Study 1 DO YOU BELIEVE THAT I AM ABLE TO DO THIS?
GREAT QUESTIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Matthew 9:28)
Of all the great questions asked in the New Testament, there is perhaps none greater than the one in our key-verse which was asked by the Lord. This question introduces the theme of the first study of this series where we shall think of some of the wonderful things that Christ is able to do in, for, with and through all who will put their trust in Him. Read Matthew 9:27-30 and picture the two blind men described there who followed Jesus, asking Him to have mercy on them. After Jesus had asked them whether they believed He could give them their sight, while He was performing the miracle He said to them, “According to your faith will it be done.” We must not divorce this statement from Jesus’ question, for the two must go together; while Christ is perfectly able to do certain things for us our faith must be operative if we are to prove His ability in our own lives. He is able to do certain wonderful things for you, but you must trust Him to do them, and the measure of your trust will determine the measure of your experience of His ability. This truth can be stated as follows:-
- “I am able….according to your faith” (Matthew 9:28-29).
What then is He able to do for us? We must turn to a few scriptures to find out:-
1. In Hebrews 7:25 we learn that Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God: we must trust Him, for He will do it according to our faith.
Nothing can alter this fact, but our actual experience of His saving ability depends upon our coming to God by Him - in other words, upon our faith, our trust in Him alone for salvation. Jesus Christ is the only Saviour (Acts 4:12); but the question is this - is He your Saviour? – and more than that, how much is He your Saviour? The important word in Hebrews 7:25 is the word ”completely”. Some people are saved from the guilt and penalty of their sin but they are not saved from worry, fear and doubt. Some are saved from hell, but not from an untamed tongue. Some are saved from condemnation, but not from criticism. Jesus is able to save us completely from sin, self and from Satan, and we must trust Him to do it because it is according to our faith that we experience the power of His saving grace in our own lives.
2. In Hebrews 2:18 we learn that He is able to help those who are being tempted: we must trust Him, for He will do it according to our faith.
He comes to our help, and the word ‘tempted’ has special reference to temptation to sin. Temptation itself is not sin; we are all tempted, and even Jesus was tempted, but it is only when we yield to the temptation that we fall into sin. How can we resist and overcome it? This verse tells us, and we should link it to Hebrews 4:15, where we are told that Jesus, having travelled the path before us, is qualified to sympathise with us, and in addition He is able to help when we are tempted. How thankful we should be that no temptation need be too great for us (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Lord is able to deliver us every time we are tempted, but in order to prove His delivering power we must trust Him.
3. In 2 Corinthians 9:8 we learn that He is able to sustain us in trial: we must trust Him, for He will do it according to our faith.
We react in different ways:-
- (1) We can complain and “grumble” (1 Corinthians 10:10), but this never glorifies the Lord and can never help us or anybody else.
- (2) We can be filled with self-pity, which simply means feeling very sorry for ourselves and wanting everyone else to feel sorry for us also. This does not glorify the Lord.
- (3) We can become bitter; we can even question God’s wisdom, will and ways, and feel resentful that He should allow trials.
- (4) We can lose faith altogether; we can ask the question, ‘Does God care?’
- (5) We can go under and be completely overwhelmed with the pressure of the trial that has fallen upon us.
But these reactions are not necessary, for He is well able to sustain us by His grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Compare Philippians 4:11-13.
4. In Ephesians 3:20 we learn that He is able to supply every need in answer to prayer: we must trust Him, for He will do it according to our faith.
God is able to do great and mighty things in answer to prayer (Jeremiah 33:3); so let us ask Him to do these things, but let us ask in faith (Mark 9:24; Mark 11:22-24). How often we limit the Lord by our unbelief! Another rendering of part of this verse tells us that when we pray the Lord is able to do for us “far more than we ever dared to ask or imagine”. Let us ask believingly.
5. In Jude 24 we learn that He is able to keep us until we stand glorified in His presence: we must trust Him, for He will do it according to our faith.
How wonderful it is that He is able and willing and that He guarantees to keep a poor, unworthy sinner right to the end of life! This is His intention and His will, but we only experience the assurance of our acceptance by Him and the assurance of His keeping power as we trust Him. Assurance comes to us on the ground of our faith in Him. We shall get to heaven all right because of His faithfulness, but our enjoyment of the journey there and our confidence that we shall most certainly reach heaven depends upon our faith. Paul had this confidence when he wrote 2 Timothy 1:12.
The Lord says to you, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Do you reply, ”Yes, Lord!”? He then says to you, ”According to your faith will it be done to you.”