I love the stories of the Bible. They are simple and straight to the point. They often illustrate greater truths that require us to spend time thinking about the story and its application to our lives. I would like to introduce you to one of those simple stories. It is about a man who had both money and power, yet he was helpless to help his own son. Having discovered that Jesus was in His area, he sought out His help. His encounter with Jesus reveals the stages or stations that lead to a mature faith. First, read the story from the Bible. Then take some time to walk with me through the stages or stations of that father’s faith.
Then He (Jesus) went again to Cana of Galilee, where He had turned the water into wine. There was a certain royal official whose son was ill at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and pleaded with Him to come down and heal his son, for he was about to die. John 4:46-47
The story reveals the man’s dire need. It also reveals the first stage or station of his faith. At this point, he had only a crisis faith that pressed him into the presence of Jesus. He travelled twenty miles to find Jesus. He was desperate. Maybe you are walking in that dad’s footsteps today. A similar feeling of desperation presses you into the Lord’s presence.
Truthfully, had there been no crisis, this man might never have turned to Jesus. For the moment, the only kind of faith he had in the Lord Jesus was this crisis faith.
Crisis faith prays when there is trouble. Crisis faith seeks out the Lord’s presence when there is a problem. Crisis faith opens the Bible only in emergencies. That may be where you are, and that may be the kind of faith you have. When you get in trouble you cry out to the Lord. When the situation is desperate and there seems to be no way out, you ask Jesus for help.
There is nothing wrong with that, unless that is the only time you need the Lord. If you live the rest of your days without Him and make the rest of your plans without Him, then your faith is merely a crisis faith. Crisis faith is an inferior faith.
For that reason, Jesus sought to bring that desperate dad to a deeper faith. Not only did this dad exhibit crisis faith, apparently his faith was a conditional faith. This is another station or stage on the journey toward a mature faith.
Addressing that desperate dad, Jesus said, “Unless you people see signs and wonders you will not believe.”In other words, his faith, up to that moment, was strictly conditional. We all have a conditional faith at some point in our faith journey. Conditional faith responds to God only if He meets certain conditions set by the potential believer. Conditional faith says, “I will believe if or when.” It reflects a lack of confidence in the power and promises of God. As Jesus probed this father’s heart, He sought to move him beyond a faith based on conditions, to a faith that realized the greatness of God and the might of His power.
At that point, we cease demanding God meet our conditions before we believe or obey. We realize that God is the one who establishes the conditions of our deliverance. I am the one who is to adjust my life to Him and not He to me. If I stop at the station of Conditional Faith, my faith will never reach maturity. It will be inferior.
“Sir,” the official said to Him, “come down before my boy dies.” John 4:49
I don’t want you to think this dad understood everything there was to understand about Jesus. He did have some mistaken notions. First, he thought it was necessary for Jesus to be present in his home in order to heal his son. Some of us are hindered from asking the Lord Jesus to help us because we are under the same mistaken notion. I’ve said myself, “If Jesus were only here, He could….” But He is here, and He can! Even if the Lord was on the other side of the universe occupied with some crucial business about maintaining His creation, His ears would hear my cry, His heart would perceive my need, and should He choose to speak to my circumstances, they would respond to His command.
The second mistaken notion of this dad was to thinK that Jesus power was limited by death. Notice he said, “come down before my child dies.” He didn’t know, as we do, that Jesus is Lord over distance, over disease, and over death. Yet even without that knowledge, this father’s faith moved station by station from a crisis faith and a conditional faith to the next stage or station on the journey of faith.
“Sir,” the official said to Him, “come down before my boy dies.” “Go,” Jesus told him, “your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and departed. John 4:49-50
Can you put yourself in the shoes of this dad? Can you feel the desperation in his heart as he pleaded with Jesus to come to His house? Suddenly, Jesus abruptly said, “Go, your son will live.”
Now here was this dad who was pressed into Jesus presence with a crisis faith. Even worse, his faith, at its root, was no more than a conditional faith. What was it about his encounter with Jesus that transformed his understanding of who Jesus was and what He could do? Was it the look in Jesus’ eye? Was it the tone of His command? Was it some feeling that swept Him as the Spirit of God moved in his heart? Whatever it was, he left the presence of Jesus with a conviction that when he got home, things would be better. He placed a confident faith in the promise of the Lord Jesus.
Many people claim to have a confident faith in the Lord Jesus, but it is something less than that. They claim to have confidence in God, but they are afraid to stand upon His promises. While claiming to have confidence in His word, they are reluctant to obey. They are not convinced Jesus can do what He has promised, because they fail to realize who He is.
Confident faith always leads to obedience. Obedience leads to the next stage or station of faith.
The moment Jesus spoke the word, the little boy was instantly made well. How do we know that? We know that because at the same time the father left Jesus to return to his home in Capernaum his servants left his home in Capernaum to come to give him news of his son’s miraculous recovery. They met somewhere between the two cities, and his servants gave him the wonderful news. To make sure that it was not just a coincidence this dad asked them the hour that his son began to get better. They said that it was the seventh hour. So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” John 4:51
His crisis, conditional faith became a confident faith. On the basis of his confidence in the word of Jesus, he obeyed, leading to his arrival at the next station or stage of faith. His faith was now:
He knew! His questions were answered and all his doubts erased! He knew!
Some of you have only a crisis faith in the Lord Jesus. You pray when you are in trouble. Others of you have no more than a conditional faith. You follow after signs and wonders. You seek signs and not the Savior. But others of you have a confident faith that obeys the word of Jesus without question and without delay. Confident faith steps out on the promises of God and experience His faithfulness again and again. You know by experience that He is able! You know that nothing is too hard for Him! You know that He is not God Almost, He is God Almighty! Your faith is a confirmed faith—not because somebody told you what Jesus can do—but you know it by your own experience. This dad knew!
As exciting as it is to experience confirmation of the trust that you have put in Jesus—a confirmed faith is still not a full grown faith. This dad’s faith grew even beyond that! His faith became a:
Think about it! This father got what he came for. His son was healed! He was obedient to Jesus and responded with confident faith to His word. Wasn’t that enough? Couldn’t the story have ended there with a happy ending? It could have! And unfortunately, it does with many people. They begin by coming to Jesus in a moment of crisis. They plead for His help with confident faith. He responds! Their need is met. Their faith is confirmed! But all too often their life returns to normal.
But not this dad! His life was never the same again. And he himself believed and his whole household!You see, this father knew! And because he knew—he went all the way with Jesus. He responded with committed faith!
How so? What was different about the man’s “faith” after his experience with Jesus? 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. John 4:53
He was a believer. His experience was so powerful it impacted his entire family. Jesus was not present in the home, but the father’s testimony of his experience with Jesus had a transformational impact on his entire family. Their faith was no longer a crisis faith, or a conditional faith, but a confident, confirmed, committed faith in the person of Jesus Christ.
Where are you along these stations of faith? Some of you have a confirmed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You know by experience the power of the Lord. You’ve experienced fulfillment of His promises. You’ve received answers to your prayers. You have a confident faith and a confirmed faith, but yours is not a committed faith! You still come and go on the basis of your needs. Your faith is still based on what Jesus can do for you and if He does it.
Does your faith need to advance to the next level? I remind you, advancement along the stages or stations of faith demands obedience. Once I obey, I see God do things I would never see Him do if my faith is conditional. My faith in God must not be conditioned upon what God gives me or whether or not He answers my prayer. My faith is expressed by my obedience in spite of my difficulty and in spite of my failure to understand how God will keep His promises. When I obey, I experience God in ways that confirm His promises to me and mine. I come to know Him and experience Him in new ways and with a new intimacy. Those with a committed faith experience in God in ways others never will.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10
Photo by Alessio Lin