Two Noteworthy Doubts

    1. The Identity of Jesus

    2. The Activity of Jesus

  3. Two Noble Displays of Love

    1. An Appeal to Fulfilled Prophecy

    2. An Appeal to Personal Discovery

Study Guide

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Some of the strongest believers in Jesus Christ were once struggling unbelievers: C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Francis Collins (Human Genome Project), and Lee Strobel, to name a few. Charles Spurgeon said, “I suppose no man is a firm believer who has not once been a doubter.” Even the apostles who were closest to Jesus doubted after the women reported the resurrection. Yet even these doubters eventually went throughout the world to preach the resurrection and died for their faith. This study is a tale of two skeptics: John the Baptist and the apostle Thomas. Let’s consider them, their doubt, and how Jesus handled their doubt.

First, we take a look at these two notable doubters. John the Baptizer doubted Jesus’ identity (see Matthew 11:1-6) while Thomas doubted Jesus’ activity (see John 20:24-29). John initially made a strong confession of faith. Yet in this passage we find him in jail, and it was as a prisoner that he started doubting. Thomas, on the other hand, was predisposed to doubt, though he was loyal and courageous. At one point, he announced that he was willing to travel with Jesus and even die with him (see John 11:16). These brave and committed words show that he was willing to follow and experience danger with Jesus. Thomas was also real and honest. When Jesus told the disciples, “Where I go you know, and the way you know,” Thomas replied, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:4-5). He was not the kind to nod and pretend to understand. Jesus said that John was the greatest among those born of women (see Matthew 11:11), yet he doubted. Thomas was an apostle, and he doubted. Their doubt was a question of belief, not character. Knowing this, discuss how you can better accept your doubts or those of others.

Next, let’s examine two noteworthy doubts. John’s doubt was based on unfulfilled expectations, and Thomas’ was based on a personal presupposition. John held misconceptions about the Messiah, expecting that He would set up His kingdom now, that He would overthrow Roman oppression, end suffering, and judge the unbelieving world. Yet John found himself suffering in jail, and these unfulfilled expectations, on top of emotional and physical strain, produced doubt in him toward Jesus. Thomas’ doubts were based on his presupposition that dead people don’t get up again. He was crushed that Jesus died, and he didn’t expect Him to rise from the dead. He wasn’t even open to the idea, which makes his doubt a shade different—it was actually unbelief! Now, doubt is not the same as unbelief. Doubt looks for answers, but unbelief does not care about answers. Doubt says, “I can’t believe.” Unbelief says, “I won’t believe.” Doubt is honest, but unbelief is obstinate. John was going through personal suffering, whereas Thomas went into personal solitude. Doubt works through difficulties and finds faith that is reasonable and satisfying. Unbelief decides against faith and pushes it away at all costs. Matthew Henry said that there are “none so blind as those that will not see.” Expectations and presuppositions are assumptions. John asked questions to clarify; Thomas made a declaration. Which is better? Why?

Now we examine two noble displays of Jesus’ love. Jesus appealed to fulfilled prophecy—specifically Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1—to affirm His identity to John and show why he should believe (see Matthew 11:4-6). With Thomas, He appealed to personal discovery (see John 20:26-27). Notice how Jesus graciously condescended to Thomas’ request and gave him evidence. If you need evidence, the credentials of Jesus are many and undeniable: His impact on human history, fulfilled prophecy, His claims about Himself, and His resurrection, in particular. Verse 27 could literally read, “Stop becoming faithless, but become a believer.” In response, Thomas rose from the lowest depths of unbelief to the heights of faith. Jesus affirmed His identity to John through prophecy, and He recognized and graciously fulfilled Thomas’ request by appearing to him. How has Jesus met you, reassured you, and dispelled your doubts?

In closing, here are some tips for dealing with doubters. First, be available. In both cases, Jesus responded knowing that some people want a rational faith because their heart cannot delight in what the mind rejects as false. Second, be unshockably patient. We as Christians do not have to operate from an offensive posture when people make outrageous challenges about Jesus. Third, be prepared. Read up on evidences for faith, and show others that God is not asking them to take a blind leap into the dark, but rather a balanced leap into His light. Lastly, be nice. As Benjamin Franklin said, “A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” Jesus did not rebuke John and Thomas for failure. Instead, He compassionately offered proof of His identity and His activity. Jesus Christ loves people, even doubters. Discuss these four steps and begin praying for an opportunity to practice them.

Adapted from Pastor Skip’s teaching

The BIG Idea
Often doubt is not a sin but another step—crucial but painful—of growing in Christ.

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Hundreds of people for generations have struggled with issues of faith
    2. People who lived during the time of Jesus did as well; Mark 9:23-24
    3. "I was supposed to 'hear his voice' in a two-thousand-year-old book. I was supposed to 'talk with him in prayer.' But when I read the Bible I heard no voices, and my prayers often seemed more like talking to myself. My sense of his presence was never intense enough to form absolute proof of God. And other people's experiences were—other people's. One inky, blustery night when the wind blew the trees' arms high into the air, I walked for miles, asking God again and again to simply show himself to me. I shouted to heaven to shatter the silence. I did not want to 'work up' a feeling of God; I wanted God to break in on me. He did not. I heard no voice, saw no lights in the sky. I went home to my dorm room and went to bed. And I survived. I did more than survive; I grew. But I did not stop longing for God to be unquestionably real—real to me"—Tim Stafford
    4. Some of the strongest believers were at one time struggling unbelievers: C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Francis Collins
    5. Even the very closest men to Jesus had their own doubts; Luke 24:9-11
    6. A tale of two skeptics: John the Baptizer and doubting Thomas
  2. Two Notable Doubters
    1. John the Baptizer (Matthew 11:1-6)
      1. He doubted the identity of Jesus
      2. At one time, John was very clear about who Jesus was
        1. John 1:29
        2. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27
        3. John 1:15, 27, 30
        4. The Savior of the world and God in human flesh
      3. John and Jesus were probably second cousins
        1. This adds to the authenticity of the statements of John about Jesus
        2. John knew Him very well
      4. John was in jail, wondering, Where's the kingdom?
    2. Thomas the Apostle (John 20:24-29)
      1. Thomas was the classic doubter
      2. Thomas saw the dark side of things
      3. But he was loyal to Jesus; John 11:16
      4. He was honest and real
        1. John 14:1-6
        2. He was never the guy to put on a spiritual mask
  3. Two Noteworthy Doubts
    1. The Identity of Jesus
      1. John's doubt was based on unfulfilled expectations
        1. He had the misconception that when the Messiah came, He would set up His kingdom now
        2. Add to that emotional strain, and you have a recipe for doubt
      2. It's not uncommon for strong believers to struggle with uncertainty
        1. Moses second-guessed his calling a few times
        2. Jeremiah wanted to quit the ministry
        3. Elijah wanted to end his life
        4. It's hard to figure out tragedies
      3. But John didn't just stew in his prison cell; he went to find the answer
    2. The Activity of Jesus
      1. Thomas' doubt was based on a personal presupposition: dead people don't get up again
      2. He was not expecting Jesus' death, and so certainly wasn't expecting His resurrection
      3. His doubt was in another category: unbelief
      4. Doubt versus unbelief
        1. Doubt looks for answers; unbelief doesn't care about the answers
        2. Doubt says, "I can't believe"; unbelief says, "I won't believe"
        3. Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy
        4. Doubt will work through the difficulties and find a faith that is reasonable and satisfying; unbelief decides against faith and pushes it away at all costs
      5. Thomas was one of the apostles who didn't go to the tomb to see if it was empty
      6. He isolated himself from the other apostles (see v. 24)
      7. "[There are] none so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see"—Matthew Henry
  4. Two Noble Displays of Love
    1. An Appeal to Fulfilled Prophecy
      1. Jesus did not answer John's question (see v. 3) with a yes or no
      2. He gave a very meaningful answer: these were all the signs the Old Testament prophets predicted the Messiah would fulfill
        1. Isaiah 35:5
        2. Isaiah 61:1
    2. An Appeal to Personal Discovery
      1. If you want evidence for the historic Christian faith, it abounds
      2. The credentials of Jesus Christ
        1. His impact on history
        2. Fulfilled prophecy
        3. The claims He made about Himself
        4. His resurrection
      3. There are more details available about the events just prior to, during, and after the death of Jesus Christ than any other human being in the ancient world
      4. Verse 27: literally, "Stop becoming faithless, but become a believer"
  5. Tips on handling doubters
    1. Be available
      1. Jesus met the doubts of John and Thomas head-on
      2. People want rational faith
    2. Be unshockingly patient
    3. Be prepared
      1. Read up on the evidences for the Christian faith
      2. Even if you don't know all the answers, know where to find the answers
      3. God doesn't ask you to take a blind leap into the dark, but a balanced leap into the light
    4. Be nice
      1. There is no room for an arrogant believer
      2. Jesus didn't rebuke Thomas or John for their failures
      3. Matthew 11:11; Jesus extolled John
      4. "A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar"—Benjamin Franklin

Figures referenced: Tim Stafford, C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Francis Collins, Matthew Henry, Benjamin Franklin

Cross references: Isaiah 35:5; 61:1; Matthew 3:11; 11:1-6, 11; Mark 1:7; 9:23-24; Luke 3:16; 24:9-11; John 1:15, 27, 29-30; 11:16; 14:1-6; 20:24-29


Topic: Doubt

Keywords: faith, doubt, skeptic, Jesus Christ, resurrection, proof, Christianity, unbelief, prophecy, belief, rational faith, evidence

Transcript

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Introduction: Hello and welcome to this message from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. As these teachings are shared worldwide, our prayer is that they would lead others to the love of Christ. If this message helps increase your faith in him, we'd love to know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. In this series called Jesus Loves People, we learn about God's love for all people from all walks of life. As Jesus interacted with those he encountered, he never turned away the questions of a sincere searcher. In the message "Jesus Loves Doubters," we see how Jesus showed love to two people who had doubts. Let's open our Bibles as Pastor Skip begins.

Skip Heitzig: Good morning, would you turn in your Bibles to two places in your New Testaments: the first gospel, the gospel of Matthew, and the fourth gospel, the gospel of John; Matthew, chapter 11, and John, chapter 20. Dennis was a doubter. Dennis grew up in a home with a family that gave him a traditional upbringing believing in God, going to church. But as Dennis came of age, he found himself doubting many of the things he had been taught. By the time Dennis hit college, his struggles were pronounced. He became a major in science and eventually his doubts solidified into deep convictions. He was very secure in his unbelief. Dennis went on to become an instructor in biology at the college level and then a medical doctor eventually.

By the time I met Dennis, however, he admitted to me that he knew something was missing in his life, and we had great conversations. And I remember Dennis beginning to doubt his own doubts. And he revisited all of the things that he was doubting and what he had once believed. And I watched a man who at one time held to some form of belief, had become a doubter, and eventually unbelief, to move from unbelief back to doubt, and then eventually to become a bona fide, strong, vibrant believer in Jesus Christ, great doctor, great Christian. Dennis' story is not alone. Hundreds of people for generations have struggled with issues of faith. Did you know that people who even lived during the time of Jesus did as well?

You remember the story of the man who had a son who was oppressed and brought his son to Jesus? And our Lord said, "If you believe, anything is possible to him who believes." And the man said, "I believe, but help my unbelief." Ever been there? "I believe, but there's this part of me that struggles with doubt." Tim Stafford, who was an author, admitted this when he was in college. He said, "I was supposed to 'hear his voice' in a two thousand-year-old book. I was supposed to 'talk to him in prayer.' But when I read the Bible, I heard no voices, and my prayers often seemed more like I was talking to myself. My sense of his presence was never intense enough to form absolute proof of God. And other people's experience---well, that was other people."

"And so one blustery night when the wind blew the trees high into the air, I walked for miles, asking God again and again to simply show himself to me. I shouted to heaven to shatter the silence. I did not want to 'work up' a feeling of God; I wanted God to break in on me. He did not. I heard no voice. I saw no lights in the sky. I went home to my dorm room and I went to bed. And I survived. I did more than survive; I grew. But I did not stop longing for God to be unquestionably real to me." I've discovered something, that many people, like Dennis, some of the strongest believers I've ever met or read, were one time struggling unbelievers: C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Francis Collins who was head of the Human Genome Project, medical doctor.

Many, many people, like those people, struggled through doubts and came to vibrant faith. But you need to know that even the very closest men to Jesus had their own doubts. The apostles themselves, after the resurrection, when the women came and reported that the tomb was empty, listen to what the Bible says: "And their words seemed like idle tales, and they did not believe them." We're going look at two skeptics today, two doubters: John the Baptist---I prefer to all him John the Baptizer, because we really don't know if he was Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian. [laughter] So, let's just call him John the Baptizer or J the B, if you prefer. He was the one who announced the Messiah. And then the other one was the classic doubter; and that is, Thomas.

You could call this message "A Tale of Two Skeptics." John the Baptist and Thomas, we're going to look at these two gentlemen and then we're going to look at their doubts, and then we're going to see how Jesus handled it. Let's begin with John the Baptizer, first notable doubter in Matthew, chapter 11. Now, his problem is that he doubted the identity of Jesus. In Matthew 11 verse 1, "It came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding his twelve disciples that he departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him"---that is, the two disciples of John said to Jesus, " 'Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?'

"And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me.' "So, here's John the Baptist wondering if this Jesus is really the guy. Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?" Now let's back up a little bit. At one time John the Baptizer was very clear as to who Jesus was. He was the guy, you remember, when Christ came to the Jordan River and John saw him, said, "Look, there's the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." That's a clear statement of faith. "That's the Savior right there."

On another time, he said, "You know, this guy is so great, I'm not even worthy to bend down and untie his shoelaces, his sandal straps. That's how great he is and how not great I am." And then he said of Jesus, though John himself was older than Christ, he said, "The one who comes after me is preferred before me, because he was before me." Another translation says, "He preexisted before I was born," a powerful statement of his deity. So you put it all together, John knew who Jesus was. He's the Savior of the world and he's God in human flesh. Now I want to add a layer to that. We know that probably John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were second cousins. Most scholars believe that Jesus' mother Mary and Elizabeth were first cousins, making Jesus and John second cousins.

To me, that adds to the authenticity of the statements of John about Jesus, because who of you would ever say about your cousin, "My cousin, he's God." [laughter] You've said a lot of other things about your cousin, but probably not that. "Uh, my cousin, he's the Savior of the world." But John---growing up with Jesus, going to the festivals in Jerusalem, being at family reunions---knew him very well, believed that about him. But now he's sort of second-guessing it. It says he is in prison. And we know why he is in prison. The Bible tells us because he was very openly preaching against one of the rulers named Herod Antipas who dumped his wife, so that he could marry his brother Philip's wife named Herodias. They were hooking up, and John saw that, and he preached against that. Ended him up in jail.

So now he's in jail and he's rethinking the whole thing. He's rotting in jail, and he's wondering, "So where's the kingdom? Are you the One, or do we look for another?" Let's go to Thomas now in John, chapter 20; Thomas the apostle, John chapter 20 verse 24. "Now Thomas called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, 'We have seen the Lord.' So he said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.' After eight days his disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, 'Peace to you!'

"And he said to Thomas, 'Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.' And Thomas answered and said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' "Okay, so Thomas was the apostle from Missouri, right, the "show me" state?" Hey, Tom, Jesus is alive!" "Show me." "No, really, the tomb is empty." "Show me." He was that guy. He's the classic doubter. We all always think of Thomas whenever there's a word association about doubt. In fact, we even call people who are doubters, we call them doubting Thomases, as if Thomas is somehow the patron saint of all skeptics. [laughter]

He has to live with that rap. We usually find Thomas in the New Testament singing in the minor key. He always sees the dark side of things. I've often said if this were a Winnie the Pooh carton, Thomas would be Eeyore, right, Eeyore the donkey? "Good morning, Eeyore." "Good morning, if it is good, which I doubt." I mean, that's Thomas. [laughter] I heard about a woman who it was her first time she had ever made Thanksgiving dinner, a turkey for Thanksgiving for her family. And she wasn't---she was anything but an expert. She was a novice. And she said to her family, "Look, this is my first go-around. If this turkey does not turn out, I don't want to hear a word from you. We're just going to go out and grab dinner at a restaurant."

So she went into the kitchen and brought the turkey into the dining room, and there was her family already dressed up in coats ready to go. [laughter] Thomas was the apostle with the coat on. However, there's a couple things that I think we need to know about Thomas to sort of balance out his profile. First of all, Thomas was loyal. Did you know that? Of all of the apostles, Thomas was the guy who was loyal to Jesus. Because there was that time when our Lord said, "Let's go back up to Judea," and all of the apostles said, "Now, wait a minute, the Jews recently have sought to stone you in Judea. Why would you go there?" It was Thomas who spoke up and said, "Let us go with him also, that we may die with him."

Okay, now that's not a very encouraging statement, that's an Eeyore statement, but that's a loyal statement. That's a very courageous statement. "I am willing to follow you to death." So he was loyal. Second thing, and I love this about Thomas, he was honest. He was real. He was real. He was the guy in the upper room, after the Passover supper, when Jesus said to his men, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I'm going to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I'm going you know, and the way you know."

Thomas immediately piped up and said, "Uh, we don't know where you're going, and how can we know the way?" Pretty honest, isn't it? I can sort of imagine this scene that all of the apostles are sort of nodding when Jesus was saying that, like, "Yeah!" "Amen!" "Good." "Profound." Thomas is going, "I don't get a word you just said." [laughter] And I'm so glad he piped up and said that. You know why? Because immediately Jesus said what I consider gold in Scripture. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father but by me." But Thomas was never the guy to try to put on a spiritual mask and just say, "Glory to God, hallelujah, praise the Lord!" if he didn't mean it. He just said, "Don't know where you're going. Couldn't figure out the way."

Like the little boy that came home with a bad report card. His dad looked at it and said, "One thing is good---with grades like this, you couldn't possibly be cheating." [laughter] And I would say, "Thomas, with statements like that, you couldn't possibility be faking." So Thomas was a doubter, but Thomas was loyal, and he was real. So, those are the doubters: J the B, John the Baptist, John the Baptizer; and Thomas the apostle. John, he doubted the identity of Jesus. Thomas, he doubted the activity of Jesus, that he had risen from the dead. So, let's now look at the doubts that they had, the things they bring that they're struggling with to Jesus. First of all, John. Now, John's doubt was based upon---listen---unfulfilled exceptions, unfulfilled expectations.

John expected certain things out of Jesus that he was not seeing or getting, and therefore he doubted. John had the misconception, like even the apostles had, that when the Messiah comes---and here he is, Jesus. So, when the Messiah comes, he's going to set up his kingdom now. He's going to overthrow the Roman oppressors. He's going to stop all of that suffering. He's going judge them, and he's going to set up his kingdom now. That's not happening, to John. John's in jail. And in jail, now he's rethinking it, thoughts probably like this: "Didn't Jesus announce he was going to set the captives free? Wasn't this the guy who said, 'I have come to set at liberty those who are bound'?" So you take those unfulfilled expectations, and you add to them emotional and physical strain, and you have a recipe for doubt.

That's John's doubt---unfulfilled expectations. Now, let me tell you this: it is not unusual for strong believers, even Christian leaders, to from time to time struggle with uncertainty. Did you know that? Moses second-guessed his calling a few times. Jeremiah wanted to quit the ministry altogether. Elijah wanted to end his life. You see, when a believer has faithfully and sacrificially served the Lord for years, and then experiences tragedy or a series of tragedies, it's hard to figure that out---the loss of a child, a child going astray, cancer entering into the family. A person starts asking questions: "God, where are you when I really, really need you?" "How come you don't help?" "Why did you let it happen?" You know, it could be that some of you are struggling with similar doubts like John, as to the identity of Jesus.

You've wondered, "Is Jesus really the same guy that all these Christians tell me that he is?" Can I just suggest that you do what John did. John didn't just stew in his prison cell, you know, just bouncing those questions around. He went to find the answer by sending his men to go examine Jesus. Why don't you personally examine Christ? Now, if you are a skeptic, even an atheist, let me just give you a little challenge. I'm not going to have you go read reams of material, but simply this: a twenty-one-day challenge. It'll take you ten to fifteen minutes a day. Erwin Lutzer came up with this, and I've always loved it. He said, "Every day for the next twenty-one days read one chapter of the gospel of John. It will take you about ten, fifteen minutes to do so.

"Just read through it and in the twenty-one days answer one question: Who was Jesus? Who did John present Jesus Christ to be?" Begin there. Go to the source and find out about him. So, that's John the Baptist. Now, let's consider Thomas' doubt. Thomas' doubt was different than John's, in that Thomas' doubt was based upon personal presupposition. Now I need to explain that. Thomas had a predisposition, a presupposition, and here it is: dead people don't get up again. When people die, that's it. Okay, he had seen Jesus raise people from the dead, but that guy himself is now dead, and he was not expecting Jesus to ever die. If he's the Messiah, he's going to set up the kingdom now. Now he's dead. And because he wasn't expecting his death, he certainly was not expecting his resurrection.

He wasn't even open to the idea at all, which places his doubt in a different category altogether. I would even label it "unbelief." Now, doubt and unbelief are different. Doubt looks for answers; unbelief doesn't really care that much about the answers. Doubt says, "I can't believe"; unbelief says, "I won't believe." Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. See, doubt will work through the difficulties and find a faith that is reasonable and satisfying. Unbelief is different; it decides against faith and pushes it away at all costs. So Thomas, get this, he was one of the apostles that did not go to the tomb to see if it was empty. No record of him ever going. In fact, the first time Jesus shows up with the apostles, Thomas wasn't even with them.

Look at verse 24, "Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came." He showed up, showed himself to them. They told Thomas, because he wasn't there. He isolated himself from other believers. Very different from John. John was put in prison; he's suffering. Thomas is in solitude; he isolated himself from the other apostles. He was not with them. Matthew Henry once said, "There are none so blind as those who will not see. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear." Ever talk to a person who goes, "I don't want to talk about that. I will not talk about faith. I don't want to talk about Jesus." That's blindness. That's unbelief. "Don't confuse me with the facts." Now, we've considered the doubters and the doubts.

Let's look at how Jesus handles these guys, the two displays of love. Now, in Matthew 11, John the Baptist, the question is: "Are you the Coming One or do we look for another?" Notice that Jesus does not answer it with a yes or no. "Are you the Coming One?" All he had to say is, "Yep, I am. I'm the guy. Go tell that to John." He doesn't do that. He says, verse 4, Matthew 11, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and you see." These disciples of John have been around Jesus long enough to hear his sermons and to watch his miracles. "You've seen it. You've heard it. Go tell John that." And here's the message: "That the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

You gotta know that was a very meaningful answer to John, because those were all the signs that the Old Testament prophets predicted that the Messiah would fulfill. Here's one such prophecy, Isaiah 35 verse 5, "The eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." "Go tell John that you have seen with your own eyes what the prophets have said I would do." Here's another one, Isaiah 61 verse 1, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor." "You go tell John what you have heard. You have heard what the prophets said I would preach, and I have." So Jesus, in effect, appeals to fulfilled prophecy when it came to John's doubts. By the way, that's a great place to start.

I have had wonderful conversations over the years showing what is one of the major differences between the Bible and the other twenty-five or so purported authentic scriptures that exist in the world. One thing that is striking is the amount of predictions, fulfilled prophecy that we find in Scripture. Now, when we come to Thomas, Jesus appeals to something else; and that is, to personal discovery. Look at verse 26. I smile when I read it. It says, "After eight days his disciples were again inside," so they're all together a second time, but this time "Thomas is with them. And Jesus came, the doors being shut," so he didn't come through the door, "and he stood in the midst." He just sort of appeared. "And he said, 'Peace to you!' "

Now, if I'm Thomas, I'm thinking, "Oh no, oh no. I'm in for it." And, sure enough, Jesus turns to Thomas and says, " 'Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but be believing." You know, people are funny, are they not? You can tell someone that there's 735,688,000,000 stars up there, and they'll go, "I believe that." Show them a sign, however, that says "Wet Paint" and he has to touch it to find out if it's true. But notice how gracious Jesus is with Thomas. He condescends to his request, putting his hands out, saying basically, "Examine the evidence. You want evidence, now check out the evidence." I challenge you to do the same. If you want evidence for the historic Christian faith, it abounds. There's plenty of it.

The credentials of Jesus Christ are basically these: his impact upon history, fulfilled prophecy, the claims he made about himself, and his resurrection. Just go with those. Look at the evidence that is out there for those things, his credentials. Did you know that there are more details available about the events just prior to death, during the death, and after the death of Jesus Christ than any other single human being in the ancient world? Look at the evidence. And then look at what he says to Thomas. After showing him the evidence, he says, "Do not be unbelieving, but believing," or literally, "Stop becoming faithless, but become a believer." "Thomas, now's the time for you to rise up and become a believer."

And so quickly he ascends from the lowest depths to the highest heights, and he says, "My Lord and my God!" And Jesus affirms that statement of faith. Now, let me close this morning, since we're dealing with doubters, and give you just a few tips on handling them. I bet you have a doubter or two in your life. I bet you have children or parents or friends or coworkers. You might be married to a doubter. Tips on handling doubters, there's four quick ones you should walk away with. Number one, be available to them, be available. Don't say, "No. I don't want to talk about that. I don't know. I can't give you answers to that." Jesus met the doubts of John the Baptizer and Thomas the apostle head-on. Be available to dialogue with people about their doubts.

You see, people want rational faith. There's something within us that says, "My heart cannot delight in what my minds rejects as false." That's where evidence is so beneficial. So, be available. Number two, be patient. It's not going to happen in one conversation usually. And in fact, let me modify that---be unshockingly patient. A couple weeks ago I picked up a lady walking across the street. She was having trouble and so I was escorting her to put her into my car and to help her out, and I discovered she was homeless. So I said, "Listen, I'm going take you to our church and we'll give you a meal and we'll figure out a place for you to stay." And she recognized me. She was homeless, but she recognized. She goes, "You're that preacher." [laughter] I said, "Yes, ma'am, I'm that preacher."

I put her in my car and we were driving and she turned to me and she goes, "I don't believe in God." I said, "Okay." And we talked a little more, and she felt that that was a message she had to underline. So a couple blocks later she goes, "I don't believe in God!" And I said, "Ma'am, I understood that, and I do believe in God. And I just want you to know that the guy who does believe in God is helping out the gal who doesn't believe in God." And she said, "You got a good point there." [laughter] When I worked in Israel on a farm years ago, there was a guy named Tony, and he loved to shock people. And he was a Cambridge University student. He was from England working with me on a farm. I was a Christian. He knew that and he would try to make opportunity with that.

We were working out in the fields one day, and Tony wanted to give me a message, but he wanted to announce it to everyone working. So he said, "You know the reason I will not become a Christian is because it would mean that I couldn't have sex with anybody that I wanted to." And everybody just sort of got real silent. He was just trying to shock us. So that began an interesting relationship with Tony where for days and weeks and even months I was with him or corresponded with him and sent him material. And I'll never forget the day that I got a phone call from him, very different tone of voice. Not a shocking, arrogant tone of voice, but he said, "Skip, I've given my life to Jesus Christ." He was from England. Did I mention that? So be unshockingly patient.

Number three, be prepared, be prepared. If you're going to talk to doubters, and you will, why not read up a little bit on the evidences for the Christian faith. It's not hard to do. There's plenty of resources that you could become adept, even minimally, at apologetics. Instead of going, "I hate when people ask me those questions," how about, "I'm ready." I used to look for people who had questions, because I had read these books and I wanted to be prepared. And let me just tell you, even if you don't know all the answers, know where to find the answers. How about have a booklet or a book at home or in your car or at the office that you can give to someone that are dealing with questions about the faith. Show them that God is never asking you to take a blind leap into the dark, but a balanced leap into the light.

That's what they need to find. One skeptic admitted this: "I took all the evidence that I could gather and I put it on two scales. The scales tipped the way of Jesus Christ being the Son of God and resurrected from the dead. It was so overwhelmingly leaning to Christ, that when I became a Christian, it was a leap into the light rather than a leap into the darkness." It's fun to dialogue with people who have doubts. Now they'll say, "Well, you know, I'm just not"---this is how it goes---"I'm not a person of faith. I'm a little more clear thinking. You know, it's hard for me to just have faith." And I go, "You know what? You're wrong. You have faith every day." I ask them, "Do you understand the workings of an automobile fuel injection combustion?" Chances are they go, "No."

I said, "But, yet, you have faith that when you put to key in and do this, it's going to go whoom! You don't know it, you can't explain it, but you believe it. When you go to a restaurant, you have faith that they're going to give you a meal that won't kill you. [laughter] That you're going to actually enjoy and walk out better for it and nourished. Right? You have to have faith to go into a restaurant." By the way, some restaurants require more faith than others. [laughter] "You have to have faith to go to a bank. You come with a check. It's just a piece of paper. It's just a promise, but you are having faith that that promise is good." Everybody lives with faith, even the atheist live with faith, even the doubter lives with faith. So, be available, be patient, be prepared.

Fourth and final tip: be nice. [laughter] There is no room for an arrogant believer getting down on somebody for their doubts. Do you notice how Jesus here is so compassionate? He didn't rebuke Thomas nor John for their failure. You know, it would be very easy when the disciples from John came and say, "Hey, John really wants to know if you're really the guy," for Jesus to say, "Go tell John he is such a disappointment to me. He just said I was the Savior of the world and I was God in human flesh, now he even doubts who I am. I can't believe it." In fact, you know what he does? A couple verses later in verse 11 of Matthew 11, he says, "Of all those born of women, there's no one greater than John the Baptist." How's that for being nice to a doubter? He extolled him. He honored him.

And then when it came to Thomas, you know, Thomas wasn't there the first time. Jesus comes a second time, Thomas is there. What if Jesus would have turned to the other disciples, said, "You know, we gotta pray for Thomas. He's really a doubter." [laughter] He doesn't do that. In both cases he offers proof of his identity and his activity. Jesus loves people. He loves all people. He loves doubting people. And Ben Franklin was right, "You'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar." Ask John the Baptist. Ask Thomas. Ask my friend Dennis.

Father, thank you that Jesus showed us how it's done with people that suffered, and in their suffering cried out, wondering, "How could this be? How could a God of love allow me to suffer this in prison?" Or Thomas with the presupposition that there can't be a resurrection; that can't be possible. Thank you, Father, that we see your love through all of this, and help us to show it, in Jesus' name, amen.

Closing: It's not wrong to have doubts, but we should talk to Jesus about them and let those questions lead us to the cross. How has God set you free from your doubts and increased your faith in him? Let us know. Email mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder: You can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/25/2015
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Jesus Loves People
Mark 10:21;Philippians 1:8-10
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Welcome to our new weekend series, Jesus Loves People! For the next many weeks, we will observe how Jesus' love for people was displayed and conveyed to a cross section of society. We will see Him as He loves the most religiously devout folks to the weak and doubting, from the prostitutes to the priests, from the bewildered to the brokenhearted. We will marvel at His love for thieves, murderers, and atheists. In each message, we will consider how we as God's people can show authentic love to people within each group.
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2/8/2015
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Jesus Loves the Broken
John 5:1-16
Skip Heitzig
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Just about everyone who has ever lived has experienced a broken heart to some degree or another. But then there are others who have been affected so adversely by events in their lives that they can be described as broken people. We can respond by questioning why God allows bad things to happen or by loving the broken in His name and thus being part of the solution.
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3/8/2015
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Jesus Loves Homosexuals - Part 1
John 8:1-11
Skip Heitzig
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There is not a hotter or more controversial subject being discussed today in our country than homosexuality. Voices are loud and tempers run hot whenever this subject is mentioned. Although the text before us doesn’t deal specifically with homosexuality, it does show us how Jesus approached a woman caught in sexual sin and what He had to say to those who were quick to condemn her.
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3/15/2015
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Jesus Loves Homosexuals - Part 2
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Skip Heitzig
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Be assured that I didn't select the topics in this series because I am equating homosexuals with murderers; nor am I suggesting that addicts or homeless people are to be seen the same as terrorists. It’s simply that the church has historically been unkind to these groups, and we believe it is time to make the statement that Jesus loves all people. In today’s text, we see it clearly: everyone has some kind of past, and everyone can be freed from sin.
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3/22/2015
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Jesus Loves Haters
Matthew 5:43-46;Luke 9:51-56
Skip Heitzig
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One of the worst things to ever hear or say are the words "I hate you." And since Jesus is the One who God sent to show love to the world, how He handled haters is significant. Today we will explore and hopefully apply two important lessons. Hatred can flow in two directions: hatred towards you and hatred from you. Jesus shows us what to do about both. Get ready by turning to two passages: Matthew 5 and Luke 9.
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3/29/2015
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Jesus Loves Traitors
Matthew 26
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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a traitor as "one who betrays another's trust or is false to an obligation or duty." On this Palm Sunday, I've chosen to consider in contrast the two traitors seen side by side in the New Testament accounts of the Passion of Christ. Though we may see some similarities in Judas and Peter, they are separated by one giant factor—the cross of Jesus Christ, the one thing that still offends most people.
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4/12/2015
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Jesus Loves Atheists
John 18:28-38
Skip Heitzig
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Yes, Jesus loves people who don't believe in Him or who aren't sure what they think about Him. Pontius Pilate was the cynical Roman governor of the district of Judea. He was unsympathetic to religious Jews and religion itself. He had no room for the superstitious claims of prophets, priests, or would-be messiahs. He was a secular pragmatist concerned about Roman order and personal advancement. Pilate also represents how Jesus loved and handled atheists—and how we should.
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4/19/2015
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Jesus Loves Prostitutes
Luke 7:36-50
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It was Blaise Pascal who noted, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus." In our text today, we find a woman, the city prostitute who acutely felt the need to have the vacuum of her heart filled. She discovered that Jesus loved her with a wholesome love—the kind of love every woman is searching for.
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4/26/2015
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Jesus Loves Murderers
Luke 23:33-34
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A Jewish proverb reads, "Blood that has been shed does not rest." And yet there is rest that is possible for even the worst murderers of all time—those who killed Jesus Christ—if they would be willing to receive it. In two verses of Scripture, we will examine how Jesus loves murderers, even those who murdered Him.
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5/3/2015
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Jesus Loves Criminals
Luke 23:33-43
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A lengthy seventeen-year study in Washington, D.C. by psychiatrist Samuel Yochelson shows that crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression but to people making wrong moral choices. Corresponding to that is another report showing that the lack of proper moral training by parents has a direct correlation to crime, especially to children in their formative years. But when parents and their offspring fail, Jesus can step in to rescue.
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5/17/2015
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Jesus Loves Terrorists
Acts 9:1-16
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One magazine noted that "religious terrorism is the communism of the 21st century, the most serious international threat to human rights." I am aware that the title of this sermon is a strange one, and it's even stranger to think we should be told to love terrorists. Today we consider the stark reality of terror in our world and what a proper biblical response to it is, and we see the conversion of a terrorist who became Christianity's most celebrated cleric.
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6/7/2015
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Jesus Loves Addicts
Luke 4; Matthew 11
Skip Heitzig
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When a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that provides temporary pleasure and then such acts become compulsive and interfere with ordinary life responsibilities, he or she is said to be an addict. Addictive behavior is widespread and is one of the reasons many addicts turn to Christ for help. Jesus has a special message for them and a special plan to help them. As the body of Christ to our generation, shouldn’t the church be part of that plan?
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6/28/2015
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Jesus Loves People, BUT...
Romans 2:1-11
Skip Heitzig
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In this last message of our series Jesus Loves People, we want to bring equilibrium to the series itself. It’s true that God loves people. It’s equally true that He hates evil and the practice of it. Today we want to show how both the wrath of God and the love of God are integral parts of the nature of God Himself. This is crucial so that we don’t distort Him to the world and mislead people eternally. Let’s consider three requirements for representing the God who loves people.
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There are 13 additional messages in this series.