When the name of the Apostle Thomas comes up amongst those familiar with his story, the byword “Doubting Thomas” often follows. We know this because of his statement to the other apostles who had seen the resurrected Jesus. He declared that he needed to touch the marks of the crucifixion in Christ’s body to overcome his doubt. Once Jesus appeared to Thomas, offering the bodily evidence of his scars, Thomas clearly believed and his statement of faith followed, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:26-29) The accounts in scripture of Thomas are considerably less than those of the principal apostles, yet there is a significant statement by him, found in the gospel of John, chapter eleven. Here we find him confessing his willingness to die for Christ (John 11:6). This is important because from what we’ve been told from church tradition nearly all the Apostles of Christ died for their faith.
If in fact, Church tradition is correct and most of the apostles were martyred, then what motivation propelled them to not only carry the Gospel to distant lands but also to die for their faith? I’d say, evidence for this is found in the title of the new film by Linda and Dharan Mandrayar, Faith Beyond Doubt. Real faith, the kind that God imparts, is in fact, something truly beyond all doubt. Jesus said that even a mustard seed of such faith, can move mountains. Well, it certainly moved the early followers of Christ and they, in turn, “moved” the world they lived in. Their reputation proceeded them, for they were turning the “world” upside down through their faith (Acts 17:6).
To understand this marvelous kind of Faith, we can find one clue in the account of the miracle recorded in the third chapter of the book of Acts. When Apostles, Peter and John, were confronted by the lame man at the gate of the temple, asking for alms, Peter’s reply is telling. He states, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:4). The man was healed instantly, and that miracle led to many others joining the ranks of the followers of Christ. But what exactly was it that Peter had and offered to give to the lame man? The key lies in what Peter tells the crowd that gathers because of this miracle.
Peter declares to the astonished throng, “Men of Israel, why are you surprised by this? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12). There is a real key in that statement. The source of the miracle and the faith to produce it was not the result of the apostle’s own power or godliness. What exactly does that imply? It means that faith beyond doubt does not come from some human source or human righteousness, but from the author of our faith, Jesus. Peter goes on to state, “It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has given him this complete healing in your presence.” (Acts 3:16)
Peter had that kind of miracle producing faith because he’d been with Jesus. In fact, not long after this event, when Peter and John are called before the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin, scripture tells us that the council members, “marveled and took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) A lot can be made from that statement, but one thing is for sure, their time with Jesus had produced in them something notable. We know from the account of all four Gospels, these men had been close to Jesus for three years, but of even greater significance, they’d been with him after his resurrection.
A vital part of our relationship with Christ, rests in our belief in his resurrection. Most significant, our salvation as Roman 10:9 states, “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.” The apostles knew this without a doubt. They had seen him in his resurrected body, and that experience provided them with a level of faith that produced miracles. But for us who have not seen him as they did, Jesus’ words to Thomas come back to us, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Jesus, here, is referring to those, who have not literally seen Jesus like the apostles did but believe none the less.
I remember the day I believed. I was truly blessed that day. I put my total faith in Jesus and experienced a life changing encounter with him. But, since then, I have had some important moments alone with him, when that faith has increased. This is essential, if we are seriously asking for the kind of faith that is beyond all doubt. It’s clear from Peter’s statement, that this kind of faith comes from Christ, and I’m convinced it comes from spending time with Jesus in his word and presence. The writer of Hebrews, reminds us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith and in that same passage, he tells us to “look to him.” That was much easier for the Apostles who had “eye-witness” encounters with Jesus. But, today, we can “witness” him because the Holy Spirit will open God’s word to us, and as a result, our faith will increase.
Over my years as a follower of Christ, I had the privilege of knowing people of great faith. I can assure you, like Peter and John, they are those “who have been with Jesus.” They are consistently in God’s word and spend time in his presence in prayer and study. That’s so important, because it is there, in those times alone with him, that God imparts that “faith that comes from him” (Acts 3:16). It is in those moments, looking unto Jesus, that faith beyond doubt is imparted (Heb 12:2). My prayer is that more of us will follow their example, and no longer be doubters but be transformed as Thomas was and carry that Faith everywhere we go, even to the end of the world.
About the Author:
Bob Maddux has been in full time ministry since 1968. He is the Founding Pastor of Trinity San Diego, formerly The Connection and Christian Life Assembly in Poway, CA a suburb of San Diego, where he served as Senior Pastor from 1988 to 2015. He is still a part of the staff there. Under his leadership the church has had local and international impact through its various outreaches. One example is Project Compassion, (www.projectcompassion.org) a medical mission, which he co-founded in 1992. Besides his pastoral work he has ministered on five continents training national pastors and doing evangelistic outreaches. In 1976 he founded Capital Bible College and served as its president for nine years. In 1979 he founded and directed Jesus West Coast, a large annual missions festival attended yearly by thousands and credited with recruiting many into missions. Bob has authored the Angel award-winning book Fantasy Explosion and has produced and directed various films and documentaries including the award winning Mzungu. He’s written 5 other books, the most recent is “Reluctantly Supernatural in an Age of Reason.” He and his wife, Claudia, have been married since 1969. They have 3 grown children and 7 grandchildren.