"Because you have so little faith"

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by Mr. Bultitude, Oct 22, 2013.

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  1. Mr. Bultitude

    Mr. Bultitude Puritan Board Freshman

    [BIBLE]Matthew 17:20[/BIBLE]

    I've heard explanations of the "moving mountains" passages. For the most part, they involve the believer knowing the will of God (through prayer, study, and fellowship) well enough to know that moving mountains is his will. I listened to a Redeemer PCA sermon linking it to Zechariah's prophecy that God will split the Mount of Olives in two. I kind of get all that -- in other words, the point is not that we have to believe, and then whatever we ask will be granted, but rather that whatever we ask in his name will be granted but we first need to know what things can be asked in his name.

    That all is background for my actual question. Those explanations seem to make sense for every "mustard seed" and "moving mountains" saying of Jesus, except for this one. I can't see why the amount of faith would have any bearing on their request being granted or not being granted. So basically my question is, in what sense do the disciples have "too little" faith?
  2. irresistible_grace

    irresistible_grace Puritan Board Junior

    I tend to think the fact that the LORD is constantly making reference to His disciples having "little" faith had more to do with the fact that they are never DEVOID of faith, it is just lacking or less than sufficient at times.

    The mustard seed is extremely small & mountains are so large they can be seen for miles. To put the two beside each other demonstrates all the more that even a little faith can make the impossible possible. The fact that they doubted or focused on temporal things rather than eternal things was an indicator that at times the had "too little" faith. All the while never being completely DEVOID of faith.

    I don't think it is about "how much is enough" but I do think it is has to do with the varying degrees of faith. We need to be more heavenly minded; we need to exercise more faith, even if it is just a "little" more faith!
  3. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have wondered if Judas was there and if so did he have "little faith".
  4. irresistible_grace

    irresistible_grace Puritan Board Junior

    Judas had faith. It was a "DEAD" faith ... without works! He did not have saving faith.
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    "Dead faith" is sort of like saying someone is alive that is dead. Now the demons have "faith" but that "faith" is in the wrong "part" of God so in the context of Matthew 17 I am not sure we can equate a dead faith that was not able to cast out the demon. In other words, In my most humble opinion Jesus is telling that they had REAL faith but not enough of it to cast out the demon.
  6. One Little Nail

    One Little Nail Puritan Board Sophomore

    The faith of Devils is a mere Historical Faith,a type of mental assent this is the type of faith that the Romish "church" says is needed no wonder it is the habitation of every
    unclean bird, sorry I digressed couldn't let a good opportunity for a little "catholic" bashing go, calling it a dead faith is accurate as our brother was quoting from James,
    personally I like the term Legal faith as this is a term that a lot of 19th century Evangelicals embraced ,which is a good way methinks to explain a mere non saving
    carnal fleshly "faith" consisting of mental assent to Historical fact, whereas it is the opposite of an Evangelical Spirit produced Living Faith that produces good works out of
    Love & embraces The Lord Jesus Christ receiving His Imputed Righteousness unto Justification.
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    There is an issue of weakness of faith in individuals, and the need for each one to strengthen and improve it, and become stronger in it.

    But Christ's essential point is that the "amount" of faith is largely irrelevant. As long as the least amount of faith is lodged in the proper object of it--namely the triune God--the outcome must be positive.

    Clearly, if it is merely my petty desire to have a mountain removed, so my trip to grandma's is shorter or less trouble, I shouldn't think that my "faith in God" will git-'er-done. Not going to happen. How does my convenience and God's will coincide there?

    But, in terms of our earnest prayers for the glory of God--even for healings, or for an item that is out of reach but I think is necessary to live/work for God in the world (and actually is so), and the like requests--here the promise of Christ is relevant. How will God refuse such a thing, when the honor of the Son will be magnified? When the very desire is born of the indwelling Spirit? Only let us be humble in asking, realizing that what we think ought to be the case is subordinated always to the Lord's best.

    Our problem is not typically that we don't have "enough" faith, but that we ask amiss (as James says); or we rely on our own selves and resources, and simply do not hope in the Lord in the midst of the need. Let us truly give our helplessness into the hand of the Lord, stand still, and see the salvation of our God. This is faith.
  8. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    This passage indeed seems odd because Jesus first criticizes the disciples for little faith but then turns around and says that just a little faith can move mountains. This is why some commentators say the rather obscure, compound word translated here as “little faith” really ought to be translated as “poor faith.” The disciples’ faith was not placed squarely in God but rather somewhere else, perhaps in a magic-like understanding of what they could do.

    The point: All we do for Christ's Kingdom we must do by faith in God, not in our own power but rather through the power of the Spirit. The power is not in us but in Him. Does this mean Christian service is, then, a matter of working hard to muster up enough faith so that whoever manages the most faith achieves the most for God? No, that too is a wrong, self-centered approach. Even very little faith is enough to move mountains. Put whatever faith you have, even if it is just a little faith, solely and purely in your powerful God rather than in yourself... and you will do amazing things.

    This interpretation fits the parallel passage in Mark 9 where Jesus explains, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Prayer is a way of exercising true faith placed squarely in God.
  9. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
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