“Help My Unbelief”
by Jeff Curtis
Many in the Bible struggled in their walk with God. We might identify with some of them. Elijah became discouraged (1Kings 19:10). Jeremiah wept (Jer. 9:1; 13:17). Peter often spoke of before he thought (Luke 9:33). We can share in the plea of the father who said to Jesus, “I…believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). When the man asked the Lord to heal his son, Jesus replied, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). That’s when the man cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief”
Not topic is more relatable to the Christian than faith – and no need is more crucial than the strengthening of our faith. Paul wrote in Romans 1:16-17; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
The NIV has “a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” The NCV says that God’s righteousness “begins and ends with faith.”
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6a). “By grace” we are “saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). We walk the Christian pathway “by faith, not by sight” (2Cor. 5:7). Faith is the shield that protects us from the devil (Eph. 6:16). Faith “is the victory that has overcome the world (1John 5:4). The ultimate “outcome” of faith will be “the salvation” of our souls (1Peter 1:9).
As we consider the importance of faith, we, too, may be tempted to cry, “We believe; help our unbelief!” In our study concerning the man who made first made the request, we want to learn how our faith can be strengthened.
Be Positive About Your Evangelism
by Greg Gwin
When it comes to sharing the gospel with others, many Christians are like the fella who attended a seminar on ‘The Power of Positive Thinking.’ He told his friend as they were leaving the meeting: “I’m going to try it, but I don't think it will do any good!”
Too many Christians fail to do their duty to God, not because they have been discouraged by previous bad experiences, but because they don't think their efforts will do any good. For these folks we would offer these two simple suggestions:
1) You may truly be surprised at the results that are possible if you would just try to share the truth with some other person. The New Testament is full of examples of people who were converted to Christ who would not have been considered as likely prospects. The 3,000 believers on Pentecost included folks who had cried out for Jesus’ death. Simon (Acts 8) was a religious false teacher, yet he obeyed the gospel. The apostle Paul had been a rabid persecutor against the church, yet he was converted. You say that your efforts won’t do any good? You just might be surprised if you’d try.
2) Always remember that our labors are not measured by the harvest gathered, but rather by the seed sown. Note in the parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15) that the sower sowed the seed in places where it was likely to grow, and also in places where it likely wouldn’t - he simply sowed the seed. That’s our job, too. “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11).
Think positively Christian! You can share the good news with others!!
The Disciple and the World
by Jeff Curtis
Mark 8:34-38 should be seen as having a connection with the previous verses, 8:27-33. Jesus had just heard the confession of His apostles and revealed to them His approaching death in His first passion discussion with them. In those discussions, and in Peter’s rebuke of Jesus, two approaches to life come to the surface. One is seen in Peter. It is the human, conservative view. It emphasizes saving what we have. Jesus held the second view, the view of yielding completely to God’s will. It emphasizes giving what we have to God.
This text says that Jesus gathered the crowd and His disciples so He could give them direct teachings on what discipleship means. He goes to describe His followers by what they must believe and how they must live.
Who is a follower of Christ?
- A devoted disciple. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (8:34b).
No one is a disciple of Christ involuntarily. Each Christian is a disciple because he has chosen to be a disciple. Discipleship is following and learning from whomever or whatever we are following. The only way we can be disciples of Christ is by following Him and learning from Him.
- A sacrificial Servant. Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (8:35).
His follower understands that the wrong kind of living means dying and the right kind of living means dying and the right kind of dying means living. The word “life” has a double meaning. Jesus was saying, “Whoever will give up his life and well-being in this world will gain higher spiritual life and eternal life in the world to come.” He said the converse is true also: “Whoever determines to preserve the life of this world, with its pleasures, profits, and popularity, will lose his spiritual life and eternal life.” If we give ourselves to spiritual things of God and to the gaining of eternal life, we will gain everything that has any real value. Henry Barclay Swete paraphrased this teaching this way: “The man whose aim in life into secure personal safety and success, loses the higher life of which he is capable, and which is gained by those who sacrifice themselves in the service of Christ.”
- A Wise Servant. Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (8:36-37).
He conveyed this truth by asking two questions. The first one sets before us, in the realm of the moral and spiritual, the alternatives of profit and loss. He used exaggeration to make His point. If the price for the soul were the whole world, the loss would be entire and eternal. The whole world, when put on one side of the scale, is lighter than a feather when the soul is on the other side of the scale.
The other question is this: “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” The implication of the question is that nothing ins the physical world is worthy of this exchange. Once the soul is lost, nothing can buy it back. Character determines destiny; and character does not remain fluid, but becomes fixed.
Jesus has called each of us to be a certain kind of follower. The Christian is called to bear a cross. A choice must be made between temporal and eternal values. The present determines the future.
At the center of all His teachings, Jesus is the model character and the standard of truth. Our relationship with Him is what matters now and forever. Which philosophy will we choose? One philosophy says, “Keep this world so that you can live.” The other says, “Die to the world so that you can really live.”