June 12, 2016   Mark 9:14 – 28  Unbelief   


    I preached on the veil and on the glory of God last week and felt the need to do a follow up message regarding that.  The veil is there because of unbelief.  The veil is removed by faith and obedience.  It is removed by beholding Jesus.  Truth is revealed and Jesus is revealed as we walk in the Holy Spirit. 

      True story of a man in New York City, where Horace Greeley’s Statue now stands, stood a man offering $20 gold pieces for $1 each. All day he kept up loudly announcing his wares, but of the thousands that passed him, most paid no attention and others either laughed or scowled at him. About 15 minutes before six o’clock, when he was about to quit, a woman timidly approached him and, after carefully investigating the gold piece, by biting it and testing its sound, by throwing it on the pavement, she reluctantly paid the dollar and pocketed the golden double eagle.

   Ten minutes later, just as the man was about to go home, the woman reappeared accompanied by two friends and between them they purchased the rest of the man’s stock, worth $160, for $8 in bills.   The next day and for several following mornings, the street was crowded for blocks with the same woman in the lead waiting for the vender of gold coins, but he never appeared again.   This story is known to be true.   The man was Horace Greeley who came to New York with $10 in 1831 and started the (New York tribune) - responsible for the incident in demonstration of his theory that most poverty is due to the fact that the general public refuses to believe even in the face of overwhelming evidence. 

     People tend not to be very teachable today.  Truth is spoken and not received.  It is frustrating.  The enemy has always resisted God’s word.  We do need to be guarded today.  People have been ripped off so much that it impacts how teachable we are even in church.  How teachable are you today and how willing are we to change?     We certainly need to be careful today because there are a lot of folks who would take advantage of you.   We certainly need the Lords wisdom today.    I remember reading about a woman who was mad at her husband and she advertised in the paper a Mercedes Benz for some low amount of money.  I think she sold it for like $400.00.  A lot of people did not bother with that because it is too good to be true.  Well it was true.  How would you like to get a Mercedes for 400.00? 

    We struggle with unbelief.  We struggle with our faith.  We struggle to believe.  Often we can believe God to answer prayer or work a miracle for someone else but would God really bless me?    I know God can do this whatever it is but will God do it for me?   I am not anything special.  God wants to bless others but I am another story we think.   I have all this stuff in my life.  I can think of many reasons why God would not want to bless me.  That is how we think at times. 

    Horace believed that the public refused to believe even in the face of overwhelming evidence.  I think he has a point.   I think most people who started out with little and made it rich or big time took some risks.   That is true spiritually also.   The disciples walked off and left their business.  That is a risk.  Noah building the ark was a risk.  Peter getting out of the boat to walk on water was a risk.   When Peter told the lame man to get up and walk there was an element of risk in that.    When he got out of the boat out of the boat to walk on water was a risk.   David took a risk to face Goliath.   Daniel and his friends took some risks. 

     The disciples had their problem with belief also.  We can see the truth of what Horace said with the disciples.   Matthew writes in chapter 28 then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.   When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  They saw Jesus alive but still doubted.  We say seeing is believing.  Mark records similar information in chapter 16.  Three women are going to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and they ask each other who is going to roll the stone away.   In verse 11 when they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.  In verse 13 they returned and reported to the rest, but they did not believe them either.  In verse 14 later Jesus appeared to the 11 as they were eating he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

   In Luke 24 when Jesus was with the disciples on the road to Emmaus Jesus said to them He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!   Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  And while they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”   They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.   He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?   Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!   Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  Hw teachable were the disciples?   Twice in Luke 24 he told the disciples to look at his hands and his feet.   And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish.   Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  That is what we need to have our minds opened. 

    John also records their doubt.  In John 20 John and Peter run to the tomb and see the empty tomb.  John believed but Peter did not believe.   An interesting verse in Psalms which says He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel.  They saw the plagues and God’s provision for them but Moses knew God’s ways.  Moses also saw the wonders of God but Moses knew God and knew God’s ways.   We can read and see God’s acts and miracles and not really know Him.

    In John 20 we also see where Jesus goes to Thomas.    Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.    So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”   A week later his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”   Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”   Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  They could see and touch Jesus.  We see by faith.  See how stubborn Thomas was.   I will not believe.  Some people set their heart not to believe.       Jesus proved himself and his resurrection to the disciples.  The disciples should have known better.  They should have believed but had unbelief.   Jesus raised at least 3 people from the dead and he did so many other miracles.  He told them he would raise from the dead and everything he said came to pass but the disciples still had trouble with it.

    In Matthew 16 Jesus tells the disciples to be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees.   The disciples discussed the comment among themselves and they conclude that Jesus said that because they did not bring any food with them.   Jesus said to them you of little faith.  Do you remember when 5 loaves fed 5,000 with food left over and 7 loaves fed 4,000 with food left over.   Jesus was talking about the teaching of the Pharisees.  Unbelief can keep a person from seeing things correctly.  Jesus is teaching them and where does their mind go?   They think about how they failed.  We forgot to bring bread and now we are so far away from any place to get bread.   In their mind they are thinking that Jesus is taking them to task for forgetting to buy bread.   It is so easy to limit ourselves because of our failures. 

   Did the disciples fail because of their lack of faith?   Did they fail because of their unbelief and yet Jesus used these men in mighty ways.    Do you feel weak in faith?   Do you have doubts?  Do you struggle in your walk with God?   It is encouraging to see how these men react in real life struggles. Yet they persevered and they came out on top.  Jesus used these men weak in faith to turn the world upside down.  I guess Jesus can use me also.   I believe Jesus can use you.  Yes they were martyred but we all will leave this world someday and then there is eternity.  They will do well in eternity. 

   Of course there are other examples of unbelief in the bible.  Pharaoh experienced the power of God and saw his land virtually destroyed and finally the first born of all people and animals died in the night and then his army drowned in the sea.  You would think that a sane person with a logical mind would turn to the slaves God.   An interesting story in Acts where Peter is in prison and the church is praying for him.  Peter comes and knocks on their door in the middle of the night and they do not believe.  They think it is Peter’s ghost.  But God moved and got Peter out of jail.  God answered the church’s prayers.   God is faithful.  We like the story of the prayer meeting where they meet to pray for rain and a man shows up with an umbrella.   He expects something to happen. 

   In Mark 6 Jesus goes to his home town and he is not received with faith.   The people said isn’t this the carpenter?   We know this family.  They remembered his family and his brothers and sisters.   His family was familiar to them and they did not believe.  Jesus only healed a few sick people there.  Maybe they did not bring any to be healed.  The savior and healer was there but they did not believe.   They could have experienced so much more but they did not believe. 

   What are the results of unbelief?   Do we fail because of unbelief?    Do we not see things properly because of unbelief?   Are there any consequences for those who do not believe?  In Romans 11 we see that the Jews were broken off because of unbelief.  The gentiles were grafted in.   And certainly for the lost they lose in eternity.  They do not see or know this wonderful creator God who is crazy in love with each of us.    Jesus told the people that they will not come to him that they may have life.   One reason they do not come is that they do not believe.  Maybe that is the only reason people do not come to Jesus.  They do not know him and they do not believe in him.  Why do people quit praying?   What happened to Peter as he was walking on the water and he took his eyes off Jesus?  Peter started to sink and we do the same.   People experience fear.   What part does unbelief have in that?   What part does unbelief play in the minds and hearts of those that experience guilt?   Can we believe God to forgive us and walk in the joy of forgiveness? 

    There is an interesting verse in Titus 1 to the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.   In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.  Belief is important and part of the process of purity.    We know God wants us to be pure.    In Hebrews 3 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.   But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 

       C. S. Lewis said if there is no intelligence behind the universe, then nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. Thought is merely the by-product of some atoms within my skull. If so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? And if I can’t trust my own thinking, I can’t trust arguments leading to atheism and therefore have no reason to be an atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I can’t believe in thought; so I can never use thought to disbelieve God.

   Jesus told Thomas to stop doubting and to believe.   It can be the hardest thing to do.   In John 11 we see where Jesus raises Lazarus who has been dead for 4 days from the dead and Jesus tells them in verse 40 “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.  If you believe you will see the glory of God.