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What the Bible says about Faith, Testing of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 15:28

The woman receives a two-fold reward: She is commended for her great faith and receives healing for her child. Christ shows that He approves of her boldness and honors her faith, which—along with her persistence and humility—earn her blessings. She keeps knocking at the door of opportunity until it is opened.

From this, we should learn a lesson about prayer. Initially, she seems to be rejected and denied access to Christ's power, but then, having seen her faith, Jesus opens His grace to her. Christ commends her for "great" faith. She takes the lowliest place, but her faith in Christ earns her His highest praise.

Her faith is tested by His silence and then by His discouraging reply, but it is necessary for Him to see the strength of her faith, as well as for her to realize what it takes to follow Him. He is pleased with what He finds in her.

Ultimately, the Lord sustains our faith and gives us hope to strengthen it (Psalm 138:3). Her faith was built on hope of good things to come, and what she had heard of Christ and seen of His power motivated her. Her unparalleled trust in Him proves that it is not blood lineage through Abraham that identifies his children in the faith, but faith itself. Although a Gentile by birth, she would become a spiritual Israelite through belief and conviction (Galatians 6:16). The strength of her faith is manifested in what she overcame—not physical obstacles, but mental and emotional barriers.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Exorcising a Syro-Phoenician (Part Two)

Mark 6:51-52

Mark characteristically records details that the other writers do not, and here, he describes the disciples' astonishment. If they had truly believed, nothing should have amazed them. They knew Jesus was the Messiah, but their faith was too weak to believe deeply that He was the powerful God of creation. Mark explains that His multiplying of the loaves and fish just hours earlier should have demonstrated Jesus' true identity to them (Mark 8:18-21), but neither that miracle nor the appearance of Jesus on the water could open their hearts to the reality of His divine nature.

When Jesus had calmed the storm earlier, the disciples had struggled with faith versus fear (Mark 4:40), and now, they struggled with faith versus fear plus hard-heartedness. Their hearts were hardened because their minds were slow to recognize the significance of Christ's miracle. This does not mean that they were conflicted about Jesus, but simply that they were slow to recognize His omnipotence. Once the excitement of the raging sea had settled down, the disciples gained a greater appreciation for the breadth of His power. From this they were able to admire and worship Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God" (Matthew 14:33). The disciples' hearts were beginning to soften.

The encouraging lesson of this miracle is that faith is tested by the stormy trials in life, but despite our being tossed about on the waves of a troublesome world, Jesus is always near. We may feel abandoned in times of stress, but Christ has not forgotten us. His intervention may sometimes come suddenly, at other times slowly, yet depending on the will of the Father, there is always the potential for a miraculous solution.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Walking On Water (Part Two)

James 1:2-3

The trying of our faith seems to be happening a great deal. Our faith is being tested, but it produces patience or puts patience to work. This verse suggests that the trials, of and by themselves, do not produce spiritual maturity. In fact, they may turn people bitter or cause them to be envious, jealous of others who do not seem to have any trials, sailing right through life without problem. It can be difficult to see the contentment of others when we feel as if we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, or we are burdened with sorrows, we are perhaps sick, a family member is giving us problems, or we are about to lose our jobs. Under such a strain, it would be easy to become bitter.

Did Jonah's trial produce a great deal of patience in him? At least at first, he was angry with God. His is a good example of trials, of and by themselves, not producing good things, particularly spiritual maturity. It is faith plus the test plus patience that complete the process of coming to holiness, because that is what the trial is designed to do. The trial of our faith is to bring us to holiness, but if we lack patience, the process is going to be short circuited.

The natural reaction to trials is to want to escape them, and that is understandable. But God says, "No, don't do that. Patiently bear with Me. Let Me work out what I want to accomplish through this trial." Our job is to let our faith produce patience. While bearing with it, what are the patient expending their energies on? They are straining against the self, for that is where the real burden lies.

In humility and meekness, the faithful Christian does not feel it is incumbent upon him to change others, but rather he emphasizes his responsibility to change himself. He patiently works through the trial, working on himself, his attitude, his relationship with God and with other people, and the factors that have caused the problem. He cannot change the other person, but he can change himself. If he does, then patience has accomplished its perfect work or its complete work.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 8): Ephesians 4 (E)


 




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