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Archive for May 12th, 2011

The story of the paralytic in Mark 2 raises a number of interesting questions. One surrounds Mark’s observation that Jesus saw “their faith” (v. 5). It’s apparent that Mark wants us to know that it was not merely the faith of the paralytic himself but the faith of his friends that provokes Jesus to forgive and heal this man. Obviously, we can’t believe for another. Every man must believe for himself. But that doesn’t mean that our faith is irrelevant to the faith or the salvation (healing/restoration) of others.

There is a clear connection between the faith of these men and the healing and forgiveness of the paralytic. At bare minimum, their faith in Jesus’ ability to heal led them to do what they could to get their friend to Jesus. If they hadn’t believed, he would not have been able to see Jesus at all. And though we are not told, it is likely that their faith was vital to his own. Their confidence in the power and authority of Jesus encouraged his own faith in Jesus (or perhaps his faith stirred up theirs).

This is the way it works. None of us believe or grow in faith by ourselves. Apart from our communion in the household of faith, faith dies. Faith is not something that can flourish in isolation. You learn to believe and to walk by faith by living with God’s people. Walking with wise men, you become wise. Walking with the faithful, you grow in faithfulness.

And your faith is seen by God and honored in the salvation of others. This is what happens when we pray for others. When we pray, God sees our faith and He acts accordingly and often He blesses other people, He even draws other people to Himself granting them faith, in answer to our prayers.

This is plain throughout the Scriptures. Noah found grace in the eyes of God and for Noah’s sake, his whole household was delivered through the flood. This is the way it works. When a father is faithful, his children are blessed. When a wife is godly, her husband is sanctified by her faithfulness. Communing with wise, faithful men, brings blessings to you.

Faith is something that thrives and survives only within the community of faith. The Spirit uses others to work faith in us. We learn how to believe by living around the faithful and seeing how they trust the Lord and walk by faith in their lives. We learn what it means to persevere, by seeing perseverance in the lives of our friends. We learn what it means to give thanks in all things by faith as we see our brethren do it. We know what it is to “trust and obey” because we’ve seen it in the lives of others.

This is another reason why the Reformers (and many before them) said the Church is salvation (it is the household of faith — the home of the faith once for all delivered to the saints). This is why it is so important not to ignore worship and opportunities for fellowship with God’s people. You cannot survive in the faith on your own.

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