“Help Me Out Where I Need Faith!”
“The father of the young child was saying: ‘I have faith! Help me out where I need faith!’”—MARK 9:24.
1. What caused one father to exclaim, “Help me out where I need faith”?
THE father of a demon-possessed boy stood before Jesus Christ. How that man yearned to have his young child healed! Jesus’ disciples had lacked sufficient faith to expel the demon, but the father cried out: “I have faith! Help me out where I need faith!” By means of God-given power, Jesus then expelled the demon, doubtless strengthening the faith of the boy’s father.—Mark 9:14-29.
2. As to faith, in what two ways are Christians unashamed?
2 Like that boy’s hopeful father, a loyal servant of Jehovah is not ashamed to say: “I have faith!” Scoffers may deny the power of God, the truthfulness of his Word, and even his very existence. But true Christians readily admit that they have faith in Jehovah God. Yet, when speaking privately to their heavenly Father in prayer, these same individuals may plead: “Help me out where I need faith!” This they also do without shame, knowing that even the apostles of Jesus Christ begged: “Give us more faith.”—Luke 17:5.
3. What is significant about how John used the word “faith” in his Gospel, and why was this appropriate?
3 Especially do the Christian Greek Scriptures have much to say about faith. In fact, John’s Gospel uses various Greek words related to “faith” over 40 percent more frequently than do the other three Gospels combined. John stressed that having faith is not sufficient; exercising it is vital. Writing in about 98 C.E., he saw the poisonous tentacles of apostasy reaching out to ensnare Christians weak in faith. (Acts 20:28-30; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18, 19) So it was vital to exercise faith, to give evidence of it by acts of godly devotion. Difficult times lay ahead.
4. Why is nothing impossible for those having faith?
4 Faith enables Christians to cope with any difficulties. Jesus told his disciples that if they had “faith the size of a mustard grain,” nothing would be impossible for them. (Matthew 17:20) In that way, he stressed the power of faith, a fruit of holy spirit. Jesus thus emphasized, not what humans, but what God’s spirit, or active force, can do. Those guided by it do not make molehill-size obstacles and problems into mountains. Applying the wisdom that God’s spirit imparts helps them to keep things in proper perspective. Even serious problems shrivel when subjected to the sustaining power of faith.—Matthew 21:21, 22; Mark 11:22-24; Luke 17:5, 6.
Praying That Faith May Not Fail
5-7. (a) What warning words about faith did Jesus speak when he instituted the Memorial? (b) How did Peter’s faith enable him to strengthen his brothers?
5 In 33 C.E., Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples for the last time. Then, after dismissing Judas Iscariot, he instituted the Memorial celebration, saying: “I make a covenant with you [men], just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom . . . Simon, Simon, look! Satan has demanded to have you men to sift you as wheat. But I have made supplication for you that your faith may not give out; and you, when once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.”—Luke 22:28-32.
6 Jesus prayed that Simon Peter’s faith might not give out. Though Peter overconfidently boasted that he would never deny Jesus, shortly thereafter he did so three times. (Luke 22:33, 34, 54-62) In fact, with the foretold striking down of the Shepherd in death, the sheep were scattered. (Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:27) However, when Peter recovered from his fall into the snare of fear, he strengthened his spiritual brothers. He brought up the matter of a replacement for unfaithful Judas Iscariot. Acting as the apostles’ spokesman at Pentecost 33 C.E., Peter used the first of “the keys” that Jesus gave him, opening the way for Jews to become members of the Kingdom. (Matthew 16:19; Acts 1:15–2:41) Satan had demanded to have the apostles so as to sift them as wheat, but God saw to it that their faith did not fail.
7 Imagine how Peter felt when he heard Jesus say: “I have made supplication for you that your faith may not give out.” Just think! His Lord and Master had prayed that Peter’s faith might not fail. And it did not fail, or give out. In fact, on the day of Pentecost, Peter and others became the first persons anointed by holy spirit to become God’s spiritual children, prospective joint-heirs with Christ in heavenly glory. With holy spirit then active upon them in a measure previously unknown, they could demonstrate its fruitage, including faith, as never before. What a marvelous answer to their plea: “Give us more faith”!—Luke 17:5; Galatians 3:2, 22-26; 5:22, 23.
Facing Tests Ahead With Faith
8. What timely warning has the organization given us regarding the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 5:3?
8 In fulfillment of Bible prophecy, we will soon hear the cry “Peace and security!” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) Could this put our faith to the test? Yes, for we are in danger of being caught off guard by the apparent success that the nations may have in bringing about peace. But we will not share the spirit of such peace proclaimers if we keep in mind that Jehovah God is not using any of the agencies of this world toward that end. He has his own way to bring true peace, and that is only by means of his Kingdom under Jesus Christ. Hence, whatever success the nations may have in establishing peace, it will be brief and only a veneer. To help us keep on guard in this respect, “the faithful and discreet slave” will continue to publish timely warnings so that Jehovah’s servants will not be caught off guard by the coming pretentious proclamation of “Peace and security” by the nations of this old system of things.—Matthew 24:45-47.
9. Why will the destruction of Babylon the Great call for courage and faith on our part?
9 The cry “Peace and security!” will be the signal for “sudden destruction” to come upon Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. (Revelation 17:1-6; 18:4, 5) This too will test Christian faith. With false religion collapsing in ruins, will Jehovah’s Witnesses remain firm in faith? Of course they will. This event—unexpected and incomprehensible for most people—will not be of man’s doing. People must know that in reality it is Jehovah’s judgment, in sanctification of the name that false religion has long reviled. But how could people know unless someone had told them? And who besides Jehovah’s Witnesses could be expected to tell them so?—Compare Ezekiel 35:14, 15; Romans 10:13-15.
10. How will Gog’s attack on Jehovah’s people also be a test of faith?
10 Anointed Witnesses of Jehovah and their associates with an earthly hope have had the courage needed to tell others about the imminent execution of Jehovah’s judgment against Babylon the Great and the rest of Satan’s system of things. (2 Corinthians 4:4) In his role as Gog of Magog, denoting his present degraded position, Satan will marshal his earthly forces for an all-out attack on God’s people. Faith in divine protective powers in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be put to the test. But we can have faith that as God’s Word foretold, Jehovah will rescue his people.—Ezekiel 38:16; 39:18-23.
11, 12. (a) What ensured the salvation of Noah and his family during the Flood? (b) About what will we not need to worry during the great tribulation?
11 Today, we do not know exactly how Jehovah will protect his people during the “great tribulation,” but this is no reason to doubt that he will do so. (Matthew 24:21, 22) The situation of God’s present-day servants will be like that in which Noah and his family found themselves during the Flood. Shut up inside the ark with the swirling waters of destruction around them, likely they were awestruck by this demonstration of divine power and must have prayed earnestly. There is no Scriptural indication that they were worried and asked themselves: ‘Is the ark really sturdy enough to survive the destructive forces? Do we have enough food to last until the Flood is over? Will we be able to cope with the changed circumstances on earth afterward?’ Subsequent events proved that such worries would have been unfounded.
12 To ensure their salvation, Noah and his family needed to exercise faith. This meant following instructions and the leadings of God’s holy spirit. During the great tribulation, it will be just as imperative that we follow the leadings of the holy spirit and obey Jehovah’s instructions through his organization. Then we will have no reason to worry and ask: ‘How will our spiritual and material needs be satisfied? What provision will be made for older persons or for those requiring special medical care or treatment? How will Jehovah make it possible for us to survive into the new world?’ With strong faith, all of Jehovah’s loyal servants will leave everything in his capable hands.—Compare Matthew 6:25-33.
13. Once the great tribulation begins, why will we need a faith like Abraham’s?
13 Once the great tribulation has started, doubtless our faith in God will be greatly strengthened. After all, we will see that Jehovah is carrying out what he said he would do. We will be seeing his execution of judgment with our own eyes! But will we personally have enough faith to believe that while destroying the wicked, God will preserve his people? Will we be like Abraham, who had faith that ‘the Judge of all the earth will do what is right,’ not destroying the righteous along with the wicked?—Genesis 18:23, 25.
14. What questions should cause us to analyze our faith and work hard to strengthen it?
14 How important it is that we now build up our faith! With the end of this wicked system of things so close at hand, let us allow God’s spirit to motivate us to “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” (2 Peter 3:11-14) Then we will not be plagued during the great tribulation with such disquieting thoughts as these: ‘Do I warrant receiving Jehovah’s protection? Could I have done more in his service? Did I really work hard enough to put on “the new personality”? Am I the kind of person Jehovah wants in the new world?’ Such sobering questions should cause us to analyze our faith and to work hard to strengthen it right now!—Colossians 3:8-10.
Faith to Make Us Well
15. What did Jesus sometimes tell those whom he healed, but why does this not support present-day faith healing?
15 Jesus did not confine his works of physical healing to people with faith. (John 5:5-9, 13) So his activity gives no support to the unscriptural doctrine of faith healing. True, Jesus sometimes told those he healed: “Your faith has made you well.” (Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 8:48; 17:19; 18:42) But by saying this, he was simply pointing out an obvious truth: If those afflicted ones had lacked faith in Jesus’ healing ability, they would not have come to him for healing in the first place.
16. What healing program is Jesus directing today?
16 Today, Jesus Christ is directing a program of spiritual healing, and more than 4,000,000 individuals have put themselves in line to benefit from it. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are enjoying spiritual health despite any physical infirmities they may have. Anointed Christians among them have a heavenly hope, and they ‘keep their eyes on everlasting things unseen.’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:6, 7) And Christians with an earthly hope look forward to the marvelous acts of physical healing that will take place in God’s new world.
17, 18. What provision of Jehovah is described at Revelation 22:1, 2, and how is faith required for us to benefit from it?
17 The apostle John referred to God’s provisions for eternal life in these words at Revelation 22:1, 2: “He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its broad way. And on this side of the river and on that side there were trees of life producing twelve crops of fruit, yielding their fruits each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the curing of the nations.” The “water of life” includes God’s Word of truth and every other provision of Jehovah for recovering obedient humans from sin and death and granting them eternal life on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Ephesians 5:26; 1 John 2:1, 2) While on the earth, Jesus’ 144,000 anointed followers drink of God’s provision for life through Christ and are called “big trees of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Revelation 14:1-5) They have produced much spiritual fruitage on earth. As resurrected ones in heaven, during Christ’s Thousand Year Reign, they will share in dispensing the ransom provisions that will serve for “the curing of the nations” from sin and death.
18 The stronger our faith in these provisions of God is, the greater will be our willingness to follow the leadings of his spirit to partake of them. Physical perfection will evidently come as a person exercises faith in Christ and makes spiritual progress. Though an individual will have been miraculously healed of major disabilities, he will be brought closer to perfection as he practices what is right. He will regularly be partaking of God’s provision for healing by means of Christ’s sacrifice. So faith will influence our being healed and perfected in a physical way.
“Saved Through Faith”
19. Why is it vital to remain firm in faith?
19 Until the dawn of God’s new world forever dispels the darkness of the present wicked world, how vital it is that Jehovah’s servants remain firm in faith! People “without faith” will be cast into “the lake that burns with fire and sulphur,” the second death. At the latest, this will occur after the final test at the end of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign. (Revelation 20:6-10; 21:8) How blessed the lot of those who continue to exercise faith and survive to enjoy an endless future!
20. How will 1 Corinthians 13:13 take on special meaning at the end of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign?
20 Then these words of Paul at 1 Corinthians 13:13 will take on special meaning: “There remain faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” No longer will we need to exercise faith that the prophetic promise at Genesis 3:15 will become reality or to hope that it will be fulfilled. That will have happened. As integrity keepers, we will continue to hope in Jehovah, have faith in him and his Son, and love them as the ones who brought about the fulfillment of this prophecy. Moreover, deep love and heartfelt gratitude for our salvation will bind us to God in unbreakable devotion for all eternity.—1 Peter 1:8, 9.
21. What should we today do so as to be “saved through faith”?
21 Through his visible organization, Jehovah has made wonderful provisions to strengthen faith. Take full advantage of all of them. Regularly attend and participate in the meetings of God’s people. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Study his Word and Christian publications diligently. Petition Jehovah for his holy spirit. (Luke 11:13) Imitate the faith of those humbly taking the lead in the congregation. (Hebrews 13:7) Resist worldly temptations. (Matthew 6:9, 13) Yes, and deepen your personal relationship with Jehovah in every way possible. Above all, continue to exercise faith. Then you can be among those who please Jehovah and attain to salvation, for Paul stated: “By . . . undeserved kindness, indeed, you have been saved through faith; and this not owing to you, it is God’s gift.”—Ephesians 2:8.
What Are Your Answers?
□ What tests of faith lie directly ahead of us?
□ In what two ways can our faith make us well?
□ According to 1 Peter 1:9, how long must we maintain faith?
□ What provisions do we have to strengthen our faith?
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Like the father whose son Jesus healed, do you sense a personal need for more faith?
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Faith like that of Noah and his family will be needed to survive the “great tribulation”