Barriers to belief for modern people

By Dave Henning / January 23, 2022

“Thomas is the most famous doubter of ancient times, and as such, can almost serve as a stand-in for today’s secular skeptics. . . . All [Thomas’s] reasons and motives create barriers to belief for modern people today.  You might have a worldview that says it can’t happen, a temperament that tends to be skeptical, or a heart fearful of disappointments.”- Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 6 of Hope in Times of Fear with the third case study.

Case Study #3: Thomas meets Jesus.  The gospels tell us little about Thomas.  But from these brief glimpses, states Bruce Milne (The Gospel of John: Here is Your King!), we conclude Thomas was “a loyal but somewhat unimaginative person who will act only on what he is [absolutely] sure of.”

However, despite all of Thomas’s reasons for doubt, John 20:24-29 shows that Thomas moves from deep doubt to the highest profession of faith in the gospel of John.  Hence, Thomas moved from biggest doubter to greatest believer in two steps:

1.  Thomas received the testimony of the apostles.  Thus, Thomas listened to the eyewitness reports.

2.  Thomas needed to realize that Jesus rose from the dead for him.  But, despite Jesus’s offer to Thomas, the text never tells us that Thomas actually put his hands in Jesus’s wounds.  So, what overcame Thomas’s doubts?  Leon Morris posits:

“It is possible that it was the words of Jesus more than anything that brought conviction, for they showed that Jesus [had been] perfectly aware of what Thomas had laid down as his demands.  How did he arrive at this knowledge unless he [had been with Thomas] unseen?”

Finally, Pastor Keller notes, at first Thomas wanted to see the wounds as evidence of Jesus’s power.  Now Thomas was the wounds as evidence of Jesus’s sacrificial love for him.  Above all, like Thomas, we need to see Jesus patiently at work in our lives.  To draw us to Himself.  For Jesus walks beside us all the time.

Today’s question: Do you sense any barriers to belief in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A call for total allegiance”

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Dave Henning

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