Is God’s Giving of Faith Conditional or Unconditional?

If God ‘gives’ faith – outside of any action or effort on our part – why then does He rebuke those who do not have faith?

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:14-20

Another rendering of the same situation

When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:14-29

Feel the anger and indignation in Jesus’ voice when the child’s father says – “if You can do anything.” Who is the one determining and releasing the power of God?  The man thought, and most of us think today, that his son was not delivered because Jesus was not ‘able,’ or it just was not God’s will. Jesus, on the other hand, immediately, and with force, turned it around and made it very clear to all that the ability resides within the one ‘who believes.’  It is unbelief that hinders the work of God, not God’s lack of ability or motive.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered (marveled) at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching. Mark 6:4-6

It was not the will of God that determined the release of His power?  It does not say that He ‘would’ do no miracles, but rather that Jesus ‘could’ do no miracles.  The people themselves were responsible for the amount of power that went through Him on their behalf.  Their unbelief withstood God’s power.  This is staggering!

And Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

The only ‘if’ in the statement above is whether you have faith or not. No other variable is mentioned.  The extent of things possible to this belief is ‘all things,’ nothing less.  To whom is this possible?  To anyone who believes.

Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.] Mark 16:14-20

Where is the will of God mentioned?  The will of God is in His instructions to them – His Word to them.  The only variable is the faith, or lack of faith, of the individual in His Word.  Faith it appears is our responsibility. Look at the power put at our disposal by God.  Is this not sufficient to get any job done?

…and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:19-21

We are not only able to do great things in His Name, we are expected to do great things in His Name!  We are our only limitation, and someday we will stand before Him, and we will discuss all the things done in the body (or not done in the body).

“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Comments 6

  1. Annette

    When I was diagnosed with colon cancer a few years ago, my husband and I refused to accept it. Instead, we saturated ourselves with the Word of God and took many doses of healing scriptures daily. That was my only medicine, and when the doctor went back in to remove the part of my colon that had previously been cancerous, all he saw was brand new healthy tissue just like we had been telling him he would find! It was a great witness to that Hindu doctor!

  2. Martin Dahn

    Thanks a lot to whosoever hosting this website. It is a tremendous blessing. I cannot express how grateful I was when I saw this website. God Bless, and I know that He has a reward for you.

  3. geraldine

    No, Sam I do not feel overwhelm by God’s power, I long for it, I have it if I believe it. It’s what helps me with my enemies. Faith is what changes circumstances for me.

    His power shows me that I do not have to fear man.or the enemy working through man.

    His power shows me that if I only have courage to act I will be victorious. Once I thought so less of my self that God could not love me or use me this way. The Devil is a liar. God longs to give us this power. I am still working on this,accepting what God says I can do through His son Jesus. I am like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon, I am learning to FLY.to STAND in VICTORY.

  4. John the Baptist the 2nd

    One man said something like this,” Someday some simple soul will come along, read the Bible and believe it,and put all the so-called learned bible scholars to shame. I’m glad that day has come. John.

  5. Sam Storng

    I wonder and want to know if God still cares and helps those who have very little faith or no faith. Does He still love and care for the unbelievers, ones who just are having a hard time being able to see God or hear Him or find Him to be just too overwhelming, (like me?) I ask for faith and belief but the power of God scares me. He created all and all is so majestic. This kind of intellect, creative ability, and power just scares the live out of me. I wonder if others feel so overwhelmed and awed when thinking about God. Thank you! Sam

    1. Post
      Author
      FaithMechanic

      Sam,

      Sure He does. He loves and cares for everybody. The first part of John 3:16 says, “For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” He loves everyone, but His choosing to move on someone’s behalf is different. That requires faith. The last half of John 3:16 says, “…that whosoever believes in Him shall no perish, but have eternal life.” A walk with God requires faith. If faith was impossible to get this would be unfair, but it isn’t. Faith, especially a faith to know Him, is not hard. Any seeker with a sincere and humble heart will find him.

      You don’t receive faith by asking for it, or praying for it. You get faith by planting the word in your heart and then seeking Him.

      Sure He is overwhelming. You’ve got a good picture of Him, more than most, except that He is the one Person that you do not have to worry about. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

      Confess your faults, ask Him to come into your heart and life. Start reading the Bible (preferably the Gospel of John), take time to talk to Him and wait on Him. You may not ‘hear’ anything but things will start to change deep in your heart. Waiting on God is like download time. You have a fear of God already, now develop a faith in Him too.

      Take a look at these if you desire:

      The Vast Universe – Two Perspectives http://bit.ly/sAOHu
      God’s Salvation Deal – Salvation http://bit.ly/LCHev
      God Gives According To His love; We Receive According To Our Faith http://bit.ly/4w1h4q
      Faith Knows the Final Score – An Analogy of Faith http://bit.ly/ydp54
      Faith Comes – Faith Is http://bit.ly/go9Ybm
      Faith = Obedience to His Word + Consistency in Our Walk http://bit.ly/aCwGiv

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