Honest Thomas
Message Summary
This message looks at the life of Thomas who was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is best remembered for his doubts and is many times referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” However, as our study will reveal, this may not be the best designation for Thomas. He did have his doubts and his questions, but he was no less committed to Jesus than the other disciples. Thomas was simply a very honest man who was not afraid to ask the hard questions and to openly share his doubts. However, we know from Scripture that Thomas was a disciple so committed he was willing to die with Jesus if need be. We too have questions and doubts. God does not get angry at us for this. He understands. However, at some point God will ask us make up our minds, stop doubting, believe and make the commitment to live by faith. There will always be questions, but with each question or doubt we will have to decide at some point whether to trust God with the struggle and make the commitment to “follow him!”

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Thomas had his doubts, but once he made up his mind to follow Jesus, there was no turning back. He was even willing to die with Jesus if need be. In other words, doubts didn’t stop him. Just because we have questions and doubts doesn’t mean we have no faith. It may simply mean we are willing to be honest about our struggles. Have you ever struggled with doubts and questions concerning your faith? Would you be willing to share with the group a doubt or a question you’ve struggled with and how God has helped you deal with it?

2. Thomas was frustrated when he told Jesus he didn’t know where He was going and didn’t know the way. Jesus didn’t get angry with him or short with him, but shared with him one of the most important revelations in God’s Word. Thomas was worried about the destination and the route while Jesus wanted him to concentrate on the person he was traveling with. Do you think it would make a difference in our lives if we quit worrying so much about the destination and route and focused more on the One who said, “Follow Me?” How might your life change if you took this attitude?
1 Cor 8:6  yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

3. Sometimes we need our “God family” to help us when we go through times of doubts and hard questions. Letting others help us when we are down, and listening to their stories of how God helped them can really strengthen us and encourage us! Encourage one another with your “God family” story!
Heb 10:24  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Heb 10:25  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

4. One very important thing we must remember is that we walk by faith not by sight. For many people, sight equals feelings. In other words, their walk with God is based on their feelings and emotions. If they have good feelings, then they feel their faith is strong and if they have depressed feelings, then they feel their faith is weak. If we try to live our lives like this we will live very frustrated lives. Have you ever been guilty of trusting your feelings more than the promises of God and His Word? What are some ways we can overcome the negative feelings and walk by faith? Comb through the following verses for some answers.
2 Pet 1:3  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Pet 1:4  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Pet 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
2 Pet 1:6  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
2 Pet 1:7  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
2 Pet 1:8  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Full Sermon Notes
Honest Thomas
John 14:1-7

What do you think of when you hear the name of the disciple named Thomas?
Yep, that's what I thought. Doubting Thomas! He's known for that, but Thomas was so much more than a doubter. Thomas was a bold disciple who had no problem with being honest! He had questions and he wanted answers! He didn't let his doubts and questions paralyze him into inactivity. He was actually one of the most committed disciples Jesus had. So many focus on his doubts they forget everything else about him. For those of you here today who've had doubts and deep questions, you may be surprised at what I'm going to tell you today. God's not mad at you or even upset with you! God loves honesty! God loves truthfulness! God welcomes your doubts and your questions.

Those who don't ask questions and who aren't honest about their doubts, (If you're a believer, ya lying if you say you've never had doubts), those who don't ask questions and who aren't honest about their doubts, never give God the chance to teach them and show them His answers. They would rather just pretend they've got it all together and don't struggle like the rest of us! The only people who don't have any  questions or doubts, are those who've decided to out right reject belief in God!

Now I'm certainly not saying we never get to a place of confidence, faith and trust about anything. We do! But it is usually a process, a journey of faith, a path down which we must walk! Real Christianity is not just an easy believe-ism! I was licensed to the ministry in 1977. I was a senior in High School! That was 37 years ago. I've faced some tough things in those 37 years of ministry. You might think after that many years I would have certainly found all the answers by now. I haven't. But I have found the One with the answers! Sometimes He gives me an answer. Sometimes He tells me to hold on to His hand and He'll get me through the storm. Sometimes He tells me to hold on to His hand and with my other hand to hold on to the hand of a brother or sister who is struggling with agonizing questions!

Sometimes that's all I can do. I don't always have the answer and it would be foolish and presumptuous to pretend I do. But the same way God has never let go of my hand, I'm to hold on to the hands of those who are struggling and help them to see Jesus in the storm! It is my job to help them learn and as we walk by faith, our doubts begin to fade away and our questions begin to find their answers or they simply are put away because we get to a place where our trust in the heart of God outweighs our questions!

Honest Thomas of the Bible wasn't afraid to ask questions. If he had learned anything during his time of following Jesus, it was that he could be honest and voice the questions out loud he had deep inside! 
Let's pray and we're going to learn some things from old honest Thomas! PRAY!!!

Honest Thomas asked honest questions!

Open your Bibles to John's Gospel, Chapter 14:1-7
Here we'll see that Thomas wasn't afraid to ask questions!
And he had good reason for questions. Jesus had recently predicted His coming death, Judas' betrayal, and Peter's denial. The disciples were visibly troubled by these revelations and the following conversation takes place...

John 14:1-7
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Stop the presses! Let me ask you a question. If you were one of the twelve disciples sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ and heard those amazing words, what would be your reaction? What would you be thinking? What would you say? What questions would you have?

Let's see what Thomas' reaction was...

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Thomas was a deep thinker! He was getting a little frustrated now. He had been following Jesus for some time, but it wasn't clear to him where they were headed. So he just blurts out to Jesus…"We don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Thomas was looking for a place and Jesus was trying to get him to see it wasn't about a place, it was about a person! It was about Jesus. I often put it this way…
"The greatest thing about heaven won't be the streets of gold, or the mansions, but the fact that Jesus will be there!! And the worst thing about hell is not fire and brimstone, but the fact that Jesus won't be there! Why are these statements true? Because where Jesus is there is life and where Jesus is not, life is not!" This truth is all over Scripture and Jesus wanted Thomas to know it.

And aren't you glad Thomas had the guts to ask the question? Wow! Thank you Thomas!! Because you asked the question we got an answer so powerful, it has changed the lives of millions…"I am the way and the truth and the life!" When Thomas got his answer, I bet he and the other disciples had little reminders going off in their head. Reminders to remember! Remember what? To remember what they had already been taught but hadn't fully understood.

Jesus had been trying to get them to look for the person of life, not the place of life! John 10:9-18

9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

So it's about the person of Jesus not a place! The Good Shepherd, or maybe we should say the awesome, amazing, all powerful, all knowing, all loving, Shepherd! We are His sheep and sometimes we're just not going to understand everything, but we learn with time to trust our Great Shepherd!

Honest Thomas was honest with his commitment!

Honest Thomas wasn't just honest with his questions, but he was honest with his commitment! When he decided to follow Jesus he wasn't playing games. He had left everything and was willing to give up everything. He had placed all his apples in this one basket. Jesus! How do I know this? It's found in a famous story of Scripture, but Thomas' words in the story are often overlooked. It's found in...

John 11:7-16
7 Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light.
10 It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”
13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,
15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

What a statement! What boldness! What commitment! What loyalty! What honesty!
It's like Thomas was saying, "I decided to follow Jesus and if it means dying with Him, I'm not turning back now! I don't understand everything, but I trust Him! Let's go!
Thomas is rarely remembered for this statement, but it's an important part of his story. With all of his questions and doubts, he had also seen and heard some pretty amazing things from Jesus and so there were times he would just put the questions and doubts behind him and trust. Then, as we'll see in a moment, the doubts and questions would come flooding back in. I've got another question for you today. Am I the only one who can relate to Thomas. Some days, I'm ready to follow Jesus anywhere and do anything He would ask me to do. Somedays, my faith seems so strong. Days when I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and then for reasons I don't understand, I'll have days when I'm not sure I'm gonna make it! Days when the questions and doubts just won't go away! Days when I feel so unworthy to even be called a Christ follower.
Days when I just can't seem to see the light or understand what's going on. Days when I just can't figure out how God could even begin to work through the difficulties and tragedies of this old world. It's those days, when I have to hold tightly to my Heavenly Father's hand.

It's those days I have to be honest about my doubts and honest with my questions. It's those days, I need my God family! My brothers and sisters in Christ and the strength and encouragement their friendship bring into my life. That's why it's so important that we not only gather together on Sunday's, but that we do life together throughout the week. It's those days I have to walk by faith and not by sight, by faith and not by feelings. I've shared the following illustration with several folks this week.

I come from a family of railroaders. Both my grandfathers retired from the railroad. My Uncle Jerry, who spoke at our Blue Service several years ago, worked in several states with independent railroads. Part of his time was spent in the mountains of East Tennessee. You might remember, several years ago trains had engines, cars and a caboose. Sadly, the red caboose is no more. It's been replaced by a blinking red light on the last car. But here's why I tell you this. The only time you would ever see a caboose leading a train, was when the train was backing up.

They would usually go pretty slow when they were backing up. In the mountains, if you ever saw a train going fast and the caboose looked like it was pulling the train, look out!!! That's called a runaway train and it's out of control!! When it comes to the train of our life, the engine that pulls our train must be our faith! Our faith in the facts of God's Word and His promises to us. Feelings are the caboose that follow our faith in the promises of God! If you try to live your life by your feelings, there's going to be a train wreck! Why? Because your feelings do not have the power to pull your life in the right direction. Feelings will cause your life to careen out of control. Hey feelings are not all bad, I like mountain top experiences with the Lord!

But, feelings can't be trusted, they're good one minute and terrible the next.
Feelings change. God's promises and His faithfulness to us never change. So we must put our faith in Him and then let the feelings follow. So important!! In other words…

"Keep your commitment to Christ whether you feel like it or not and God will honor your commitment by giving you strength and helping you experience the joy of the Lord!"

Thomas probably felt like he was riding a train, but it was a roller coster! He certainly had his ups and his downs. But at least he was honest. He was honest with his questions, honest with his commitment and he was honest with his doubts!

Honest Thomas was honest with his doubts!

John 20:19-25
19On 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!”
20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
25 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.”

Ok, here we go again. Thomas did have his doubts, but he wasn't the only one who had had doubts. Let me just read it to you…It's amazing...

Luke 24:1-11
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the
11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

But Thomas is the only one who gets pegged "Doubting Thomas!"
The point is this! We all have our doubts and God doesn't get mad at us! He gets it! He understands our doubts. But while He doesn't get angry at us, He will at some point lovingly, but firmly confront our doubts. Why, because He doesn't want us to be defined by our questions and our doubts, but by the truth of His promises and the power of His presence with us.

Remember it's not about a place, but a person! And that's a beautiful thing, because it doesn't matter where you are, the person of Jesus Christ is there with you by way of His Holy Spirit! No matter how low the valley or high high the mountain top, He is there.
Whether you are in a good place or a bad place in your life, it's not the place that matters, but that your Creator, and Savior, the person of Jesus Christ, is there with you!
Listen to what happens one week after Thomas says, "Unless I see, I won't believe!"

John 20:26-31
26 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!”
27 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.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

31 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.

So beautiful! Jesus didn't condemn Thomas or scold him, He simply invited Him to touch the scars and then told him it was time to stop doubting and believe. To which Thomas responded, "My Lord, and my God!"
Do you know what Jesus is saying to some of us today? You've had your questions and your doubts, that's okay, but at some point you've got to decide to stop doubting and believe. And don't miss what Jesus told Thomas..

John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I invite you today to be honest with your questions, honest with your doubts, but to set those aside and make an honest commitment to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name!" You will discover that no matter your place in this world the Person of Jesus Christ will transform your very life!
Let's pray!