Help Thou Mine Unbelief
By David J. Stewart
Question: How much faith do you need to be saved? How much do you need to believe to get your prayers answered? In Mark chapter nine, a man’s son was possessed, afflicted by a demon. The father had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples but they could not heal him. Then Jesus came and the father told of his son's pain and suffering. The young man would jump into burning fires, gnash his teeth, foam at the mouth, try to commit suicide, etc. The father asked Jesus if anything could be done and this was Jesus wonderful reply... “If thou canst believe, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM THAT BELIEVETH” (Mark 9:23).
What a wonderful thing to hear! The father begins to cry. Could this stranger from Nazareth make my son well again? After years of watching his son live in torment, could there be any hope? Jesus is about to heal the boy. What a wonderful Savior! If we simply believe, ALL things are possible. Do you believe?
But we still haven’t answered our question: How much do we have to believe to see results from God? Let’s hear the father’s response to Jesus Words... “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I BELIEVE; HELP THOU MINE UNBELIEF” (Mark 9:24). Notice the father's interesting statement... “help thou mine unbelief.”
The fact that the father asked Jesus to help his unbelief, shows that the father wasn’t sure how much faith he had. Did he have enough faith? Evidently the father feared he might not have enough faith to help his son. In desperation he casts any doubts he may have upon Jesus and begs for mercy. Why did Jesus grant this man’s request? Did not the father say he had unbelief?
There’s two little magic words which the father said to Jesus... I Believe! You see, it doesn’t matter how much doubt you may have—Just as long as you believe. Isn’t that a wonderful Saviour! It didn’t matter how much doubt the father had as long as he “believed” that Jesus was able to heal the young man. Amen!
The disciples were trying to heal the boy in their own power, not the Lord’s. This is why Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith. Our faith must be in Jesus Christ, nothing else. This broken-hearted father had just enough faith to say “I believe.” But that’s all Jesus needed to hear to heal the afflicted son. Notice that Jesus did NOT say “all things are possible to him that believeth MUCH.” No, Jesus simply requires us to believe! No amount of doubt can prevent our salvation or hinder answers to prayers if we just believe on Jesus. Do you recognize the power of Christ?
The disciples were powerless to heal the young man. The father was frustrated. Jesus said, “O FAITHLESS generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me” (Mark 9:19). What is so amazing to me is that the father had more faith than the disciples did. This is really interesting. You’d think that the disciples would have demonstrated great faith from being around Jesus so much, but they were powerless. How could this be? The father said to Jesus, “help thou mine unbelief.” He admitted his existing doubts.
The disciples were respected and recognized by the crowds as men of faith. The disciples would never have admitted to such unbelief publicly. The father did say he had just a little faith, but IT WAS FAITH! That’s all that mattered. This was the great difference. The father had faith, the disciples didn’t. What an interesting passage of Scripture! Notice that Jesus did NOT rebuke His disciples for having “little faith.” Jesus rebuked His disciples for being “FAITHLESS.” They had NO faith in the matter! They were trying to heal the sick boy in their own strength. The bottom line is you either have faith in Christ or you don’t.
There is only one reference in the New Testament about “increased faith” and it was the disciples who made reference to it... “And the apostles said unto the Lord, INCREASE OUR FAITH. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:5,6). Jesus never taught degrees of faith. On the contrary, Jesus taught that you either had faith or you didn’t. Jesus taught that faith as a grain of mustard seed was more than sufficient to accomplish all that we might need or expect from God. It is fascinating to learn that the mustard seed is a tiny seed that produces one of the largest plants in the world. The black mustard plant in Israel grows to be over 12 feet tall. Jesus purposely chose to use the mustard seed as an illustration because of this very fact. Faith, no matter how small, will open the windows of Heaven and call forth the grace of God.
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