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The faith questions

About 45 years ago, when we lived in Sylacauga, the Lord underscored two simple and important things for me that have been confirmed in the succeeding years. These two things the Lord pointed out to me as I was meditating in the Gospel of Matthew.

The first has to do with the question, “What is it in a person that God blesses most?” Is it ability, skill, intelligence, education, personality, commitment, or hard work? Each of these is wonderful and can be used and blessed of God. But I became convinced that the one thing that God blesses most and responds to most is a thing Jesus called “faith.”

Just a simple review of chapters 8-13 of Matthew will help you discover this simple truth. We are told in chapter eight that a leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand, touched him and said, “I will. Be clean!” Immediately he was cured. In the same chapter, a Centurion came to Jesus in behalf of his sick servant and said, “Speak the word only and my servant shall be healed.” Jesus responded, “Go your way; as you have believed so be it done.” His servant was healed in the same hour. Again, in the same chapter his disciples became filled with fear during a storm while Jesus was with them in a boat. Jesus pinpointed the root of their fear, saying, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

In the ninth chapter, four persons bring one sick of palsy on his mattress to Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Your sins are forgiven. Arise, take up your bed and go to your house.”

In the same chapter, a certain ruler came to Jesus saying, “My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay your hand upon her and she shall live.” Jesus responded to his faith and request and the daughter lived again. On His way to the deceased daughter, a woman with a 12-year illness reached out her hand and touched the garment of Jesus. Within the privacy of her heart she believed that if she could only touch the hem of his garment she would be healed. Jesus stopped because of her touching and said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you whole.”

Even though the above are illustrations of what did happened in response to faith in the Lord, we now come to the illustration of what it is that limits God. The last verse in chapter 13 summarizes His visit to his hometown of Nazareth: “He did not do many mighty works there because of their lack of faith.”

But, is there a simple and practical definition of the kind of faith that God blesses? Yes, and it is found in an illustration in Matthew 9. Two blind men came to Jesus crying out to him for healing mercy. Jesus had only one question for them: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

Their answer was, “Yes, Lord!” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith it will be done to you”. Their sight was restored. (See Matthew 9:27-29) Faith is believing that God is able and personally acting upon such belief. I had far rather be accused of over simplification rather than complicating simple faith.

This is the first in a series of articles on the general theme: “God is able.” Each article will relate to a different statement in the New Testament that “God is able.”