Vol. 2 - No. 7

July, 1983

Faith Ends In Sight

by R. L. (Bob) Craig

"And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book: But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20:24-31).

Some have made the statement that "faith does not end in sight inasmuch as in the above quotation Jesus said, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed." In the common parlance of all languages, statements such as the above are often made which, when technically examined, would not be correct. For instance, Jesus used the common language of his day when he said, "…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good…" which, of course, is not technically correct. The sun, we now know, does not RISE. The sun stands still while the earth makes its rotations. But had he said, "…for he maketh the earth to rotate around the sun thus allowing the sun to shine on the evil and on the good…" everyone would have immediately marked him off as being out of his mind.

So, we sometimes make similar statements to the people of our day, such as, "I'll believe it when I see it." Technically, our statement should be, "I'll KNOW it when I see it." In other words, it will no longer be a matter of faith, it will be a matter of first-hand knowledge.

But, I don't believe that Jesus was using the language accommodatetively. The doubt of Thomas was concerning the fact that Jesus had arisen from the grave. In fact, that was the same doubt that all the other disciples had been obsessed with. Remember the statement in Mark's record concerning the rebuke of Jesus toward the disciples --- "He upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen" (Mark 16:14 ) .

The primary thought under consideration in this context is faith or belief in regard to whether this Jesus of Nazareth is actually the Christ, the Son of the living God, as professed by Peter some years before this event. If he were God's Son, if he were deity, then why would he die? If he was the Messiah of the Old Testament scriptures, then he would be their king; he would "restore again the kingdom unto Israel." But he died, and now they had lost hope concerning their king and his kingdom. He had told them that he would rise again the third day and now others had reported that that event had taken place but they didn't believe that report. If they could accept that report, then their faith in a king and a kingdom would be restored.

So now, Thomas, who has been dubbed "the doubter," comes into the presence of the Master. Jesus tells him to touch him so that he might be the kind of witness that John speaks of later on: "Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled" (1 John I:1). The record does not say that Thomas touched him, but John so testifies when he says "we (we apostles) have handled." They were witnesses in every sense of the word. They had first-hand information. No longer was it hearsay from others. Now they KNEW that Jesus had arisen (they had first person experience) from the dead; their FAITH was reestablished in their king and his kingdom. Once again they believed what Peter had so long ago declared and thus Thomas voices that renewed faith when he confesses, "My Lord and my God!"

Yes, his kingship, his kingdom, heaven, even his deity was STILL a matter of faith, but this faith was based on the very strongest of evidence -- they had seen the resurrected Jesus.

So, Jesus tells Thomas, "…because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed    Believed what? That he had been brought forth from the grave? No, not that. Thomas now KNEW that to be fact. He could not deny that fact. But now he believed. Believed what? That this man Jesus, was "My Lord and my God (deity)!"

We know this is what was under consideration because he parallels whatever it was that Thomas believed to what we are to believe today. "…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed." Believed what? It is all in the last verse of the chapter. "But these are written that ye might believe (believe what?) that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, ye might have life through his name."

When we see, when we personally experience a thing, then this is knowledge. It has been removed from the realm of faith. It is now actuality. So, Paul says, by inspiration, "We walk by faith, NOT by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7) and Paul was not talking about doctrine; he was talking about leaving this tabernacle of flesh and enjoying the bliss of a fulfilled faith. That which we see, that which we have experienced, is not the motivation for my walk. But what motivates me is "the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN" (Hebrews 11:1), which is FAITH. And, that is what would motivate Thomas and the other apostles to remain steadfast even though they would likely die for it. Not what they had seen nor what they would obtain of a temporal nature, but what they expected to see and experience after this short span of life has ended.

Faith ends in sight and sight is in the hereafter. "We walk by faith -- not by sight."