Thursday, March 8, 2012

Study the Word

All things are Possible to One Who Believes

Most people would not dispute the fact that there is nothing impossible with God. But did you know the Bible says that nothing is impossible to him/her who believes? Mark records the words of Jesus to this effect in Mark 9:23b saying, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (NKJV). The NIV puts it this way, “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Let’s get the context. A man came to Jesus and pleaded with him to heal his demon-possessed son. Before this he had taken the boy to the disciples of Jesus but they were not able to cast out the demon. He then brought him to Jesus and pleaded with him, if he could, to cast out it out. At that point Jesus politely corrected him, “If I can?” and then made the powerful statement, “All things are possible to him who believes.” The next verse reads, “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Unbelief in Belief

What did the father mean by the statement, “I believe, help my unbelief?” I believe he meant that he believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior. He believed that Jesus was the Son of God and therefore able to do all things. However, he had difficulty in believing Jesus’ statement; that all things are possible to him who believes. Though he believed in Jesus’ ability to do anything, he couldn’t see how he himself could cast out that demon. That’s where he needed help from Jesus. And he confessed and cried for help from Jesus, “. . . help my unbelief.”

The disciples also needed help. At this point in time, Jesus had given them authority over all the powers of darkness (Luke 10). I believe they did everything Jesus told them to do about casting out demons but the demon still refused to come out. Later on, when they were by themselves, they asked Jesus why they were not able to cast the demon out. Jesus responded, “This kind can come out only by nothing but prayer and fasting” (29b). Matthew records the same event but adds some extra points. He records in Matt 17:20, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.”

According to Matthew, the reason the disciples could not cast out the demon was because of unbelief. It wasn’t just little faith, but unbelief. It means they did not have faith at all. Many other times Jesus rebuked his disciples for their little faith but not unbelief. This time, it was unbelief. Does that mean they didn’t believe in Jesus Christ? No, they obviously believed in Jesus Christ. What was their unbelief in then? It was in knowing who they were – that if they themselves believed they could do the same things Jesus was doing, therefore, nothing will be impossible for them.

Strengthening your faith by Fasting

  Did you know that prayer and fasting strengthens your faith? Yes, it does. There is a relationship between their lack of faith or unbelief and their lack of fasting and prayerlessness. Although Jesus never told his disciples they must fast, he assumed that they needed to be fasting (Matt. 6:3,7,17).

Jesus himself started his ministry by fasting for 40 days and nights. I used to think that Jesus fasted for me so that I didn’t have to fast. How lucky could I be? Although Jesus’ fasting was for himself and his ministry, he also did it to set an example for us. Everything that Jesus did by his life was to set an example for us to follow. The only thing that he did for me so that I would not have to do it again was to die on the cross to pay for my sins. No one needs to do that – suffer crucifixion and death in order to pay for their sins - unless they reject his offer of salvation. Everything else is for our example so that we can live like he did. If you want to have the same authority that Jesus exercised over demons and “mountainous” circumstances, you will need to practice prayer and fasting and your faith will be strengthened.

What was the result of Jesus’ 40 days and nights of prayer and fasting? It was power. We read in Luke 4:14, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Holy Spirit to Galilee, and news about him went out through all the surrounding region.” There were times when Jesus rebuked demons out while other times demons screamed out without Jesus saying any word because the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit was troubling them. Demons cannot torture people who are spirit-filled. On the contrary, the presence of God in such people’s lives can torture demons to an extent that they become uncomfortable and leave. Prayer and fasting connects you to the source of eternal power, strengthening your faith to move mountains.