True Faith in Christ
Mark 9:17-29 - 2nd Sun in Lent - March 16, 2014

“All things are possible to him that believeth.” What enormous hope and strength are contained in those words. Believers in Christ, this is God’s promise to you, for you. It is for you to cling to, to hold onto for dear life, in your heart. It is for the strengthening of your faith. It is for your comfort, your assurance, and guidance. God’s almighty power is in your hands, and at your disposal. Whatever your situation may be, “All things are possible to him that believeth.” The Lord wishes to impress this upon us so deeply, that no doubt or question enters in. There is no maybe. “All things are possible to him that believeth.” Again, Jesus says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.”

That particular promise speaks to the fact that it is not just some generic belief in some generic god, in “the man upstairs”, who I hope, might be listening.

All things are possible to him who believes what? And believes in whom? First and foremost true faith believes in Jesus Christ, sent by God the Father to take upon Himself our sins and our condemnation. There is no question, or doubt about His existence, and about His love for all sinners, that He would go to the cross for us all. There is no doubt that He hears our prayers in Christ’s name.

This is what we focus on in Lent, the One sacrifice for the sins of all. The one who died for all. There is no other god like him. No other god, no other being, laid down his life on the cross to make satisfaction for our sins, only to take it up again, to deliver us from all sin, and death, and the devil. He says, “There is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.”

So true faith doesn’t believe in itself, its own strength and abilities. I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel. True faith clings to Christ, who says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.”

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, didn’t he? He came to the disciples. The disciples tried to cast out the demon. What was the problem?

All things are possible to him who believes. Jesus gets right to root of the problem. There was a lack of faith, a lack of belief in Him. The devil had not only attacked the boy. That part was obvious. The not so obvious part - 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?

But the boy’s father says, “If” you can help. That is almost exactly 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 exatly what to do, exactly what to say, exactly what words will help the boy and his father, and the disciples.

“You put the if toward Me and what I can do. Now I’m putting the if in your lap”: “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.”

If we find ourselves focusing on the hurt, and on the pain in our life, let us also remember, surely Jesus “hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” He came to go to the cross for us, to bring us deliverance, and hope, and healing, and strength. He assures and seals to us the forgiveness of our sins by His Word, by His Sacraments, by His Spirit working in us through these meanse 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 causes all things to work together for our good, including affliction. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” In fact, God allows suffering to come because He cares for us deeply. 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. Sometimes our suffering might even be totally, and completely, for the purpose of helping someone else - part of God’s plan to turn someone else to Christ, or to strengthen someone else in Christ. “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, or ashamed. 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.