Man's Character

Faith and Understanding

April 16, 2014

During Christ’s earthly ministry, he used many methods to convey his message to the people. Sometimes he referred to scriptures the people already knew and expounded from there. Other times, Jesus used parables and stories to help the people understand the concepts he was teaching.

Sometimes, after his teachings, even his disciples were still baffled. Often, this prompted Christ to question his disciples concerning their faith (or lack thereof).

So put yourself in their shoes for just a moment. You might think you wouldn’t be confused or lost after hearing one of Christ’s sermons…

but is that really true?

One of my personal aspirations was to become rich. I started multiple businesses over many years, followed the patterns of successful people that preceded me, and typically, when my business would start to take off, a disaster would hit, stifling my profits.

So what did I do? Just start another business.

Finally, I have come to realize that God has other plans for me, and that this dream of mine had to be put away.

But isn’t this typical of most people?

Because of our stubbornness, or perhaps ignorance, God has to teach us the same lesson over and over again, and yet, we don’t learn it. If you are a Christian, then God is working to grow your faith, and teach you his ways. If you’re not a Christian, God’s trying to show you how much you need him and what he’s done for you. We stumble over the same obstacles over, and over, and over again, sometimes never getting the victory over them.

Take a look at the disciples response to a comment Jesus makes in the passage below.

And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Matthew 16:5-12

Here Jesus had just finished performing a fantastic miracle. He fed 4,000 men (beside women and children) and their families with just a seven loaves of bread and a few fish, giving the people so much that they reclaimed seven baskets full of leftovers. So here, as the disciples were on the boat, for them to assume that Jesus was speaking about not having bread should have been the last thing on their minds. But Christ had to spell it out for them that he was referring to the Pharisees’ teachings.

Are we not the same way? We can experience a miracle and still not believe God, and as a result, our faith doesn’t grow.

I want you to notice two accusations that Jesus makes against his disciples. In verse 8 he says “O ye of little faith”, and in verse 9 “Do ye not yet understand”. So apparently, there is a link between these two things. The more faith you obtain, the more you seem to understand, and the more you understand, the greater your faith.

I believe if the disciples really had faith that Christ could perform the miracle in feeding the five thousand and the four thousand, they probably would have had no problem understanding the symbolism of the leaven and the Pharisees.

After Christ rose from the dead, he visited his disciples on multiple occasions. But what did he find? The same issue, his disciples lacked faith.

And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
And he took it, and did eat before them.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
Luke 24:33-45

Verse 45 of this passage is truly amazing. Christ opened their understanding.

You see, to understand spiritual things, you must be spiritual.

While that may sound obvious, think about…

Without the illumination of the Holy Spirit in your life, you cannot understand the things of God. In other words, mankind cannot comprehend God or his ways without the express teaching of the Holy Spirit.

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
I John 2:20

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
I Corinthians 2:10-15

So if you are having trouble understanding the things of God, there is but one root cause, there is a faith issue in your life. If this is you and you are a Christian, perhaps you have not yet learned some prerequisite to understanding the deeper truth. I would encourage you to pray and examine your own life for problems that seem to be repetitive, and seek out the Lord through pray and searching the scriptures, and perhaps seeking counsel of a pastor or other spiritual person.

If you really do not know, you may be a natural (unregenerate) person, and need to repent and place your faith in Christ. If this is you, please click here for more information.

Please leave a comment below. We would love to hear what you think!

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