Functional faith or the lack of it
Much of the reason for the lack of spiritual growth in the lives of believers, is caused by incorrect or incomplete doctrine. Only with correct and complete biblical teaching of the Word will there be spiritual growth.
The focus of this lesson is on the incorrect teachings concerning the grain mustard seed and its reference to little faith. This teaching has resulted in a deception that we can move mountains and speak effectively to spiritual powers with having only small mustard seed faith. The apostle Paul, however, teaches that we need all faith to move mountains, (1 Cor 13:2). Jesus teaches that mountain moving faith can’t be mixed with doubt in the heart. (Mark 11:22, 23). When difficult or humanly impossible situations arise Jesus makes reference that one must have mustard seed faith to deal with the problem.
It follows that every Christian requires functional faith to follow Christ in victory. The Word of God states that “ . . . without faith it is impossible to please Him . . . .” (Hebrews 11:6). It is through faith that grace is manifested and established in the heart. (Rom. 4: 16).
The secret values of the grain of mustard seed
The grain of mustard seed contains a beautiful picture of God’s grace in solving the biggest problems in the world with the least of all the seeds of the earth. (Mark 4:31).
What are the secret values of the mustard seed faith in that it is able to accomplish such impossible things? Why is continuous forgiveness only possible with mustard seed faith? (Luke 17:3-6). Being honest with ourselves we must realize that we have been missing something concerning the mustard seed?
Have we fully understood Jesus’ references to the mustard seed? Has its little size anything to do with faith? Why does Jesus repeatedly rebuke His disciple for their little faith?
We must agree that Jesus is correct about the size of the mustard seed. (Matt. 13.32; Mark 4:31), the Israeli mustard seed is like powder. What are then the hidden meanings and values not directly familiar to us as Westerners reading the Word of God.
Does Jesus really appreciates little faith it or not? Through the following inductive study approach we’ll find our answers as it confirms His reactions to the little faith of His disciples. Jesus is looking for faith that performances, faith that works.
1. Anxiety: God’s promise of provision and Little faith.
Matthew 6:30–Wherefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith. (Little faith results in anxiety because it lacks God’s revelation that He will provide for us at all times, (Rom. 8:32).
2. Fear: God’s protection and little faith.
Matthew 8:26–And He says unto them, Why are ye fearful? O you of little faith. Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. (Little faith fails to grasp God’s faith for protection).
3. Doubt: God’s call to do the impossible and little faith.
Matthew 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O you of little faith, wherefore did you doubt? (Little faith resulted in doubt, that is looking at two things at the same time, the waves and Jesus–causing Peter to sink)
4. Reasoning: God’s ways and truth and little faith
Matthew 16:8–Which when Jesus perceived, He said unto them, O you of little faith, why reason you among yourselves, because you have brought no bread? (They failed to understand Jesus’ teaching and began to reason).
5. Lack of Spiritual power: Jesus’ mandate to cast out demons and little faith.
Matthew 17:20-21–And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief (little faith): for verily I say unto you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, . . . nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting. (Little faith causes impotency in the Spirit, but Jesus gives us the solution to the problem: Fasting and praying causes purity it separates us from the worldly influences and draws us to God and in this union we receive functional faith, mustard seed faith or the pure God directed faith of Jesus. (Mark 11:22).
From the above Scripture references we observe Jesus’ disapproving reaction of the disciples’ behaviour of little faith and at times rebuked them for it. We conclude therefore that the small size of the mustard seed has nothing to do with faith but as we see in Mark 4:31 referring to the Kingdom of God. Jesus when speaking of faith points, not to the quantity or size, but to the qualities of the mustard seed, which are:
1. Purity; the mustard seed can not be mixed or mutated.
2. Indestructible; even fire can not destroy the mustard seed.
3. Multiplication; the mustard roots spread very rapidly.
4. Pungent and uncomfortable: When placed at the sore spot.
In order to live for God and be a partaker of the Kingdom blessings we need to surrender our own strength, class, and culture and live by the faith of the just as Paul teaches in Galatians 2:20-”I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
I. The loss or lack of faith is primarily caused by:
• Doing your own thing
• Wrong problem solving:
• Getting involved with seeking comfort and power through occultism, etc.
• Lack of confirmation, love and identity forming
• Not listening to God’s Voice and obeying God’s Word
II. How do we get restored and renewed:
• Surrender and turning from a self serving life and attitude to a God serving, and an obedient walk in the Holy Spirit.