In a previous lesson, entitled “102 – What is Faith?”, we learnt that faith is understanding that God’s Word is always true because God’s Word has creative power to make itself true. In the lesson entitled “103 – Living by Faith”, it was made clear that God wants His people to exercise faith, that is, He wants His people to live according to the understanding that His Word is always true. Having bread in your hand will not fill you if you don’t eat it. Understanding God’s Word will not change you if you do not apply it. If it is by faith that we allow God’s Word to fulfil itself in our life, and if it is through faith that we please Him, then it is very important for us to evaluate our faith.
1. What does great faith look like?
Matthew 15:22-28 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have ________ on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and ___________ him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to ______. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, _______ is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
NOTE: Jesus said that this lady, who was not an Israelite, but a Canaanite, had great faith. There are only two people recorded in the Bible who had great faith. She believed in the creative power of God’s Word. There are also three other characteristics that this lady had:
(1) She was asking something for someone else – her daughter. She also had needs in her own life, but she asked Jesus to fulfil the need of someone else instead of asking something for herself.
(2) She was determined to get help from Jesus. She cried unto Jesus. Even after the disciples asked Jesus to send her away and Jesus made it clear that He had a special work to do for the Israelites, she still continued crying to Jesus for help. Jesus made it clear that He had special bread (His Word) that needed to be given to the children (Israelites) and not to the dogs (other nations). But this lady was willing to be called a dog as long as she could get help from the Words of Jesus that others did not want to accept.
(3) She did not feel worthy. She cried unto Jesus to have mercy on her. What is mercy? Mercy is treating someone better than they deserve. She wanted Jesus to treat her better than she deserves and she was willing to be called a dog in order to get help from Jesus.
2. Who else in the Bible had great faith according to Jesus?
Matthew 8:5-10 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, ___________ him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not ________ that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so _______ faith, no, not in Israel.
NOTE: Jesus said that this centurion, who was also not an Israelite, but a Roman, had great faith. He believed in the creative power of God’s Word to fulfil itself. There are three other characteristics that this centurion had:
(1) He was asking something for someone else – his servant. He also had needs in his own life, but he asked Jesus to fulfill the need of someone else instead of asking something for himself.
(2) He was determined to get help from Jesus. He beseeched Jesus to help his servant. Even though he was a Roman leader and Jesus was a Jew, he did not care what the people around him would think or do. He was determined to get help from Jesus no matter what happened around him or what people might have said.
(3) He did not feel worthy. He did not feel that he deserved help from Jesus, or that Jesus owed him anything. When Jesus healed the servant, the centurion saw it as an undeserved gift.
3. What does little faith look like?
Matthew 14:25-31 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the ______ boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of ________ faith, wherefore didst thou ________?
NOTE: Jesus said that Peter, who was an Israelite, had little faith. There are three characteristics that Peter had:
(1) He was asking something for himself. He did not ask Jesus to help someone else walk on water.
(2) He does not seem to feel unworthy. Instead, he questions the identity of Jesus and tells Him what to do, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”
(3) Unlike the centurion and Canaanite woman who was determined to get help from Jesus no matter what happened around them, Peter started to doubt Jesus’ Word when he started to focus on self, the wind and waves.
4. Does little faith believe that God’s Word has creative power to fulfil itself?
Matthew 14:28 Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, ____ me come unto thee on the water.
NOTE: Yes! Little faith does believe in God’s power. Peter believed that if Jesus told him to walk on the water then he would be able to do it. Just because we believe in God’s power doesn’t mean that we have great faith!
5. Is little faith enough to walk on water?
Matthew 14:29-30 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he _________ on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to ______, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
NOTE: Little faith is enough to walk on water sometimes. Little faith trusts God’s Word, but when focused on self or problems around, little faith starts to doubt God’s Word. Peter walked on water when he trusted God’s Word, but when he focused on self, and the wind, he started to doubt and God’s Word could no longer be fulfilled for Him. Little faith is not a nice life because it is an up and down experience. Many Christians are like Peter: the one moment they are walking on water with Jesus, and the next they are busy drowning. Great faith, like that of the Canaanite woman, is a more constant walk with Jesus, because it trusts God’s Word all of the time and does not focus on self or unfavorable conditions.
6. Who else had little faith according to Jesus?
Matthew 16:5-10 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had _________ to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of ______ faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither ___________ the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
NOTE: This time around it was all of the disciples that had little faith. Jesus tried to change the conversation to something spiritual. He tried to preach to them, but the disciples took the conversation back to literal bread. Little faith finds it hard to listen to something spiritual when there is a physical need. Also, the disciples didn’t have bread because they forgot to take bread. Little faith doesn’t have what it needs today, not because God did not provide, but because little faith forgot to take what God already provided. Jesus already fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves, and He fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, but the disciples were worrying about where they would find bread. Little faith easily forgets about how God’s Word was fulfilled in the past. Without sharing testimonies about how God’s Word has been fulfilled, or writing them down, it is easy to forget God’s miracles like they never even happened.
7. What else does little faith worry about?
Matthew 6:25-30 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your ____, what ye shall ____, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than _________? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of ______ faith?
NOTE: Little faith understands the power in God’s Word, but it worries about survival, food and clothing, even after understanding that God takes care of those who are faithful to Him. Problems and challenges distract little faith from the promises of God’s Word.
8. Why did Jesus ask His disciples where their faith was?
Luke 8:22-25 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us ___ ____ unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a ____ of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 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 ___? 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.
NOTE: Jesus said “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.” As long as they exercised faith in that Word, it would be fulfilled. But when they saw the storm of wind on the lake they started to doubt. Jesus asked them where their faith was, because they doubted His Word and focused on the problem. He rebuked the wind and raging water, and this confirmed that there is creative power in His Word.
9. What will Jesus look for when He returns?
Luke 18:8 Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find ______ on the earth?
NOTE: While many people are struggling to keep walking on water because they exercise little faith, there are those who have never even walked on water at all because they exercise no faith. The Son of Man is looking for people who live by faith all of the time, and can therefore walk on water with Jesus all of the time.
10. What did the apostles ask Jesus?
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our ________.
NOTE: The disciples must have felt embarrassed that they, as Israelites, only exercised little faith while the Roman centurion and Canaanite woman exercised great faith according to Jesus. The disciples had been enjoying greater light than the others. But the disciples did not give up. They had seen for themselves that little faith is not a nice life. They wanted great faith and that is why they asked Jesus to increase their faith.
Faith is understanding that God’s Word is always true, because His Word has creative power. God wants us to live according to this understanding.
This is what we have learnt from little faith:
1. Little faith lives according to God’s Word sometimes. Little faith often doubts God’s Word and focuses on self or problems.
2. It often feels like it deserves help from Jesus. It thinks, “I have done this for God, so God needs to do this for me.”
This is what we have learnt from great faith:
1. Great faith lives according to every Word that proceeds out of God’s mouth all of the time. When circumstances change, it keeps on trusting God’s Word.
2. Great faith does not feel worthy to be helped. It sees everything from God as undeserved gifts.
The disciples had lots of truth, but little faith. The Roman centurion and Canaanite woman had little truth, but great faith. This shows us that our standing before God depends not upon the amount of truth we have received, but upon the use we make of the truth that we have. Thus those who follow the little truth that they have are in a better condition than those who have great truth, but do not live according to that truth in their daily life. The word “faithful” means “full of faith”. Those who constantly live according to all the truth that they have are called faithful and have a great faith. This is a great life. Those whose Christian experience is not constant have little faith. This is not a nice life. God desires that we have great faith and remain faithful.
Evaluate your faith today whether you have great faith, where you constantly live according to God’s Word, or little faith, where you only sometimes live according to God’s Word. Is it your desire, like the disciples, to have more faith?