I Have Doubts |03.31.24| Doubting God pt.1
Drew Williams   -  

John 20:24-31

Pastor Drew Williams


My name is Drew, and I have a confession to make: I have doubts.


I know, that might be strange to hear from a pastor on Easter Sunday, but it’s true!


[SLIDE 2] lower third blank

I have doubts. Sometimes I doubt that my kids will like me when I have to discipline them.


Sometimes I doubt that I’ll be able to come up with the right words when I’m helping someone through a hard season in their life.


Sometimes I doubt that the White Sox will ever get it together.


And yes, sometimes I have doubts about God and faith and the things we talk about here in church, like, am I actually forgiven? Even when I keep messing up?


Does God actually have a plan for my life, or is he too distant to care about what happens in my day to day?


Maybe you’ve asked some questions like that before, or someone in your life has had those questions.



That’s why we’re starting a new series today that will continue next week called, Doubting God: How to Believe When We Can’t be Sure. Because New Life is on a mission to help 1,000 families be transformed by Jesus, together, for others, and we know that faith is a journey, not a destination.


And so, while we journey with each other, we deal with hard questions. We deal with hard topics. We deal with real-life issues.


[SLIDE 4] lower third blank

Because there are times when you’re surrounded by a bunch of well-dressed people who all seem happy and we are all singing songs and participating in a time of hope and joy, and you’re CERTAIN that you’re loved, that God will be there for you through the ups and downs.


And then there are other times…when you’re not so sure anymore. When you feel alone. When you admit you have doubts, or when someone you love admits their doubts to you. And it’s scary. It’s scary to start poking around at the big questions of life.


It’s like you’re walking along a path and suddenly stumble on a wobbly stone. It’s not pleasant, you’re not laughing, and all your focus is on becoming stable again. I’m not sure I can trust my footing anymore.


Well, if you’ve ever felt that, I want to share good news with you today: faith is a journey, and Jesus isn’t afraid of our questions.  In fact, being a follower of Jesus, being an apprentice of Jesus is all about being someone who keeps going, keeps asking, keeps pressing on as we wrestle with questions and grow together.


And as we’ll see in our Scripture this morning, having doubts and questions puts us in good company and actually brings blessing on our lives.


So turn to the person next to you and say, “Faith is a journey.” Type that in the comments if you’re joining us online.

Now turn to the person on your other side and say, “I’m with you on the journey.”



And open up your Bibles to John 20, on p88 of the NT in the black, seat-back Bibles. This story is one that might be familiar to you, and it takes place after the awful time when Jesus was wrongfully accused, arrested, beaten, tortured, and ultimately executed because the religious leaders didn’t like the message he was preaching.


But even THEY didn’t realize what Jesus was actually accomplishing when he went to the cross. He wasn’t just changing the way the 1st century Jews followed God, he was teaching all humans everywhere what it means to be alive, what it means to be human, what it means to love and to join in with God’s work in the world.


They didn’t know that he DIDN’T come as a Messiah, a Savior, to save them from Rome or whatever other political system that would oppress them — he was saving them from the true enemy, death.


And so he went to the cross and died in the place of all of us, taking the penalty for all the brokenness and all the pain that was in the world. But he didn’t stop there!


He came back to life, PROVING he was stronger than death. Proving that there is more to life than simply escaping death.


Proving that he is God, and that he has a plan for each of us that he invites us to join him in his work of restoring the world, renewing our families, and re-building our lives around his way of life.


And so, when he came back to life, our story picks up right after he appeared to a group of his followers for the first time that Easter afternoon. He proved he was alive again, showed them his hands and side where the executioners had done their work, and said he was recruiting them to join his work.


So let’s pick up there with John 20:24-31


[JOHN 20:24-31]



“But Thomas… was not with them.” He wasn’t in the room when the rest of the disciples saw Jesus. And he wasn’t so sure he believed them. And so that’s where he gets his unfortunate name, Doubting Thomas.


But we can see why Thomas might have doubted, right? He wasn’t there when the others saw Jesus. Maybe he was feeling guilty? Where were you?


We didn’t hear about Thomas during the arrest of Jesus. Where were you? When he was arrested? Did you run off and save yourself?


Where were you when he was crucified? We didn’t see you.


And then, when the rest were gathered, Thomas wasn’t there again. So maybe he thought they were pulling his leg. “Oh, Thomas, you missed something big again.”


So the other disciples tell him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he says, “Unless I see him with my own eyes, unless I see the wounds myself, I will not believe.”


Poor Doubting Thomas just wants confirmation. He couldn’t take them at their word. Doubting Thomas wanted to be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt.


And honestly, I think that’s an unfair name for Thomas: Doubting Thomas. Because he had other interactions in Scripture that we forget about.


[SLIDE 7] 11:16

When Jesus is getting in hot water with the religious leaders, he plans on going back to the area around Jerusalem to raise his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. And all the other disciples don’t think it’s a good idea, because the religious leaders are out to get him.


But Thomas says, “Let’s also go, that we may die with him.”


He’s not really Doubting Thomas at all. More like Dark Humor Thomas, or Determined Thomas. He’s Team Leader Thomas, rallying the rest of the group to listen to Jesus and follow him no matter what.


[SLIDE 8] 14:5

And later, when Jesus is talking about the fact that he will die, but he’ll go prepare a place for his followers, he says that his followers will know the way to the place he’s going.


But Thomas chimes in, and says, “Ummm, Jesus? You haven’t actually TOLD us where this “place” is that you’re going to. So…how can we know the WAY to get there?”


He’s not Doubting Thomas. He’s Direction-Minded Thomas. Double-Check Thomas. He’s Daring-to-Ask-Questions Thomas, and his willingness to ask Jesus is what causes Jesus to respond, saying, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life.”



So Thomas just wants to be SURE. So he won’t take the other disciples’ word for it. And a week later, the disciples are gathered again. Jesus was killed just a week ago, and they still aren’t sure if the religious leaders are going to try and arrest them, too, but they’ve got to gather with each other, because coming TOGETHER is the only way to hold on to hope.


And Thomas is with them this time! Can we point out how great that is? Even though he wasn’t with them last time, even though he doesn’t fully believe what the rest of them believe, he’s not giving up. He’s still showing up!


Turn to your neighbor right now and say, “Don’t give up.” Type it in the chat.


If you’re listening right now, and you’re still not fully sure, that’s okay! Don’t give up. Keep showing up!


And if you’ve got someone in your life that you’re worried about…you’re worried you’ve got a “lost cause” in your family… Don’t give up on them! Because God hasn’t! Look at this…


[SLIDE 10]

Thomas is with them, and Jesus shows up! Magically appears in a locked room, so of course he’s got to start by saying, “Peace! Calm down. It’s alright. It’s me.”


And he STARTS by addressing Thomas first. He goes straight to the one who had doubts. But he doesn’t scold him. He doesn’t browbeat him. He doesn’t gaslight him for not believing.


[SLIDE 11]

No, he addresses his exact questions: “touch my wounds. It’s really me. Do not doubt but believe.”


Don’t be unbelieving, but put your trust in me, believe.


Jesus is offering Thomas exactly what he had demanded just a week ago. I mean, look how incredibly gracious and compassionate God is!


[SLIDE 12]

But Thomas doesn’t even take him up on his offer to touch the wounds. He doesn’t need to, he just professes his faith in Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” He’s not Doubting Thomas, he’s Declaring Thomas!


And Jesus affirms him for his belief, and then he pronounces a blessing on anyone else who doesn’t have the experience that Thomas got, and yet still comes to believe. So that means you and me. Anyone who puts their belief in Jesus is BLESSED. Why? Well, John, the gospel writer tells us…


[SLIDE 13]

John finishes this section saying that all of this has been written SO THAT you may believe…and to believe SO THAT you may have LIFE in Jesus’ name.


The resurrection of Jesus, and our faith in it, TRANSFORMS our experience of doubt, or fear, or uncertainty…transforms it to Life. Full, abundant, hope-filled life. Because Jesus is God, and he’s still at work.

[SLIDE 14]

See, faith is a journey, not a destination. And your doubts don’t disqualify your faith. Thomas had followed Jesus just like the rest, but his doubts, his uncertainty, that didn’t disqualify him. They didn’t kick him out because of them.


Jesus didn’t punish him. Jesus went right too him and met him in his doubts. Your doubts don’t disqualify your faith, because following Jesus isn’t about being “in” or “out.”


[SLIDE 15] blank

That’s membership. You’re either a member of the club or you’re not. Members are in or out. They’ve got the stamp on their card to prove it.


Members can come and go as they please to participate in the benefits of membership. And who cares if you aren’t around all the time, you’re still a member, and that’s all that counts!


But if a member lapses on their subscription, if they change as a person and don’t align with the purpose of the club anymore…well now they’re out. Now you’ve gotta fight to get back in.


But following Jesus isn’t like being a member of a club. Following Jesus is a journey. It’s like being an apprentice, someone who is DEVOTED to learning all they can from the master.


Someone who is growing slowly over time to become like their master so that they can do the things the master does. Following Jesus is about being an apprentice of Jesus and his way of life.


[SLIDE 16]

And doubt doesn’t disqualify you from that process! God draws NEAR to us in our doubts. Jesus PURSUED Thomas in his doubts, and he invited him to believe, to have faith.


Faith isn’t the opposite of doubt. Faith is the tool that helps us keep going through our doubts. It’s the tool that helps us keep growing in the midst of doubt so that we can receive LIFE.


And so, if you’re listening right now and you have doubts, I want you to know that your doubts don’t disqualify your faith. Don’t let your doubts stop your journey of faith.


[SLIDE 17] blank

Because too many people let doubt become a dead-end. They experience loss and hardship, and they feel alone, so they stop pressing in to God.


Too many people are crushed by the stress of raising a family amongst all the competing focuses and heavy weights around them.


Too many people are focused on progressing at work and all this “church stuff” doesn’t seem to connect with life in their everyday activities.


But faith is a journey, and Jesus’ way of life is the BEST way to be human.


So don’t let your doubt become a dead-end. Keep showing up. Keep walking. Keep asking. Keep searching.


Come to Jesus!


If you have doubts — struggling — uncertain — questions —


Baggage — secret addictions — church hurt.


Don’t let doubt become a dead-end. Come to Jesus! Come to the One who says, “I am the Way to real truth. I am the Way to fulfilling Life!”


Keep journeying, and keep journeying with US these next few weeks through this message series. Bring a friend with you to wrestle these questions together.


Don’t let your doubt become a dead-end. Keep pressing on to Jesus. Keep searching, not to be CERTAIN, but to put your SIGHT ON the cross.


Keep searching, not to be certain, but to SIT IN the presence of the One who says, “I love you too much to allow you to meet death alone and unprotected. I’ll take it for you.”


Keep searching because if he said he could beat death, and then DID IT, and then raised himself back to life, then just MAYBE he can do the other things he said.


Your doubts don’t disqualify your faith, because you can still have questions, you can still be unsure, even WHILE holding on to the fact that Jesus raised himself from the dead, so we can trust the other promises he made.


Because Jesus defeated the grave, we know that his forgiveness is true.


Because Jesus defeated the grave, we know that he truly has a plan for each of our lives and we’re invited to join him in his work around us.


Because Jesus defeated the grave, we KNOW he can bring healing and transformation in us.


And Because Jesus defeated the grave, we know that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Amen!


Isn’t that good news?