Whose Faith and Faith In Whom? + Q&A
I grew up in a church culture that seemed confused about faith and its application. Not only did most live as though faith was wishful thinking and by necessity blind, but there were also maddening contradictions as to how faith worked.
For example, I remember hearing that if a person had the faith of a mustard seed (small), they could move "mountains." But then I'd hear the reason their "mountain" didn't move was that they had "little faith." It wasn't until much later that the scripture became clear to me; that when Jesus corrected "little faith," he was calling out a person or persons "lack of faith." That is, in a particular area the person didn't trust Jesus at all or trusted something else more. You can study this for yourself, and I assure you you'll come to the same conclusion. (Matthew 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, Luke 12:28, etc.)
Concerning healing the confusion has always been who's faith is required and in what object are we to place our trust. Today we're going to look at a few scriptures and observe both the faithful and the object of their faith. We will also draw out areas of concern for consideration.
Let's start with Luke 5:17-25 (the paralytic lowered through the roof). Who's faith gets commended in this story? Although it may include the man in need of healing, verse 20 says "their faith." In English "their" is a possessive pronoun. Defined as "belonging to or associated with the people or things previously mentioned or easily identified." The people most easily identified here are the friends who lowered the man through the roof. No matter what, "their faith" represents more than one. So in this case, is this man healed because of the faith of his friends? Another wonderful story that will challenge us in this way is the Centurion's slave in Luke 7:1-10.
Next, we look at Matthew 9:20-22 (the woman with an issue of blood). Who's faith gets commended in this story? Very clearly it is the woman herself. She was willing to push through the crowds to touch the hem of Jesus' garment. Some like to claim that her healing was only salvation, as the word in Greek means saved. But when we compare this with Luke 8:43-44 we see that her healing was also the cessation of her bleeding.
Lastly, we look to John 11:38-44 (raising Lazarus from the dead). Who's faith gets commended in this story? This time it's the faith of Jesus in His Father, and it serves as a lesson to those around Him. Jesus was entirely God, but He was also fully man, and as He walked this earth He lived in complete trust of His Father. What makes this story so unique is that Lazarus can't have faith. He's dead.
So where does this leave us? We've seen healing as a result of the faith of friends, the faith of the sick and the faith of our Lord Himself. It leaves us trusting God alone!
Faith by itself is not a thing. Faith, most accurately translated trust, must have an object. In each of these cases, the object of trust was God. It was not in faith, nor was it in healing. If we make the object of our faith, faith itself or people for that matter, our search will never end.
If we're not careful, we will continuously walk in guilt believing we don't have enough faith in our tank to be healed. Again this is not a subject known to the scriptures. Instead what we see are people who have faith that Jesus is who He says He is, but struggle to have faith that He can do what He says He can.
In conclusion, faith is a requirement, but it's a faith in God that He can do all things. Not faith in faith, healing or people.
Tomorrow I want to talk about what God can do vs. what God will do. I believe this is a major sticking point for people.
Q: Do we have to free from sin to be healed? (ref. Luke 5:17-25) A: Absolutely not! In this passage, Jesus first forgives the sins of the man. But the Jews saw this as blasphemy because only God can forgive sin. To prove to these people that He was God and therefore could forgive sin, He then heals the man. The one was not contingent on the other for the man with palsy.
Q: In my case I know the Lord can heal me from the effects of polio. Why not yet?
A. The person that believes that healing is purchased in the atonement has to say that it's a matter of faith or lack thereof. They would say that you think God "can," but you don't believe He will. On the other hand, if you believe that healing wasn't purchased in the atonement, you can still believe that healing is for today. You simply leave it's effectual nature to God alone.