True Faith in Christ
Mark 9:17-29 - 2nd Sunday in Lent - March 1, 2015

Dear baptized believers in the true God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

“All things are possible to him that believeth.” Believers in Christ, these words are for your strength and comfort. These words are to build you up, and to encourage you to continue in prayer. “All things are possible to him that believeth.”

Isn’t God all-powerful? Is there anything God cannot do? As believers in Christ, you have direct access to His unlimited power. “With God nothing shall be impossible.” That is why, “All things are possible to him that believeth.” Because with God, all things are possible.

But this is not for the power-hungry, or those who want to rule the world in selfishness and greed. “All you have to do is believe hard enough, and you will be the master of the universe, the richest and most powerful person on the planet.” Not quite.

This promise is for the poor in spirit. Those who are troubled by their sins, and long to be forgiven. It is for those who know they’ve messed up, and pray, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” It is for those who have given up on their own righteousness, and have nothing else to cling to but God and His Word. It is for those with a problem that seems to have no solution. It is for those with a sick child, and have no where else to turn.

Yet, Jesus says, “All things are possible to him that believeth.” “If ye have faith…nothing shall be impossible to you.” “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

But what belief? Faith in what, or faith in whom? Any old faith, in any old thing? Faith in a generic god, who I hope might be listening?

Jesus says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.” First and foremost true faith believes in Jesus Christ, sent by God the Father to take upon Himself our sins and condemnation.

True faith believes that God did not want to see us suffer the true punishment for our sins, so He sent His only-begotten Son to endure it for us on the cross. This is such a huge part of true faith. No matter how severe our afflictions may be in this life, it cannot be punishment from God. He already laid upon His Son, the true punishment for all our sins. True faith believes God already took care of the true punishment for our sins.

True faith also believes that Jesus rose from the grave, and that because He lives, we too will live. True faith believes that God wants not one single soul to perish, so He sent His Son to be the Savior of all. And true faith is created and kept by the power of God’s Spirit, working in our hearts, through God’s Word. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

There is no other god like Jesus Christ. No one else laid down His life on the cross to make satisfaction for all our sins, only to take it up again to deliver us from all sin, death, and the devil. He says, “There is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.”

This is really at the heart of the dilema of the boy’s father. All things are possible to him who believes, but not in just anything or anyone. All things are possible to him who believes in Jesus, and in what Jesus did for us, and still does for us today, as He continues to send His Spirit into hearts, by His Word, to grant faith, and comfort and strength.

The boy’s father in today’s lesson really needed to hear those words. His situation seemed so impossible. Nothing was working. Even Christ’s own disciples could not cast out the demon. Nothing was working. But why not? The father asked for help. He came to the disciples for help. The disciples tried to cast out the demon. Why did nothing seem to work?

All things are possible to him who believes. Jesus gets right to root of the problem. There was a lack of

faith. The devil had not only attacked the boy. He had also attacked the boy’s father, and the disciples, not physically, but spiritually. To do that, he had attacked God’s Word.

The boy’s father says to Jesus, “If Thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” But there is no “if” when it comes to Jesus’ power and compassion toward us. It’s not just that Jesus can help, it’s that He will. He says, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” Do we believe that with all our heart and soul?

But the boy’s father says, “If” you can help. That is basically what the devil said to Christ in the wilderness. If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. He calls into question the power and Divinity of God’s Son.

Yet, Christ knows exactly what to do, exactly what to say, exactly what words will help the boy and his father, and the disciples.

“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Scripture says, “Straightway”, immediately, “the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Immediately, the words of Christ took effect, and were powerful in his heart. Like seed planted in the ground, the Word of God sprung forth, and produced the fruit of faith. “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

When we cannot seem to focus on anything but the hurt and the pain, let us also remember, Jesus “hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” He came to bind the brokenhearted, and to comfort those who mourn.

He went to the cross, to bring us deliverance, hope, healing, and strength. He assures and seals to us the forgiveness of our sins by His Word, the Sacraments, and by His Spirit working in us through these means of Grace.

Many claim that a loving God would not allow His people to suffer, yet, true faith believes in God’s promise that He will continue to cause all things to work together for good to them who love Him and are called according to His purpose. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

God sends suffering because He does care. He wants us to come to Him, rely on Him, pray to Him, and find comfort, strength, and healing in His promises. He wants our faith not only to survive, but to grow and be strengthened, and bring forth much fruit. "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."

It can be difficult to understand our crosses, yet, we can trust that God always knows exactly what He is doing. He always has a specific plan for us, and it is always for our ultimate good.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” For His ways are above our ways. His thoughts are above our thoughts.

Those who trust in Him, will not be let down. All things are possible to him who believes in Jesus Christ. May we continue to be strengthened in that true saving faith, by remaining in His Word, remembering our Baptism, and by partaking of the Lord’s Supper. In Jesus’ name. Amen.