When You Feel Like A Skeptic

The apostle Thomas, once a skeptic, became a passionate missionary for the cause of the gospel. He and the other apostles created lasting world change.

When You Feel Like A Skeptic

June 18, 2020

Has anyone ever called you a skeptic?

When anything sounds too good to be true, I tend to build a wall of skepticism around my heart. I instinctively seek to protect myself from the inevitable hurt caused by believing a lie.

Since God’s ways and thoughts are not like mine (Isaiah 55:8-9), many of His commandments and promises feel counterintuitive. It can be so easy to become skeptical, even as a Christian.

One of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus also struggled with skepticism. The story of Thomas, whose name means “twin”, can be traced through the gospel of John.

The story of Lazarus is recounted in John 11:1-16. Jesus announced His plan to go to Bethany, a village in Judea, to raise Lazarus from the dead. But His disciples protested, because they feared the Judean Jews who previously tried to stone Him. When Jesus remained resolute, Thomas responded:

So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 NIV)

Some Bible commentary writers believe Thomas expressed deep courage and loyalty, especially when faced with imminent death. Others believe his words simply reflected his pessimistic personality. Whether motivated from courage or pessimism, his words expressed doubt for a positive outcome. Despite Thomas’ skepticism,  the resurrection of Lazarus resulted in many Jews coming to faith (John 12:9-11).

After the last supper, Jesus not only promised to prepare a place for His disciples, He claimed they knew the way to get there. But Thomas interrupted:

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5-6 NIV)

Despite all the time spent with Jesus, Thomas still struggled to understand, and, therefore, continued to doubt. Jesus patiently reminded Thomas of the essential truth: to be with Jesus, we must follow Him-His teachings and His ways.

We get our final glimpse of Thomas after the resurrection. Because Thomas was not with the disciples when they first saw the resurrected Jesus, he remained skeptical:

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But 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.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and 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.”
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.” (John 20:25-29 NIV)

This passage gave Thomas the name “Doubting Thomas”. However, Jesus did not correct Thomas for his doubts. He actually provided the evidence Thomas requested. As a result, Thomas professed his faith in Jesus.

Most historians believe Thomas preached the gospel as far as India. Pierced with a spear, he died for his faith around 72 AD. No longer a skeptic, Thomas lived and died for the gospel.

Thomas, along with the other apostles, experienced true heart change because of the gospel. Together they spread the good news of Jesus throughout the known world (Colossians 1:23) and turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Their impact continues to be felt today, as approximately one-third of the world’s population count themselves as Christians. 

I admit trying to change the world by sharing the gospel seems counterproductive. Sometimes my human nature longs to dive into something more tangible and visible. Yet the best example of lasting change comes from those who followed Jesus.

The way to lasting change is the way of Jesus.

As I continue down this road, I pray to have the courage to continue following Jesus. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you. 

When You Feel Like A Skeptic

June 18, 2020

The apostle Thomas, once a skeptic, became a passionate missionary for the cause of the gospel. He and the other apostles created lasting world change.

Has anyone ever called you a skeptic?

When anything sounds too good to be true, I tend to build a wall of skepticism around my heart. I instinctively seek to protect myself from the inevitable hurt caused by believing a lie.

Since God’s ways and thoughts are not like mine (Isaiah 55:8-9), many of His commandments and promises feel counterintuitive. It can be so easy to become skeptical, even as a Christian.

One of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus also struggled with skepticism. The story of Thomas, whose name means “twin”, can be traced through the gospel of John.

The story of Lazarus is recounted in John 11:1-16. Jesus announced His plan to go to Bethany, a village in Judea, to raise Lazarus from the dead. But His disciples protested, because they feared the Judean Jews who previously tried to stone Him. When Jesus remained resolute, Thomas responded:

So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 NIV)

Some Bible commentary writers believe Thomas expressed deep courage and loyalty, especially when faced with imminent death. Others believe his words simply reflected his pessimistic personality. Whether motivated from courage or pessimism, his words expressed doubt for a positive outcome. Despite Thomas’ skepticism,  the resurrection of Lazarus resulted in many Jews coming to faith (John 12:9-11).

After the last supper, Jesus not only promised to prepare a place for His disciples, He claimed they knew the way to get there. But Thomas interrupted:

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5-6 NIV)

Despite all the time spent with Jesus, Thomas still struggled to understand, and, therefore, continued to doubt. Jesus patiently reminded Thomas of the essential truth: to be with Jesus, we must follow Him-His teachings and His ways.

We get our final glimpse of Thomas after the resurrection. Because Thomas was not with the disciples when they first saw the resurrected Jesus, he remained skeptical:

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But 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.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and 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.”
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.” (John 20:25-29 NIV)

This passage gave Thomas the name “Doubting Thomas”. However, Jesus did not correct Thomas for his doubts. He actually provided the evidence Thomas requested. As a result, Thomas professed his faith in Jesus.

Most historians believe Thomas preached the gospel as far as India. Pierced with a spear, he died for his faith around 72 AD. No longer a skeptic, Thomas lived and died for the gospel.

Thomas, along with the other apostles, experienced true heart change because of the gospel. Together they spread the good news of Jesus throughout the known world (Colossians 1:23) and turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Their impact continues to be felt today, as approximately one-third of the world’s population count themselves as Christians. 

I admit trying to change the world by sharing the gospel seems counterproductive. Sometimes my human nature longs to dive into something more tangible and visible. Yet the best example of lasting change comes from those who followed Jesus.

The way to lasting change is the way of Jesus.

As I continue down this road, I pray to have the courage to continue following Jesus. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you. 

4 Comments

  1. Charla on June 21, 2020 at 12:52 PM

    Hand raised. I am a skeptic at heart for many of the same reasons you mentioned. But God has allowed me the room to grow in faith through HIs way of allowing me to place my hand where the truth cannot be denied. I am grateful for HIs dealings with Thomas as I know He deals similarly with me. As always, I appreciate your way with His Word.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on June 25, 2020 at 9:50 PM

      Thank you Charla. I always appreciate your thoughtful responses and sweet encouragement. 💕

  2. Mysty on June 23, 2020 at 5:06 AM

    A timely message Shirley, thank you.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on June 25, 2020 at 9:50 PM

      Thank you Mysty! 💕

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