Bible 1 Yr – Day 135 – Help My Unbelief

Today we read some of the most simple and profound words of the Bible. They aren’t spoken by Jesus, but rather by a father out of parental concern for his son. All his life the son has been possessed by a demon. The father has asked the disciples to cure the son and they could not. Now he has come to Jesus begging for help. Jesus tells him the boy can be healed if the father has faith. The father does have faith but he knows that human faith can be weak and faltering. So the boy’s father addresses Jesus:

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I BELIEVE, HELP MY UNBELIEF!”

The father’s plea to Jesus is raw, there is no varnish or pretense, he “immediately … cried out”. He has faith, he has come to Jesus because he believes, but his faith is not complete, so he asks God to help him fill up or complete his faith. Jesus of course does this and heals the man’s son. We should all pray this simple prayer often, whenever we have doubts, whenever we are unsure of an answer or whenever we feel far from the Lord.

Interestingly, notice that it is the faith of the father that saves the boy. Stated conversely, the boy is not saved by his own faith but by the faith of another. Thus, we cannot say that we are saved by “faith alone” if by that we mean that we are saved by “our faith alone”.

What is also interesting is that the Apostles could not drive the demon out of the boy. However, it was not because they didn’t have faith. We know that the Apostles had faith and they fully expected to have been able to exercise the demon from the boy but it turned out that the demon was stronger.

The Apostles and the father that brought this boy to Jesus are in the same predicament. Both have faith but not enough of it. This shows us that faith is a continuum. You grow in your faith, it can be strengthened. And what does Jesus say is necessary to strengthen faith enough to cast out this stronger demon?

29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Remember, this scene comes just after Jesus first told the Apostles that He will have to suffer and die. It comes just after Jesus had to rebuke Peter because Peter did not want this to happen and was thinking like a man does, not like God does. So what else does prayer and fasting do? It helps you think like God. Prayer changes you and helps you conform your will to the mind of God. Fasting is suffering. Just as Jesus suffered to bring about our salvation we can suffer in little bits to become closer to Jesus.

Remember, Jesus was fasting in the desert when he tempted by the devil. The devils temptations were for Jesus to avoid suffering. “Turn this rock into bread”, the devil tempted him. Again, that is the same reason Peter was rebuked so harshly, he too sought Jesus to avoid suffering. Thus, fasting can strengthen us from temptations of the devil who seeks us to avoid suffering and to give us physical comfort in this world. If the devil had his way we would never be hungry, we would never be cold and we could never be tired. And we therefore also never have empathy for those that are hungry, tired or cold. That does not mean that all physical comfort must be avoided but it does mean the avoidance of suffering at all costs is not something that is meritorious.

Further, the point must be recognized that prayer and fasting are good works! Anything done to conform your will to the will of God is a good work. Prayer and Fasting will help you focus your will on God, thereby deepening, strengthening and completing your Faith. Remember what we read about 2 weeks ago in James 2?

22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works…

So we see that James’ teaching comes from Jesus. James simply states it directly. What other things are “good works” that complete faith and strengthen it? The answer is anything – anything that orders your life towards God is a good work that completes your faith. Reading the Bible, charity, devotion in your marriage, playing with your children, writing a check to charity, abstaining from the extra glass of wine, going for a run when you’re tired, studying the history of Christianity, being humble and listening to those “over you in the Lord”, and on and on, etc, etc … the list is endless because it is not the outward act that defines its value, it is your inner disposition.

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19 Responses to Bible 1 Yr – Day 135 – Help My Unbelief

  1. Jon musso says:

    Those things are awesome but you take away from the cross when you say God suffered the worst death ever, lived a perfect life, was resurrected from the dead oh yeah and thanks for the check for walkathon are you listening to your self. One way to get to heaven Jesus Christ death and resurrection on the cross, that it his blood his strips you are healed, you add to God he’s the redeemer, you guys want God, and your righteousness, it’s all God or its all you pick one. I have no problem with tenstion, but you guys are attacking the essence of the faith.

    • Jon musso says:

      I don’t want to be insulting, but you make salvation into a contract to parties with the same responsibility and that not biblical you suck I suck and he saved us. That my theology.

      • I don’t think I have done anything of the kind. In contrast, I could say to you that you make salvation into less than a gift, you transform it into something that is done TO us, not for us and with us.

        There are many analogies we could use. A mother baking a cake who let’s her 5 year old daughter stir the batter is a good one. The mother is completely sufficient in baking the cake, she doesn’t need the help of the daughter but she allows the daughter to help so the daughter can become more like the mother. When the cake is done, who baked it? Well the mother did but did the daughter’s stirring add anything to it? In fact, even though the little girl’s stirring was inadequate (and mother had to finish stirring after the daughter had her turn) the daughter can still be said to have “participated” in the baking of the cake.

        From this analogy we can see that the mother (God) can do all that is necessary to bake the cake (salvation) yet still allow the daughter (us) to genuinely participate in the process. Our participation in the process doesn’t diminish what that mother does. In fact, the mother has made the process greater that if she did it alone. Had the mother baked the cake alone we would have a cake but b/c the mother let the daughter participate we have a cake and we have the daughter being changed – she has grown to be more like the mother – by participating in the baking of the cake.

        These thing about prayer, fasting, suffering, sacrifice, good works and sacraments, etc is God’s way of allowing us to participate with Him in the baking of the cake.

      • Justin (Ignatius of Loyola) says:

        I don’t believe you suck, Jon.

  2. Jon musso says:

    Well appreciate that Justin I do, but I’m a sinner it’s why he had to die for me. I understand you guys have three tears of people who have Christ, apostles, and sinners. I guess hear where we friendly disagree you guys believe in humanity, I don’t. You believe man is not completely depraved I do. You guys are semi plagient in your thinking I’m Calvinistic in my thinking. The underlining of your thinking is that Christ is part of salvation, I believe he is my salvation. I don’t think we could even define grace the same way. So what can we agree on, we can agree that Christ lived, die, and was resurrected. I don’t think we agree with much after that, an I appreciate both you guys, but there no middle ground because neither side is going to leave there foundation me Christ, and you Catholicism. God bless you both and I truly mean that.

  3. We do not believe in 3 tiers of people. God is God and man is man. Jesus is the one unique mediator b/c he is both God and man. We do recognize 3 roles in the plan of salvation of High Priest, ministerial priest and common priesthood of all believers b/c these 3 roles are established in the OT and perfected in the NT.

    ******

    As for Total Depravity I posted from one of my favorite Catholic Apologists a few weeks ago:

    “What would a Catholic think of this teaching? While he would not use the term “total depravity” to describe the doctrine [10], he would actually agree with it. The accepted Catholic teaching is that, because of the fall of Adam, man cannot do anything out of supernatural love unless God gives him special grace to do so [11].

    Thomas Aquinas declared that special grace is necessary for man to do any supernaturally good act, to love God, to fulfill God’s commandments, to gain eternal life, to prepare for salvation, to rise from sin, to avoid sin, and to persevere [12].”

    *******

    The Roman Catholic Church condemns semipelagianism but affirms that the beginning of faith involves an act of free will. It teaches that the initiative comes from God, but requires free synergy (collaboration) on the part of man: “God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration”.[2] “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” Catechism of the Catholic Church

    ******

    I think if you look at my response with the analogy of the mother baking the cake you can see that it does not deny depravity (the girl is helpless w/out the mother). It also does not take a semi-pelagianist position b/c everything is always reliant on the mother.

    I think if you look at is honestly you could see that we agree on much more than you realize.

    • Jon musso says:

      We agree on many thing but, once you unpack what that really means you hold to different foundational truth than I do. You can’t in my opinion whole to a authoritative scripture and still see the church the way catholic do. You can not see peter as more than a sinner that deny Christ three times, and it was by God grace alone that saved him. You can’t see Christ as the only way to heaven when justify salvation with a work righteousness and than claim that work is giving to the pour or an act of kindness. We foundationally believe in many aspect of the faith, but when you pull back the onion we hold to different foundational positions. God bless u

      • Justin (Ignatius of Loyola) says:

        The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord.

      • Jon musso says:

        Should be the only foundation. Anything else is as Paul says rubbish.

      • Jon – I think your comment is rather unfair. There is nothing in Peter being a sinner who needed a savior that prevents him from also being Pope. Yes he denied Jesus 3 times but he also said “I love you ” 3 times and 3 times Jesus told him to be the Shepherd of his sheep. Peter was a sinner. Peter was a sinner. Peter was a sinner Do I need to say it again? I have said it dozens of times and you still don’t give me credit for it. Peter was a sinner BUT even still God used this sinner to write 1 and 2 Peter – which are INFALLIBILE works of scripture. If God can use a sinner to write scripture, as he did every time, He can make him head of the Church.

        When you say, ” you can’t in my opinion hold to and authoritative scripture and still see the church the way a Catholic does”, that is your real objection. But I say why not? Authoritative scripture does not self disprove the church. We have authoritative federal law it we still have a Supreme Court. In the Old Testament we had authoritative scripture but we also had the Authoritative scripture does not self disprove the church. We have authoritative federal law it we still have a Supreme Court. In the Old Testament we had authoritative scripture but we also had the judges, kings, and Sabhedrin all authoritative bodies governing Israel. I have shown you in Mark 18 that Jesus himself said “go tell it to the church and if you fail to listen to the church may you be as it Gentile and a tax collector”. That is a definitive statement of an authoritative church.

        The irony is is that you would be the first to tell a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, or a Muslim, that their interpretation of Scripture is wrong but you so don’t want there to be an authoritative church that no matter how many times I show you scripture and the logical conclusions that flow from it you won’t admit their truth. But your interpretation of Scripture is just that “your interpretation”. It is no more authoritative then my interpretation or President Obama’s or anybody else’s. That is why our Lord gave us in authoritative church. The Bible shows us in acts 15 at the church met in Council and had authority to interpret the scriptures. I know you know. I know you believe but don’t want to believe. Now it is time for you to pray the prayer we learned today, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief”.

      • Jon musso says:

        I think saying the catholic are the true church is unfair, like the Catholic Church should have a monopoly on true Christianity. This isn’t a question of faith it’s a question of authority! Your authority in catholic theology mind in the resurrected savior it’s really that simple. The church is falling your church and my church, that why we submit to the one who is perfect the one and only resurrected savior, it’s beautiful just let the tradition go, let the church go, and fall at the Kings authority he has all you need. Your double minded you want Christ and catholism you don’t need a pope, you don’t need a church you need a savior and so do I.

      • Jon musso says:

        I would also say the church and tradition must fall under Christ authority. I can even concede that maybe you were the chosen church, but if you were catholism has distorted Christ authority and the reformation had to reorient this faulty thinking God bless you.

      • Jon musso says:

        Faith is not my issue the way your proclaiming truth is. I think you love God, I don’t question your faith or theology is faulty not your faith. You want to believe in a church because if your church view is wrong your standing on sinking sand, the sad thing is you don’t have to all you have to is put your faith completely in the resurrected savior you don’t need these short sided aspect of the faith, focus on Christ as Paul continues throughout his ministry to promote I called it all rubbish to know the saviing power of Christ. Paul could not be more clear!

  4. If Jesus created it how can I not need it?!

    Jesus said, “do this in memory of me” how can I not do it?

    Jesus said, “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood” how can I not do it?

    Jesus said, “those who DO the will of the father will gain internal life”, how can I not do it.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life”, how can I accept anything less that 100% truth?

    Jesus gave us an authoritative Church with a leader EXACTLY SO we could no the Truth better and thereby no him better. You know the trinity bc the Church defined it. You have a bible bc the Church put it together. You that Jesus is diving the Church stop the early heresy. you know the Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the trinity bc the Church answered that question.

    You are so hung up on this supposed division between Jesus and the Church but there is no division. Jesus created the church so that we could no him better. Jesus said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit who WILL lead you into all truth”. That was when He was about to ascend into heaven. That means the Holy Spirit was leading the Church in the future after Jesus ascended. Truth was to be understood as time passed.

    If you want to know Jesus you want to know truth and nothing, not fear , not pride, not regret, not embarrassment, nothing would keep you from it.

  5. The Reformation did not “fix” anything. We know this 2 main ways.

    First, Jesus said he would always be with the Church, he said he would send the Holy Spirit to guide it and he said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. To say that the Church failed and needed replacing or resetting is to say that Jesus FAILED to establish the Church as he said he would. Do you really mean to say that.

    Second, we have the writings of the Church fathers which show historically that church today teaches the same thing it did 2000 years ago. To say the reformation needed to fix the church is to say it didn’t even survive 1 generation intact. This is silly as it was the young church that gave us the bible, basically theology and converted the Roman Empire.

    • Jon musso says:

      Jesus didn’t fail catholic did we see this through out church history. Selfish and arrogance of the church is the issue.

      • That is a weak justification (no pun intended). Haven’t we been discussing Peter? Didn’t you make the point that he failed on multiple occasions? Yet Jesus didn’t take away his Apostleship, he still wrote 2 books of Scripture and his teaching is the basis of the gospel of mark and he was certainly the leader of the Apostles and was martyred for the Lord. You have made the point multiple times – we all fail constantly- but the Lord is faithful to us. He loves us through our failures. Over 2000 years many men of the church have failed but that doesn’t negate the truth about the Church. It is not arrogant to proclaim the truth. It is not embarrassing to accept truth and authority. “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

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