Of Faith and Certainty

Now Thomas (also known as 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.”

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 20:24-29

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”  And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.  Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

  • Hebrews 6:13-20

When you are asked for trust, you may give it or withhold it; it is senseless to say that you will trust if given demonstrative certainty.

  • C. S. Lewis, On Obstinancy in Belief

Jesus spoke to Thomas of a difference between Thomas and those who would follow in later generations.  Thomas had demonstrative certainty that Jesus rose from the dead.  He could only assume that Jesus was who He says that He was.

In the Scripture from Hebrews, the author focuses on God giving Abraham an oath, swearing that He will make good His promises.  The rapid growth in Abraham’s family did not occur in his lifetime, but he had faith in God and God’s promises.

Do we have to live by faith?  Yes, but that faith comes from God (Ephesians 2:8).  We have the changes in our life as a result of accepting Jesus as our Savior.  We can see the hand of God in nature, in the universe, in a single cell.  Our DNA speaks of the rich complexity.

The absence of perfection in Global Climate Change points to how God had everything perfectly balanced until humanity got everything out of balance.

But even all those physical signs of God’s handiwork requires faith.

We have God’s word.  It is reliable.  It is well-documented with Scripture fragments back to within a century or closer to the original manuscript (at least the New Testament writings).  Yet, even then we have more faith than certainty.

Too many people refuse to believe until they have demonstrative certainty.  As C. S. Lewis wrote in the quote above, that is not faith at all.  The certainty that a Christian has regarding their Lord and Savior starts with that first step of faith.  Without that first step, and it is a big step, the journey of faith cannot begin.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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