Thomas’ Doubt

Many give Thomas a hard time for wanting to see the resurrected Jesus before he believed. Some even call him “Doubting Thomas” to illustrate his skepticism. However, Thomas’ doubt is powerful evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul explains to the Corinthians that the whole gospel hangs on the resurrection of Jesus. If the resurrection did not happen, then Jesus was not the Son of God and His sacrifice was void.

12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (1 Cor. 15:12-14)

If Jesus had not risen from the dead then He was not the Son of God. He would have been just a normal man that was executed. If He were not the Son of God, then His death was not the perfect sacrifice. If He were not the perfect sacrifice, then our sins have not been forgiven. In this conclusion, we are all still dead in our sins, unless Jesus rose from the dead. A person cannot claim that he is a Christian and that he does not believe Jesus rose from the dead. Both beliefs contradict each other. If someone wanted to dismantle Christianity he would need to prove that there was not a resurrection. Sadly for people like that, for the past 2000 years no one has been able to present any evidence against it.

Still, some will make the case that the Apostles were delusional. They argue that they did not see the resurrected Jesus like they claim as if they were foolish men who would believe anything. Thomas’ story is a powerful defense against that argument. Why? Thomas was a skeptic. When the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus resurrected, he did not believe. It was not until he saw Jesus that he believed.

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.”
26 And 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!” 27 Then 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.”
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28)

Thomas’ doubt proves that the Apostles were extremely rational and logical people. They did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead until they saw Him. Now, they have become eyewitness along with 500 others (1 Cor. 15:6). Thomas is further proof that the Apostles were reliable sources that provided powerful testimony so we too may believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

— Andrew Smith

A Cross Of Hate And Love

The title above might seem strange at first glance, but the Bible does explain that the cross has multiple meanings. God hates sin and the cross was the sacrifice the Son of God had to make to satisfy God’s hatred for sin. God loves mankind, and for this reason, He gave His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place for our offenses.

The Bible says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” or cross (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13). God hates sin so much that he sent His Only Begotten Son to bear our sins on a rugged cross, thus becoming sin for us. “For He made Him who knew no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). You see, sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:21). When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, it changed their lives forever. Instead of walking and talking freely in fellowship with God, there was a barrier that now existed between them—a barrier known as sin which God hates. The Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Jesus, who lived a sinless life, had to die and become the perfect, once for all sacrifice to satisfy God’s hatred for sin. On the cross, Jesus was in so much agony that He cried out those horrifying words: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). For six, long, grueling hours of the most cruel suffering, God laid the sins of mankind on the body of Jesus Christ. “He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many…” (Isaiah 53:11).

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One Spirit Baptized

1 Corinthians 12:13 mentions “by one Spirit” we were all baptized into one body. What does this mean? It means that Christians came to be baptized into Christ BY the influence of the Holy Spirit. In other words, none of us would have been immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ except that we listened to what the Spirit commanded. It was not BY my own wisdom or desire. I never would have been baptized in the name of the Lord except I came under the teaching and directing influence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit tells us the truth about how to come into the body of Christ. The Law of Moses did not tell me to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. The faith of Jesus Christ as revealed and directed by the Holy Spirit is the ONLY reason anyone was ever baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The 3,000 Jews that repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-41) would never have done so except that the Spirit through Peter urged them to. The Ethiopian Eunuch would never have been baptized in Acts 8:33f except that the Spirit through Philip had taught and urged him to. Cornelius and his household would never have been baptized in water in the name of the Lord in Acts 10:47-48 except the Spirit through Peter taught and commanded them to. You see it is BY one Spirit, the same Holy Spirit teaching, that we are ALL baptized into one body.

Here is what happens when we are baptized in the name of the Lord. 1) We are immersed in water by the authority of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:33f; Acts 10:47-48). 2) Going into this baptism in water we repent of sins (Acts 2:38) or “die to sin”(Rom.6:3-5). As we are doing this BY the Spirit’s influence, God is also doing the most important part. He is cutting our sins away (Col.2:12), remitting our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), and adding us to His church (Acts 2:47) or placing us in the spiritual body of Christ, the church (1 Cor.12:13; Gal.3:26-27). This all happens when we are immersed in water in the name of the Lord. When we are immersed in Jesus’ name, we have “faith in the operation of God”(Col.2:12f) that He will do the work of circumcision without hands. What does He cut away? He cuts away our sins. We do not cut our own sins away. God does this. But, God does this when we are immersed as the Ethiopian Eunuch, as the 3,000 Jews on Pentecost, and as Cornelius. We are ALL baptized into one body, the church of Christ, by the direction of ONE SPIRIT.

This is what Jesus said in the great commission. Go preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:15-16). This is carried out by the disciples teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt.28:19). Remember, this is in the element of WATER (Acts 10:47-48). It is done “in the name of the Lord” and it is done “BY” the influence of One Spirit. This one baptism began to be preached and practiced by direction of the Spirit in Jerusalem, and was to keep going to “all nations”. It did not cease short of “every creature”. It is the one baptism of Eph.4:5. Do you hear what the Spirit says about the baptism Jesus commanded?

—Terry W. Benton

Time To Come Back Home

Jesus, our Lord, knew that many would follow Him. He also knew that of those that followed many would eventually turn back to the world. So, Jesus set up provisions for them so they could repent again and return. He spent time teaching directly to His fallen followers and helped them understand that He was merciful, longsuffering, and greatly wished for them to return home to Him. In Luke 15, Jesus speaks directly to the fallen and give three parables of those returning home.

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Marvelous Light

Peter was writing his first general letter, it is believed, between 58-62AD and from the book and knowledge of the time there was growing persecution against Christians. Persecution gets tiring and wears one down. Peter reminded these Christians that God “called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It was light in the heart where we sometimes feel overwhelmed with darkness. When we are rejected by others, and we know we did nothing but good and do not deserve the rejection, we have two options: 1) Let their dark behavior and ignorance flood our hearts so that we see nothing else, or 2) we can let “the Light of the world,” Jesus, dominate our thoughts. The darkness is easier to forget when we have someone so wonderful who loves us and thinks we are worth dying for.  The “marvelous light” on the inside must not be allowed to go out by letting the darkness of people’s ignorant rejection of you overwhelm the “marvelous light.” It is “marvelous light” regardless of what is happening to you at the hands of ignorant people. Their darkness must not diminish your light. Your light must carry you through the darkness of this world.

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What Is Truth?

Pilate asked Jesus that question at the Lord’s trial. Jesus had already given the answer in the previous verse: “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Beforehand, Jesus made arguably His most famous statement that also was about truth: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). There are two inferences we can make from Jesus’ words.

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Hebrews: As You See The Day Approaching

The book of Hebrews was written to encourage Christians who were being persecuted and discouraged in their faith. The trials and discouragement was predicted by Jesus. He told His disciples of the hardships that His disciples would experience prior to the fall of Jerusalem (as recorded in Matthew 24). Before the fall of the Jerusalem temple, famines and persecutions would bear down upon the disciples of Jesus and the “love of many would grow cold” (Matt.24:8-12). This prediction was made in about AD 30 and the fall of Jerusalem was completed in AD 70, 40 years later. The years of 66-70 AD were especially difficult years. Because of the signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24 regarding the fall of Jerusalem and what would take place just before that fall, the disciples would know the signs to look for, and these would signal to them when to leave the city of Jerusalem. So Hebrews was written just prior to the fall of Jerusalem encouraging the brethren to stay strong and beware “least there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb.3:12). The Christians were to encourage one another and “so much the more as you see the day approaching” (Heb.10:24-25). What day could they see approaching? The day of the final fall of Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, and the place from which Christians needed to be prepared to escape when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by the Roman armies (Luke 21:16-22).

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Overview of Romans

Romans is a great book for the new Christian convert to read through. Paul explains the meaning of our salvation and what God expects from us now. The book of Romans can be organized into five simple parts:

  • First, Paul covers the problem of sin and our unrighteousness (1-3).
  • Next, he speaks about the provision made for those who desire to be righteous—God’s salvation (4-5).
  • Third, Paul talks about pursuing righteousness with all our might (6-8).
  • Fourth, he explains the selection of God, choosing the humble of the world to respond to His gospel call (9-11).
  • Finally, Paul concludes with the practices of righteousness—loving one another, giving, showing mercy, and doing good to our enemies (12-16).

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At What Moment Were The Ephesians Saved By Grace Through Faith?

Salvation comes to us BY grace THROUGH faith, and that is a GIFT of God, not something we earn or deserve (Eph.2:8).

“BY grace” means that God did not have to save us at all, but due to His own mercy and grace, He provided a way for sinners to be saved. “THROUGH faith” means that this saving grace comes to us THROUGH this channel. The condition we were in before this channel was created was that we were “children of wrath” (Eph.2:3). Why? Because we were “dead” (separated from God) in trespasses and sins (v.1). What we earned was “wrath.” But God’s great love provided a means to make us “alive together with Christ” (v.4,5). So, by grace we are saved!

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Calling On The Name Of The Lord

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preaches his first sermon. Peter’s explains how the prophesied day had come when the Lord would save His people. He quotes the prophet Joel saying, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…That whoever call on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21). First, God’s Spirit had just been poured out on the apostles. They received the power of the Holy Spirit and many could hear the different languages that the apostles could now speak. After seeing that the “last days” or last time period had come, confirmed by the giving of the Holy Spirit, then the second part of the prophecy was also fulfilled. “And it shall come to pass…That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

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