For the avoidance of doubt
Sadly, Thomas has been called ‘Doubting Thomas.’ He had seen Jesus die and knew He’d been buried but he didn’t know the whole story, ‘So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hands into His side, I will never believe.’ (John 20:25). Jesus had already said when He appeared the first time to the other disciples, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ (Luke 24:38-39). They had told Thomas but he didn’t believe them, so now Jesus tells Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ (John 20:27). Thomas only needed the merest glance to see and believe.
There are measures of grace, it can be counted like a seed. We can have a small amount of faith and struggle or be at the other end of the spectrum and be confident. John went in to the tomb and saw Jesus had risen. Peter went in and believed, but Mary needed to hear the voice of Jesus as well. We have grains of faith.
Right through the New Testament the Apostle Paul uses the phrase ‘being in Christ.’ We are in Christ. It’s a precious, sacred truth. For the avoidance of doubt we have the certainty of forgiveness. On our Christian journey we may have doubts when things aren’t working out. In Romans 5 and 6 Paul has been in turmoil but finds the answer. We’re forgiven. Yet Satan, the accuser of the brethren, drags us down. Jesus paid our penalty, justice was served by the righteous judge. When the accuser Satan comes along, we need to say, ‘Justice has been served. I’m forgiven!’ The righteous judge has pronounced the ultimate verdict – not guilty.
The Christian faith is the only faith where the verdict comes before the performance. In the Muslim faith, the verdict comes after the performance. Jesus starts us off with the verdict first – not guilt as a believer, now perform. Following the struggle Paul has had, being dragged into court again and again, he says, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8:1). It is God who gives the verdict, ‘Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.’ (Romans 8:37). Nothing can get in the way, no-one can drag you back into court. Don’t worry about the future. Nothing in all creation can separated you from the love of God. ‘For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39). Because Jesus paid the penalty for us, there is nothing that can shake us. For the avoidance of doubt, read Romans 8 and Paul’s struggle. God is not condemning us, we are not guilty. What we have done for God will stand the test. For the avoidance of doubt, speak to God every day.