New American Standard Bible (NASB)
37 On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him.38 And a man from the crowd shouted, saying, “Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy, 39 and a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves. 40 I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not.” 41 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.
Let me make it very simple without dealing with all of the possibilities and say this, faith, true faith, legitimate faith, what is biblically defined as faith is simply this, believing what God said simply because He said it. That's faith. Not because it's necessarily been proven to you. Not because you've necessarily experienced something. But simply because God said it you believe it and you believe to the point that you base your life on it. It is in that sense that we are people of faith. It is in that sense that we believe. It isn't that we just believe in believing. It isn't that we think we can somehow activate some reality by believing hard enough. It isn't that we believe we can make things happen by our faith. It is that we believe that what God said is what is true. That is what our faith is. It is faith in the revealed Word of God.....Faith is not somehow a power, some kind of spiritual muscle by which you make things happen. Faith is putting your confidence in what God has revealed as being true simply because He said it. It is faith in things we cannot see.
One of my favourite verses is Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Faith is different from belief. I've used this example before on this blog but I think it is worth repeating. A person can believe that airplanes can fly but they may not have faith that an airplane will be able to carry them to a destination safely. We can believe that Jesus can heal but the father in this passage had the faith that Jesus would be able to heal his son and he persisted until Jesus did. The disciples may have believed in Jesus but did they have faith in the power that He had and gave to them?
MacArthur doesn't think so:
In Mark, I believe it's in Mark 6:13, "They went out, they preached that men should repent. They were casting out many demons." He gave them the power to do it. He commanded them to do it. They did it. Now remember, they literally were sent out two by two with this power to blitz in one final sort of gospel blitz attended by these powerful signs to gospelize, as it were, for one last time Galilee. It wouldn't take long with the disciples going everywhere, multiplying the presence of Jesus by twelve times, for everybody to know that they had demonstrated this power. The word would spread rapidly. And it did. And this man probably the day before when Jesus was up in the mountain with the three came to the nine based upon their reputation and what they had done and asks them to do what evidently they had the power to do. And all three gospels record the same result...all three gospels in one way or another say what verse 40 says, "And they could not." They couldn't do it.
Why? They had the power. They had the commission. They had the experience. They already had the success. Why can't they do it? Why? What was wrong?
Matthew 17:19 and 20 gives the answer. "The disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, 'Why could we not cast it out? Why...why couldn't we do it?'" which means they must have tried. "And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith. Because of the littleness of your faith." There was no lack of available power. There was no lack of experience. There was no lack of knowing whatever a formula they might have known. There was no lack of commission. There was no lack of privilege. There was no lack of right. There was a lack of faith. And Jesus says, "You didn't believe you could do it." They must have concluded that this was way over the top. This was too much for them, too severe. They had done it before by the power that had been delegated to them from Christ, but this was more than they could hope to see, deliverance. There was a severity about this. There was an extremity in this situation that was beyond their ability to believe. And Jesus answered and said, "O unbelieving and perverted generation, you don't believe because your view of Me and My Word is perverted," distorted is what it means, twisted, wrong. You know, He says, "How long shall I be with you and put up with you?"
How much faith do we have? Do we believe in Jesus or do we have faith in Him?
MacArthur concludes his sermon with this:
You can't live this life, beloved, as a Christian if you don't believe what God said in His Word. First you need to know what He said, and then you need to believe it. And if you believe it, He'll reward you with blessing. And if you don't, you'll frustrate Him and He may well have to rebuke you as He rebuked them. If you're going to say you're a person of faith and you live by faith, then what that means when it flushes out is, "If God said it, I believe it and I'm going to live my life that way."
Tomorrow's scripture focus: 2 Corinthians 2, Psalm 130, Nehemiah 3-4
I may have to put that up on the bathroom mirror...and above the kitchen sink...and on the door to read before going out: "If God said it, I believe it and I'm going to live my life that way."
It is the "living that way" that requires the steps of faith that I often need to work on!
Thanks, Pam. Great post!
I loved that line too Roxie!
Talk about a valley experience following immediately after the mountaintop - literally and figuratively! From the amazing display of God's glory to demon possession and lack of faith in one fell swoop. What a great reminder to be prepared for the nitty gritty of life after we have those mountain top experiences. The kingdom is coming, yes. But life here is going to be hard. And we're going to need faith to get through it. Faith in God and His promises. We need to know what God said, we need to believe it, and we need to live it!
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