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124How good is an imperfect faith?

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  • Stephen Shields
    May 31, 2000
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      You wrote:

      <<So then what is the requirement
      for me to have God's righteousness?
      You have made it clear that
      it is not works. Is there
      then no requirement? Or is the
      requirement faith? perfect
      faith with nothing attached
      purposely or unintentionally?
      Is imperfect falliable faith
      good enough? I guess it's a
      stupid question because
      if it's not then we are all
      doomed because all that God
      is gonna get from imperfect
      falliable humans is imperfect
      falliable faith. What do you think?>>

      There are two passages I like from the Gospels that encourage me that Jesus
      definitely accepts our faith even when it's imperfect.

      One is Matthew 13:55-58

      Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and
      they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous
      powers?" they asked.
      "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't
      his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
      Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these
      And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown
      and in his own house is a prophet without honor."
      And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

      Here we see that Jesus seems to limit what he does depending on whether or
      not he see faith.

      But compare this passage with

      Mark 9:14-25

      When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them
      and the teachers of the law arguing with them.
      As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and
      ran to greet him.
      "What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.
      A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is
      possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.
      Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth,
      gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the
      spirit, but they could not."
      "O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you?
      How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
      So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy
      into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the
      Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From
      childhood," he answered.
      "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do
      anything, take pity on us and help us."
      "`If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
      Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my
      When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil
      [1] spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of
      him and never enter him again."

      The thing that is striking here is that even though Jesus seemed to limit
      what he would do if he saw no faith, he also would respond to imperfect or
      struggling faith!

      See also Matthew 11:1-11

      After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from
      there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. [1]
      When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples
      to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone
      Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
      The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy [2] are
      cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to
      the poor.
      Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
      As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about
      John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the
      If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those
      who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.
      Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a
      This is the one about whom it is written: "`I will send my messenger ahead
      of you, who will prepare your way before you.' [3]
      I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone
      greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven
      is greater than he.

      What seems to be happening is that John while in prison is doubting whether
      Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus - thru John's messengers - assures him
      that he is the Messiah. And then as Jesus sends them he away, he turns
      right around and begins to praise John as the greatest of all those born of

      I like to say that faith is binary. It's either there or it isn't, it's on
      or it's off, it's a 0 or it's a 1. Sometimes I suspect that this is what
      Jesus was talking about when he talked about Mustard Seed Faith (very small)
      accomplishing great things (see Matthew 17:20). We either act as if
      something is true or we act as if something is false. The man with the
      disturbed son chose to go to Jesus or he could have stayed home. John could
      have chosen to worry away in prison or he could have chosen to send someone
      to talk to Jesus. For these men, faith had legs. It reflected a choice to
      move toward Jesus.

      Perhaps the doubt that's best expressed is expressed to Jesus Himself!
      Doubt wins when it paralyzes and we do nothing. Faith might as well be 0 in
      that case.

      <<What is HTH?>>

      Sorry! It means "Hope this Helps!"

      For a list of other common internet abbreviations, look at


      HTH (Hope this helps)! Feel free to keep the dialogue going!

      Stephen Shields
      Cedar Ridge Community Church
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