A Conversation About Unbelief

Advice For Young Christians Preparing For Life After High School.

Ross Sawyers
May 2, 2021    49m
Will you follow your Christian upbringing as you become an adult? As a young Christian, preparing for life after high school can be challenging as you face your first chance to make your own choices, but this message gives concrete advice on how to maintain your faith while facing cultural questions you may have. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: 00:00 This weekend we had the opportunity to be with my mother-in-law in Arkansas and due to COVID, we've not been able to see her for over a year. It was just a real gift for Lisa and I, and for our boys, and our daughter-in-law, to be able to be with her. And one of the things that we did, that my wife did, and I was a participant in, was getting a new phone for my mother-in-law. And she keeps it really simple, so she has a flip phone, and we simply got a new flip phone. Now, I don't know the last time you've messed around with a flip phone, but it'll make you think things you wish you weren't thinking when you're trying to move a hundred contacts manually. And if you remember, we reduced it to 30, so fortunately she was gracious and was willing to let several of them go, but you can't take a flip phone and get them to transfer the information when you buy a new flip phone. Now, you probably don't know that because most of you aren't dealing with flip phones....Say that one a few times, with flip phones. And so, we were spending a Friday afternoon, we spent some time. And if you remember when you had a flip phone, and most of you had one, that's how you started. And the way you enter a contact, the alphabet is like three or four letters per number. And you hit the number, and then you have to scroll down on this little thing that thinks it's a scroll button, and it's just little, you barely get your finger on it. And then you go down to where you choose one of those four letters or three letters, and then you scroll over and hit your letter and then you have to hit okay to seal it, or otherwise it's gonna move once you make a move on the on your next letter, and you do this like one letter at a time, and I relearned that I don't appreciate tedious, I am not good at tedious.

Ross Sawyers: 02:15 Well, we were having this conversation then with our boys and my daughter-in-law when they arrived. And my sons, who are in their late twenties, all right, keep this in mind, this is how fast everything has moved, their late twenties, and Barrett start saying, yes, that's why the next version you pull a little keyboard from your phone. You remember that, you had a flip phone and then I guess a Blackberry, I don't know what it was, but whatever next thing was, it was you pull out the little keyboard, then you don't have to deal with three or four letters per number, you just have your little keyboard that your fingers barely can hit. And then shortly after that, I guess we hit the iPhone world, and things are a lot easier today.

Ross Sawyers: 02:57 Which brings us, when we think about our seniors that are moving out today, they are in a Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram, generation. And it's stunning to think that my son's, 26 and 28, remember that whole movement of where we were with a flip phone to where we are today, it's a different world, totally different world. I'd like for us to think about our students that are going off today, now you may think, okay, well this, this message probably isn't for me, it's for our high school seniors. No, this message is for everybody, anytime we're in the Scripture, there's something for everybody. And sometimes we can apply it ourselves, God brings things to mind as we read it, study it, other times we need help. I'm gonna focus my application on students, and this is how I'd like for you to think, it's possible that you have kids that are younger than seniors in high school, it's possible that you have kids older than seniors in high school, it's also possible that you have grandkids. And part of what I'd like to do this morning, no matter what age kids or grandkids, or you may know somebody that has kids or grandkids, I want to help chart a path from scripture of what I believe will be a really healthy path for them in a culture that's incredibly difficult to navigate, and I believe there's something for everybody, as we think about this pathway.

Ross Sawyers: 04:36 Now, all of us are in different parts of our faith. In Philippians 1:6 it says, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." God has begun a work in many of us in here, i's possible that work has not begun, and you're still in unfaith in him. But for most, who are online or in here, God has begun a work, and God is a finisher. He will finish the work that he begins, that's his promise in Philippians 1:6. So, each of us in a different place in our faith, God meets us right where we are, and he continues to move us forward in being more and more like him and living for his glory, and knowing more and more what that means.

Ross Sawyers: 05:33 Our students, as you saw, we'll be doing a variety of things. Many of them, if you really took note, are going to Texas A and M. I don't know if you noticed that or not, but I noticed that. Many, not just our seniors, but many, will head off to the military, some will go to technical schools, some will go away to school, some will stay local, a variety of things, some will head to the workforce. God has a different design for each, and each are about to take that path. There will be challenge to each of their minds, as there is to ours. And there will be a battle for their soul, just like there's a battle for yours. How will we best win? How do we best walk in a way that most honors God?

Ross Sawyers: 06:40 Well, I'd like to suggest today in light of our last conversation in this series, that all of us would do well to be like Thomas. If you'll turn in your Bibles to John chapter 20, we'll be in verses 24 through 29. As you turn to the scripture, if you don't have a Bible, we'll have the verses on the screen, so you'll be able to follow that way. Next week is Mother's Day, and we'll focus in on our moms and we're looking forward to that time together. And then we'll start a new series on the minor prophets, there are twelve minor prophets through the last twelve books of the old Testament. And for the summer, we'd like to take one of those prophets per week, hanging out in one passage of scripture, while giving an overview, so that all of us might have a fresh understanding of what God has for us in that part of scripture. Simultaneous to our Sunday mornings in the minor prophets, Eric Estes on our staff, will be leading us through a study of Revelation on Wednesday nights. And so, we're looking forward to the strength of what God has for us in his word over the course of these next several months.

Ross Sawyers: 07:51 The way I'd like to think about our conversation today, our last conversation, and again, we have little two minute or so snippets of the overview of all the different kinds of conversations Jesus had with people, and how we can have conversations in real truth and with grace, this is a conversation about unbelief. How do we have a conversation, if we look at Jesus, how did he have a conversation with one of his own about unbelief? Now, my hunch is all of us have had, or at least the opportunity to have had, a dialogue with somebody, whether directly in our own home, friends, in the workplace, wherever it might be, where there is a series of questions of unbelief. It might be that you have those questions today, and I hope you'll find this to be a really safe place to be able to express what your questions are, and then hopefully, we can be a help to finding the answers to those questions.

Ross Sawyers: 08:52 So let's think about unbelief, we thought that this be a fantastic topic and conversation to end on with our students, who will no doubt be challenged on their campuses and in the places where they're going. I've seen a number of stories, Eric Metaxas included, many of you may be familiar with his writings, phenomenal thinker, Christian thinker, in our culture today. But basically he was raised in a way that would be to follow God with good core values, and then in essence his education was paid for at an Ivy league school to undo everything that his parents did. And we need to know that reality moving ahead, that there's a real possibility you're about to pay a lot of money for everything you have taught, and you're shaping your child to be, for that to be undone. But that doesn't have to happen, it doesn't have to go that way. There's a way to navigate that well, and to come out actually stronger through these next several years.

Ross Sawyers: 10:01 So when we look at this, we've been trying to break these down in conversational form and how we can learn. And the way I would see this in verses 24 and 25, is if we have a conversation about unbelief express your questions and unbelief's in a safe space with friends, express your questions, express them, your unbelief, in a safe space with friends. We're at the post-resurrection time when we enter this part of the scripture," But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came." The disciples had had an encounter with Jesus after his resurrection at this point, but Thomas was not with them when Jesus came, that's what sets us up in this particular part. Now, who is Thomas? Thomas was one of the twelve disciples that followed closely with Jesus for a three-year period. So when this unfolds, keep in mind that this is a man that was up close, personal, intimate, he hung out with Jesus, he walked the dusty roads with Jesus, he went from city to city with Jesus, he ate with Jesus. he was with Jesus in every imaginable scenario. Didymus is the word for twin, so Thomas was a twin. Now, I'm not a twin, so I don't understand what it is to be a twin. When I talk to people who are twins, it seems a good portion of the time, they're incredibly close. I wonder what that was like, to have your twin brother as one of the twelve that were following close into Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 11:38 But Thomas, one of the twelve following Jesus. When we see other parts of scripture that talk about Thomas, I think we see an interesting portrayal of him. You've heard the term doubting Thomas, this passage of scripture we're in right now is where that comes from, this is where we get the idea of doubting Thomas. I think Thomas gets a bad rap, I don't think he's quite the doubter that everyone wants to make him out to be. Partly why I think that, it's in John chapter 11, Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus has passed away. He saddened by that, but he delays going to see Lazarus. His disciples are talking to him, and Thomas says in chapter 11 verse 16, he says to his other disciples friends, "Hey, let's go with him that we might die with him." He was willing, not too much earlier than what we read here, he was making statements that my loyalty to Jesus is so much, that I'm willing to die with him. And he's trying to get the other guys, hey, y’all, come on, let's go with him and I'm willing to die. That to me is a man of loyalty, and a man of resolve.

Ross Sawyers: 13:19 In John 14, the night before Jesus would be crucified. Jesus is speaking to the disciples and he says, Hey, I'm going to be going somewhere else, but don't be disheartened by that, because I'm going to prepare a place for you, and you know the way where I'm going. Well, in verse 5 of chapter 14, Thomas is the one that says, we don't know. How do we know the way? That seems like a really good question to me, that's a man who's listening, that's a man who wants to understand, and Jesus gives him a profound answer. If you'll call Jermaine on his cell phone, you'll hear this answer on his voicemail every time you call, it's been there for years, "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Because Thomas asked the question, we have one of the most profound answers of who Jesus is that we could possibly have.

Ross Sawyers: 14:38 In chapter 21, we skipped through there last week because we wanted to do this message for our students today. But we find Thomas among some of the disciples after this encounter we'll discuss here, and he's waiting for Jesus to come for their next instruction. And then we find him in Acts chapter 1 verse 13, and he's in the upper room praying, eagerly waiting for the Holy Spirit to come, to be on the mission that God has for him. Now, in between that, he does have some questions, but I don't think it's fair to call him doubting Thomas. I would say the man had some questions, he had some unbelief creep in, and he was willing to express it, and I love that he gave us a model of what it is to express that kind of question. Now, then I would say today, there's a difference in people who are in unbelief and really seeking, and those who are in unbelief and they're not interested at all. They're out there waiting to be a keyboard warrior and attack you as soon as you say something, they're not interested in anything other than attacking, they're not interested in learning, they're not interested in considering an alternate view, or growing. For people who are in unbelief and non=seeking, we pray that God will turn their hearts to be genuine seekers of him.

Ross Sawyers: 16:21 Verse 25, "So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Now, these are his friends, if you went to college or you're in the military, and you spent the first few years with a particular unit, or you're in that college, you meet your good friends right off the bat, and they continue to be your friends, this would be the end of your junior year in college, edit to your senior year. You've spent a lot of time together, you love these guys, you love these girls, you trust them, you've been through a lot with them, you've navigated a whole new season of life of independence with them. And here you are, and they're telling you something profound, and you're saying, no, I don't believe it. That's what's happening, these are his friends, he's been with them for three years. And they're saying, we've seen the Lord, we've seen him. And he's say, no, I don't believe it.

Ross Sawyers: 17:24 And when it says, we've seen the Lord, it says, they're saying, the idea is they kept telling him this.
It wasn't like, hey, we've seen the Lord one time and they moved on in the dialogue, they're trying to convey, we have seen the Lord, we've seen him, we just saw him. Partly why I wouldn't be so down about Thomas being a doubter, is when the women went to the tomb and saw it empty and saw the risen Jesus, and they came back and told all the disciples he'd risen. Do you remember their response? Nonsense, they said. So if we want to say doubting Thomas, let's just go ahead and say the doubting 11, because none of them bought into it at the beginning. They've actually already seen him in 19 through 23, "So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Prior to that, he said in verse 20, "He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord." So Jesus actually showed the disciples his hands and his side, so they've already seen what Thomas is requesting to see. He said, I'm not going to buy it until I see it. You saw it, I'm not buying it until I see it. Now, that's common today, isn't it? If I can't see it, I don't believe it, this speaks to our day. If you're having dialogues with anyone about Jesus, you're running across people who will simply say, I don't believe it, I can't see it. Now, there are a number of things that we experience the benefit of that we can't see, but somehow we believe that. However, this creates a problem for people, I can't see it, therefore, I don't believe it.

Ross Sawyers: 19:31 Now, a couple of thoughts before I continue. Just because we can't see it, or we don't believe it, does not mean it's not true. Just because someone doesn't believe it or can't see it, doesn't mean it's not true. And then, I'm grateful that God didn't withhold dialogues like this from his word, that we can see, that he will take on the doubts, the unbelief, and the skepticism of even his own people, his own followers. His shoulders are broad enough, God can handle any question we have for him, God can handle any amount of unbelief that we bring to him. We simply want to express our unbelief. In Mark chapter 9 verse 24, a father has a son that has been having convulsions, problems, and he wants Jesus to heal him. And he says to him, "I do believe, help my unbelief." Do you ever feel that way? I believe, but I still have unbelief. I believe it, and somewhere this is messing me up a little bit, so it's creating some unbelief, help me. It's actually belief when we come to God with our unbelief. Now, he's expressing this openly to his friends, he's having trouble, he said, I need to be able to see this, or I won't believe.

Ross Sawyers: 21:23 Now, what are some of those things today that people are struggling with that would be unbelief? Can't see it or touch it, that's one of them. What about prayer? I've been praying this, I keep praying it, and for some reason God's not answering it. So, it's really creating some unbelief in me because I'm not seeing this prayer answered. What about the LGBTQ? I thought we were supposed to love everybody. What about race? Why is there so much hatred among people of color? Why across the board, do we see different races spewing hatred towards one another? Why is that? Is it true that every person, according to critical race theory, is either an oppressor or the oppressed, is this true? Is the Bible applicable to social issues, does this even matter, does it have anything to say about the issues of the day? What about miracles, and the resurrection? Thomas asked his questions, is that a question you have about the resurrection? I like the good morality of Jesus, but I don't know about some of these stories, they're a little much, I'm not sure I buy those. What about sexual orientation, gender identity, I mean, really it does just make sense that these would be social constructs, that we can make ourselves whatever we would like to be. A survey of 300 students that a friend of mine did, the biggest one that came back was the problem of evil. If God's a loving God, then why in the world is there all this evil in the world?

Ross Sawyers: 24:30 I mean, that's enough to throw you into a panic, isn't it? There's a number of people asking those questions, some of those, all of those. Sometimes it can creep in, and it can create some unbelief inside of us. Like, I want to believe this about Jesus, but I don't know that I can. These are all real questions, and the absolute worst thing that any of us could do as parents, grandparents, life group leaders, pastors, mentors, friends, the worst thing we could do is squelch the question. It might be your story, you may know somebody's story, they'll tell you, they bailed out on the faith when they left high school because they tried to ask questions growing up, when they were children, when they were young, and the parents said, we don't ask those questions. You might not of said it, but your non-verbal language said it. And if we can't answer our questions, then we start wondering, is this for real? Thomas had enough trust in his friends that he was able to express his doubt and his unbelief to them. Are you a safe space for someone to ask the hard questions? Are we a safe space, as a church, for someone to ask the hard question? Will you be willing to ask your questions rather than sit in the unbelief? That's the first piece when we have this conversation.

Ross Sawyers: 26:39 The second part is to allow Jesus to meet you and your specific questions and unbelief. Allow Jesus to meet you. Jesus is very specific in meeting us where we are, he doesn't come to someone and say, okay, well, I know you're struggling with this, so I'm going to talk to you about this. It's not some disconnect there, Jesus meets us where we are, if we'll allow him to do so. And we find that in verses 26 and 27, "After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”. And that's what he said when he entered, he saw the disciples in verses 19 through 23. Jesus brings peace, he brings a wholeness to what's happening. Verse 27, "Then he said to Thomas..." This is why I say Jesus is specific, "Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas said, I'm not buying it until I do this. Jesus said, here you go, this is what you're asking. I'm going to meet you right where you are. It looks like to me that Jesus did not chastise him for asking the question. Jesus didn't make him feel guilty for asking the question. Jesus, didn't shame him for asking the question. He didn't say you've been with me for three years, come on, he met him right where he was, and then he says, stop becoming an unbeliever and be a believer. There's a place for the questions, but then stop, stop being an unbeliever and be a believer, Jesus says. Here, reach in touch, stop the unbelief and believer, Jesus is very specific. That wasn't bad, was it?

Ross Sawyers: 29:39 How does Jesus meet us? I think there are a number of ways that he does, and it's not limited to what I'm about to say, but these are ways. And this is what I would say, in some of these things to think about for your younger children as you think about a pathway for them, as you think about how you'll help your students as they move out from here to whatever that next phase is. I'm going to start with, you're going to say, well, you're a pastor, of course you would say that, and I would. At 11 o'clock when I have 25 seniors in front of me, I'm going to tell them the very first thing you need to do wherever you go is find yourself a church, a Bible believing, sound teaching church. You need to make sure with other people that it's a sound biblical teaching church, there's a lot of options out there, they're not all good. You want to check around, we can help you. Most of these universities, we saw, somebody has a good idea of what great churches are in those college towns, and they're everywhere. And you want to find one, and get involved in one, and you need to do that immediately. That's not further down the road, the longer you wait, the more difficult it gets, find a church and lock in.

Ross Sawyers: 31:15 The kind of people that you meet, immediately, that you start to hang out with, that'll start to shape you. One of the most crucial decisions that you'll make when you go to college, and when you get in the military is, who are you going to hang around? Proverbs 13:20 says, He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." You can either walk with people of wisdom, and wise people are those who fear God and follow God. Foolish people are those who say there is no God, or live like there is no God. Now choose, who are you going to hang out with?

Ross Sawyers: 31:48 But start, be under God's Word. The Scripture, you're being shaped by the Scripture. I started trying to mess around with Hours, and I couldn't get it to work. But I thought if you started here, let's just say you started at 121 when you were a baby and we dedicated you, and you've run all the way through, and now we're sending you out. If you came every Sunday, and then starting in middle school did every Sunday and then Wednesday night, if you did all of that, that's 936 hours that you would have been under some kind of teaching, singing and worship, something of that nature being shaped, that's the equivalent of 162 8-hour school days. Now, the bulk of how you're being shaped is by something outside of here, so how crucial that your established in a rhythm of being in the Scripture yourself, day in day out, that God's Word is rolling and moving through your heart and through your mind.

Ross Sawyers: 32:59 And then, I would say join some kind of an organization that is a Christian based ministry, something that has Christ centeredness to it. Both my sons went to Texas A&M, and they were a part of an organization called BUC's Brothers Under Christ, and we met the neatest young men through that organization. And there are those kinds of organizations on every campus, anywhere you would go, they're there. And so find something where Christ is the center of who that is.

Ross Sawyers: 33:34 And then here's where I would say, I don't know that we all think alike this much, but I would consider having a gap year for my student at this point. And we have one of our son's friends that did this, and he went to a place at Pine Cove called the forge. And it's when you're 21, and you have to map this out, because I know you need to do internships, and I know there's all kinds of international abroad, there's all kinds of things that you're supposed to do, and need to do, and they'll be great to do. I'm trying to map a path where your mind will be Christ centered and shaped in the midst of all l that. Nine months, X number of guys, X number of girls, discipleship community, living together, doing life together, being taught the word together, serving together, on mission together, traveling together, it's a phenomenal opportunity. I would at least tuck that away as something to consider. Think about it for the future per say, if you're a grandparent, put the money away and say, I'll cover you for those nine months, it'd be the best money you spend on your grandchild to do that.

Ross Sawyers: 34:40 I would say for those who don't yet have kids that are graduating and going out, and you can still do this, actually, if you're a graduate of high school, but I would find a worldview camp to go to and spend a week or two, these, are some of the brightest minds that are leading these, and I would get inside of that. So that could at least be exposed to some of the best teachers, the best communicators, and some of the brightest students that are getting their faith ingrained in them and know how to respond to the variety of worldviews that are out there. And then I would say somewhere along the way, I'd be a part of spring break mission, summer missions, take a summer and go somewhere else, learn another culture, be in the midst of them and do it for the name of Christ, go out as a disciple of Jesus Christ to one of those places. But set the money aside, map a plan for people to be able to do this. And then this coming end of December and January, I would make sure that I did everything I could for my student, a high school, senior, anybody in college up to 25 years old, to be at Passion. It's one of the best worship gatherings a student can go to, and I would make sure that they were a part of that if at all possible. So how do we allow Jesus to meet us? We put ourselves in position for him to meet us. Now, he'll meet us other ways, but there's some things we can do on purpose, these are some of those on purpose things.

Ross Sawyers: 36:15 Now, I brought several books, and you're thinking, wow, that's exciting. But here's what I want our students to know, and what I want you to know. I don't care what the issue is out there, or what the topic is out there, or what the question is out there, there are people, men and women, who have stories, who've written, studied in depth, there are resources. Can I just ask you to always consider there's another alternative if you're getting challenged in your Christian faith, there is a Christian response to it. If you run into skeptics, Timothy Keller, The Reason For God, one of the best books written for the...There's a number of resources, by the way, these are just some, The Reason For God, outstanding. The LGBTQ issue and what's going on there, Caleb Kaltenbach, his book, Messy Grace. His mom was lesbian, his dad was gay, he today is a Christian pastor, and he just writes that experience of how he's walked through that, it's incredible, biblically sound, a real life story of how he's walked through that. Rosaria Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts Of An Unlikely Convert. She was a Syracuse professor in the nineties, a leading activists in the lesbian community, and yet then God came and met her. Her website, by the way, I looked at it this week for the first time, phenomenal on questions around LGBTQ. I didn't know that she had that out there, incredible responses to the common questions of today. Out Of A Far Country by Christopher Yuan, it's a gay son's journey to God, a broken mother's search for hope, a phenomenal story. Christopher Yuan's one of the most prominent guys out there speaking on this issue, Sean McDowell and his dad, Josh McDowell, this book, Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Hey, we don't need to be afraid of substantive stuff, it it's okay to get big thick books and to pour over them so that we can have really great responses to what's going on in our culture.

Ross Sawyers: 38:32 And this is what I would say to our students today, and this is what I would say to anybody that has a student. If you're just looking for one thing, like all this is a little overwhelming, I intended for it to be because I want you to see there's plenty out there to answer the questions. It's safe to ask them, there's plenty to answer them. But if I was going to track anybody, as a college student right now, to be a help to me, he's on TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, I would follow Sean McDowell. I noticed one of our students is going to Biola University, he's a professor at Biola, he teaches a high school senior class so he can stay relevant to what's going on in that generation. His son just recently told him that if he didn't get on TikTok, he would totally miss what's going on in the next generation. He's active out on TikTok, he does these two minute videos on issues. But incredibly well-rounded on any issue that's going on, he speaks to them. A number of people do, I think he's incredibly relevant to our college students and our students, thus incredibly relevant to us.

Ross Sawyers: 39:39 The Third Option by Miles MacPherson, great book on race. Mere Christianity, CS Lewis. The Transgender's Faith by Walt Heyer, phenomenal story. Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher, excellent book on helping us understand what's happening in the culture today. Along with The Practical Guide To Culture by John Stonestreet. That was fast, I know that, I just want you to know God has given very gifted people minds to write and to help us navigate through unbelief, and Jesus meets us sometimes through books.

Ross Sawyers: 40:21 Openly express, allow Jesus to meet you, and then know that the most freeing response to Jesus is belief, freedom comes at the place of belief. Verse 28, "Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” What a powerful declaration, and it's one of the strongest statements we have in scripture of the deity of Jesus Christ. He went from, I don't believe it, I'm not going to believe it, until I can reach in and touch. He didn't reach in and touch, in the presence of Jesus, all he could do was say, "My Lord and my God!" I've found that to be the case over the years, that people have all these questions, that if I can just lay out the gospel and the good news of Jesus, the questions move over to the side. When we get in enamored with Jesus, the questions aren't so much a stumbling block anymore, they are something to be pursued, we need to understand, we want to be able to help. And my prayer is that we have a number of students that will be the ones helping people in unbelief, and we have some that will need help, it's both. Some of us need help in unbelief, and some of us can help others in unbelief. Some of us can help in one area, and somebody else can help us in the area where we have unbelief.

Ross Sawyers: 42:19 But at the center of it all, that just kind of makes all of this just kind of go to the side, it really is Jesus. And Thomas is just sitting there in the presence of Jesus, and he's saying, I'm not believing this until I do this. And Jesus comes, he meets him right there, I'll let you do it. But he doesn't need to, God has gifted him with the grace and the eyes to see who he is. Is that your declaration today? It's okay to have questions, but when you look at Jesus Christ and what he did, crucified and risen, do you look at him and say, "My God and my Lord!", that's all I can do?

Ross Sawyers: 43:29 Not this past Wednesday, but the previous Wednesday through Sunday, three different people made this declaration. Yeah, it's awesome. One lady in our church, and she's in this service, her mom was here visiting from the Northeast, and her mom wanted to meet, so we met together and we walked through a few things. But one of the ways that I just showed her, and this was with a whole lot more detail, I'll just give you a little brief picture. I said, here's where every person starts, just look on this like it's a mountain, use your imagination, and here's this gap between the mountains, and let's just imagine God is on this mountain. And that's really our predicament, is that this is the problem, Brandon Smeltzer said it, here's the problem, we're sinful and separated from God, and here God is. And here's solution, it's what Jesus Christ did on the cross in taking our sins on himself. And I wish you could have seen her face, she got so excited when she saw me draw that. And then she said, who wouldn't believe that? I said, do you believe it? She said, I do. We're done. I didn't get to finish my presentation that I had in my head that I wanted to share, there was no need, she believed it. We didn't stop and say a sinner's prayer, she believed it, that's it, she's in.

Ross Sawyers: 45:26 On Sunday morning, Jessica told me that a lady who attended the retreat, she was talking to her and she was talking about having given her life to Jesus. And Jessica said, do you mean at the ladies retreat? She said, yes, last night, between 5:15 and 6 o'clock. I got home, and as she was processing, what she heard, God reached in and rescued her. By the way, I love how somebody said it, we're not inviting Jesus into our life, God's inviting us into his life, we're receiving the invitation. What a beautiful gift that he would do that. My Lord and my God, yes, there'll be questions, express them openly. get them out there, wrestle through them, bring the hardest ones you've got. If we don't know the answer, we're going to find somebody who does, we're gonna dig in the scriptures till we find it. But man, the freedom comes when we believe. Our prayer is that God will just remove any hardness of heart, any skepticism, any questions that are preventing belief, open eyes wide to see him.

Ross Sawyers: 46:49 That's why John wrote this book, he says in verse 31, he wrote it so that we might believe and have eternal life. That's my prayer for our students, and that there'll be ones who turn around and lead others to do the same. I started by saying, I want our students to be like Thomas, do you understand why I want them to be like him? I'd like for us all to be like Thomas, "My Lord and my God!" And we are by the way, verse 29, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Any of us who believe, we're verse 29, we didn't get to see him physically, but by faith, we believe, and life's never been the same.

Ross Sawyers: 47:51 Father, thank you for our time to be strengthened in your word today. And, God, thank you for the power of the Scripture, and for making yourself known through it. Lord, I know that the majority of us, probably, have questions, and we have moments of unbelief. And will you help us be like that, dad, and we believe, help our unbelief. Will you meet each person wherever those unbelief's are today, and in the future? Will you help us be a part of being a freeing space where someone can ask the questions and know it's safe? And will you give us courage to ask the ones that we have? And will you open our hearts and minds to where we can make the same declaration as Thomas, "My Lord and my God!", and that we would follow you with everything that we have, with the deepest loyalty and resolve wrapped in your grace and in your mercy, motivated by the love of Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It's in the name of Jesus' that I pray.

Ross Sawyers: 49:19 I don't know what God is saying to you, or not saying to you this morning, but let's just take a little bit of a space and allow that to be anchored in, whatever that might be.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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