YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL
Read Mark 5:30-34
"Your faith has made you well." Your faith. Why didn't Jesus say, "God has made you well."? Why didn't he say, "I have made you well."? No. He said, "Your faith has made you well." This woman had the kind of faith that enabled healing to flow out of Jesus into her sick body.
Well, don't we have faith? We must have some kind of faith, or we wouldn't have
taken the trouble to read this today. But do we have her kind of faith?
Read Matthew 9:27-30
"According to your faith, be it done to you." Faith is the golden thread which runs through the whole New Testament witness. You want to connect with the living God? You'd better come with faith.
The father of the epileptic boy cried out in anguish, "Lord! if you can do anything for us, help us!" Jesus answered, "What do you mean, 'if you can.'? Believe! All things are possible to him who believes!"
"I believe! Help my unbelief!" That's all it took. The boy was healed.
This message of faith continued right on after Jesus was no longer visible on the earth. Peter and John are going up to the temple at 3:00 p.m., the hour of prayer. At the gate sits a lame man, begging for alms. Peter says, "Look at us." The man looks. "I have no silver or gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!"
Peter takes the beggar by the hand and lifts him up. The man starts walking, leaping, praising God, as they go into the temple court together. A crowd gathers in amazement. And then Peter explains to them what has happened…..
Read Acts 3:12b-16
When Jesus says, "Believe! All things are possible to him who believes," he is calling for something more than believing in a doctrine or confessing a creed. He is calling for faith in him. "Do you believe that I can do this?……Do you trust me to fulfill my promise?"
In order to get to where that woman was, the woman who touched his garment and received healing, we first need to clear away the artificial faith that clutters our heats. Artificial faith comes in three sizes: 1. Faith in an idol; 2. Faith in a doctrine; 3. Faith in faith. As long as our hearts are cluttered with any of these, a living faith is impossible.
First, we need to make sure that we haven't put our faith in an idol. An idol is a god you can manipulate. You serve this god in order to get him to do what you want him to do. The Israelites, at the foot of Mr. Sinai, had just heard the voice of God. It scared them to death. So when Moses goes up the mountain to get the Commandments, they say to Aaron, the priest, "Come on, make us a god we can see! A god who isn't so scary."
"No problem," says Aaron. "Give me your gold."
Pretty soon they're having a great time dancing around this new god, this golden calf.
You can turn anything into an idol. An idol is so much more convenient! You can make your idol work for you. The minute you try to make Jesus serve your ends, you don't have Jesus, you have an idol.
"O, he's going to make me prosperous!" "O, he's going to smooth out my road." Now, instead of me serving him, I'm trying to make him serve me. That's not the kind of faith that healed that woman.
Secondly, we need to make sure that we don't get side-tracked by faith in a doctrine. We like to point our fingers at those Calvinists and their crazy doctrine of "eternal security" --- "Once saved, always saved." But we go just as crazy over our doctrine of "grace." "I'm saved by grace," often becomes our "faith," and Jesus gets lost in the shuffle. Our faith is rooted, not in him, but in our doctrine of grace.
"I'm saved by grace; nothing to worry about." And Jesus says, "Hey, I'm over here! When are you going to start following me?"
Thirdly, we have to make sure that we aren't putting our faith in our faith. "Man! I've really got faith! I really believe! If I want to, I can move mountains! When I pray, I get results!" Now my confidence is not in God, but in my faith. Dangerous!
Read Mark 5:34
This woman's faith was not attached to an idol. She wasn't trying to manipulate Jesus. She drew near in fear and trembling to receive what he promised to give. Nor was she believing in some doctrine. Her faith was in the living God who was speaking to her through this holy man. She just knew that she could trust him. That's where her faith was: in him….not in her faith.
But how can we have that kind of faith in someone we have never seen? She saw him. But we have never seen Jesus.
It's not what you see that creates faith --- for her or for us.
It's not even what you feel that creates faith.
It's what you hear.
If the words that Jesus speaks find their way past our ears, deep into our heart, our heart begins to believe --- in him.
Faith comes by hearing. This woman heard something that went down into her heart and caused her to believe. The blind men could not see Jesus, but they too heard something that burned in their hearts, and caused them to believe. When we hear what they heard, when the word of the Lord gets down into our hearts --- convicts us --- catches fire in us --- we too will have a faith in him that will make us whole.
Read Mark 5:34
That kind of faith is not like something we get, put in our pocket, and keep. It's a connection with him that we keep alive by listening to him and acting on what he tells us.
When the disciples said, "Lord increase our faith!" Jesus sighed, shook his head and answered, "If you had faith as tiny as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, 'Be rooted up and planted in the sea', and it would obey you." And then he went on to help these men to have faith. Before long they were turning the world upside down through their faith in him.
So how do we get to where they were? To where that woman was that day? How do we get to that kind of faith? Three steps:
1. We confess our need of it.
2. We ask for more of it.
3. We start exercising whatever weak faith we have.
First, we confess our need of it.
Who of us is not aware of how shaky and shallow our faith in Jesus really is? What's wrong with admitting it….and confessing it? Admitting to ourselves, and confessing to God that our faith is shaky. Far better than pretending to have a faith we don't have.
Second, we ask for more of it.
"Lord, increase our faith!" "I believe! Help my unbelief!" When we ask for more faith, stronger faith, does he turn us away? Not if we're serious. Jesus will no more turn you away, when you ask for more faith, than he would turn that woman away when she touched his garment.
"Lord, increase our faith!" And he will!
Third, we need to start exercising the faith we have, no matter how weak it is.
We exercise our faith by focusing on the words that come to us from the mouth of our Lord --- and acting on those words!
If he says, "Ask, and it will be given you," that's what we do.
If he says, "Ask for the gift of the Spirit," that's what we do.
If he says, "When you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against any one," that's what we do.
Read Mark 5:34
"Your faith has made you well."
Faith is like a seed which God has planted in your heart and mine.
It's there now.
It will grow.
It will do mighty things, if we pay attention to the One who is giving it to us.
So let's confess our need of it.
Let's ask for more of it.
Let's start exercising the faith we already have by turning to the Father right now and giving him thanks……