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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Faith and Unbelief

Matthew 9 Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic

1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”3 And at once, some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house. 8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Throughout much of the bible the bond between the forgiveness of sin and healing is made clear, Like Psalm 103:

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s

And Isaiah 53
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

And Jesus made it abundantly clear in Matthew 9 when he says “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?” Alternatively, put another way for today, which is it easier to say, ‘because Jesus died for you, your sins are forgiven’ or ‘because Jesus died for you, you are healed’. The forgiveness of sin provides for healing, both spiritual and physical. Forgiveness of sin and healing go together like a mother and a daughter. They are bonded together. One comes from the other. The bond cannot be separated.

Many teach that supernatural healing is no longer needed because we now have the bible and that healing was just a temporary thing until the bible was complete (that idea is not in scripture). Some also teach that the gifts of the spirit are no longer needed either.

Some teach that if you are sick and God does not heal you then it must be God’s will for you to be sick. If that were really so then why do you go to the doctor? Trying to get well might be going against God’s will.

Some say our sickness glorifies God. Then we should all pray to get sick.

What does Paul say in Galatians chapter 5 about those who turned away from trusting in faith and tried to keep the law, “a little leaven leavens the whole loaf”. People being taught to trust in keeping the law. They are being taught unbelief. If people are being taught that the bible does not means what it says then they are being taught unbelief and that leaven contaminates everything else.

What happened to America?

Nearly fifty years ago I graduated from high school. As a young person, you don’t pay much attention to the subtle changes in our culture. On the surface, many seem to be good. The acceptance of new things, new styles and new values appear to benefit everyone, at least it seems to benefit the younger, more liberal group of people. However, looking at America through the long lens of fifty years you realize that that those changes were not good. Those changes were part of the slippery slope to cultural and moral decay, the decay of national pride and patriotic values. We’ve changed from a people who were proud, self reliant and independent to a people who want everything, we want it free if we can get it and instantly if it’s available. We’ve become a people who want the most for the least amount of work. We want perks we didn’t earn. We want wages that pay us way above our abilities and most of all we think we deserve more than we got. We think people who work hard do not deserve what they get.

The long slow decline of America hasn’t been ignored. There have been people who have fought many battles in the culture war, the political wars and the war of principles. We have looked for legal solutions, political solution and media solutions. We have elevated men to the level of little messiahs and then were disappointed when they eventually failed. The spirit of socialism, Marxism, atheism and otherisms now reign supreme over a once great culture that represented the Christian and moral values of America’s core people, the America that won wars to set people free. The America that gave individuals the ability to be what they wanted to be. The America that gave people the freedom to accomplish anything and everything they could dream of. All of that is on the verge of disappearing and sooner rather than later.

With people so willing to do battle on so many fronts why are we losing this war. Why have we ceased to be a Christian nation with a strong culture, high moral values and freedom loving people? The primary reason I believe is the failure of the church, not a particular church, denomination, or group but the American church as a whole, Catholic, protestant and everything in-between. America has not been perfect but it has been blessed. Blessed mostly because we have held Jesus up high and his standards and morals have been our national standards and morals. With so many good people fighting the battles we are still losing the war.

I first blamed the church for America’s failure. I blamed them for not teaching their people about who they were in Christ, what God had done in them and for them. I blamed them for not teaching them the about the power of God that dwells within them. Now, I still blame the church, but for a different reason. In place of the needed teaching about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit, the people of America’s churches have been taught unbelief. They have been taught to be powerless against Satan and his devices. They have been taught fear and unbelief and when things get tough. They cry to God hoping he will do something instead of them operating in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Every time the devil kicks our backside we have learned to accept what the he does as God’s will and, instead of fighting in the spirit. We say, “thank you Jesus” for our misery when Jesus had nothing to do with it. America Christians are weak, selfish, materialistic just like the rest of the world because we haven’t been taught what real faith is, what Jesus expects of us and how to do the things he has created us to do.

Unbelief is a form of leaven that will destroy a church, a Christian people or a Christian nation. A little bit of unbelief will contaminate not just a little but everything that is taught, and the contamination will cause us to question everything God has promised to do for us and in us. If I doubt whether it is God’s purpose to heal me when the bible talks so much about healing, then I can question whether he will provide for all my needs. I can doubt whether I am truly crucified in the flesh and have the ability to deal with sin in my life. I can doubt whether his power to work in me to fulfill his will in me and to work out my life “according to his good pleasure”. I can doubt whether he really loves me and has my best interest in his mind. I can doubt whether my salvation is good enough. Unbelief multiplies itself.

Many churches teach that the Holy Spirit does not work today as he did in bible times. They teach that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not what the bible says they are. They teach that we are not to expect miracles anymore or God's miraculous intervention in our lives is a rare occurrence. What it means is that many churches teach their people doubt and unbelief. Doubt and unbelief are ingrained in their doctrine.

Someone prayed for healing one day and they were not healed. They concluded that either healing was no longer in effect or it wasn’t God’s will to heal. Certainly, it had nothing to do with their doubt and unbelief. It could not be their lack of faith that caused God not to heal them. Certainly it had to be God, not them, that prevented healing power from flowing. No way could it be them. It must be something God is responsible for, not them.

Many churches and denominations actually interpreted the bible based on their personal experiences. If their experience was lacking then they assumed that is the way God wanted things to be so they entrenched those experiences into their doctrines. They teach them in their universities, Sunday schools and their congregations.

How to stop God

Unbelief was the only thing that prevented Jesus from doing miracles. Unbelief actually stopped Jesus’ healing power from working in his day. If unbelief stopped him then how much more does it stop us today? Look at the scriptures below:

Matthew 17: 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief:

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen.

Matthew 13: 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Matthew 14: 29 And he said, “Come”. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me”.31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

What we see above is that unbelief can and will limit what God can do in individuals lives. Unbelief limited the disciples in their ministry. For whatever reason, in Matthew 17, perhaps because they had seen this boy with the demon like this for many years, they did not have the ability to cast out that demon. Unbelief interfered with their ability to what they should be able to do. Unbelief limits us in what we think we should be doing for God and believing that we have the power to do it.

After his resurrection, Jesus chastised the disciples on their unbelief because they did not believe the message when God did what he said he was going to do.

In Matthew 13 Jesus was limited by unbelief. The people were too familiar with him to accept what he was saying. They first knew him as an ordinary person. Now he was different. Now he has been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Now he can do miracles. The unbelief they had put a wet blanket on Jesus ministry. He could do no might works. Unbelief steals from the power of faith. Unbelief will destroy faith and leave you wondering why God abandoned you when actually through your unbelief you abandoned him.

The solution today is probably the same as the Israelites in the desert; those who had unbelief were not allowed to enter into the promise land. God gave them forty years to figure it out and still they didn’t get it. Today’s American churches and denominations who are ingrained with unbelief will probably not get it either. What will happen is God will simply allow them to die in the desert of America’s once promising land. The land will also be turned to spiritual dust. The storms coming over the horizon, economic storms, political storms and moral storms will destroy the America we once knew and the Christians who have true faith, without any unbelief, will stand in the test and trials while the churches of former days pass away. It will take a people of pure faith who will stand. Finally, a church that is good enough to be the bride of Christ. When we see the last American church of unbelief fail then possibly we will see the return of Christ.

Luke 18: 6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

When the Lord returns he will be looking for a people full of faith. His plan was to have a church full of New Testament faith, full of Holy Spirit power changing the world around them, not a bunch of Christians hiding under a rock waiting for the Rapture to take them away.

Some people believe that before Jesus died he empowered a few disciples and a few others. After they all died that was it, game over, no more power. However, Jesus’ going away was to spread the power. He went away and left the Holy Spirit to empower all of us so He would be manifested all over the world. The works that Jesus did, did not die with him. He was just the beginning. We, as Jesus’ representatives, would go into all the world doing all the same things that Jesus did, displaying all the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, drawing people to him and winning them to Christ. Jesus’ dying was not an end of his works but the beginning. The book of Acts is not a history book; it is a living action plan for changing the world. When Jesus returns will he find this kind of church on the earth, one full of faith? Or will he find something else.

Consider this: God’s structure for the church is very clear. He set first Apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers to guide the church. It was a spiritual relationship, a bonding relationship, like a family, spiritual brothers and sisters working together for the good of the family.

What has man done to God’s structure? They have replaced it with boards, committees, president, CEO’s and all other kind of structures and plans. God’s plan has become outdated in their mind. They have a better idea as to how to organize a church, one where men are in power and authority over other men, just like the world’s business and political systems. Instead of servants we have rulers.

Where are the apostles, the prophets and evangelist? Where the men who lead by spiritual authority given by God? Where are the men who are to edify the body of Christ and bring us into the unity of the faith, the fullness and maturity of stature of Christ? Instead of unity, we have men who divide, compete, insult, accuse and ridicule others. This is not the true church of Christ. This is not what Jesus had in mind when sent the disciples out in all of his power and authority.

Will Jesus find faith on the earth? Only when the old worldly church systems, man’s systems and teachings, pass away.

I often hear the quote “America, the last best hope for the world”. The problem with that statement is that the reason America was, and still can be the last best hope, was its people. Even in the worst of times, the America people were rooted in a biblical foundation, a moral and religious people as a whole. That is no longer the case. The American churches have failed. The world must look for a new kind of church, a new church based on the true New Testament model. The new best hope of the world is not a country; it is a church fulfilling the call of the bride of Christ. The old churches filled with the leaven of the world and unbelief will have to pass away. They only stand in the way of true churches of faith. The churches that think they are part of the “in” crowd may find themselves on the outside looking in at Jesus’ return.

The question is, when Jesus returns, will he find faith on the earth? Will you be one of the ones he will find full of faith?

Hebrews 3 12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Mark 6 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.


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