21 – A disciple of Christ, Thomas, was a skeptic. He walked with Jesus during his time on earth and physically witnessed with his own eyes certain miracles performed by him such as raising Lazarus from the dead and so forth. However, after the crucifixion, Jesus supposedly rose three days later and Thomas did not believe it was truly him despite being told, prior to the incident by Jesus, that he would rise again in three days. Thomas required physical proof. Jesus allowed him to touch him and feel the wounds in his body to offer that proof to Thomas. Why doesn’t god extend the same proof to humans alive today? Those that doubt his existence are no different than Thomas, requiring physical proof and he was a disciple of Jesus himself. If Thomas had been born one generation later, or even living today, he would have burned in hell for all eternity because he would not believe for the lack of physical proof. Paul was born after the death and ascension of Christ. Throughout his life, he did not believe that Jesus was the son of God and even went out of his way to persecute and murder Christians thinking that their religion was a dangerous belief system to practice. Lo and behold a flash of light came out of the sky and Jesus Christ himself appeared to Paul explaining to him that he is actually the one true god. Jesus told him that he was persecuting the followers of the only true faith. From that point on, Paul was a converted Christian. Again, if God was willing to go out of his way to physically prove to Paul that he actually exists, why is this not done today? Why isn’t God willing to show those that doubt today the same degree of physical proof? Why should we be any different than Thomas and Paul?
I don’t know. Why should you be any different from Thomas and Paul? In all your questions, what proof do you have that if God did show himself, you would turn to Him? Have you provided any evidence that would suggest that to Him, or to who have read your 50 questions? Besides, it has been pointed out that even the demons tremble and believe, but are they followers of God or did they choose to go against his will?
If you recall, Thomas was not the only one who required physical proof. How many of the disciples stayed at His side when he was arrested? They all scattered to the four winds and went into hiding. Where in scripture did it say that twelve could be found at the foot of His cross worshiping Him? It doesn’t. Matthew 26:56 states that all the disciples abandoned him and ran away. Mark 14:50 also says everyone fled. An interesting note, in Mark 14:51 he mentions a young man who had been following Jesus, but when they tried to grab him he fled naked leaving his garment behind. Many scholars believe Mark is talking about himself. Luke mentioned that Peter followed at a distance, but then denied Jesus before the rooster crowed three times. Luke 22:54-62.
What turned these frightened and fleeing disciples around? Was it faith or was something else more significant provided to them?
Do you recall when John the Baptist was in prison and he asked his disciples to go to Jesus and ask if He was the one they had been waiting for or if they should look for someone else? Luke 7:18-23 When they went to Jesus He began to heal the blind, the deaf, the lame and cure those with leprosy. After the signs, he told the messengers from John to return and report what they had seen and heard with their own eyes. What Jesus did not do was say, “Go back and tell my cousin, doubter that he is, to take a leap of faith and believe!” No, Jesus provided evidence they could see, hear, and touch and then go back to John and report to John the Baptist first hand.
In a book given to me by Pastor Russ Peters, Carlos Annacondia wrote about the Argentine Revival. He was speaking on faith and wrote, “Now, this faith, the faith necessary to operate under the super natural power of God and with authority in His name, is not a rational conviction, nor does it require a certain religious knowledge…These things are for those who, with a simple heart, begin to put into practice the command of the Lord of going and preaching, trusting Him that the promised supernatural signs will follow.”1 With a focus on evangelism and preaching, he continued, “Then signs will confirm the truth of the gospel of Christ with miracles and wonders, just as Jesus affirmed. It is not enough just to talk about the gospel, but it is necessary to also put the gospel into practice with all of its visible and outward consequences and effects.”2
Without exception, every one of the Apostles was transformed by the resurrection event. Prior they were confused, fearful, in hiding, scattered, and some would say even acted cowardly. After the resurrection, they were bold, fearless, and proclaimed the resurrection without hesitation. Tom Gender lists 12 notable changes that took place within the budding Christian culture that was the antithesis of their own Jewish culture.
1. They held on to their monotheism beliefs but now looked at God as three distinct persons.
2. They came to believe that the promise of the coming Messiah was God Himself in the form of Jesus.
3. They understood He would come twice, first to suffer and die for our sins and then return to establish His kingdom.
4. They taught that obedience to the law was no longer sufficient, but it had to be coupled with faith in Christ their savior.
5. They no longer offered animal sacrifices because Jesus had died once and for all.
6. The Temple in Jerusalem was no longer the focal point for God to meet with His people.
7. They began to meet on Sunday’s rather than Saturday’s.
8. They began to practice baptism as opposed to circumcision.
9. They began the observance of the Lord’s supper.
10. Unclean and clean distinctions were dismissed and associations with Gentiles was acceptable.
11. They had a fervent desire to share their faith, not only within their own Jewish culture but in all parts of the known world.
12. They added new books to the Old Testament texts which we now know as the New Testament.3
Within a few decades, the Gospel spread to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Followers of Jesus gave up everything to pursue Him and share the good news. Every one of the Apostles was beaten, tortured, and imprisoned for their faith.
What could have changed their views so drastically? Views that were not only heretical to Judisam but so counter to their culture and way of life.
They saw the risen Lord, not only Thomas but all of them, consequently they became bold and fearless proclaimers for Christ. So that is a good question. Why doesn’t God provide us with direct evidence as He did for Thomas, Paul, and the others?
Yes, Thomas doubted as have others, then the miracle of seeing his risen Lord gave him reason to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28. What did Jesus say and do just before that? He showed him the evidence and told him to stop doubting and believe. Miracles can be a divine event for the faith of unbelievers, but so can the report of miracles if the hearts of unbelievers would allow it.
Scripture tells us that unbelievers suppress the truth and Jesus tells a story of a man who wanted to be sent back from hell to warn his five brothers. How did Abraham reply to that request? They will not be convinced even if someone is raised from the dead. Luke 16:31
John Frame who wrote Apologetics to the Glory of God said, “[Jesus] wrought many miracles, but they rarely lead people to faith. Often the enemies of Jesus admitted the miracle, but still refused to believe. And even the Resurrection itself failed to convince many. Jesus had harsh words for those who demanded to see signs.”4 Matthew 12:39; John 4:48
If a God exists, then you can conclude that miracles are possible. There is overwhelming evidence for the Resurrection and how it transformed the Apostles. Not only the Apostles but millions over the past two thousand years who have given their lives to Christ, some figuratively others literally. Out of the millions who have become Christians over the centuries how many have been transformed by the witness of a miracle? Very few.
You don’t need to witness a miracle to become a believer; you just need to believe in the miracle that has already been witnessed and reported.
1. “Power Evangelism Argentine Style.” The Rising Revival, Edited by Wagner, Peter. Deiros, Pablo. Renew Books, 1988.
3. Gender, Tom. “Back From The Dead.” Truth Matters, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011, pp. 126-127
4. Frame, John. “Apologetics as Proof, Proving the Gospel”, Apologetics to the Glory of God, P & R Publishing, 1994, pp. 143
Demanding Proof by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.knowingforsure.com/blog.