Mountain Moving Faith?

If you will recall, last time we took a good look at the importance of understanding. Knowledge and wisdom are vital, but we can have wisdom that we share with others and yet not understand how to apply that to ourselves. That is why we need understanding.

We see this lack of understanding in believers who claim to be pro-choice. When you read scriptures that tell us things like, John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb when he heard the voice of Mary. Also, he was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. God does not fill tissue, he fills people. Tissue does not leap for joy, people do. From just these two verses, not to mention the number of verses that state that God called someone from their mother’s womb (Jeremiah and Paul come immediately to mind) understanding tells us that life begins at conception. Jesus told the religious people that God is the God of the living, not the dead, or the tissue. By understanding, we conclude that God is NOT pro-choice as it is defined by abortionists.

If you have not read the previous post on understanding, you can find it here.

But the basis of our discussion, this time, comes back to this verse:

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.
Matthew 17:20 NKJV
Does “unbelief” equal “little faith? Did Jesus rebuke the disciples for their “little faith” and then tell them faith so small that he equated it to a mustard seed, was enough to move mountains?

We began to explore this topic last time and as we said, Jesus did NOT tell them they had “little faith.”

Sadly, often preachers use other translations in their messages that render this verse differently. I don’t know why. I don’t know if they are ignorant of the difference, or if they are persuaded that little faith is equal to unbelief.

The phrase “little faith” is used in the King James and the New King James versions five (5) times. It is translated from a word in the Greek that is a compound of the word for faith, and the word for few or little. (Oligo-pistos)

Vines’ Dictionary explains the word this way; This word “is used only by the Lord, and as a tender rebuke for anxiety; (see) Matt. 6:30 and Luke 12:28, and fear, (see) Matt. 8:26, 14:31, 16:8.” (W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Revell Company, 1966, p. 72) In these cases, Jesus is telling his disciples to essentially reject fear and anxiety and return to faith.

In fact, when this is described as a “tender rebuke” what it means is, Jesus was telling them they had faith sufficient to accomplish anything, they just needed to focus that faith on the promises of God, and not focus on whatever doubts arose because of things they thought, saw, or felt.

However, in Matthew 17:20 Jesus was not supplying a “tender rebuke.” He was chastising the disciples. How do I know? Because he used an entirely different Greek word (ah-pistos). While the word, pistos, generally means faith or belief, the article “a” (ah) at the front of a word states that the word is the opposite of whatever follows. So, apistos actually means NOT FAITH. It doesn’t mean little, or few, or small. It absolutely means that the disciples were unable to cast out the demon because of not faith, or unbelief.

If the disciples were stymied by their unbelief, how come they were able to heal the sick and cast out demons prior to this? Does having faith mean unbelief is excluded? Or does unbelief mean there is no way you can be in faith?

No. Having one does not exclude the other. We can see this in the exchange between Jesus and the father in this story in Matthew 17 and Luke 9:37-43. We’ll cover that more in the next post. Something else we see in Luke, as the man is bringing his son to Jesus the demon causes the boy to flop down and convulse (v. 42).

From this incident, we can surmise that when the disciples tried to cast out the demon there was similar reaction from the boy, and when they saw this they allowed doubt (or unbelief) to get in the way of faith. Romans 10:17 tells us that Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. In John 6:63, Jesus told us that the word is spirit and life. In other words, the way we apply faith is by being convinced by, and transformed by, the word. The father reveals the truth of the batter. He was convinced that Jesus had the power to help. He was afraid that there would be no help for them.

It is not enough to have knowledge of some scripture that you’ve heard others quote. You must be convinced that those scriptures have real meaning. You must be convinced that God loves you enough that He will keep his word, that has real meaning. God is not a genie in a bottle, but God is the one who has promised healing and prosperity (3 John :2 and numerous other places). And Jesus said the the word is spirit and life.

There is more to say on this subject, and we’ll wrap this up with the next post. In the meantime, begin to ponder, or meditate on the love of God, and the promises of God. Let yourself become convinced, and thus transformed. Don’t be moved by the lies of the world, or even of your own mind. God never fails us!

To learn more about God’s love and compassion for us, check out these related posts (click on the title for the link):

Shattered Dreams? Broken Promises?

You Can’t Let It Get to You

You can also get a copy of my book, a book on the liberty we have in Christ (not nutrition as the title may suggest) on Amazon (click on the title): Eat Healthy…Most of the Time!

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Remember, God loves you just as you are, but he loves you far too much to leave you that way!