September 9, 2015 ()

Bible Text: John 20:29 |


Would you like to know God really?

It is so very important that our impressions of God be accurate, not distorted. There are no imperfections in God, no shadows at all. All this poses some awesome problems, for an Infinite One seems so distant at times!

Yet on occasions most men have momentary break-throughs. Perhaps it happens on a balmy late afternoon as the soft clouds turn gorgeous colors. Something within responds, “The Creator is my God. My Father!” Or maybe God touches you through a stirring sermon. It might happen looking into the face of a little child or while being helped by a child-like, godly Christian friend. The presence of God draws near because they are His representatives, as Matthew 18 teaches.

Scripture instructs us that if we truly would know God we must grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some feel that a recent 6-hour TV special on Jesus of Nazareth helped them know the Lord. Though better than expected, the film garbled history a bit, weaving fiction in with fact. The crucial meaning of the cross was not clear, and the real showdown of the Bible between unbelief and the bodily resurrection was passed over.

However, in Scripture, Thomas met this Jesus, alive from the dead, in a showdown with his unbelief. Read the last verses of John’s Gospel, chapter 20. The author plainly states his purpose in recording the wonderful works of Jesus: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Verse 31)

One of the foremost themes moving through the book of John is that of knowing God. (See 1:10, 14, 18 and 17:3)

There are two basic ways men approach God:

  1. By sensation
  2. By revelation.

Some want to be stirred by something that touches them through their various senses, while others rely on Scripture. (Of course, there are countless hybrid religious methods such as mystical meditation where one thinks more and more on less and less striving for a large vacuum of nothingness. Others spiral into fantasy seeking an in-filling of the infinite. All this is so contrary to the Scriptures!)

Jesus contrasts these two basic ways of approaching God and gives divine light on the entire subject. Study John 20:29 carefully. This is our text. Thomas has just exclaimed that Jesus is truly alive from the dead and is indeed Lord and God. The Lord however carefully points out that the disciple’s faith came only by the senses and there is a higher, better way of reaching God.


To appreciate the Lord’s lesson here we need to do a bit of background thinking. Consider that everything that exists falls into two large classes: physical matter or spirit. Now, matter occupies space, may be divided, but it does not think; whereas, spirit thinks but has no extension in space and is indivisible.

We see at once that God is Spirit. Our senses can bring no immediate knowledge of Him. Indirectly, we may gain certain impressions of God through our five senses, but no natural means will bridge the gap. He must come to us.

God’s manifestations to man include: 1) Creation. Alas! Some of the most degraded civilizations exist under the most beautiful skies amid spectacular scenery. 2) Man’s conscience. Despite this inner help from God, Scripture makes the sad pronouncement, “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:11) 3) Providential rule of nations and individuals throughout all history. Witness the fall of civilizations despite the pleading voice of God. Israel His own special nation is now scattered over the entire world. What of His care of you? Have you fully and thankfully recognized this?

True it is that “our spirits, shut up in their tenements of clay,” cannot really get hold of God and tend to approach Him in the manner most indirect and inadequate. How ill-equipped we sinners are to reach God through our five senses!

Read again John 20:29. “Blessed are those who have not seen, (i.e., reached God through the senses) and yet have believed.” Do you come God’s way?

Jeanne Dixon once claimed that the great antichrist was living in her day somewhere in the world and would surface in the 1980’s. Though she was not a true prophet, the prediction reminds us of God’s warning about antichrist given in II Thessalonians 2:9 that his entrance will be like “the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.” Being dazzled in the eye and stirred in the emotions can be misleading. That is one large problem with some of the TV specials on Jesus. The deepest stirrings are via the senses. However, God has another, profound, fully adequate way of contact between God and man.


God always moves forward toward His goals. Why did Jesus come to earth? Not as a stop-gap measure to prevent God’s defeat. Why did the Lord not remain on earth and finish what He began? The answer is obvious. He is completing His plan in a most blessed manner. John 16:7 makes it plain that Jesus’ departure from the world was to our advantage. A new, intimately spiritual era is now inaugurated.

Yet many would argue against this. “The Lord came to me in a miraculous visionary experience!” they cry. However, these experiences, even if true, would never measure up to what the disciples experienced with Jesus. God promises progress, not regression!

Again, notice that our text verse 29 indicates special blessings are reserved for those who are without miracle-signs and yet believe. Look at verse 30. Remember Jesus has just shown Himself alive to Thomas and this prompts John to remind us that Jesus did “many other signs” as well. It all adds up this way then: 1) The great sign of the resurrection, 2) The many other signs, or miracles, not recorded (see also 21:25), and 3) The numbers of wonderful works and teachings of Christ that are carefully recorded in the Scripture for our faith.

The recorded wonders right there in Scripture bring us into the highest and deepest possible contact with our God. That is the meaning of this text.

Those who grasp at experiences with God apart from the Bible are like the man with poor eyesight laying aside his glasses and stumbling out into the night to mountain climb! Colossians 1:21 makes it clear that men are naturally troubled with alienation and animosity toward God and with a wicked perversity of mind. Little wonder then that men take the rays of God seen in nature and plunge themselves into idolatrous worship. Others, contrary to His plain commands in Scripture (Hebrews 10:25) retreat from public services on a weekend to “worship out in nature.” Still others drift from earnest Bible study into their own emotional detour.

The meaning behind John 20:22 is that man cannot get very far in the Word without the Spirit. Conversely, man cannot get very far in Spiritual experience without the Word. It is foolish to wish for something to happen to you apart from Scripture. If you wish something more, spiritually, seek it in the Bible and you will find, and what you find will be genuine.

Studying Hebrews 1:1-4 we learn that this era of our Lord is termed as the “last days.” Until the end no greater revelations are to be given. Scripture has it all! Calvin was right in saying, “Christ cannot be properly known in any other way than from the Scripture.”

Give attention to John 5:39, 10:4f, 18:37, 16:12-15 where Jesus shows that the written Word of God is God’s own witness to His Son, and His own followers will thus hear His voice and be known as people of the truth. After Jesus’ ascension, the Holy Spirit works to make Scripture alive and meaningful to each true believer. How is it with you?

Therefore we see that God does not necessarily communicate with us through those means which most please us. Christ comes to us and enters our very lives and character through His Word. The Pharisees demanded signs from Jesus who merely replied, “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign.” (Matthew 16:4) Thomas was on the same route in John 20:25. That is why Jesus pointed him to the higher way in verse 29.

This higher way of coming to God through the Scripture and prayer is contrary to everything within us naturally. It is much easier to view a dramatic movie or enjoy some other experience, but I call you back to God’s way now. Let Him rule.

Three choices are before you. 1) Turn to the Word of God regularly. 2) Reject it and declare that the true God is not for you. 3) Drag along without real life in Scripture and end up with a phantom of God, arising in a troubled, misled imagination.