And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help you my unbelief.
I. FAITH AND UNBELIEF ARE OFTEN FOUND IN THE SAME HEART. The picture which Milton gives of Eve sleeping in the garden is true of us all. There is the toad-like spirit whispering evil dreams into the heart, and the angel is standing by to keep watch on the tempter. So the two worlds of faith and unbelief are close to the soul of man. When he is in the dark, gleams from the light will shoot in as if to allure him; and when he is in the light, vapours from the dark will roll in to perplex and tempt him.
II. WHENEVER FAITH AND UNBELIEF MEET IN AN EARNEST HEART THERE WILL BE WAR. The question raised by faith and unbelief presses on the whole nature, and will not be silenced until settled one way or the other.
III. WE CAN TELL HOW THE WAR WILL GO BY THE SIDE A MAN'S HEART TAKES. When a ship is making for the harbour, there is a set in the tide which may carry it straight for the entrance, or to the treacherous quicksands, or to the boiling surf. Such a set of the tide there is in a man's own heart. It is acted on by his will, therefore he is responsible for it. A man cannot use his will directly, so as to cause himself to believe or not to believe, but he can use it in "those things which accompany salvation." We cannot reverse the tide, but we can employ the sails and helm, so as to act upon it. Let us seek to have(1) a sense of reverence proportioned to the momentous character of the issue at stake. The weight of the soul must be felt if we are to decide rightly on its interests.
(2) A sense of need: a care for the soul, leading us to look out, and up, and cry for help.
(3) A sense of sinfulness, a conviction of the gulf between what we should be and what we are. The way to God begins in what is most profound in our own souls, and when we have been led by God's own hand to make discoveries of our weakness and want and sin, it is not doubtful how the war will go.
IV. THE WAY TO BE SURE OF THE VICTORY OF FAITH IS TO CALL IN CHRIST'S HELP. Full deliverance from doubt and sin is only to be procured by personal contact with the Saviour's person and life. So long as we turn our back on Him, we are toward darkness; as soon as we look to Him, we are lightened. If there are any who have lost their faith, or fear they are losing it, while they deplore the loss, let them cry toward that quarter of the heavens where they once felt as if light were shining for them, and an answer will in due time come. Christ is there, whether they see Him or not; and He will hear their prayer, though it has a sore battle with doubt. This short prayer of a doubting heart comes far down like the Lord Jesus Himself, stretches out a hand of help to the feeblest, and secures at last an answer to all other prayers. H men will use it truly, it will give power to the faint, and to them that have no might it will increase strength, till it issues in the full confidence of perfect faith.
(John Ker, D. D.)This act of his, in putting forth his faith to believe as he could, was the way to believe as he would.
Parallel VersesKJV: And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.