"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 35

Do You Believe?

Read: Mark 9:12-29

Text: (Mark 9:24 KJV) And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Theme: Lack of belief (faith) is the root of all failure in the Christian life.


QUESTION - What had just happened?

ANSWER - The transfiguration, from which Peter, James and John were now returning.

QUESTION - Describe the scene. What did Jesus see when He came to the rest of the disciples?

QUESTION - What was the miracle? Was there anything interesting about Jesus' method?

QUESTION - What about the exchange between the father and Jesus? Anything of significance in this?

I. The Scribes - Callous Unbelief.

A. They simply did not believe that Christ was the Savior.

Lost, unable to believe to the saving of the soul. - (Heb 10:39 KJV) But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

QUESTION - Do you think the scribes believed anything about Jesus?

ANSWER - Obviously they believed he was real. He existed. They believed in the historical person of Jesus, for they were looking at him!

QUESTION - Is it possible for people to believe in Jesus and not be saved?

ANSWER - Yes. Many today believe only in a historical Jesus. This is not saving faith, though. Cf. Heb. 10:39; (James 2:19 KJV) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

B. This unbelief showed itself in several ways:

1. Scorn, ridicule of Christ and His followers.

QUESTION - Do we see this in our world today? Examples?

2. Attempts to discredit Him.

QUESTION - Do we see this in our world today? Examples?

3. Hatred for the things of Christ. (They wanted Him DEAD!)

QUESTION - Do we see this in our world today? Examples?

C. This unbelief is everywhere today.

QUESTION - What are some examples of this CALLOUS UNBELIEF in our world today? (NOTE - This question may be redundant, depending on the responses to the above questions. Only ask if not already answered!)

1. Denial of God in public schools.

2. ACLU court cases.

3. Acceptance of Hinduism, yoga, New Age, but not Christianity.

4. Ability of people to accept ANYTHING, no matter how bizarre, but NOT CHRIST!

D. This unbelief condemns itself.

1. All men know there is a God.

(Rom 1:20a KJV) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead…

2. All men are without excuse before this God.

(Rom 1:20b KJV) … so that they are without excuse:

3. Callous unbelief in the face of overwhelming evidence, can only be explained as a REJECTION of the truth. (They KNOW, but they REFUSE TO BELIEVE!)

QUESTION - What is the ultimate result of this form of unbelief?

E. This unbelief leads to hell.

(Rev 21:8 KJV) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

II. The Father - Shaken Unbelief.

QUESTION - What evidence do you see in the account that the father believed in Jesus?

A. He had enough belief to come in the first place!

B. He had heard of the disciples' ability.

Cf. 6:7, 13, 14 - If Herod had heard, then the reputation had spread to others as well.

QUESTION - When the disciples failed, what effect did it have on the father's faith in Christ?

C. When they failed, his belief was shaken to the point where he doubted Christ's ability!

QUESTION - What does this say to us about our dealings with others, today?

QUESTION - What do you think of these thoughts:

"Many today will go to hell, not because Christ can't save them, but because some Christian let them down!"

"Many Christians will sit on the sidelines, never amounting to anything for Christ, because of the failure of some other Christian in their life."

D. His unbelief, though understandable, was inexcusable.

1. Jesus rebuked him - "If thou canst!"

2. His attitude should have been like that of Peter:

(Luke 5:3-6 KJV) And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

III. The Disciples - Careless Unbelief.

QUESTION - What do we know about the disciples which makes their failure in this case somewhat surprising?

A. They were SAVED - 8:29

B. They were COMMISSIONED - 6:7

C. They were EMPOWERED - 6:7

D. They were EXPERIENCED - 6:13

E. But, they were OVERCONFIDENT - 6:13

QUESTION - Were they upset with their failure? Why?

QUESTION - Were they surprised by their failure? Why?

1. "They" had done? What happened to God?

2. They had begun to trust in themselves and in their own abilities, rather than in God.

3. Some examples of this same careless form of unbelief:

QUESTION - When they asked, what did Jesus say was the reason for their failure?

F. Jesus said their failure was because of UNBELIEF (cf. Matthew 17:20), manifested by a lack of prayer.

1. Some tasks are harder than others.

2. Don't get careless because of victories, for harder contests await us.


I'm sure that, either within our own lives, or in the lives of others, we have seen examples of all three kinds of unbelief:

You've heard the gospel before, you know it inside out, and yet you just refuse to believe it. This form of unbelief is an express elevator plunging toward hell. Only the grace of God has let you have as much time as you have had. He could, at any moment, withdraw His mercy, allow His wrath to fall, and you would be in hell for all eternity. Trust Christ today! You need not leave this place like the scribes, still stubbornly refusing to believe. (Rom 10:13 KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Maybe other believers in the past have shaken your faith. Christ rebuked the father's unbelief, because it showed that the man's perspective was wrong. He was watching the Lord's servants, rather than the Lord. Notice Jesus said, "Bring him to ME." Don't allow the sin of unbelief to remain in your life just because other believers have disappointed you. It is your responsibility as a believer to keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to just BELIEVE!

Perhaps you have experienced victory in your Christian life. Perhaps you have seen great things happen for God in your life. Perhaps that is the case even now. Beware that past victory (or current victory) does not allow you to forget the source of your victory. Beware that past victory does not allow you to grow complacent, overconfident, and maybe a little cocky in your Christianity. Christ says this is unbelief, and therefore sin.

Whatever the situation in your life today, the question remains the same, "Do You Believe?"

And do not fear that you don't have enough belief. Jesus said that faith as a grain of mustard seed is all that is needed to do mighty things. Step out tonight and say to God, "Lord I believe. Help thou mine unbelief."

Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1998 William E. Johnson.