Reading: Mark 5—6
Does our faith heal us? Do we need more faith in order to get greater results? In a day when the power of one's own faith is touted as the key to a successful life, I think we need to be careful how we read our Bibles on the subject of faith. A subtle form of worldliness is a dangerous tendency to import into our Bible reading worldly definitions of faith or belief. This can transpose Biblical truths into a philosophy of man and the power of God's truth is lost.
When the woman subject to bleeding for twelve years (Mark 5:24-34) came and touched Jesus, she was immediately healed. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” Was this healing really all about her faith? Are we to walk away and think, “If only I had that much faith, I too could be healed?” (Or, take out “healed” and fill in the blank with whatever it is you need from God, and ask the same question.)
It is very important that, when we are reading our Bibles we define things accurately. And faith is one of those things which we need to be careful to define clearly. The truth is, much of what we culturally call faith, the scriptures would call unbelief. So we need to make sure that in our pursuit of faith we aren't pursuing unbelief. What is faith?
According to the dictionary, faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or belief in anything. Culturally, the emphasis is on the front part of that definition: confidence or trust. And since the second part, “in a person or thing,” or, “in anything,” is interchangeable, then it doesn't really matter what that is. So in our culture, faith is confidence or trust. Most often, this is all about confidence and trust in ourselves, or confidence and trust in our faith (which is a circular way of saying, in ourselves). Biblically, that would be unbelief.
In Scripture, faith is all about the object of the faith...about the One in Whom we believe. Trusting God is always contrasted with trusting in man. One is faith, the other unbelief. But today, the world, and sadly many Christians, because we emphasize the “trusting” part, consider both of these faith. This makes it hard to distinguish between faith and unbelief.
When we get to the Gospels, faith takes on a nuance which is always important to recognize. In the Gospels faith is almost always1 connected to seeing something about Jesus, recognizing something about who He is. So for instance, the disciples in the boat are afraid and rebuked for their lack of faith. What was the issue? They didn't understand Who Christ was. They didn't understand that 1) they can't fall into the sea and drown unless he allows it (see Mark 5:12-13), and 2) that even if they did, He would raise them up, for death is but sleep to Jesus (see Mark 5:35-42).
Another example of this is found in Mark 6:1-6, when Jesus took a trip to His hometown.
5He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6And he was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:5-6)
The implication is clear: their lack of faith is connected to Christ not doing any miracles other than a handful of sick people getting well (which would be called a revival in most of our churches!). Yet, if we look at that whole story we find that their lack of faith was rooted in not understanding who Jesus is (Mark 6:3).
Biblical faith has always been about trusting God rather than trusting in man, or ourselves. It is never simply “believing”. When we arrive at the Gospels, faith takes on this nuance of recognizing something about Who Jesus is. Because, He is God. It was the woman's recognition of something about Jesus that caused her to say, “If I but touch His clothes... He is so powerful, He is so divine, that even the edge of His cloak will be sufficient.” Her faith made her well, for her faith was centered on the One Who makes us well. Do you believe Him? Do you see Him?
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
1I would say “always” but since I don't have full knowledge of every reference, I will leave open the possibility that it is used in another way.