Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
How Great Is Your Faith?

How Great Is Your Faith?

|Views: 40|Likes:

More info:

Published by: Grace Church Modesto on Jan 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





\u201c How Great Is Your Faith?\u201d
(Matthew 17:14-21)

In his book, The Pilgrim\u2019s Progress, John Bunyon makes just about every virtue and vice
that is known to man come to life. He takes the good and bad qualities which are found in
mankind, makes them into different characters, and then has them interact with each other as
they do in our own hearts. The result is very instructive. As we begin this sermon this morning,
I would like to share with you one of these stories which has to do with the theme of our text. It
is the story Christian tells Hopeful about a man named Little-faith, and how he was robbed by
three men -- Faint-heart, Mistrust and Guilt. This is what Christian says, \u201c Now I remember what
was told to me about something that happened to a good man in these parts. The name of the
man was Little-faith. He was a good man, who dwelt in the town of Sincere. This is what
happened: \u2014 At the place where this lane begins, there is another which comes down to it from
Broad-way Gate, a lane called Dead Man\u2019s Lane. It is called this because of the murders that
frequently take place there. This man Little-faith, who was traveling on his pilgrimage, as we
are doing now, happened to sit down there, and he slept. Now at that time, there happened to
come down the lane, from Broad-way Gate, three sturdy rogues, and their names were Faint-
heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, three brothers, and they, seeing Little-faith, came quickly galloping
up. Now this good man had just awakened from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his
journey. So they all came up to him, and told him to stand where he was. At this, Little-faith
looked as white as a sheet and could not fight or run away. Then Faint-heart said, \u2018Give me your
money.\u2019 But he hesitated since he didn\u2019t want to lose his money. And so Mistrust ran up to him,
put his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a bag of silver. Then Little-faith cried out, \u2018Thieves,
thieves!\u2019 With that, Guilt, hit him on the head with the great club that was in his hand and
knocked him to the ground, where he laid, looking as if he would bleed to death, while the
thieves stood there. But, at last, hearing someone coming down the road, and fearing that it
might be Great-grace, who lives in the city of Good-confidence, they took to their heels, and left
this good man to manage for himself. Now, after a while, Little-faith came to his senses, and
after getting up, continued on his way. This was the story.\u201d Christian went on to say that Little-
Faith had lost most of his money to these thieves, which made his journey much more difficult,
because he didn\u2019t have enough left to buy much food and was often hungry. But they didn\u2019t take
what was most precious to him, his jewels. These were what guaranteed that he would be able to
enter into the celestial city on the last day. The point Bunyon was making is that if we only have
a little faith, our path to heaven will also be hard. When our hearts are weak, we will be tempted
not to trust the Lord, which will rob us of the Lord\u2019s blessings, especially His peace. And then
when we realize what we have lost, because we have not trusted in God\u2019s promises, our hearts
will be overcome with guilt, which will make our lives miserable. The only way we can
overcome these three enemies is to grow strong in faith, so that we can walk in the Lord\u2019s
strength, especially the strength of knowing that He has taken all our sins away in Christ.

Last week, we saw that Jesus took His three closest disciples -- Peter, James and John --,
up to the top of a mountain and revealed His glory to them, the glory of His divine nature, the
glory that He was to receive from His Father as the God-man, for doing the work of salvation.
But while they were on the mountain, things were happening with the other disciples down
below. A man had brought his demon-possessed son to them, in order for them to heal him. A


large crowd had even gathered together to watch them. But they weren\u2019t able to do it. And so
now Christ\u2019s ministry, through His disciples, was in danger of being discredited. Certainly, these
disciples must have been very happy to see Jesus coming down now from the mountain, because
they were confused and didn\u2019t know what to do.

As soon as Jesus and His three disciples arrived, the father of this boy came up to Him,
and falling on his knees before Him, said, \u201c Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic, and
is very ill; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to Your
disciples, and they could not cure him\u201d (vv. 14-16). This demon had apparently been torturing
this young boy for some time. Whenever someone was possessed by an evil spirit, it would
always make him hurt himself in some way. We have many examples of this in Scripture. (I
think, by the way, that this helps us to understand what is behind much of the self-destructive
behavior in our society today.) This demon would cause the child to fall into epileptic fits, and
he would do this around fire and water as he tried to either burn or drown the boy. When the
father had brought his son to Christ\u2019s disciples to heal him, they couldn\u2019t cast the demon out,
even though Jesus had earlier given them the power to do this (Matt. 10:8). What was the
problem? Jesus will tell them that they were lacking something, something that was necessary
for them to do this miracle. They didn\u2019t have enough faith.

But now notice what Jesus said. \u201c O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall
I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me\u201d (v. 17). What a sad

commentary on the state of these people. They were God\u2019s people. But they had abandoned
God. They had broken His covenant. For the most part, they didn\u2019t believe in Him, and they
weren\u2019t serving Him any longer. The fact that this man\u2019s child was demon-possessed showed
that something was very wrong. These were the people Jesus came to minister to. These were
the ones He had to put up with, while on earth. Even His disciples lacked the faith that was
necessary to do His work. In light of this, He asks how long He would continue to teach and
preach and perform His miracles, and yet still have the people reject Him. How long would He
have to put up with their perverse and unbelieving hearts. We need to be thankful for the infinite
patience of the Lord, for even after saying this, Christ continued to put up with them, even as He
continues to put up with us today, though we very often don\u2019t believe Him or serve Him as we
should. Jesus asked for the boy to be brought, and when he arrived, Jesus rebuked the demon,
and the boy was cured at once. Christ again revealed the tender mercy and compassion of God,
while at the same time vindicating the honor of His name and that of His Father, by showing His
power over the demonic realm.

Now because of what Jesus had just done, His disciples decided that they needed to meet
with Him in private. They were wondering why they weren\u2019t able to cast out this demon (v. 19).
After all Jesus had given them this same authority, but the spirit would not obey them. What was
the problem? Jesus told them, \u201cBecause of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if
you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, \u2018Move from here to there,\u2019 and
it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you\u201d (v. 20). It wasn\u2019t because they didn\u2019t have
any faith, but because the faith that they had wasn\u2019t very strong.

Now it\u2019s important to understand that Jesus wasn\u2019t talking here about saving faith, but
about the kind of faith that is necessary to do miracles. When Jesus sent the seventy disciples
out, they returned rejoicing that even the demons were subject to them in His name. But He told
them not to rejoice in this, but that their names were recorded in heaven (Luke 10:17, 20). Why
did Jesus say this? It was because it was possible to have the faith to do miracles, and at the
same time, not to have saving faith. This is what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 13:2, where he


said, \u201c And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have
all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.\u201d We must remember
that even Judas could do miracles, but he was Christ\u2019s enemy. It\u2019s also important to understand
that Jesus didn\u2019t mean by this that they could literally move mountains if their faith was strong
enough. There is no record in the Bible or in Church History that a literal mountain was ever
moved because a believer commanded it to do so. Now certainly faith would enable them to
move literal mountains, if that is what God wanted them to do. After all, Jesus said, nothing
would be impossible to them. But this apparently never was His will. Jesus was actually saying
that they would be able to do whatever He wanted them to do, no matter how difficult it might
seem, if they would only trust in Him. The problem was that they didn\u2019t trust in Him enough. If
they did, they would have been able to cast the demon out. Nothing He commanded them would
be too hard for them to do.

And then Jesus says one more thing. He says, \u201cBut this kind does not go out except by
prayer and fasting\u201d (v. 21). Now there appears to be a problem here with the text. Several of the
early manuscripts don\u2019t contain this verse. But even if this was not the original reading, Mark
still includes it in his account of the same event. Jesus appears to be saying that there was
something special about this kind of demon. He was more powerful than the others. And
because he was more powerful, a stronger faith was needed to call down the power of God to
remove him. But how were the disciples to get that faith? How could their little faith become
great faith? Jesus said through prayer and fasting. Setting aside a day to humble yourself before
God and to seek Him in prayer, is the way to make your faith stronger. This was the remedy
then, and I believe that it is still the same today.

Now how can we apply what we have seen in this passage to our lives today? The most
obvious application must be in the area of faith. Like the disciples, for the most part, we too
have little faith, and this is the reason why we have most of the struggles that we do in life. We
are like the Little-faith in Bunyon\u2019s story. We are continually being robbed of God\u2019s blessings,
His power and His peace, by being faint in heart, by not trusting His Word, and then by having to
face the guilt that comes from disobeying Him out of fear. The Lord says to us this morning, as
He said to His disciples so long ago, \u201cIf you only had faith as a mustard seed, you would be able
to move mountains. But because your faith is even smaller than the smallest of the garden seeds,
you aren\u2019t able to move molehills.\u201d Now please understand that I don\u2019t believe that Jesus tells us
here that we should be able to perform the same kinds of miracles that the disciples did. Jesus
commanded them to do certain things that He doesn\u2019t command us to do. If we knew that Jesus
wanted us to move the Altamont into the ocean, then if we had enough faith, we would be able to
do it. If He commanded us to do what His disciples did, we could do all those things as well.
But He doesn\u2019t. The miracles Jesus gave them the power to do, were to confirm His Word and
His ministry. These things have already been confirmed, and so don\u2019t need to be again. But
certainly these aren\u2019t the only mountains in life that need to be moved. There are those we must
face as well. What are they? It depends. They are different for every one of us here. Some of
us may be wrestling with a particular sin that has fastened its grip on us, and we don\u2019t seem to be
able to get free. Others of us might have struggles in our marriages, and we\u2019re wondering how
they are going to survive. Still others of us might be fighting against worry, wondering whether
or not we\u2019re going to be able to keep our jobs, or if we don\u2019t have employment, whether or not
we\u2019ll be able to find work. For still others, the problem might be one of assurance. We just
can\u2019t seem to sense the love and mercy of God in our lives. Satan seems to be able to walk all
over us. We are constantly burdened with the guilt of our past sins and have no peace at all. For

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->