Summary: How can we get through those periods in our lives when we do not believe quite as much as we should.
Read Mark 9:15-29
Focus verse-Mark 9:24
24. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief--
Faith: (Noun) The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
Can also be: The body of dogma of a religion: The Christian Faith.
Believe: (Verb) To have firm faith, especially religious faith.
To have faith, confidence, or trust: I believe in your ability to solve the problem.
The lack of complete or fully developed faith, or put another way, the inability to fully believe is without any doubt one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the modern Christian church. But, this is not something new. Our very nature, that sin nature we are born into, insists that we do not need to believe in something or someone beyond ourselves. All to often we think we can do it by ourselves. It is usually only after we have tried and exhausted all devices available to us that are under our direct control or influence that we come to God and say, "How did you let me get into this mess?"
In other circumstances it may be something similar to what this man was experiencing. He believed, that is, he had faith, but he was also aware within himself that as much as he wanted to fully believe, he still had some doubt. Remember what was spoken,
Notice that Jesus only said, "If thou canst believe". He did not say ‘if you believe and do this, or if you believe and put enough in the offering plate, but only, “If you believe”.
The response was that "I believe, but I am not sure if I believe enough, Help me to believe."
Now, before we look too harshly upon this man, let us look at a couple of historical figures. There are many to choose from, but I will use just two as examples.
Martin Luther: This man suffered periods of deep depression and anxiety throughout his life. In his early years as a monk he went through a period of deep internal questioning of his own salvation. While he was a deeply religious man, he became concerned that his ‘good works and sacrificial penance’, which were supposed to justify him before God, (according to church teaching), left him feeling helpless. The more he studied and read, the more convinced he became that these acts were insufficient. In an effort to put his fears to rest, he tried several paths. He delved into Mysticism which also proved to be inadequate for him. It was after he became an instructor of scripture at the University of Wittenberg that he found the passage which would eventually change the church world as we know it, but which also set him free of his fears. His faith had been misplaced as a result of the teaching of the church, It was, in his case, not so much an unbelief as much as it was believing in the wrong way.
John Wesley: John was an Anglican priest who had been sent to the shores of America to pastor in Savannah, Georgia. As a result of an incident during his crossing on ship, where he became aware of his concern more for himself over his concern for others; and a conversation he had with a Moravian named Gottlieb Spangberg, John became very doubtful of his own salvation. He returned to England, having failed as a pastor, and contacted the Moravians again. Peter Boehler became his religious advisor. When John told him he felt unworthy to preach because of his lack of saving faith, he was told to keep preaching until he found it, and then to continue preaching because he had it. On May 24, 1738, John attended a society meeting in Aldersgate Street where someone was reading Luther’s preface to Romans, the text of which folows here.
This is the preface to Romans by Luther:
Faith is not that human notion and dream that some hold for faith. Because they see that no betterment of life and no good works follow it, and yet they can hear and say much about faith, they fall into error and say, "Faith is not enough; one must do works in order to be righteous and be saved." This is one reason that when they hear the gospel they fall-to and make for themselves, by their own powers, an idea in their hearts which says, "I believe." This they hold for true faith. But it is a human imagination and idea that never reaches the depths of the heart, and so nothing comes of it and no betterment follows it.
Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1); it kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and brings with it the Holy Ghost. Oh, it is a living, busy, mighty thing, this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are any good works to do, but before the question rises; it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them. He who does not these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.