Monday, 21 November 2016

Sermon Sunday 20th November: I believe, help my unbelief

Verse for today: Mark 9:24

The story tells of a call for help, a situation of desperation. Do we feel hopelessness?  We are faced with circumstances that we feel helpless in, and there is one situation in which we can have no hope unless we are Christian - see Hebrews 2:3

The man did the right thing, he came to Jesus - the disciples could not help.  When we have difficulty, where do we go? Is our faith in church, or in people?  Do we see Jesus  as the only answer? Jn 14:6

The man's suffering was an impetus to faith; in that sense it was good James 1:2f, Rom 5:3f.  Suffering quells the desire for autonomy, the claim "I do not need You!" That feeling is the cause of sin, which itself leads to suffering

Jesus responded to the man, "if you can".  It is hard to trust.  It is hard to believe that Jesus is God, which had just been seen in the Transfiguration, but it is only as God that He can help.  Then it is hard to believe that He died in order to save, but that is the only way.  See John14:6

The man exclaimed "I believe!" This showed his faith, which is the condition for help (Heb11:6).  We must come, or do we just presume?  Without faith can we expect to receive? (James 1:7-8). We have to go to the doctor, have faith, or he cannot help!  But he realised his faith was weak, so exclaimed,

"Help my unbelief!" The word is "help", so we do what we can to increase our faith - we use the means of grace.  The wonderful thing is that God will also help us; He works in us to increase our faith.

"Help my unbelief"  he had faith, but it needed development. He had to go from faith to faith (Rom 1:16), from salvation to growth. Paul explains that the righteous live by faith, quoting Habakkuk 2:4, which is not only eternal life, but also now.  In the growth of faith, we develop the mind of Christ.  When we pray in His will, then all things are possible (Mk 9:23), but we need to know His will to pray effectively.  It is not that "if we ask anything he hears us", but ""if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL he hears us (Jn 5:14).

Did the man still doubt? Surely he wanted to share what God had done for him.  Do we share the news of our salvation, of answered prayer?  Such sharing will be good for the faith of others.

Prof David T Williams
Theology (retired)

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