And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.Mark 9:21-24
Mark includes a few more details in his account. Perhaps, none more important than this one.
Many teach and/or believe a doctrine that Jesus died for our sins but we must accept His offer of salvation and believe the gospel. Let me first respond to that with the fact that eternal salvation is 100% by the grace of God. If we must do or say something, grace is no more grace (Romans 11:6)! Further, what is it that we are to believe to cause salvation, and to what extent must we believe it? Is a simple statement of faith followed by a life of sin enough? Most who believe this way would say, “no.” My question then is, “Where do you draw the line on belief and obedience in order to get or maintain salvation?” Soon, you are in a fruitless debate that focuses more on the will and actions of men rather than the grace of God in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
There has to be another answer! — And there is.
Jesus tells this father that all things are possible to a person who believes. If Jesus said it, it is true. Therefore, we need to look at the context to see what this man believes. He cries out that he believes but that he also has unbelief at the same time. He is crying out to Jesus to not only help his son but also understands that Jesus can act even when he has doubts.
In other words, the man does not have faith in his own faith or ability to believe. The man has faith in Jesus Christ! And that is true and useful faith. The reason that all things are possible is that the power resides in the Son of God not in man’s exhibition of faith. By saying that he believes but has unbelief at the same time, the man is showing his full reliance on Jesus. This is Biblical faith.
It would do us all well to see that we are exactly like this man. We have been given faith in the new birth but the old man in us still has doubts and fears. When we walk by faith and are blessed by God, we need to realize that both the blessing AND the faith are gifts of God. We are not to be arrogant and think we have accomplished something on our own. Our faith comes from Jesus. Therefore, the object of our faith should be Christ, and Christ alone.
For a blessed setting of this theme, please visit your favorite music service to download “Help Thou Mine Unbelief by The Old School Hymnsingers.