Mark 9:24 (CSB) Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
This faith, although it be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace of temporary believers; and therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
Hebrews 5:13–14 (CSB) For everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
Matthew 6:30 (CSB) If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith?
Romans 4:19–20 (CSB) He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
Too many churches teach and too many Christians falsely believe that faith comes within themselves and generated from within themselves and it is all based on what they can do to strengthen their faith.
Brother and sister, how is that working out? You have been told that if your faith is stronger, then God would do what you want him to do. How did that work out for you? That is because faith in the One True God is not Paganism. When it comes to the Father, Son, & Spirit, it is never that we do something, did not do something and God responds accordingly. No! Everything that God does is based on his own will and his own good pleasure. It is based on God who is maxed out good and maxed out wise.
And yes, he hears our prayers. Why? Even with your tiniest faith, you are in communion with the Triune God because of the mercy the Father has for you, sealed by the Spirit through the perfect life of the Son. You are in union with God. That is why he hears your prayers. Not because of your faith, but because of his mercy that he is so willing to lavish on us. And we know this to be absolutely true because gave his only begotten Son--not just once but forever and ever.
yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace of temporary believers
2 Peter 1:1 (CSB) Simeon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have received a faith equal to ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Go back and carefully read Christ analogy of faith to a mustard seed:
Matthew 17:17–20 (CSB)
17 Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.”
18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and from that moment the boy was healed.
19 Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
20 “Because of your little faith,” he told them. “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Christians will read this and burden themselves with, "If I had more faith like Christ told me to, then I would be able to move mountains or get this new job or heal my sick loved one or whatever we think we need."
But think harder. Christ said himself, "If you had the faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be able to move mountains." What do you actually need? Move a mountain? No! What you actually need is God! You need God! God gives you the faith--either a drop or a gallon or more--and you will get what you actually need. Not a mountain moved. And the mountain is not representing your problems or your struggles or your afflictions. The mountain moved is representing God coming to you because you cannot go to God.
God came to us when we first sinned:
Genesis 3:7-8 (CSB) Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
God came to us to save us from our sins:
John 1:14 (CSB) The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Matthew 1:21 (CSB) She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Notice at the end of Luke's account of the Lord's prayer:
Luke 11:9-13 (CSB) “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? ”
My friend, I have zero guarantees in life but just this one: if you turn to God, ask for God, you will get God.
You will get the Almighty God, Creator of heavens and the earth and hell. You will get the Lord who holds the entire universe actively with his mind. You will get God who alone is holy, holy, holy. You will get God who alone is love. You will get his only begotten Son who lived for us and by his bloodied gruesome death on the cross, conquered sin, Satan, demons, hell and death--put all of the forces of hell to open shame. You will get the true pure righteousness of Christ--when the Fathers looks upon you, he will truly declare what he once declare, "This is my son, in whom I am well-pleased." You will get the Spirit who will seal you and keep you and guide you and comfort you and teach you and remind you of all that Christ has done for you.
You will get the Triune God who will dwell in you and with you for all the days of your life.
Ephesians 6:16 (CSB) In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
1 John 5:4–5 (CSB) because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Romans 8:31–37 (CSB) What, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Who can be against you? What need is greater than our desperate need for a merciful Savior who looks upon our wickedness with compassion because he knows we are dumb and feeble and made from dust!
That faith--that small small faith that you have that was given to you by God gets you God.
The gulf between the unbeliever and the ones with the smallest faith is abysmally infinite. However, there is no gap between the ones with the smallest faith and the arms and the heart of the loving Savior.
Hebrews 6:11–12 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Colossians 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,
Why would God command you to grow the faith that he gave you? You might be thinking, "Surely, he told us to strengthen our own faith?" The same Christ who told us to come to him all who are weary and burden and he alone will give us rest?
1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 (CSB) And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith, so that no one will be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.
It should come to no surprise that we are to indeed strengthen our faith in communion with other saints. In other words, how can you strengthen your own faith by yourself? More quiet time? More prayer? More Bible reading? More fasting? More doing?
Or how about gathering with the saints on the Lord's Day, giving thanks and sitting under the ordinary means of grace. Which way do you think the Lord intended for us to strengthen our faith?
Hebrews 12:2 (CSB) keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Galatians 6:14 (CSB) But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world.
Our self-reliance, self-sufficiency should come to no surprise. It is the American way. That is the culture around us. And it is not unlike Peter's response when Christ told him that he would deny him three times:
Luke 22:31-34 (CSB) “Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Look at the arrogant and self-assured response of Peter:
“Lord,” he told him, “I’m ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
And Christ told him:
“I tell you, Peter,” he said, “the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me.”
Christ spoke no lies. That absolutely came true. Peter, so sure that there would be no way in hell that he would deny the Christ. But when all of the circumstances of life came crashing down on him, squarely kicking him in the chest as he saw his Christ being beaten and mocked and awaiting his execution, Peter denied Christ three times.
Peter had the little faith. How did Christ respond to him?
Christ came to him, supped with him, and drew near to him. And because God alone is wise and good, he kept Peter and restored Peter to the head of his church.
Think about that. Our modern day sensibilies would have disqualified Peter for publicly deny his knowledge of Christ. Surely, you want to quote Christ:
Matthew 10:33 (CSB) But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven.
Oh, just like God spoke to Adam and told him, "if you eat of the tree, you will sure die?"
But how does the Living God respond? Fast wrath or instant mercies?
How did God respond to Adam and Eve? Instant mercies.
How did Christ respond to Peter? Instant mercies.
1 John 1:9 (CSB) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Turn to the Christ. Infinitely faster than you can snap your fingers, the Lord God Almighty will forgive you and make you righteous.
Make no mistake: our sin is what nailed Christ to cross. But the children of God are going to sin--a lot. A lot. A lot. But the depth of my sin cannot overwhelm and cancel out the flood of the grace of Christ. We will sin but his grace upon grace abounds even more.
Peter's self-assured, prideful, self-reliant self failed him over and over. But his tiny faith, given to him by Christ, was enough for Christ to come back to him over and over again.
God knows that we are weak. God knows we are little. God knows that we will get swayed by every wind of doctrine. He knew this. That is why he sent his Almighty Son to live and die for us so that we would be with him for all of eternity. Amen.