1826) Don’t Get Stoned (part three of three)

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     (…continued)  From that central truth of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, everything else follows.  Jesus said we are sinners, and so we are.  Jesus said he died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and so we believe that, even if we don’t completely understand how all that works.  Jesus said we should believe in him and then we are saved for all eternity, and so we do.  Jesus said we should be baptized, and so we are.  Jesus said we should take and eat the bread and wine in remembrance of him, and so we do.  Even before Jesus came to earth, God’s Word said we should “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy,” and Jesus did that when he was on earth, and so we also worship together.  And Jesus said we should hear his word, confess our faith, and pray the Lord’s Prayer, and so that is what we do in worship each week.

     Even Jesus died with an unanswered question on his lips, saying “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”  There was no answer, but still Jesus died also with a prayer, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  If Jesus can live and die with unanswered questions, we can too.  In the meantime, feel free to ask about or look into what troubles you, learn what you can, live with the mystery that remains, and keep the faith.  “We walk by faith, not by sight,” says II Corinthians 5:7.  We are among those of whom Jesus spoke in John 20:29:  “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

   I knew a man whose doubts caused him to lose his faith right at the end of his life.  This farmer and his wife raised their children in the church.  Every week they all worshiped with their neighbors in their little country church.  The kids all grew up, married, and moved on.  Then the man’s wife died, and still he went to church every Sunday.  And then this old man read an article in one of the national news magazinesTime and Newsweek seem to take turns each year around Easter, publishing cover stories about what they think really happened on Easter Sunday, which always turns out to be nothing out of the ordinary, according to them.  They get a few quotes, pro and con, but you always know from the beginning where they are going to end up, and that is to deny the truth of the resurrection.  It is not any sort of a responsible, in-depth treatment of the historical documents or the academic or theological debate.  It is just outright, anti-Christian propaganda.

     This man had a simple faith and was not familiar with the powerful arguments for the historical truth of the New Testament accounts of the resurrection.  Therefore, his faith was destroyed by this preposterous article with its shallow treatment of this most important event in human history.  He quit going to church and died without the hope of the resurrection that he had believed in his whole life.  The article raised questions in his mind, and he thought it spoke the truth.  He did not take the time to ‘question his questions’ or ‘doubt his doubts,’ and he quit going to the place where he might have heard something that could have deepened his simple faith before he abandoned it.  That is a sad story.

     Thomas had his doubts, but he kept in touch.  He kept gathering with the others, and there was given the opportunity to get his faith back.  Then he heard for himself the words of his risen Lord; “Peace be with you.”

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Romans 10:9  —  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

John 20:26-29  —  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.”

Jude 1:22  —   Be merciful to those who doubt.

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Lord, I do believe.  Help me overcome my unbelief.

–Mark 9:24