Is God’s Giving of Faith Conditional or Unconditional?If God ‘gives’ faith – outside of any action or effort on our part – why then does He rebuke those who do not have faith?Matthew 17:14-20When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “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. “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
Mark 9:14-29 – Another rendering of the same situation
When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”
Feel the anger and indignation in Jesus’ voice when the child’s father says – “if You can do anything.” Who is the one determining and releasing the power of God? The man thought, and most of us think today, that his son was not delivered because Jesus was not ‘able,’ or it just was not God’s will. Jesus, on the other hand, immediately, and with force, turned it around and made it very clear to all that the ability resides within the one ‘who believes.’ It is unbelief that hinders the work of God, not God’s lack of ability or motive.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered (marveled) at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.
It was not the will of God that determined the release of His power? It does not say that He ‘would’ do no miracles, but rather that Jesus ‘could’ do no miracles. The people themselves were responsible for the amount of power that went through Him on their behalf. Their unbelief withstood God’s power. This is staggering!
And Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
The only ‘if’ in the statement above is whether you have faith or not. No other variable is mentioned. The extent of things possible to this belief is ‘all things,’ nothing less. To whom is this possible? To anyone who believes.
Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]
Where is the will of God mentioned? The will of God is in His instructions to them – His Word to them. The only variable is the faith, or lack of faith, of the individual in His Word. Faith it appears is our responsibility. Look at the power put at our disposal by God. Is this not sufficient to get any job done?
…and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
We are not only able to do great things in His Name, we are expected to do great things in His Name! We are our only limitation, and someday we will stand before Him, and we will discuss all the things done in the body (or not done in the body).
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”