"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 they 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." — Saint John 20:26-29.
Blessed Lord Jesus:
As we raise our hearts to thank Thee for Thy manifold mercies: the complete remission of our sins, the assured salvation of our souls, the free gift of grace, Thy love and companionship in every hour of joy or need, we also implore Thee, O Christ of endless compassion: send us the Holy Spirit to remove all doubts concerning Thy redeeming death and Thy life-giving resurrection! Constantly strengthen our trust in Thee! Show us daily that without Thy guidance we are hopelessly lost but that with Thee we are more than conquerors of every enemy that assails our faith! Direct us to find our highest joy and deepest satisfaction in a victorious reliance on Thee, a consecrated career of humble service that seeks to avoid sin! Guard our country against all dangers! Protect our military forces and, Christ, our Lord and God, grant us soon, according to Thy will, and equitable, honorable peace! For the perilous days ahead we need the constant power of Thy love. Bless our land with a far greater reverence for Thee! Hear us, merciful Savior, for our help is in Thee alone! Amen.
"THERE are no atheists in ‘fox holes,'" Lieutenant Colonel Warren J. Clear told a Washington audience a few days ago, after his return from the bloody battles on Bataan Peninsula. He revealed that our valiant soldiers there, weeks before they had to surrender, were under constant attack and suffered increasingly from undernourishment and overexertion, yet how trust in God was for many the one sustaining force throughout the hopeless struggle. During a particularly heavy air attack, Colonel Clear explained, when it seemed that the whole earth would be blasted to pieces and the roar of bursting bombs was enough to split the ear drums, he and a sergeant sought safety in a "fox hole," a hastily dug small trench for a single soldier. There, without apology or hesitation, both prayed aloud to God, pleading for divine protection. During such overwhelming danger, the Colonel related, when every hope of human help collapses, as you seek shelter in a hole and know that the next moment you may be blown into eternity, all self-confidence, pride, denial of God, or doubt of His Word disappears completely, — Nor would scoffing or atheism be found any where on the face of this war-racked world if people only understood how much they need the Lord Jesus Christ and how without Him they will be hopelessly lost during the trials and agonies they may be forced to face.
These thoughts of the future suggest themselves for today, which brings us to the final live broadcast in our current ninth season. By the swift flow of time another six months in our radio ministry are drawling to their close. Between this April Sunday and the October Lord's day when our mission of the air resumes its work, lie momentous weeks filled with possibilities of blessing or disaster for the nation, our churches, homes, and individual lives. By next fall many of you may be working at different occupations, removed to other parts of the country. You soldiers and sailors, for whose support I am deeply grateful, will probably be in distant sections of the globe. Some will have left this earth for another world. Fortunes will be made or lost; health, regained or sacrificed; life, reserved or destroyed. For the salvation of your soul, the peace of your mind, the joy of your spirit, all doubt concerning Christ must be removed; you must have a firm faith in the Lord Jesus as your own Savior.
Therefore, while the
forces of unbelief increase and insolently
assail our Christian truth; while the menace of atheistic Communism,
inroads of the Nazi philosophy, grow bolder and even churches put
marks behind the assurance "Thus saith the Lord," I plead in Jesus'
and in the final appeal of this ninth broadcasting season
May today's message, blessed by
the Holy Spirit's power, drive every
uncertainty from your souls, draw you closer to the Christ of all
and to the strengthening comfort of our text (Saint John, chapter
verses twenty-six to twenty-nine): "After eight days again His
were within and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being
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
thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless but
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."
When the risen Savior first appeared to His followers at their secret meeting place, Thomas was missing. Was he away on business? Had he begun to doubt the power and blessing of fellowship with believers? Was he so completely bowed down by the weight of his Lord's crucifixion that he shunned the company of the other disciples to brood alone over this crushing loss? We find no answer; but we do know that, if Thomas had met with them on that first Easter, he would have had no reason to doubt. He would have seen Jesus Himself on the very day of His resurrection.
Similarly many of you lack the assurance of faith because you keep away from your fellow believers and shun the worship in a true Christian congregation. You may hold a grudge against the Church; you may have listened to some preacher who never even quoted the Bible, left your problems entirely untouched, and made you feel worse after he had finished than you felt before he started. Perhaps someone unknowingly hurt your feelings at a ladies' aid supper. You may have received the impression, with all the costly cathedrals and high-steepled structures, that the churches are against the poor and the working classes. Perhaps you have listened to scoffers who claimed that the churches exist simply to coax money from credulous followers. Whatever the reason is, you no longer attend the house of God regularly; and although you think you can get along without the Church, you are cutting your soul off from a vital source of spiritual strength. Just as Thomas missed Jesus because he was absent, so by your absence from the house of God you have lost powerful, precious opportunities to meet the Savior. Join a Scripturally sound, loyal, Christ-blessed church! Let me help you find one where you can stand shoulder to shoulder with those who love the Lord Jesus in the unity which acknowledges "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all."
It is the great mercy of Jesus, however, that often he seeks us when we do not seek Him. Thomas missed Christ at the resurrected Redeemer's first appearance among the disciples, but he was to have another chance. Seven days later the risen Savior returns for one particular purpose — to find the disciple whom He had previously sought in vain. Jesus could have said: "Well, Thomas should have been with the other disciples and learned that what I told them of My resurrection is true. Now I am through with him; it is his own fault." But our blessed Savior, as a rule , does not stop with a single invitation. He has been calling some of you for years, appealing to you personally through each of these messages; yet you have not come all the way to Christ. Don't delay another day! We cannot tell what might have befallen Thomas had he been absent on that second Sunday evening when Jesus returned; and neither can we tell what will happen to you if, as our chain broadcasting stops for the summer months, you still refuse to accept the Lord as your own personal Deliverer. Who can give any guarantee that this may not be the last time in which the promise will be offered you, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house"; the last time you will ever be told that the nail-scarred hands of the Lord Jesus are raised to welcome you into the joy of pardon and heavenly peace? How terrifying beyond all words and understanding if you should spurn this final plea! There is no excuse in the claim that you never heard of Jesus, for every sermon I have preached has emphasized what I now repeat, namely, that a sinner is washed, cleansed of sin, ransomed, redeemed, saved for eternity only by faith in the Savior's atoning death and life-giving resurrection. You cannot say that you were not warned, for I tell you in this solemn moment, "He that believeth not shall be damned"; and these are the words of Christ, our God, Himself. Do not repeat what a man told me on the Pacific Coast last Sunday! He walked over twenty miles to attend our meeting in the Santa Ana Bowl; and as the tears rolled down his face, he said that no one had ever asked him personally to accept the Lord as his Savior. For now I ask all of you individually to receive Jesus, acclaim Him your Savior, crown Him your King, love Him with all your heart, soul, and might. In this broadcast Jesus approaches you, as once after His resurrection he drew near Thomas. God grant that you will come to Him in contrite faith!
When the Savior came to help disappointed Thomas, he found the disciples once more behind locked doors. Although they had seen the risen Savior, they were still gripped by the dread of persecution and, as a measure of safety, kept their doors tightly bolted. Such fear is a destructive, devastating force, as many of you know. Anxiety for health, money, reputation; dread that your sins will be disclosed and you must pay their horrifying consequences — all this is keeping you locked behind your own horrors, the shackled slaves of distrust. Much of the restlessness, nervous breakdowns, lined faces, whitened hair, the hunted, haunted look in many eyes, comes from the tragedy that misguided men shut themselves in with their fears.
Yet in heaven's glorious truth the same Jesus who time after time greeted His timid disciples with the calm assurance "Fear not!" the same Savior who by the miracle of His resurrection body could pass through the closed doors, can help you, burdened as you are by disquieting thoughts. And once Christ, Lord of love, Friend of the friendless, the Helper of the distressed and forsaken, is yours, no bolts or barriers that men have ever made can keep Him away if you ask Him to bless your heart and home with His presence.
Jesus had hardly entered through those closed doors when, over the hush that quickly fell on His amazed followers, He spoke these clear, comforting words, "Peace be unto you!" Oh, how sorely everyone of us needs the benediction of the Savior's peace on his disquieted soul! Too often people look for rest and relief in money, pleasure, learning, feverish activity, even alcohol, narcotics, though this usually tends to increase distress. The one hope men can have for a tranquil life, untroubled by worry and gnawing care, is given by the Bible pledge "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." That inner peace, as it spreads from heart to heart and life to life throughout the world, can help check war and promote concord among nations. If only the Christ who greeted His awe-stricken followers with the wish "Peace be unto you!" would rule the hearts of those responsible for this world conflict and stifle every program of conquest and aggression, the lust for blood and love of war profits, so that the nations could work together harmoniously in a world with room and resources enough for a population several times as large as the present! The living Savior has the power to break the bow and cut the spear in sunder; and if it be His will, He can show this power by making a sudden end to those hostilities and granting a righteous victory. Oh, turn to Christ now and learn that, because He has taken away our sins, restored us to our heavenly Father, "He is," as the Scriptures pledge, "our Peace," Peace of soul, Peace of mind — our Peace in a world at war!
Jesus had entered through that shut portal to greet all the disciples, but He had come especially for Thomas. The great and good Shepherd of His flock who leaves the ninety and nine to go and seek the one stray lamb until He finds it, was concerned not in the first instance about those who had met Him a week before. His special love goes out to that doubting, really disbelieving disciple, just as this broadcast, while directed to the masses from coast to coast, from Canada beyond the Rio Grande, wings its way especially to you for whose faith and trust Jesus pleaded again and again. Singling Thomas out of the entire company, Our Lord addresses him personally and says, "Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side." How those words must have cut into the bewildered disciple's soul. They were the echo of his unbelief, "Except I see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." Suddenly it must have dawned on his questioning mind that Jesus had heard every syllable of his doubt — just as He listened to every word from you lips, knows each unspoken thought. We should learn to say not only, "Thou, God, seest me," but also, "Thou, God, knowest the thoughts of my heart."
Particularly, however, should we avoid the proud, haughty spirit by which a man like Thomas sought to dictate the terms on which he would either accept or reject the Lord. What right had he, or what right has any man, to say when, why, how, he will receive his Savior? And how utterly absurd, yet how completely modern, is this spirit of Thomas, whom we called the "doubting disciple" but who in reality was the disbelieving disciple! He demands in effect: "Prove that Christ rose from the dead! Let me see the wounds in His hands and side to be sure they are real! Let me put my fingers into the marks of the nails and the spear!" He would not admit the Easter truth unless he could see and feel; yet even as he spoke, he accepted a hundred mysteries in his own body, in the world about him, on the ground beneath, in the sky above, although he could not see or feel the forces behind them. Mark you, Thomas did not say, for instance, "Unless I see the power that drives the wind, put my hand on its mechanism, I will not believe that there is a wind"; or "Unless I behold the blood coursing through my members and put my finger on the impulse which circulates this vital fluid, I will not believe that blood is being driven through my body"; or "Unless I see the elements that make up the water I drink, measure the hydrogen and the oxygen, I will not believe that water is compounded as it is!" He did not say: "Unless I feel the principle of life, I will not believe that there are living beings. Unless I touch the mysterious power that makes a tree spread and enlarge, I will deny that it grows." But, like many of you, he insisted on placing human reason above divine revelation. While you cannot explain or prove the commonplace experiences of the nature surrounding you, the life you live, the world in which you exist, you demand proof positive for the things of the spirit which no human eye can see and no natural intellect understand.
This defiant doubt and proud denial rules much of our world today. It is found in high schools, when teachers deliberately go out of their way in holding up God's Word to derision, and sneer, "Does anyone still believe the Bible?" The same we-don't-believe-it-because-you-can't-prove-it spirit holds sway in many colleges and universities, even — we say this with especial regret — in schools founded by churches. A few days ago a student at a Minnesota college which was established and supported by Christians wrote me: "My biology professor is an atheist and an evolutionist. My English teacher tells us that the Bible is merely a book of old literature, most of it legend. Thank God, I was reared in a Christian home, and my faith cannot be moved. But I have seen students come here in faith and leave for home evolutionists and doubters." If even church schools thus reject divine truth, what can we expect of colleges where Christian influence is ruled out from the very start?
Today parents have a great responsibility and, correspondingly, a decided difficulty in choosing a school for their children where faith in God, in the Bible, in Christ, will not be systemically assaulted. Now that graduation approaches and this issue is put squarely before many of you, I am glad again to offer you my counsel in selecting a college for your son or daughter which will help build faith instead of destroying it.
If you ever feel, as
Thomas did, that you want proof before
you believe — and moments of doubt can come upon the most firmly rooted
in the faith — then remember how unhesitatingly some of the mightiest
have welcomed Christ in faith, instead of demanding proof.
Kitchen Parker, anatomical authority, asserted: "All through these
years the joy of the Lord has been my strength and ... the four Gospels
... have been the strength of my life. They have lifted up my
Alexander McAllister, physiologist at Cambridge University, declared:
has been my experience that disbelief in the ... death and resurrection
of our Savior is more prevalent among what I may call the camp
of science than among those to whom actual scientific work is the
of their lives." Admiral Alfred T. Mahan, American naval expert,
stated publicly: "I assure you with the full force of the conviction of
a lifetime that to one who has understood the Word of God, even
it brings a light, a motive, a strength and support which nothing else
does." Dr. Howard A. Kelly, internationally recognized
gives this confession of faith: "I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son
God, without human father, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the
Mary. I believe that all men, without exception, are lost
alienated from God and thus utterly lost in sin. The Son of God
came down from heaven and by shedding His blood on the cross paid the
penalty of the guilt of the whole world." Jean Henri Fabre,
honored French entomologist, daily spoke the prayer of the dying
"Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." Louis Pasteur,
chemist, to whose life-saving work tribute has been paid by every
government in the world, when questioned concerning his creed, did not
insist on visible, tangible proof, but admitted: "The more I know,.the
more does my faith approach that of a Breton peasant. Could I
all, I would have the faith of a Breton peasant woman" — and the Breton
peasants were proverbial for their childlike trust. Sir William
world-renowned geologist, told a questioner: "I know nothing about the
origin of a man except what is stated in the Scriptures, that God
him. I do not know anything more than that, and I do not know
who does" Sir William Abney. former president of the Royal Astronomical
Society, authority on the photography of the heavens, exclaimed: "The
of salvation is not and cannot be learned from science. It is a
of faith .... The mystery of the atonement is no greater mystery that
other matters which we cannot explain " Sir David Brewster, a prominent
founder of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, said
that he clearly recognized the love of Christ in his own life and
"It is presumptuous to doubt His Word." — These and scores of other
in scientific research accepted the Scriptures without demanding
Now, who in this wide audience would venture to say that he knows more
than these experts? — God grant, having now heard the living Christ say
to Thomas, "Be not faithless but believing!" you will feel His
at the skeptical insistence on proof and cry out in faith, "Away with
It seems that, after Jesus had rebuked Thomas for his distrust and appealed for full faith, the amazed disciple learned the lesson of complete reliance on the Savior's promise. When he sees Christ, he forgets his skeptical insistence on examination; he does not critically touch each of the Savior's five wounds. Convinced that Jesus has returned to life, he disavows doubt, and all that he can do, with penitent regret for his unbelief, but with marvelous assurance of the Savior's presence, is to gasp, "My Lord and my God!"
Only five words; yet what a world of spiritual truth they contain! They proclaim that Jesus is more than a man, more than a great leader, more than an unparalleled preacher, more than a prophet sent from heaven. He is the almighty God who has proved His divine power by defeating death and overcoming the grave. Only God could have heard the familiar words which came from Thomas' lips and marvelously removed all rejection of divine truth. Note, too, that this repentant, convinced disciple calls Jesus not only "Lord" and "God," but, "My Lord and my God!" There is in his confession of faith a personal, individual, intimate ring which shows how completely Christ has taken possession of Thomas' heart, soul, and mind.
My fellow redeemed, I pause to ask whether you have that faith. Can you say, not only, "We believe, we in our church, we in our Bible class, we in our Sunday school, we in our home,' but also, "I myself, convinced of my own sin, yet trusting in the Savior's greater grace for me, believe that Jesus is ‘my Lord and my God'"? Recently in St. Louis a man who thirteen years ago enlisted in the United States Army only to desert, visited our Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial. When he stood in that building erected to the heroism and the devotion of those who have laid down their lives in the nation's defense, he was struck by his own faithlessness and surrendered himself to the authorities. Some of you who once enlisted your souls for Christ but who forsook your Lord and joined with His enemies, have now stood with us under His cross to hear that He died for you and was raised from the dead to give you life. May you, as your gaze centers on the Christ of the pierced hands, the wounded feet, the riven side, cry out" "Away with doubt! This Jesus is ‘my Lord and my God!'"
That was a glorious day
for Thomas. But believe Jesus
when He promises that your blessing can be even greater! Before
Lord leaves He tells His repentant, reassured disciple, "Thomas,
thou hast seen Me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not
and yet have believed." What a remarkable pledge! It
that the worst sinners, the poorest, most unlearned, least noticed,
burdened, can receive an even greater blessing than that showered on
if with childlike trust they welcome the Lord Jesus Christ as their God
and Savior — even though on earth they never have the privilege of
Him in His glorious resurrection body. Nothing else in life
counts besides this spiritual firmness which exults: "Away with
declares,"Blessed are they that have not seen and
yet have believed!" And who can describe the rich blessings of
faith: joy in your soul over your completed, pledged salvation;
in your heart because you know that you are Christ's and that nothing
happen to you without His knowledge and His love; rejoicing in your
because your place in the celestial mansions has been secured and
for you through all eternity by the Savior's grace; contentment in life
since you are persuaded that "all things work together for Good to them
that love God': an eagerness to follow in the Savior's footsteps by
needy men and spreading the message of mercy; divine guidance for the
pathways during these turbulent years of war and distress; a calm
of death and an eagerness for heaven — these and many other
are the gifts that Jesus includes when He says, "
"Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed!" Come, then, meet Christ in His Word and ordinances, study His Gospel for yourself and with your family, constantly approach Him in prayer, plead with His Spirit for light and understanding, for strength to resist temptation, for wisdom to overcome doubt, for humility instead of haughty insistence on proof; and in His name I promise that, though you will never be entirely free from the onslaughts of unbelief, though hell itself will work with intensified opposition to tear you from the faith, yet , as long as you penitently turn to Jesus and confidently accept His living presence in your life, this conviction will give you blessing, victory and glory!
For such trust in many of your lives I thank God on this last broadcast of our ninth season; because your faith, prayers, interest, gifts, and the prompting love of Christ have not only supported our mission of the air during all these years, but have also helped to make the last season by far the most blessed and spiritually successful of all. It has been the good pleasure of God, to whom we ascribe all glory, that during the past months we have been able to broadcast over almost 350 stations in the United States and twenty-five foreign countries. During the last six months about a quarter of a million people have written us. Your financial support has been more generous than ever, your interest greater, and — above all the number of souls won for Christ, we pray, much larger. Someone has figured that for every minute of these messages a sinner has been reclaimed for His Savior. There have been difficulties, of course; I have been attacked and slandered, just as our preaching of salvation in Christ alone has been repeatedly opposed. The wonder of it all is that there have not been more assaults and more treachery during this spiritually darkened age. But you have been praying fervently for the broadcast, and your petitions have helped restrain atheism and unbelief. For everything you, my co-workers and my fellow redeemed, have done to help make the past season, under God, such a signal blessing, I say to you in behalf of millions who have worshiped Christ with us every week: "Thank you! God bless you!"
In the fall, God willing, we begin our tenth-anniversary season; and even now we are weighing plans which will make the coming broadcast the mightiest network a radio system has ever employed, with many more stations in the United States and in a far larger number of foreign countries.
But all this is only the beginning. If you believe with us that Jesus Christ is the one Hope of a sin-cursed world; if you want this broadcast, conducted for no personal profit, to take the message of the cross and the open grave even farther into this cold, dark world; if you want this Bringing-Christ-to-the-Nations mission of the air to be an all-year round testimony to our Savior, stand at our side to hold up our arms through your intercessions, your testimony, your contributions, until our goal is reached!
With a song of thanksgiving in my heart for your love, with the plea that those still without the faith may be brought to Christ and those loyal to Jesus may be preserved in their allegiance, I now commend you in prayer to the grace of our Lord.
The preceding Lutheran Hour sermon first aired in 1942, two weeks after Easter.