Dr. E. Dale Locke
Sermon Series: Greater
Week 4: I Believe….
- The tagline for this sermon series has been “Bigger Waves…Greater Faith.” When the waves of your life get bigger, you need greater faith to face them. Share one idea from this sermon series that has helped your faith grow.
- If you’ve ever heard someone talk about faith as if it always comes easy for them, how did that make you feel?
- Pastor Dale said, “Faith is not just belief, and belief is not just faith. But they intertwine together in some very powerful ways.” What did he mean by that?
- Madeline L’Engle said, “Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair believe only in the idea of God, and not in God him or herself.”
What happens if a person believes in “the idea of God”, but not actually in “God himself”? What will their faith and life be like?
- Read Mark 9:14-29:
When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 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.”
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 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 mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “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.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer. ”
What questions or comments come to your mind when you read this passage?
- This happened right after Jesus’ three closest disciples had an amazing mountain-top experience seeing Jesus in all His glory together with Moses and Elijah. Right after they got off that mountain top, this challenging situation took place. Share about a time in your own life when you had a mountain-top experience with God, but then soon afterward, you faced a difficult challenge to your faith.
- Note that the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Pastor Dale said that this collision of belief and unbelief is where faith is actually strengthened. What did Pastor Dale mean by that? Have you ever felt like this man did – believing and not believing at the same time?
- Jesus said: “Everything is possible, for one who believes.” This is a challenging statement. What does Jesus mean by this? What does he not mean?
Philosopher Michael Novak, in his book Belief and Unbelief, describes three categories of beliefs:
- Public Convictions
Sometimes, especially in churches, there is a public pressure to act as if you believe in something that you don’t actually believe in in your heart.
- Why is this dangerous?
- Private Convictions
These are convictions that I sincerely think I believe, but when difficult circumstances come into my life, it becomes clear that I don’t actually believe them. Peter was an example of this. He thought he believed Jesus was the Son of God, but when Jesus got arrested and Peter felt in danger of possibly being killed along with Jesus, he denied three times that he even knew Jesus.
- When have you experienced difficult circumstances that tested your faith and helped you realize that your faith wasn’t solid and you needed to go deeper?
These are beliefs about things that really matter that represent the way we actually believe about how things are and how life works. We believe these to the core of our being. They’re a part of who we are. They become our mental map, and we experience alignment between our belief system and how we actually live. This is the kind of faith Jesus wants us to have.
- What helps a person get to that kind of faith?
- Read James 2:14; 18:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?…. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”
What does this passage add to your understanding of what true faith is?
- Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, the disciples had faith in Jesus. But after Jesus’ death and resurrection, things drastically changed. The disciples began to not just have faith in Jesus – they began to have the faith of Jesus. How is that different?