Thursday, June 21, 2018

Walking by Faith

While I was reading the gospel of Matthew, I observed the recurring theme of faith, and would like to share these passages with you in the hopes that it would encourage your faith.

The Faith of the Centurion 
The first passage is found in Matthew's eighth chapter, where he wrote of the Roman centurion's faith:

"And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, 'Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.' Jesus said to him, 'I will come and heal him.' But the centurion said, 'Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, "Go!" and he goes, and to another, "Come!" and he comes, and to my slave, "Do this!" and he does it.' Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' And Jesus said to the centurion, 'Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed that very moment." (Mat 8:5-13)

The centurion brought his need to Jesus saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." (Mat 8:6). He trusted in the power of Jesus’ Word saying, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed." (Mat 8:8). He believed in Jesus’ authority over sickness saying, "For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." (Mat 8:9). 

Consequently Jesus was astonished by his great faith. "Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.'" (Mat 8:10). Although this man was a Roman, he had greater faith than anyone Jesus had ever met in Israel.

One lesson we learn from this man's faith is that it will be done just as you believe it will. That's what Jesus taught when He said to the centurion, "'Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed that very moment." (Mat 8:13).

The centurion demonstrated his faith when he said to the Lord, "Just say the word and my servant will be healed." To that the Lord replied, “Go, it will be done for you as you have believed. And his servant was healed at that very moment.” This is our take away to practice on our own.

The Little Faith of the Disciples 
In contrast to the great faith of the centurion, observe the little faith of the disciples in the same eighth chapter of Matthew:

"When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, 'Save us, Lord; we are perishing!' He said to them, 'Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, 'What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'" (Mat 8:23-27)

Just as the centurion did, the disciples brought their need to Jesus by waking Him and saying, "Save us, Lord" (Mat 8:25). Yet they still believed they were going to drown, saying, "We are perishing!"

Jesus reproved them for lack of faith, saying, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" (Mat 8:26a). At Jesus’ rebuke the wind and waves were calmed. "Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm."  (v. 26b).

Although the disciples expressed a little faith, it was quite weak compared to that of the centurion. The disciples should have either told Jesus to say the word and the storm would cease or spoken to the storm themselves and commanded it to cease in Jesus’ name.

The Faith of the Paralytic’s Friends 
In the very next chapter there is another testimony of faith, which is the faith of the paralytic's friends:

"Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, 'Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.' And some of the scribes said to themselves, 'This fellow blasphemes.' And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, 'Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, and walk"? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'—then He said to the paralytic, 'Get up, pick up your bed and go home.' And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men." (Mat 9:1-8)

Jesus saw their faith when they brought to him the paralytic. The Scripture says, "Seeing their faith..." (v. 2). Jesus commanded him to get up and walk, saying to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." (Mat 9:6). At that the man got up and walked home (v. 7).

The Faith of the Bleeding Woman and the Ruler
In the same ninth chapter of Matthew we read of the faith of the ruler and of the woman with the issue of blood:

"While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, 'My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.' Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples. And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, 'If I only touch His garment, I will get well.' But Jesus turning and seeing her said, 'Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.' At once the woman was made well." (Mat 9:18-22)

We need to look at Mark's account also to get the full story:

"When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. One of the synagogue officials named Jairus *came up, and on seeing Him, *fell at His feet and *implored Him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.'" (Mar 5:21-23)

Here we observe that just as the centurion, the disciples in the boat, and the friends of the paralytic all brought their need to Jesus, so did the ruler. The ruler came to Jesus and bowed down before Him, and said, "My daughter has just died." (Mat 9:18). He demonstrated his faith by his confession, when he said, "come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live." (v. 18). That took a lot of faith to say that about his dead daughter, but he truly believed she would live if Jesus would lay his hand on her.

As the ruler had requested, Jesus took the girl by the hand and she got up. "When the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up." (Mat 9:25)

Likewise the woman with the issue of blood who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years had faith and confessed to herself that she’d be healed if she touched His cloak. "For she was saying to herself, 'If I only touch His garment, I will get well.'" (Mat 9:21). She brought her need to Jesus, acting upon her faith. "And a woman...came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak." (Mat 9:20). Her faith was the evidence of things not seen, but once she exercised it openly by her action, she was healed from that moment. "But Jesus turning and seeing her said, 'Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well.'" (Mat 9:22)

Peter’s Lack of Faith 
The next example of faith in Matthew's gospel is in the fourteenth chapter, and this time it is Peter's lack of faith.

"Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.' Peter said to Him, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' And He said, 'Come!' And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?' When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, 'You are certainly God's Son!'" (Mat 14:22-33)

In this passage, I observed that initially Peter did believe, and at the Lord’s command he walked on water. "Peter said to Him, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' And He said, 'Come!' And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus." (Mat 14:28-29). If he didn't have faith, he wouldn't have gotten out of the boat and walked on the water. This proves that all things are possible to those who believe.

But he became afraid when he saw the wind, and as a result he began to sink.  He did not become afraid because he was starting to sink. Rather he started to sink, because he became afraid. "But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Mat 14:30).

Jesus caught him when he cried out, “Lord, save me,” (v. 31). He stretched forth His hand and took hold of Peter and pulled him up. Amazingly the Lord was also standing on nothing more than water, but was also able to uphold Peter, too.

Jesus reproved him for his little faith and for doubting, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mat 14:31). Doubt and fear are the enemies of faith. Had he not doubted, he wouldn't have started to sink. Likewise, we should not give way to doubts and fears, but have faith in the Lord and nothing will be impossible for us.

Keys of the Kingdom 
We see another example of this theme of faith in Matthew's sixteenth chapter, although it does not contain the word "faith" in it. Jesus said, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Mat 16:19)

In the original, it reads more like this: "Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." That's amazing isn't it! It demonstrates the power of the word spoken in faith.

I recall one time in Ploiesti, Romania, after the service was over, I was praying for the pastor named Marian. I was led to pray fervently that the Lord would send a mighty band of warring angels to help him in his ministry. Afterward he said he felt refreshed. And Stefan, the young man that was standing next to me as I prayed for his pastor, described what happened in the spirit. He said the Lord allows him to see things in the spirit, such as angels and demons. And he said that even before I started to make that request to God, he actually saw a band of angels coming quickly, fully armed for war standing behind the pastor, and beside him. The two beside him were bigger and had spears and swords -- fully equipped. They were ready to do whatever he said; he was their commander. There were also smaller angels; they were fiercely determined to do their job and protect him. He was in good hands. In the background, there were many warrior angels inside the church, standing around the perimeter of the room. They were fiercely determined to do their job to defend. Praise the Lord! Before I could even get the words out of my mouth, they were entering onto the scene! What I loosed on earth had already been loosed in heaven.

The Disciples’ Lack of Faith
Once again in the seventeenth chapter, we find this theme of faith recurring, and once again it is the disciples' lack of it.

When 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. (Mat 17:14-20)

The problem here is that the disciples could not heal the epileptic boy. For the man told Jesus "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him." (Mat 17:16). The disciples wondered why He could do it but they couldn’t, asking Him, "Why could we not drive it out?" (Mat 17:19)

The answer was because they had so little faith. Jesus said, "Because of the littleness of your faith." They didn’t even have faith the size of a tiny mustard seed. Faith as small as a seed moves mountains. He taught them: "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." (Mat 17:20). Had their faith been at least as the size of a mustard seed, they could have cured the epileptic boy, but their faith was even smaller than that. In fact, it was probably mixed with doubt and unbelief.

Jesus taught us here about the power of the word spoken in faith. He didn't tell them that they would pray, "Oh Lord, if it is your will, please move this mountain." He said, "You will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move." The power of a word spoken in faith is such that we can speak directly to mountains, problems, sickness, disease, or demons and command them by faith to move out of the way, come out, be healed, be loosed in Jesus' name, and it will happen. I am not saying this from a theoretical point of view, but from the perspective of one having had the privilege of experiencing it myself first hand. This is also recorded in Mark's gospel:

And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." (Mar 11:22-24)

The Royal Official’s Faith 
Having covered the theme of faith in Matthew's gospel, I would like to touch on two more examples found in John's gospel, beginning with the royal official's faith.

"Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." The royal official *said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus *said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives"; and he himself believed and his whole household." (Joh 4:46-53)

I observed that the royal official brought his need to Jesus. "When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death...The royal official *said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." (Joh 4:47,49)

Jesus responded and spoke the word. He said to him, "Go; your son lives." (v. 50). The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. (Joh 4:50) Consequently his son was healed. "So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, 'Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.' So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, 'Your son lives'; and he himself believed and his whole household." (Joh 4:52-53). Only believe!

The Work of Faith 
I would like to conclude with one final example from John's gospel.

"Therefore they said to Him, 'What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.'" (Joh 6:28-29)

The people asked what they must do to do the work God requires, and Jesus told them that the work of God is to believe in Jesus! If you want to do the work that God requires, then believe in Jesus.

Putting it All Together
As we have observed in Matthew's gospel, there is a definite, recurring theme of faith. We learn many wonderful lessons from the faith of the centurion, the paralytic's friends, the bleeding woman, the ruler, and the royal official. We even learn some lessons from Peter's lack of faith and that of the rest of the disciples. We learned how to use the keys of the kingdom to loose and bind things on earth, and how they have already been loosed or bound in heaven when we do so.

Finally we learned that the work of God is to believe on Jesus Christ. Just as all the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11, we must live by faith, and one day we will enter into the kingdom of heaven as they did with many wonderful testimonies of God's power to His eternal glory. God is no respecter of persons. He does not show favoritism. What He did for them He will do for you, if you only believe.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The New American Standard Version, copyright Lockman Foundation, used by permission.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like By Faith Alone - Part I, By Faith Alone - Part II, By Faith Alone - Part III, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Following in His Steps, and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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