After reaching over 3,000 in words for yesterday's blog post, which is the longest blog post on this blog I am hoping that today I can keep that numbers today under 1000, which if you will observe is the normal range for the length of a post on this blog. This however changed with the LUKE CHALLENGE! How do you achieve brevity when the text for your study has been described as the gospel of details? An average chapter in the Luke gospel averages 40 verses per chapter. Compare this with other synoptic gospels and then you will understand why the book. of Luke is the biggest book in the new testament despite been 4 chapters less than the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. Luke simply has more words employed in its writings that Acts has and yet it's the same author. Speaks so much to the attention Luke gives to details!
Yet despite my intent to achieve brevity still, I am conscious of the fact that the word of God is taught line upon line, precept upon precept, a little here and a little there! And this is what teachers of the word do, they expound the word, a little here and a little there until the saints come to an understanding
THE PROBLEM WITH SMALL FAITH(LUKE 17:5-6)
Today I am going to focus on the theme of faith which the disciples raised here with Jesus in verse 5. I choose to focus on this part for it will continue in the line of the subject of faith in which some of the articles in this series have addressed.
The disciples asked Jesus after he has made an impossible demand on them in Luke 17:1-4, where he told them they have to forgive no matter the severity of the case or the number of times they have to forgive. They simply cried out, "Lord Increase our faith"! Seems to me they were saying to Jesus that the demands as regards to forgiveness is beyond their human capacity to believe and practice and so they asked for increased faith!
There were few places in the Bible where the disciples made a request on Jesus. This demand for increase Of faith was one of such few instances where the master was asked to teach or give them something. In Luke 11:1 they asked for the pattern for prayers! Here in Luke 17:5, they asked for an increase in faith! And Jesus responded thus:
"And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you". Luke 17:5-6 KJV
This response, when placed in context with Jesus's other statement, represents a point of conflict for many believers today! It is this point of conflict and confusion on the subject of faith that we want to resolve today! Even Jesus knew faith will be one of the things the devil will hotly contest! He asked in the gospels, " when I return shall I find faith on the earth". And it's already on, the faith we receive from our fathers is already been contested both within and outside the church!
What is more worrisome is the conflict from within the church for any warfare outside of the church cannot defeat the church. Jesus already said I will build my church and the gate of hell shall not prevail against it! The warfare without will fall like a pack of cards, they cannot stand the power of the gospel. However, the one within is the one that is subtle difficult to detect, and even much more difficult to defeat.
They are not heretical preaching, that would be too obvious. Truth is even the men that are preaching this don't know what the import of their teaching is and how it is weakening the church. Some of these teachings are biblical on the surface! They are the teachings that Christ has paid it all on the cross of Calvary, so there is no need to fast and pray, we just take it! Why stress your self when Jesus was already stressed! It sounds true but it'ss not the truth, it's half-truth!
The teachings that weaken our faith are the ones that tell us or question the need to pray for long hours. Why do you need to pray for long, God's ears are open to hearing us so they tell us to be as brief as possible for God knows our need even before we ask, and that is the truth. But also we know prayer is a relationship between humanity and divinity that leads to spiritual.transactions that affects the earth on behalf of heaven! Prayer is talking to God and talking to God who is my father should neither be long or short but by the intimacy, I have developed with the father! Intimacy determines the length and depth of communication between two people!
More than the outcry of the world against giving tithes and offerings in the church, these little foxes of teaching been peddled on our pulpit is fast breeding a generation of believers without fire in their belly and faith in their heart!
So they tell us according to Jesus' response here to the disciples? Do you want big faith? Great faith? No, you don't need that. The small faith you have is enough, and they go on quoting Jesus, "if you have faith like a mustard seed" you can move mountains. This is true, at least this was the response of Jesus when the disciples asked for an increase in faith! This response seems all okay until you begin to compare this response with Jesus other talk with the disciples on the subject of faith! And this is where the problem arises. Let's look at some of this text scattered over the book of Luke and other gospels and then we will take a position!
Scriptural revelations must be understood in the context of other revelations and not in isolation! Deep spiritual understanding is gotten by viewing scriptures in the context of other scriptures and not in isolation! So let's read some scriptures!
When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Luke 7:9 KJV
This was a comparative statement that seems to measure one faith against the other. In my mind, Jesus was saying " having seen so many faith in action in Israel I can categorically tell you that this is the greatest of them all"
This statement alone proves that faith is not just faith, faith is in levels and the level of faith you operate determines the quality of result that you get.
Jesus was saying to us here that faith is in levels, and great faith tends to get great results. Let's read some more scriptures.
And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
Luke 8:24-25 KJV
Here Jesus rebuked the storm for the disciples. But looking at Matthew's account of this same event, we begin to get better insights!
And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:25-26 KJV
Matthew put this in perspective for us, the problem of the disciples was not that they don't have faith it was because they have little faith according to the master. Little faith, small faith!
The problem with small faith is that it cannot handle big challenges.
When they faced the storm their faith could not handle it! And Jesus gave us insight into the characteristic of small faith or little faith: it has an element of fear, some element of doubt, it is an unstable faith, it exercises some bits of double-mindedness, one minute it's saying confidently God will do it but in the next minute when the storms roar louder it begin to ask, 'will God actually do it?". This is small faith graphically depicted at its best!
Another characteristic of small faith or little faith is the tendency to worry! One more scripture before we begin to round this up.
"If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? Luke 12:28 KJV
Too many financial worries? Jesus said that is symptomatic of someone suffering from acute faith deficiency, the little faith syndrome! For if God can clothe the grass which is today and tomorrow is gone how much more shall your heavenly father supply all your needs? Hallelujah!
Lastly, I will come back to the scripture that we started from. The disciples asked that their faith be increased, there is a reason why they asked. Look at all their failures while with the master that has been attributed to lack of faith or little faith? So they gather one day, had a meeting to analyze their time with the master and they resolve, this is our issue: "we have faith but it is not enough. Therefore anytime we have the chance guys, we will tell the master to increase our faith!"
THE GROWING FAITH, THE GROWING KINGDOM
Having been with the master they knew that Jesus operated at another level of faith different from theirs and so they sought to measure up to the master. What the disciples asked here is what our generation must ask: LORD INCREASE OUR FAITH! Why? We are fast becoming a sense full generation of believers rather than a faith-full generation of believers.
Jesus' answers in Luke 17:5-6 tends to suggest that small faith is okay. It says if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed that is enough! Why did Jesus say that? This is not an approval to remain with our little faith, and be content with it. And this is where reading scriptures within context comes in. When you understand what Jesus said about the mustard seed in another place then you begin to understand the import of this reply.
In Luke 13:18-19 the Bible tells us,
"Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of"
The point here is the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed! The mustard seed at the beginning is little, small, but in the process of time grow to become big! A mustard seed does not remain small for long. So when Jesus said to have faith like a grain of mustard seed it must be interpreted in the light and understanding of what a mustard seed is: it's a seed that GROWS!
The master answer here was appropriate, start with what you have now and it will grow! Our faith grows as we use them! Is it small? use it and it will grow! Lord increase our faith? Yes, but increase comes as your small little faith is put to use regularly. This is the point of the matter! The master ain't suggesting that our faith should be small but that our faith should grow like a mustard seed until it becomes great on the earth, it is this kind of growth that results in the growth of the kingdom!