Teachings of Jesus on Discipleship
Lesson #2: Faith in and Dependence on God

  by: Bill Bratt         Email: info@icogsfg.org

 

A disciple is a person who subscribes to the teachings of a master and assists in spreading his teachings. A Christian then is a person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ, who is the Master, and the disciple has a strong desire in spreading Jesusí teachings and His message of the gospel of the kingdom of God.

A very important teaching in the life of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Teacher was faith. Because of Jesusí total faith and dependence in God, He did many miracles, healings and casted out numerous demons. Jesus taught His disciples many lessons regarding faith.

What is Faith?

Letís first understand what the Bible definition of faith is: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is the substance, assurance or confident belief in what we hope for. Faith comes before we possess it. Once we received what we hoped for, we then no longer hope for it. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Faith precedes the actual receiving of what it was that we had ask for. Faith is the evidence that we have it or we shall have it.

Letís also notice that we need faith to please God: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him (God), for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

Faith is totally trusting God. Faith is not an emotion and has nothing to do with our five physical senses. Faith is a spiritual matter.

Jesus Had Faith

Jesus came to the earth as God in the flesh (John 1:1-3) and He had faith. Jesus said: "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30). Jesus was humble before God and looked to God for faith. Jesus did not seek His own will but the will of God the Father.

The night before Jesus was crucified He was with His disciples. He knew that His crucifixion would happen soon and he was sorrowful and deeply distressed. "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." {37} And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. {38} Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." {39} He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." {40} Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? {41} "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." {42} Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done"" (Mat 26:36-42).

When Jesus first prayed, He was hoping that God could work out another solution for the salvation of man besides the horrible way for Him to die through the crucifixion, but He realized that it had to be done Godís way. Jesus said "Your will be done."

Jesus realized that God the Father knew what was best and that He had to have faith in God and do the Fatherís will.

Jesus taught His disciples to do the will of God the Father. Jesus said: "For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother" (Mark 3:35). By doing Godís will, we, the disciples of Jesus, become the brethren of Jesus and will become part of the family of God. We can renew our minds by seeking Godís will, and not conforming to this world (Romans 12:2).

Jesus Told His Disciples to Have Faith in God

Jesus taught His disciples a valuable lesson in faith by the withered fig tree. Mark records in his gospel: "...when they had come out from Bethany, He (Jesus) was hungry. {13} And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. {14} In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it" (Mark 11:12-14).

The fig tree had leaves but no fruit. From a spiritual point of view, Jesus saw the nation of Israel as a barren fig tree. The nation had leaves of professing spiritual qualities but there was no spiritual fruit. The nation and itís religious leaders talked the talk but they did not walk the walk.

Letís continue in Markís gospel account: "Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. {21} And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away." {22} So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. {23} "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. {24} "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:20-24).

Notice in verse 22 that Jesus said: "Have faith in God." What did this have to do with the fig tree? This passage is showing that Jesus was encouraging faith as the means to remove difficulties. If Jesusí disciples would have "faith in God" then they could deal with and overcome their problems of fruitlessness and remove their huge mountainous problems.

When we pray in faith and according to Godís will, then we can be confident and trust in God to answer our prayers.

How much faith does it take for answered prayer? Jesus gives us the answer: "And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." {6} So the Lord said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you" (Luke 17:5-6).

A mustard seed is the smallest of seeds. A small amount of true faith can move mountains. These mountains may be physical trials and tests that we are facing in our lives. These mountains may be health problems or unemployment problems. We must take our problems to God in prayer and expect Him to answer.

David knew this and wrote about in one of his Psalms: "Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you" (Psalms 55:22).

True faith is believing and trusting in God to answer: "Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes"" (Mark 9:23).

Your Faith has Made You Well

If we, the disciples of Jesus, have a health problem and we want God to intervene in our lives and heal us, then we must have faith. On several occasions when Jesus healed someone He said "Your faith has made you well" (Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34, 10:52, Luke 8:48, 17:19, 18:42).

Letís look at the example of two healings: "While He (Jesus) spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live." {19} So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. {20} And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. {21} For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." {22} But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour {23} When Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, {24} He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." And they ridiculed Him. {25} But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. {26} And the report of this went out into all that land" (Matthew 9:18-26).

The woman in this passage had faith that if she touched the hem of Jesusí garment she would be healed and when she touched it she was healed. The father of the little girl that had just died had faith that if Jesus would touch his daughter then she would live. Jesus touched her and she did live.

These people had faith in Jesus that He could heal. Jesus is our healer (John 12:40). A very important point that we have to understand when it comes to faith and healing is that healing is a symbolic act of forgiving sin. Letís notice the following passage where Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic: "So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. {2} Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you" (Matthew 9:1-8).

One more important point to understand about healing is that Jesus after His last Passover here on earth was arrested in Gethsemane, was mocked, beaten, scourged, crucified and died on the cross spilling His blood for you and me (Ephesians 1:7, Romans 5:8-10). Our healing comes through the beatings and the stripes that were inflicted upon Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter recorded: "who Himself (Jesus) bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Pet 2:24).

When you, as a disciple of Jesus, pray for healing: ask God to heal you totally, ask God to apply the stripes of Jesus Christ to your broken body, ask Him to forgive all of your spiritual and physical sins and to give you the faith to be healed.

Faith is Believing without Seeing

Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples after His resurrection and His disciples were slow to believe that Jesus had risen from the grave (Luke 24:36-43). Jesus said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?" (Luke 24:38).

Later Jesus appeared again to His disciples and this time Thomas was among them. Thomas earlier had said: "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

Jesus said to Thomas: "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." {28} And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" {29} Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."" (John 20:24-29).

The lesson to be learned from this example is that the blessed disciple is the one who believes and has faith without seeing.

In Conclusion: Jesus performed many miracles and those miracles were done through faith setting us, His disciples, an example. We, the disciples of Jesus, are to follow His example and follow in His steps : "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Pet 2:21).

We, the disciples of Jesus, are to have faith in and dependence in God just as Jesus did. We also must have faith in Jesus and total commitment of our lives to Jesus Christ as our Lord, Master and Teacher.

 


 
 


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