A Resurrection Faith
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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 it.” 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.” 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.
Illust.: You might wonder why I believe in heaven in an age like this. One of the Russian cosmonauts came back and said, "Some people say God lives out there. I looked around, and I didn't see any God out there." Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, says he looked in the wrong place. If he'd stepped outside the space ship without his space suit, he would have seen God very quickly.
-- Leighton Ford, "Hope for a Great Forever," Preaching Today, Tape No. 96.
-In examining the faith of the cosmonaut and Ruth Graham, we learn the difference between seeing, and believing. The Cosmonaut refused to believe because he could not see God. Ruth Graham believed God, and saw beyond this life into eternity. In essence that is what is on display in this passage. Thomas wants to see before he believes, but Jesus shows that the essence of Resurrection faith is to believe, so that you can see. This kind of faith takes you beyond the grave into the arms of God.
Illust.: Winston Churchill chose to believe. Churchill arranged his own funeral. There were stately hymns in St. Paul's Cathedral and an impressive liturgy. But at the end of the service, Churchill had an unusual event planned. When they said the benediction, a bugler high in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral on one side played Taps, the universal signal that the day is over. There was a long pause. Then a bugler on the other side played Reveille, the military wake-up call.
It was Churchill's way of communicating that, while we say "Good night" here, it's "Good morning" up there. Now why could he do that? Because he believed in Jesus Christ, who said "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me though he were dead, yet shall he live." When a man steps out of his own grave, he is anything that he says that he is, and he can do anything that he says he can do.
-- Robert Russell, "Resurrection Promises," Preaching Today, Tape 151.
I. A Resurrection Faith is Based on Details
Quote: Faith never means gullibility. The man who believes everything is as far from God as the man who refuses to believe anything.
---A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
A. Evidence of Christ’s Death
--Yea, I saw him die. I know he is dead. I saw him die.
Illust.: A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee: "Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?" McGee replied, "Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens."
-- Robert Russell, "Resurrection Promises," Preaching Today, Tape 151
B. Evidence of Christ’s Resurrection
Quote: The Gospels do not explain the Resurrection; the Resurrection explains the Gospels. Belief in the Resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith. ---John S. Whale
C. Evidence of Christ’s Mission
-What better evidence, than one who has overcome death, hell, and the grave, is there for the mission that Christ came to initiate. Sin, which puts grave clothes on every man has met its match in Christ, who came to not only prove that he is a valiant warrior able to conquer, but to make a way for every other man who trusts in Him to overcome sin.
- The picture is one who has escaped from prison, taken the keys from the guard, and who goes about casting open the doors to every other cell where one cries out to Him to set them free.
II. A Resurrection Faith is Betrayed by Doubt
A. Doubting Testimony
- Thomas doubted the testimony of His fellow disciples. Those whom he traveled with as hand picked followers of the greatest man who had walked the earth. Although these men had better knowledge of Jesus than anyone else on earth, he doubted their testimony concerning Christ. These men were painfully aware of the fact of Christ’s death. They were more qualified than any other men to identify Jesus as the one who stood before them after the resurrection. Yet, Thomas demanded to see for himself. He was as much as calling them liars. Today, those who doubt the resurrection, and demand proof for themselves, are casting doubt on the history of the church, and are as good as telling thousands upon thousands of faithful believers that their word is no good.
B. Demanding Proof
- There is a lot of difference between a doubt that is searching for light that leads to faith, and a doubt that demands to be pushed into the light. This kind of doubt denies the light, and denies the place of faith.
Quote: Faith has no merit where human reason supplies the proof. ---Pope Gregory the Great (C. 540-604)
Quote: Faith does not mean believing without evidence. It means believing in realities that go beyond sense and sight-for which a totally different sort of evidence is required. ---John Baillie (1741-1806)
Quote: Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand. ---Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
Quote: The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof, and the worshiping heart needs none. ---A. W Tozer (1897-1963)
C. Determined Disbelief
Quote: Christ never failed to distinguish between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is can't believe; unbelief is won't believe. Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness. ---John Drummond (1851-1897)
III. A Resurrection Faith is Blessed in its Declaration
A. Blessed by Belief in the Crucified Lord
Quote: The cross is a tree set fire on with invisible flame, that illumineth all the world. The flame is love. -- Thomas Treherne in Centuries of Meditations. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 4.
B. Blessed by Belief in the Living Lord
- He walks with me and He talks with me.
C. Blessed by Belief in an Unseen Lord
Quote: Who. . . has ever seen an idea? . . . Who has ever seen love? . . . Who has ever seen faith? . . . The real things in the world are the invisible spiritual realities. Is it so difficult, then, to believe in God? --- Charles Templeton (1915- )
IV. A Resurrection Faith is Born in Decision
Quote: Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? ... If you gain , you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. ---Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
A. By Accepting the Powerful Reports
Illust.: On Dudley's seventy-fifth birthday, there was a pilot in his small town who offered to take Dudley for an airplane ride. Dudley accepted. So for about thirty minutes, they flew over this small town in West Virginia. When they landed, one of the old man's friends asked, "Were you scared, Dudley?" With some hesitation he said, "Well, no, but I never put my full weight down."
- If we are to find ourselves a Christian, it will be because we have put our full weight down upon the testimony we have received about Jesus Christ. We will believe the reports of those who are willing to tell the entire story even though they may be painted in a bad light. (think of Peter).
B. By Accepting the Personal Redeemer
Illust.: A bold unbeliever was lecturing a group on the folly of religious faith in general and the Christian faith in particular. At the close of the presentation the speaker invited people to propound any questions they might have. In the audience was the town drunkard, who had been converted to Christ. In response to the invitation the converted alcoholic came up front, took out an orange, peeled it, and ate it without comment.
The speaker asked if he had a question for him. After downing the last segment of orange the convert turned to the infidel and asked, "Was the orange I just ate sweet or sour?" Angrily, the speaker replied, "You idiot, how can I know whether it was sweet or sour when I never tasted it?" To this the converted drunkard retorted, "And how can you know anything about Christ if you have not tried Him?"
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 190.
C. By Accepting the Promised Rewards
Quote: It will not save me to know that Christ is a Savior; but it will save me to trust him to be my Savior. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come by believing that his atonement is sufficient; but I shall be saved by making that atonement my trust, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence of faith lies in this-a casting oneself on the promise. ---Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Quote: And the third day he rose again." What are we to make of this? One thing is certain: if [Jesus] were God and nothing else, his immortality means nothing to us; if he was man and no more, his death is no more important than yours or mine. But if he really was both God and man, then when the man Jesus died, God died too; and when the God Jesus rose from the dead, man rose too, because they were one and the same person. ... There is the essential doctrine, of which the whole elaborate structure of Christian faith and morals is only the logical consequence. Now we may call that doctrine exhilarating, or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation, or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. -- Dorothy L. Sayers in Dorothy L. Sayers: A Careless Rage for Life. Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 4.
- Jesus has given ample testimony to back up his claims as Messiah, and Savior. He has given all the proof of the resurrection that we need for faith to take hold of life. The question now remains with you. Will you, or will you not apprehend the life offered through faith in the resurrected Christ, or will you demand one more sign.