~ Spiritual Success Is Proportionate To Your Faith ~
Background Statement ~ There are some core tenants of Christianity that refute the concept of our spiritual success being proportionate to your faith. There are other Biblical passages which taken by themselves seem to suggest that spiritual success is dependent upon your faith. The most basic principle of hermeneutics (interpretation of Scripture) requires the reader to interpret Scripture by Scripture—that is, the Bible is one story and it all fits together.
Passages (that seem to support) ~ “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting’” (Matthew 17:20-21). “And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ 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).
Practical Understanding ~ Based on the whole understanding of Scripture these passages are in the context of the will of God. We should also realize that the second passage above is in the context of forgiveness—which is sometimes very difficult for sinful humans to do.
Passages (that refute) ~ Scripture clearly teaches that all spiritual power flows to us from the Triune God. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). “Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.’ As He spoke these words, many believed in Him” (John 8:28-30). “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Passages (more insight) ~ “The man answered and said to them, ‘Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing’” (John 9:30-33). “God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). In other words, God is God, and you are not! He can, and does, what He desires. God is sovereign.
Conclusion ~ The basic difference between Christianity and religions is that Christianity is based on a relationship with God versus rituals or religious activity—it is based on what Jesus Christ has DONE versus what we must DO to earn God’s favor. Anything we have spiritually is a gift from God and not from self-effort. The bottom line is that true Christianity allows no room for any pride.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Anything a Christian has spiritually is a gift of God for God’s work. We are to plant seeds, water, fertilize, and allow God to produce the results according to His sovereignty.
~ Robert Lloyd Russell,
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