Assurance: One step at a time…
In the ninth chapter of Mark’s gospel the apostle relates to us the amazing account of Jesus freeing a young lad from years of demonic control. This sinister spirit had made the boy mute, thrown him foaming to the earth teeth clenched, body stiffened. The disciples had already tried to pray this demon out of the child, but without success. An unanswered prayer casts a disheartening shadow and the disciples were not immune.
So they brought the child to Jesus and immediately the boy raged into a foaming, convulsing fit. “Please help him if you can,” blurted the father. Jesus immediately picked up on this and retorted, “‘If you can’?… Everything is possible for one who believes.”
“I do believe,” the man replied, “help me overcome my unbelief!”
Well which was it? – Belief? Or unbelief? I’d say this man had faith. Faith is often made of a mix of belief and unbelief. As Philip Yancey cites Paul Tournier: “When there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no longer any opportunity for faith either.” Faith acts out of this imbalance… like walking… step upon step upon step. Almost falling, but not, then doing it again: right, left, right, left. “We walk by faith,” writes Paul (2 Cor. 5:7), a truth indeed both physically and spiritually.
“I command you, come out of him and never enter him again,” demanded Jesus. The lad shrieked, shook, then flopped motionless. “He’s dead!” someone shouted. But he was not. Jesus took the boy’s hand and lifted him to his feet. The boy was whole again, freed and sane.
Faith made the difference. Assurance not only of salvation but assurance of the power and will of God. When the disciples later asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He answered, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” That is, by closer connection to God, the sort wrought through intimate, daily communion and often enhanced by fasting. (Read the whole story: Mark 9:14-29)
“Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22).
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