Listen | Watch | John 20:24-31
A dear lady in our community stopped me as I was walking toward the Methodist Church for Holy Week services and said, “Preacher, I have been suffering from vertigo.” Vertigo is that spinning sensation. It can be nauseating and unsettling. A feeling that you are not sure you can move in a forward direction. Sometimes our spiritual lives can be that way. Especially when we are plagued with doubt. Sometimes our doubts can keep us from moving forward spiritually. Now let me remind you, doubt is not the opposite of faith. The opposite of faith is unbelief. Doubt is not the same as unbelief.
I have learned two truths concerning doubt in my study this week;
- Doubt can work for us and;
- Doubt can work against us.
Positively – doubt can force you to dig deep to discover truth. Negatively – doubt can make you cynical and keep you from discovering truth. Now, for the reasons I have given, I want to lead us to face our doubt.
Dealing with Our Spiritual Vertigo
Doubting Thomas…the classic skeptic. Dr. David Jeremiah
We begin with the story of the most notorious doubter of all time… Doubting Thomas. As a true skeptic, Thomas would say;
- I am not interested in hearsay.
- I am only interested in reality.
- I want the cold hard facts.
- Give me the bottom-line.
Whenever people [are] confronted with the reality of His resurrection, their lives are transformed. Warren Wierbe
Thomas’ life was transformed. That’s my prayer for you. I desire that your life would be totally transformed. My desire is that you would be confronted with the reality of His resurrection today.
When we had Dave Adams here to preach, we drove down Scott Avenue, and we passed “Tan and Tone” on the corner of third street. When he came to 127 Fourth Street (FBC), he said, “Tan, toned, and transformed all on Scott Avenue.” I pray to God that your life could be transformed! How? By the power of His resurrection!
Skeptic Thomas would have been able to identify with my favorite philosopher, Barbara Waddell. She once said, “Plain talk is easily understood.” Thomas would have said, “Give it to me straight.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 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. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4
Notice the next verse. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). In other words, “Jesus, I hear you, but we don’t have a clue as to where you are going.”
But, here is what I want you to see,
- Yes, Thomas was skeptical.
- Yet, Thomas was practical.
- Yes, Thomas had some doubts.
- Yet, his doubts were not the same as unbelief.
Thomas was just a practical thinker. Thomas was not without some knowledge;
- He had seen Jesus walk on water.
- He had seen Jesus raise the dead.
- He had seen Jesus heal the sick.
- He had seen Jesus quiet the storm.
Thomas just had some questions. John the Baptist was also a man that had some questions. John the Baptist was described as the “Greatest of those born of women.” John the Baptist performed the baptism of Jesus. John the Baptist heard the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Yet, John had his moment of “Spiritual Vertigo” when he inquired of Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3) It’s natural for people to have questions. Peter had his doubts, and received his answer at a wild game breakfast (fish fry). Thomas had his doubts and received an answer in a room. Thomas entered the room with doubts and exited the room in faith.
Developing Spiritual Vertigo
The Bible says, “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.” (John 20:24) Basically he decided to stay out of church on Sunday nights. Thomas stays out of church, meanwhile Jesus shows up! Jesus manifested Himself among the other disciples. Thomas did not know that faith is an enabling gift. That our faith needs to be exercised by Christian disciplines like:
- Bible study
- Church attendance
No wonder the writer of Hebrews exhorts us,
Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
Therefore, SPIRITUAL VERTIGO DEVELOPS IN ISOLATION. Stay out of church and you will develop “Spiritual Vertigo.” Where was John when he questioned Jesus, “Are you the one”? He was in Isolation. He was in a dungeon, a dark and damp jail cell.
- Isolation feeds your doubts
- Church and Sunday School attendance will help dispel your doubts
Do you claim to be a born-again Christian? Then STAY CONNECTED with other believers!
The Demands of Spiritual Vertigo
The good news is Spiritual Vertigo (doubts) will not turn away from the facts. Doubt will, if allowed, pursue truth. Chuck Yeager doubted that the sound barrier was really a barrier. Chuck Yeager pursued truth. Galileo doubted that the earth was really flat. Galileo pursued truth. Thomas doubted the resurrection was fact, but Thomas was willing to purse truth. There were the prints in His hands. There was the scar in His side. And for this doubting skeptic, “Seeing is believing.” The Skeptic’s Creed, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But Thomas went a step farther, “I’ll believe it when I feel it.”
Thomas had asked the question and the living Christ provided the answer. The Bible says, “Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:26) Sometimes questions come in the beginning, but hang in there, because answers will come in the end.
Don’t let your doubts keep you from the community of faith. Allow your doubts to guide you right into the presence of the resurrected Savior. Remember, doubt will investigate. It is unbelief that says, “I’m out of here.” Thomas hung around until the answer came.
The Drawing Power of Spiritual Vertigo
What a testimony to a watching world. Jesus says, “Put your finger here; see my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28)
Thomas could say, “I touched Him, and oh the joy that flooded my soul!” Thomas could say with John the beloved, “We have heard…we have seen with our eye…we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1 John 1:1-2)
Jesus had asked, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see, a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (Luke 24:38-39)
Are you struggling with Spiritual Vertigo (doubts)? Don’t repress them, examine them.
Think about this, people have had doubts for thousands of years, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ has been contested by some of the world’s greatest skeptics. None of these skeptics have been able to disprove the resurrection. We’re still here. God is still on His throne and Jesus Christ is the LIVING LORD!
The Defining Power of Spiritual Vertigo
When you straighten out a question mark, you end up with an exclamation mark! Someone said, “The most powerful courtroom testimony is that of a hostile witness.” A hostile witness is a testimony that would be antagonistic or contrary to the party who called the witness. “Let’s bring hostile witness “Doubting Thomas” to the witness stand. Thomas, Sir, now that you have had the chance to examine all the evidence, what now is your conclusion concerning this man Called Jesus the Messiah?” Thomas exclaims to the court, “(He’s) My Lord and my God!”
The Disarming of Spiritual Vertigo
If you suffer from Spiritual Vertigo (doubts) then;
- Admit your doubts. Be honest with your feelings.
- Articulate your doubts. Explain to someone else why you doubt.
- Acknowledge your doubt. Turn your doubt into a question then turn your questions into a prayer, and turn your prayers to God.
- Analyze your doubts. Look at all the evidence. Why?
Christianity is not a ‘blind-leap-in the dark.’ Christianity is based on facts. Facts is the engine that pulls the train. Faith is coupled to the facts and feelings follow behind. The Bible says, “Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Substance is something that is real. Therefore, faith is putting your confidence in something that is real. The definition of evidence is to make it clear. It’s so clear to see Jesus is the Christ. It has been made clear as a result of the reality of the resurrection.
Lee Stroble, the editor of The Case for Christ Study Bible, was more than a doubter. Stroble was a self proclaimed atheist. His wife had attended church, and she gave her life to Christ. When she told him about it, it made him mad. So, being a brilliant man, he understood the symbol of Christianity was not an Easter Bunny. He understood it was an empty tomb. Disprove the resurrection and you disprove Christianity. So, Lee Stroble set out to disprove the resurrection. But, being the good reporter that he was, he chose to approach the evidence with an open mind. He decided, in his own words, “To follow the facts no matter where they lead.” He began the process of investigating Christianity. It took him two years.
- He studied archaeology
- He studied ancient history
- He interviewed scholars and scientist
- He scrutinized the words of Scripture
What he discovered changed his life forever. He discovered that the resurrection was indeed a historical fact. He coupled faith to the facts, and it led Him to the feet of
Jesus where he cried out, “MY LORD AND MY GOD.”
Once you settle in your hearts, the death, the burial, and the resurrection, you know that everything else about Jesus is true.
- He is the Lamb of God
- He is the resurrection and the life
- He is the Lord of Lords
- He is the Head of the church
- He is the Bread of Life
- He is the Rose of Sharon
- He is the Alpha and Omega
- He is the Good Shepherd
- He is the Light of the world
- He is the finisher of our faith
- He is the everlasting Father
- He is the King of Kings
- He is the Prince of Peace
- He is the unique Son of God
- He is wonderful Counselor
- He is Immanuel
- He is our Redeemer
- He is our Anchor
- He is the Bright and Morning Star
- He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life
- He is the One we give our lives to today
When you discover this truth in your life you will say “God, I surrender my life completely and totally to you.”