Lord, Increase Our Faith
Lord, Increase Our Faith
Increase Our Faith
“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5)
Online free dictionary defines increase as “to become greater or larger; to multiply; to reproduce”. Take as instance when someone is earning $10:00 before and his wage is changed to $11:00 it means that there is an increment in the person’s wage. A person whose speed is 40 kilometres per hour before but who presses the acceleration pedal such that the speed changes to 43 kilometres per hour, the speed of the person has increased.
First Teaching: Be-careful
Jesus Christ knows he was moving close to the end of his life on earth and he decides to tell his students’, the disciples who were following him of what and how they need to be reacting with themselves as well as with the outsiders in the world.
Verse one of Luke chapter 17 says, “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!”.
The Abarim Publications’ Biblical Dictionary says, the word disciple here means student from the Greek Bible, it means someone who is learning from a leader either by observation or other means, formal or informal. This word, μαθητης (mathetes), meaning learner, is often translated with the familiar word "disciple" in the New Testament, rarely found in the old testament. However, the verb μανθανω (manthano) which has a similar root means to learn in the sense of achieving understanding from a lesson taught — rather than studying that lesson in the hope that you'll get it in the end. An important derivation of this verb (which isn't used in the New Testament) is the noun μαθημα (mathema), meaning a lesson, from whence comes our modern word "mathematics" and stems from the same ancient proto-Indi-European root that gave us words like "mentor" and "mind" and even "meditate" and "medicine".
The offences as used here in the Greek word is called “skandala” which means to put a snare along the path of someone, to lure someone into sin as the writer of the book of Psalms 91 said of a snare being set by the fowlers. John Gill in his Ethiopic version says this of about skandala, "temptation will come"; that which will be trying to the faith of the saints, and a stumbling block to weak minds, as reproach and persecution, errors, and heresies, and the evil lives of professors.
We therefore need to view this that Jesus Christ was not referring to the apostles and followers alone on this but by extension those of us who will come to believe in him to the uttermost part of the world. He is saying things that would lure us to sin shall surely come because we yet live in the world, because we are yet in the flesh and because the devil has not been taken off the world. All these three: world, flesh and devil, will recurrently be luring the inhabitants of the world into sin, believers in Jesus and non-believers in him. However, their effect on believers is luring us to go against Jesus Christ, his wills, just as it did unto Job but which Job was able to overcome, such will indubitably be coming to us too.
These could come from different angles and spheres that of Job could be seen to come from two phases: from within (from his wife) and those from without (from intimate friends) and the devil.
As believers we shall also come across similar thing although different forms of offences on individuals’ basis but they all aim at one thing getting us off the track, getting and pulling us away from the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that we have heard.
Apostle Paul attests to this in his epistle to the Galatians that if him neither another person nor angels speaks another thing, in other words, if him or some other people put across to you another gospel outside that of Jesus, such people is setting stumbling block along your path, luring anyone out of the gospel by some other means let such a one be accursed.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8)
Jesus Christ while telling it unto his students as well as those of us who have believed in him in this present age says such “skandala”, such things of offence, things that will be attractive, things that will want to lure us away from the Gospel will sure come, but woe unto whom such comes along believers’ paths.
Though what will happen to those from whom such comes has been stated but we cannot possibly think Jesus was saying this so that the believers will know what will become of those people. No, he was not. What he was telling them, what he wants them to see is the need for them to be watchful to be on guard as Job did be on guard when such happened unto him.
We need not hang on the believe that well, “woe” has been proclaimed on such people who ensnared us, we need not think those people have been accursed as stated by apostle Paul, but we need to be on guard, be at alert always as per something like this. We must not be caught off guard.
One of my friends, while talking about the leadership of our country, how they have been playing on the intelligence of all and sundry, and of how he has been caught off guard after the election of 2015 said, he cannot be caught off guard again he has prepared for them and their lies. Such is it that God through Jesus wants all believers to see, he wants us to be on guard, to be careful and not think that, well they are under curse already and no step needs to be taken again.
There is a proverb in my land that says, “someone who eats what is bad (or not ripe) would look for companionship; a person who eats rotten food will look for those who will become part of him in eating what is not good”. Those in whom the devil has imprinted evils, those whom the devil will use to lure us into sin, some if not all of them, already know what would become their lot and what they are looking for is someone who will join them in the train someone whom they will pull away from the wonderful journey to heaven. Satan in the book of Genesis knows what would become of him, but he did not want him to be alone in the troubles and anguish, he thence lured Eve into error and Adam joined the train.
Being cautious and on guard, being at alert always is the key so as not to be lured, ensnared by the worldly fowlers, that is one of the point Jesus is impressing on the hearts of the believers here.
Don’t you ever forget that they will sure come because all that surrounds us in the world suggests that but how guided and guarded art thou?
On-line free dictionary says, judgment is “God’s subsequent decision determining” what will happen to individual. God’s decision to anyone who does ensnare a believer is that “it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:2)
We can imagine how “better” this “better” is. It will not be better at all. It shows the kind of trouble they will experience in the world. It shows that will not go without being punished. When the devil entered the serpent to lure Eve to sin, God did not free the serpent, the serpent was also judged. (Gen. 3) Those who lure men away from the will of God will equally be judged in the world.
Hobbs says of this verse that, “it is God's pronouncement of eternal wrath against those who lay a trap to destroy the faith of others”. While Millstone added that, “the teaching here is that physical death is a far more desirable fate than that which is reserved for those whose intent is to destroy the faith of others. The millstone in view here weighed about forty pounds; and, although Matthew quoted the Lord as referring to "a millstone drawn by an ass," a much larger stone, those commentators who style that a contradiction must be kidding. A forty-pound stone around the neck would have the same effect as a stone ten times as large, if the wearer of either were thrown into the sea.”
We could see that the punishment that shall be met out unto those people on earth is severe.
Hobbs says “one of these little ones is a characteristic reference of Jesus to those who are "babes in Christ," whose faith is young and weak.”
When something is growing it is prone to different kinds of infections because their immune systems is developing that is why they are usually under close observation by their parents.
Little ones in Christ are yet to have a matured mind as per the things of God, their spiritual immune systems are yet developing, at this stage they could contact some spiritual infections that would harm their spiritual growth and development. Using the neonates to explain this stage, we know that neonates would be given some vaccines which would assist their immune system so that they would not come down with some infections and diseases that do affect children at their stage. An example of such vaccines is oral polio vaccine this will insulate them against polio virus. However, some parents who for ignorance prevented their children from receiving such vaccination usually have themselves to blame when their children come down with such infection due to the fact that their immune system cannot withstand the torrents of the virus when it attacked them.
God through Jesus wants us to see babes in Christ in this light that their immune systems are yet at the developmental stages and are vulnerable if not properly guided into the word of the truth. This is why at the little ones at the stage in which they are could easily be tossed to and fro by other teachers with their doctrines if they are not under surveillance by spiritual elders and parents.
Despite being under spiritual surveillance some people will yet use their sugar coated mouths to lure these babes in Christ away, they will use sweet words to convince them to do what is not right. If those who lure away those who are old in faith would be not without punishment, then those who did not allow the feet of the babes in Christ to stand in him would not be without punishment too. They would not be freed as some may want to think they will be.
Babes in Christ therefore needs to be extra-careful and should not allow those who have sweet words to lure them away. In the book of Hebrews the writer enjoined those who are babes to leave that position so that they will not be lured away from the faith. He knows the importance of growing and that when they are growing they would be able to decipher right from left, they will be able to read in between the line and by that will be able to guide and guard their heart because from it is the issue of life.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23)
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again
which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of
milk, and not of strong meat.
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 5: 12-14)
Second Teaching: What You Should Do
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3)
Having seen how to deal with those who are outside as well as those who are surreptitious in their dealings with believers, Jesus advanced further in his teaching by telling them of what they need to be doing amongst themselves, the brethren and the supposed brethren, because there are some who would look like brethren but who have not completely put their trust in the Lord, such people are called wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are those who pretended as if they have been regenerated but who have not been. They are false brethren. As they are false brethren, they still fellowship with us, interact with us, and we consider them to be brethren. Such people would behave abnormally at times, to this Jesus was telling the disciples as well as those of us to be prepared for them in our midst.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Mat. 7:15)
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not
sparing the flock.
“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers
among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that
bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
“And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be
evil spoken of.
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:
whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2
As Lambs of Christ living and interacting with them, we are enjoined to be careful.
There are yet others who would look like brethren, but they are those who curry favor to themselves.
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among
them, receiveth us not.
“Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us
with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the
brethren,and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3 John 1:9
Electronic sword bible commentary says this about verse 9, “who loveth: Ο φιλοπρωτευων
"who loveth the presidency," or chief place, doubtless in the church, of which Diotrephes was
most probably an officer; and being one, magnified himself in his office: he loved such pre
eminence, and behaved haughtily in it.” While doing this they cause division among the
brethren, the believer needs to be careful of such people.
Apart from the two above who are among us, Jesus is telling his disciples that there are some though who will err while reacting with them. We all are in the flesh and such could not be avoided but when such happens, that a sincere brother or sister trespass against us, we should rebuke the person. This rebuke essentially follows that the person has checked himself or herself, as he said, “take heed to yourselves”. It a person who has double checked his life that can rebuke other person when the person trespasses against him.
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3)
He wants them to know that of a certainty they will be crossing one another’s path, they will be doing and saying things that will be grieving individual’s heart because they are yet humans and when such happens either by accident or when they know that what the person did was deliberately done, he told them what they need to do in addressing the issue.
The first thing that he told individual of them to do is, rebuking the person who has wronged him. The author of the book of proverbs says this about what Jesus is saying here that, “open rebuke is better than secret love.” (Prov. 27:5)
In other words, Jesus is here-in emphasizing the importance of openly correcting a brother who has erred while interacting with his partner in the Lord.
This is talking to some of us who are afraid of talking, calling to order those we know have done something wrong to us. Some of us instead of telling people about how they have wronged us, what they have done unto us that we do not like we shall be nursing it in our hearts, we will be boiling up day-in, day-out and as this continues in us it may later turn to another thing, psychological imbalances, which may later result into some terrible diseases.
Jesus did not want this to happen to us, thus he said when we see that someone has done what we do not like, instead of brooding over such thing, we should call the person and tell him or her that what the person has done to us we do not like.
What is rebuke? As a verb "rebuke" in the Old Testament is called ga`ar and yakhach; while use as a noun it is ge`arah. However, in the New Testament "to rebuke" is most often the translation of epitimao, elencho, epiplesso which means to admonish or charge sharply.
Jesus Christ is telling the disciples that when a brother erred against them they should call the brother and charge him sharply, let the brother know what he has done that is wrong, call the brother to order by your admonishing him. You should rebuke the brother in the mind of love not with the mind of hatred so that the brother could be brought back to the Lord in faith, so that the brother would appreciate you showing him his weakness or fault.
John Gill in his exposition of the bible says this of this rebuke “privately, and proceed according to the rules there directed to; lay his sin before him; endeavour not only to convince him of the fact, but of the evil of it; how contrary to the will of God; how unbecoming the Gospel of Christ, and the profession he makes; how hurtful to himself, as well as injurious to his brother; and how such evils give the enemy occasion to reproach the saints, to speak evil of the ways of God, and blaspheme the name and doctrines of Christ, and harden sinners in their sins, as well as stumble weak Christians, and sadden the hearts of the righteous.”
The brother should be sharply charged with the mind of bringing him back to faith, he should be addressed such that he would see himself in a new light, he would see what he has done that is wrong and how injurious such is to the expansion and progress of faith in Jesus Christ.
Why did he told them to first rebuke the person? We may want to ask ourselves that why did he tell them that they need to at first sharply rebuke or admonish the person who has trespassed against them? The reason is that when one fails to do this there is every likelihood that the brother who has been grieved would keep the grudge in him or her for a long while. When this person nurses the persistent feeling of resentment towards the brother who has done what is not right, this position is injurious to the person’s spiritual, psychological and physical wellness of the person. While others are looking at the person as a person in faith, God would not see the person in that light. When people are seeing the person as one who is sound in faith, God would be seeing the person as a sick one in faith who needs to be healed of his infirmity lest he died in that worrisome position.
Thus, when this person opens up to the brother in question this will remove persistent feeling of ill will that the brother has against his partner from his heart and he would be living in peace with him.
Another point is as humans the person who has been wronged would not find it comfortable associating with the brother who has wronged him. One of the backbones of Christianity is fellowshipping with one another. It is through fellowshipping with one another that we learn from ourselves. But the person who cannot be freely related with his brother because he is nursing resentment towards him how would this person benefit from the brother in the fellowship? If the person who has done wrong is the one talking in the fellowship the mind of this man would not be there, because in the stead of listening to what God is saying through the person, he would be thinking of something else. This position is injurious to brethren’s fellowship and the need for brethren to ensure that such is being addressed on time.
Answers to believers’ prayers come quickly when they are in harmony with themselves. But it is clear that a person who has been trespassed against without showing the person what he has done would not be in accord with the brethren and when this happens, it will have negative impact on God answering their prayers. They need to show one another their error in time so that their prayers would not be hindered.
In the case something untoward happened to the person who has trespassed against his brother, this man would be full of joy for what has happened to him. When others are praying for the person, when others are consoling the person, this man would not be able to do that because of what he is nursing in his mind against the person. In some instances, the person may be wishing for the death of this brother or sister who has trespassed against him and would not speak well of him to anyone.
This essentially would bring about a crack in the fellowship, and Jesus said, a house that is divided against itself cannot stand. It means the fellowship would not be sustained, the fellowship would not stand if something like this continued among them.
“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)
Making one’s partner in faith know what he or she has done that is sub-standard spiritually is a means of clearing the mind. It is a mind that is clear that can commune effectively with God, it is a mind that is clear that can commune with other brethren freely, it is a clear mind that would want his partner’s progress in all ramifications of life.
God asked them to do this, and by extension all of us, so that our heads would be clear. It is a clear head that can think straight. A clear head would be able to dig deep into the things of God, a clear head would be able to seek the mind of God out on a situation.
“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have
the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)
A person who does this has the mind of Christ.
A reaction will definitely follow this Jesus said. The reaction is that the person may either repent of what he has done and ask us for forgiveness or the person may remain adamant, unyielding and would think and act as if nothing has happened, the person may act as if people used to do that to their partners and why do I need to apologize? What do I need to repent from?
In the case of the former, if the person repents, we should not lay it to heart against the person again but rather forgive him immediately, Jesus said here.
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3)
We have known people who continue to lay to heart what other believers have done to them that are not good despite the person’s repentance. Jesus is saying we should not do this. When we tell someone his mistakes and the person repents, we should not lay the charge against the person again, we should let bygone be bygone and forgive the person.
However before forgiving the person we should note what preceded it, a conditional clause, “if he repent”. It is not the other way-round, it is not forgiving before repentance, it is repentance before forgiving.
Mark Hamric, says, “there are two words from the Greek that were translated as repent or some form of repentance. The first one is (ετανοέω) or metanoeō (pronounced as met-an-o-eh'-o) this means “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction)”. As you can see it is a compound word meta and noieō. The first word, “meta (met-ah')” written in Greek as “μετά”, it is a primary preposition (often used adverbially); properly denoting accompaniment; “amid” (local or causal); and the second “noieō (pronounced as noy-eh'-o)” written in Greek as νοιέω it is to exercise the mind (observe), that is, (figuratively) to comprehend, heed: - consider, perceive, think, understand. Basically what this boils down to is that metanoeō means to "Modify Thought" or change your thinking.
“The second word from Greek translated as repent is (μεταμέλλομαι) or metamellomai (pronounced as met-am-el'-lom-ahee) it means “to care afterwards, that is, regret”. This is also a compound word using meta, which I have already discussed as modify and μέλω (melō). Melō (mel'-o) which is the one I will say something on means “to be of interest to, that is, to concern (only third person singular present indicative used impersonally it matters): - (take) care.”
“In this case we could translate "meta-mello" as, "to modify our concern" or perhaps to change what we thought was unimportant to being important, thus this from of repentance is much deeper than the former. I looked for the suffix, "mai" but could not find a clear definition with the tools I have. From what I could discern from researching several words with this suffix, it seams to mean something that has been previously established or settled, whether that be a belief, a course of action, or decision. In the case of repentance then we could say that it means to regret something that has been done. Interestingly however, this form of repentance is not the required repentance for salvation. But the first word metanoeō or modify your mind/thoughts is the word Jesus used in Luke 13:1-5.”
From the above definitions of repent, we see that the repent Jesus is talking about in this verse is after the person has been shown what he or she has done with is sub-cortical spiritually and the person admits it and decided to modify his or her concern or perhaps to change his disposition to what he or she abinitio thought was unimportant to being important, we should not hesitate to take the person back with all our heart, allowing him to fill the position he has once filled in our lives. John Gill adds this that, we should “pray to God for him, for an application of his pardoning grace and mercy to him; and comfort him with the hope of forgiveness with God, by the gracious promises and declarations of pardon made to such persons; drop all resentment and anger, and behave towards him with all sweetness of temper, and affability, and respect: and this is to be done immediately, as soon as a man repents: and so say the Jews”
Sometimes this may not come immediately, placing him back into the position he has once occupied in our hearts, but with time as we notice the revealed changes in the person’s life the gap created by what he has done will be bridged in our hearts. Take as instance someone who has assault our child sexually, placing the person back in our hearts may not come immediately but by gradual process that will be done. Or the case of someone who has killed one’s child or let you lose valuable thing, cause your sack at work place or write something against you that resulted in you being withdrawn at the peak of your academics in the institution of higher learning, allowing the person to fill the position he or she once filled in your heart may not happen immediately but when you notices the genuine change with time it will happen.
A writer adds that though you have forgiven the person, but you still need to be-careful as Jesus said that “take heed”. Though the person indeed has changed, but his repentance would not have removed the wound it has inflicted neither your body nor your heart. And in some instances, the site of the wound will not be completely removed. Take the instance of the child who has been killed by a supposed brother or sister in faith. Whether the child is the only child of his/her parents it does not matter. What I want to say is the child killed by such a one no child would resemble the child, even if one gives birth to 100 children after the child, they cannot replace him/her in the person’s heart. For the pains the mother would pass through during pregnancy differs on each child. How could the wound be removed on the heart of the woman? Scientists through the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) also make us know that no child, not even identical twins have the exact same DNA. This corroborates the fact that no child could be absolutely replaced in the hearts of neither its parents nor its siblings. Some wounds that some brethren who have trespassed against us leave in our hearts would be permanent and thus, the need for carefulness cannot be over-emphasized in this wise.
It is true that you have forgiven and may have forgotten in some occasions, but the site of the wound will still call you to order of being careful while interacting with such people. Jesus therefore said, “take heed” lest you falsely accuse God again for being the architect of another problem that may occur in the future due to your gullibility.
Don’t See it as Onerous Task
After this verse Jesus opened the possibility of an incident before his students when he said, the person who trespassed against you, may turn to be torn in your flesh in some instances, but even at this, he encourages that they should be magnanimous in dealing with such brother. What is it that he said? Let us see verse four of gospel of Luke chapter seventeen.
“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:4)
The possibility he opened unto his students was that it is possible that such a one may be a daft so to say such that he will grieve the exact same person repeatedly within a day. The “seven times in a day” mentioned here by Jesus is showing the frequency of occurrence, it is showing the possibility of a person, a supposed brother in faith grieving another brother in faith several times in a day. In the case such happens, and we tell him and he comes pleading on those occasions he says, we should not close the eyes and heart of our mercy against the person but we must always have mercy on him and forgive him. This essentially is an onerous task if we will not lie to ourselves.
How possible is this? Some may want to say this is not possible, when the person has not gone insane how could that be? But I want you to think about these illustrations for a second. The first one is the issue of marriage. The bible through the lifestyle and histories of the father of faith, Abraham, his children and the laws given unto prophet Moses in the wilderness to be guiding the Israelis that they need to marry from amongst themselves.
“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his
son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
“For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will
the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” (Deut. 7:3-4)
Those who have failed to follow this, neither the historians nor did the histories forgive their mistakes as they were very well documented of what happened to them so that we can all learn from thereby.
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Cor. 10:11)
There are several examples of people who did this in the land of Israel, one example that I will talk about here is Samson. His parents warned him against taking woman out of the uncircumcised, the people the Lord has warned them against, but he felt, what has that to do with the power that God has endowed him with? He ignored the warning and went ahead and take to wife a lady from the uncircumcised people the Lord has warned them against. The bible recorded that God allowed that to take vengeance on his enemies and the enemies of his people, Israel and after doing what he wanted to do, he ensured that the marriage did not work.
“And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the
“And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in
Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
“Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the
daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the
uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she
pleaseth me well.
“But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an
occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.”
(Judg. 14: 1-4)
I think God decided that the marriage will not work because he was thinking that Samson would reconsider his stance, he would listen to the voice of reasoning from his parents, he would bring back to his mind what he has learned from the laws of prophet Moses which was the school that they (all) used to attend,
“And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut. 11:19)
God thought that the man, Samson would see that he has achieved what he wanted to achieve by bringing him to the lady, and what he designed to achieve was using him to deliver the people of God from the bondage that they were in, he used the marriage as an occasion to enter into the Philistines to cause them to disappoint him so that he would have no reason other than fighting them and rescuing the people from the hands of their enemies.
But God was perhaps mistaken as instead of this powerful man to see what God saw and bring himself back to order, aligning himself with the laws of Yahweh he did not, but in the stead kept on loving the uncircumcised not only loving them, he was deep-necked in flirting with them as well as pursuing them until he did that at his own detriment and he eventually died like a wise man who died at the backyard of a foolish person.
“Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
“And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
‘And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
”And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
“That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
“And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
“And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
“But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.” (Judg. 16: 1, 4, 6, 16-19 & 21)
We can see from this that people of Israel hardly marry from outside, marry from the uncircumcised people, those who do not believe in Yahweh.
In the new testament faith alike, we can deduct from the epistles of the apostles that believers ought to marry from believers so that there won’t be difficulty to them practicing their faith.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor. 6: 14-16)
If believers are married to believers they will surely be living together, even if they are working in other countries or other towns, there would be a time when they will be coming together, maybe every month or whatever and when they do come together like that they would sleep together as well as interact with each other before they leave again. While doing this there is possibility of a partner transgressing against his or her partner repeatedly in a day. When this happens, what the Lord says here should be brought to their hearts and they should forgive the partner on each occasion that the partner comes begging after seeing himself or herself that what she has done is not good.
When the first church started it is on record that they used to live together, while living together, something like this could have happened among them too.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common” (Acts 2:44)
When something akin to this happens, what Jesus said to them is they should forgive anyone who repeatedly trespassed against them.
“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:4)
I hope you get this picture? I hope we have seen the possibility of something like this happening among brethren? Having seen this, how then are we following or obeying what Jesus said here? Are we apt to forgive them or we are reluctant saying is he alone? We need know that it is the person whom one relates with often that could do that. The person you are relating with in the office, home, fellowship, they are those who could do that to us. Jesus told them as he is telling us today that we should not see this as onerous task but we should be apt to forgive them when they come back to say they have a new thought a new reasoning as per what they have done to grieve us.
Jesus’ Students’ Reactions
As humans the disciples in the book and verse under focus the disciples of Jesus Christ who have been nurtured and brought up under the law of Prophet Moses were reacting to what Jesus Christ has just told them of the need to always forgive the brethren, and not forgiving once, but forgiving repeatedly, ceaselessly.
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4)
They viewed what Jesus said from humans’ perspective as onerous task to be done because what the Law of prophet Moses said was contrary to that. Prophet Moses in his book of the Law which the priests use in passing knowledge to them that eye for eye (Exod. 21:24), when someone offends them they should be ready to pay the person back in his or her own coins. How would they be able to do this?
“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
“Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exod. 21:24-25)
But Jesus herein is telling them that they need to let go, they need to be forgiving not once or twice but as many times as possible, they need to be overlooking others faults and mistakes. In the meanwhile he, the same Jesus, has told them that he has neither come to abolish nor cancel the law, but this that he is saying they considered it to be somewhat contrary, to the law they have learnt and which has been the skeleton on which they have build up their flesh until his appearance.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matt. 5:17)
How would they marry what he is teaching them and what they have known and which have been part and parcel of them for ages? They do not know how. They were confused on the means of marrying this with what they had known and thought that Jesus is talking from a new pedestal, from a new level, he wants them to move up to a new status, to move to such status they do not know how, in attaining to such status, they know they need a new kind of faith to get there, therefore they decided to ask him to increase their faith.
“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5)
When a student has been following a master very closely, such student will know from which pedestal his teacher is talking from. The disciples having been good students of Jesus Christ they saw that Jesus attached serious importance to the word he has told them, they thence searched through their inner beings and discovered that there are vacuum there that needed to be filled. To get this emptiness in them filled up they know that by their might such would not be possible for the bible says, “for by strength shall no man prevail” (1 Sam. 2:9c), they know on the instant that they needed a new strength to be able to operate from that position, thus they asked him to give them the new strength to be able to do what he enjoins them to do to keep the faith up and burning.
You and I cannot achieve this feat by our means or power, we also need the strength of the Lord to do what the Lord expects of us to do. We can as well ask for the strength in faith as the disciples did by asking him to increase our faith.
Having seen the disciples position I will want us to look closely into what their prayer unto the Lord is, which is, “Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5)
Got Questions Ministries while answering “what do LORD, GOD, Lord, God, etc., stand for in the Bible? Says “it can be very confusing to understand how the different titles used for God are used in the Bible. Part of the problem is that different Bible translations use the terms somewhat differently. The primary reason for the use of LORD in place of God's Hebrew name is to follow the tradition of the Israelites in not pronouncing or spelling out God's name. So, when God's Hebrew name "YHWH" is used in the Old Testament, English translations usually use "LORD" in all caps or small caps. Also, since ancient Hebrew did not use vowels in its written form, it is not entirely clear how God's name should be spelled or pronounced. It could be Yahweh, or Jehovah, or Yehowah, or something else.
“As stated above, when "LORD" in all caps or small caps occurs in the Old Testament, it is a replacement for an occurrence of God's Hebrew name "YHWH," also known as the Tetragrammaton. This is fairly consistent throughout all the different English translations of the Bible. When "Lord" occurs in the Old Testament, referring to God, it is usually a rendering of "Adonai," a name/title of God that emphasizes His lordship. LORD/YHWH and Lord/Adonai are by far the two most consistent renderings throughout all the different English Bible translations.
“In the Old Testament, when "God" is used, it is usually a rendering of the general Hebrew word for God, "Elohim." When "LORD GOD" or "Lord GOD" occurs, it is usually a rendering of a dual name for God "Adonai YHWH." The Hebrew term "YHWH Sabaoth" is usually rendered "Lord of Hosts." The Hebrew term "YHWH Shaddai" is usually rendered "LORD Almighty." The Old Testament uses many different names and titles to refer to God, to emphasize certain aspects of His person and attributes. This can result in confusion in translation, but in the original Hebrew, it was done entirely in an effort to glorify and magnify God's name.
“The usage of "Lord" and "God" in the New Testament is much less complicated. Almost universally, "God" is a translation of "theos," the general Greek word for deity. Also almost universally, "Lord" is a translation of "kurios," the general Greek word for a master. The key point in all of this is that whether we use His actual Hebrew name, or refer to Him as God, or Lord, or Lord God, we are to always show reverence to Him and His name.”
Word Hippo says Lord is written in Hebrew in different forms but one of it is this, אָדוֹן, and has several meanings among which are: sir, master, ruler, commander, possessor, husband, owner, Baal, spouse, ram, magnate, head, chief, noble, nobleman, aristocrat, patrician, peer, rich man, nabob, sovereign. While Word Hippo says, Lord in Greek could be written as άρχοντας which is a noun that is being pronounced as árchontas it has the following meanings; master, sire, magnate, grandee, magistrate and the second word for Lord in Greek is κύριος, a noun pronounced as kýrios that means; master, sir, principal, gentleman, mister.
Basically, from the above definitions and explanations of the word called Lord, we shall see that Lord as used by the disciples here means our master, our possessor. Having recognized him as their possessor, they cannot but implore him to come to their aid to be able to achieve what he has said because they do not have anything in them to actualize and bring such into effect. They discovered that they have no strength to make that happen, human strength cannot do that except with the help of the supernatural can they make such happen in the flesh that they go about with.
“And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” (Dan. 2:11)
The disciples of Jesus perhaps said as the Chaldeans said unto King Nebuchadnezzar that what was expected of them cannot be done by ordinary being except by people who possess a power and might that supersede that power of the flesh.
Online free dictionary defines increase as “to become greater or larger; to multiply; to reproduce”. The faith they possess, they discovered that it is lower, cannot measure up to what God through Jesus is demanding of them to actualize this. They thence told Jesus, their possessor in unmistaken terms what they expect of him to do for them, and what they are expecting of him to do for them is increase their faith, multiply their faith, make their faith greater, larger to be able to fit perfectly in to the bigger picture that Jesus has shown them through his word.
“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33)
Bigger picture needs bigger heart to comprehend as great power is being associated with great grace. To balance the equation as far as the disciples are concerned, they need increment of faith to meet with this increased requirement from their master.
We have to also leave the ordinary to be able to meet with the demands and standards of the Lord if indeed we are Jesus students and followers in other words, we need to join the disciples in asking that our faith be increased not to disappoint him in the world.
Having seen some things about this verse let us now see some of the things concerning the faith that the disciples talk about in this verse, “Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5) they said.
Definition of Faith
Greek word commonly used for faith in the New Testament is πίστις, 'pistis' (pronounced as pis’-tis). Answers.com says it means "a conviction of the truth of anything." While Wikibooks adds that it is from the Greek word from which faith (pistis) is gotten that we also have believe (pistueo). Faith (pistis) means “belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, faithfulness”; while believe (pistueo) means “to trust in and rely upon, commit to the charge of, confide in, have a mental persuasion” of something or someone. Wikibooks continues to say that faith “is the act whereby a person lays hold of God's resources, becomes obedient to what He has prescribed and putting aside all self interest and self-reliance, trusts Him completely. It is an unqualified surrender of the whole of one's being in dependence upon Him. It is wholly trusting and relying upon Him for all things. It is not just mental assent to the facts and realities of truth, it must come from a deep inner conviction”, because James in his epistle also says, “the demons also believe” (James 2:19)
Which Kind of Faith Did They Asked For?
1. It is Not a Saving Faith: On closer look or scrutiny of this disciples’ word, “Lord, Increase our faith”, to their master and possessor we shall discover that the kind of faith asked for by them was not a saving faith. Shall we call to remembrance what happened to the man born blind who Jesus healed in the gospel according to Saint John chapter 9? We shall see here that the kind of faith or believe being introduced to the man in question was a saving faith.
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
“He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
“And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
“And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” (John 9: 35-38)
On another account we read of a man who brought his son to the disciples to be healed when Jesus was not with them. The disciples tried their best but they could not heal the child until Jesus appeared. When Jesus got to the scene he asked what the problem was, why the furore? The parent of the child was telling Jesus that he brought his son to his disciples that they should heal him but they could not do it and if he, Jesus could do anything he should do it and stop wasting his time. And Jesus replied him that if he could only have faith (believe) his child would be healed, he saw how foolish his utterance was to Jesus and asked Jesus to help his unbelief.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24)
What he was talking about here is essentially a saving faith, a faith that would deliver his child, but this was not the kind of faith being asked for by the disciples in the chapter under our purview, Luke 17:5, “Lord, Increase our faith”.
In the two instances above we shall see that Saving Faith (believe) is being talked about. Saving means rescue from danger or harm. Jesus offered the healed man an offer of the lifetime which was the offer of salvation, he extended the hand of fellowship unto him which could only come if he believed in him and he accepted the offer and became saved. You who are yet to be saved are equally being offered an offer of the life time and the offer is you repenting of your sins, forsaking them and give your life to Jesus Christ. This is the life time offer that you cannot get from any other gods the world over neither can you get it from any religion. You can only get this offer in Jesus Christ and I want you to do as the man did by accepting this offer, by accepting Jesus into your heart now. It is not too late for your doing that because you still have your breath in you.
The second kind of saving faith (believe) seen in the above example is the healing faith. I said above that online dictionary says, saving means rescue from danger or harm, when someone is being tormented by demons the person is in danger and except the person is rescued such a one would continue like that until he dies in that miserable position. This man does not want that to happen unto his child he thence applied faith on his behalf, he believed that Jesus could do that, he asked that Jesus should help his unbelief so as to grasp what he, Jesus, has in stock for his son. After asking for it, he received it.
But this is not the kind of faith being asked for by the students of Jesus in the book of Luke 17 verse 5, where they said, “Lord, Increase our faith”.
2. It is a Working Faith: Work is defined as moral or righteous acts or deeds. Father Abraham became justified when he showed righteous acts to complement his faith in the Lord. Rahab the harlot complemented her faith in the Lord when she showed moral works to the spies sent to justify her believe in the fact that their land would be taken over by the Israelites. Let us read the summary of their account in the epistle of James to the saints the second chapter of it.
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
“Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
“Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jam 2: 20-26)
The faith asked for by the disciples here is the working faith, a conviction of the truth they have learnt from their master is what they asked for to be shown unto others without and within the kind of God they serve. It is a kind of conviction of the truth that will complement the faith they already had in their master.
3. It is a Walking Faith: The kind of faith the disciples asked for is not a static faith, it is a mobile faith. As it is often said here that a river that is not flowing will soon be smelling because it would be harboring so many things and the chemical compositions of those things when they interacted together would be giving offensive smell to the people nearby, it would become air pollution apart from the water pollution. In the same wise is the faith that is static, faith that is not walking such a faith would in no distant time be smelling, bringing offensive odor to all and sundry. The disciples do not want theirs to be like that, they asked for a faith that would be mobile, a faith that would not be static. They asked for this kind of faith because they want to leave the stage they were before, they want to graduate from the lectures learnt from the law to the new rule of living that Jesus Christ their possessor and master is teaching them.
4. It is a Growing Faith: the kind of faith asked for by the disciples is the faith that is growing in size and width. When a seed is planted on the soil, at the initial stage the germinated seed may not be seen by people except those who know where the seed has been planted on. At the initial stage of such germination, it is very easy for animals and men to trample on such germinated plant, but with time, when the seed keeps growing, enlarging in size and width, the people will see it, because it would no longer be hidden to the people. When such grown up seeds are being seen by animals and humans’ they will be avoiding it, they would not be able to trample upon it. This is the kind of faith asked for by the disciples. This kind of faith was the very faith demonstrated by the three Hebrews when they were in the land of captivity when king Nebuchadnezzar set up a burning fiery furnace that whosoever fails to bow down to worship the idol he has set up would be thrown into the fire, the people replied the king that they knew their God can save them, but in the case he did not they would not bow down to worship the image the king has set down.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
“But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Dan. 3:17-18)
This kind of faith was the one shown by the Canaanite woman who went to Jesus beseeching him to heal her daughter. Jesus told him that he was not sent to the outsiders at that point in time, the time of the outsiders, non-Jews has not fully come, but she told Jesus that she could be a beneficiary of the grace and Jesus was marveled by her reply and said, such utterance could only have come from the heart that has a growing faith in her.
“And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
“But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
“Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
“But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
“And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” (Matt. 15: 22-28)
Considering The Prayer
Having seen in brief what they said, “Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5), want us to see the followings as per their prayer
- Their prayer showed that they indeed understood what their master was passing across to them
- Their prayer showed that they considered their faith small, and would not be able to meet with what is being demanded of it,
- They see that their Lord can supply the kind of faith that would meet with the demand being placed on it and thus they asked for such faith to be bestowed upon them,
- This is one of the rare cases where the disciples prayed a joint prayer before Jesus death, resurrection and ascension,
- It is one of the places where the disciples saw their emptiness that they are millionth of miles away from their master, Jesus. And the master while teaching earlier had told them that a good student would aspire to be like the master.
“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” (Luke 6:40)
As the Lord’s followers today we can also join the disciples in asking that the Lord increase our faith, because what he demands of them, he also demands from us, and by our might, we cannot do it.