Faith In Christ’s Ability
“Jesus unto them, Believe you that I am able to do this?”
I WANT to lay special emphasis on the word, “this,” in the text–“Believe you that I am able to do this?” The question of Jesus referred to one particular thing–it was not intended to apply to the general power of Christ to heal the sick or to raise the dead–it concerned the specific malady from which these two men were suffering. The question meant did they believe that Christ was able to cure their blindness? Among professing Christians, there is much so-called faith that is not really faith. Many of us profess much more in our creeds than we believe in our hearts and we hold a great deal more in theory than we do in reality. For instance, I suppose there is no professor of religion here who would dispute the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to do anything and everything–we believe that He has all power in Heaven and in earth. And yet, if it came to be a matter of personal detail and He said to us, “Believe you that I am able to do this?” we mightnot all be able to answer as promptly and as confidently as the blind men did, “Yes, Lord.”
- I am going to speak about this matter, and I start with the very simple statement that FAITH, IN SO FAR AS IT IS TRUE, DEALS IMMEDIATELY WITH THE CASE IN HAND.
True faith believes that Jesus Christ is “able to do this.” It believes, of course, that He is able to do twenty thousand other things, but it believes especially that He is “able to do this”–to forgive this sin of which I am so deeply conscious,to remove this trial with which I am now so sorely afflicted, to sustain me under this temptation which so fiercely assails me, to strengthen me to accomplish this duty which so clearly is before me. As each special case arises, faith will exercise itself upon that particular thing and believe that Christ is “able to do this.”
There are solemn thoughts connected with unbelief concerning “this” which Christ is able to do. Over there is a Brother who is in such a plight that he thinks there is no way of deliverance for him out of it. He has a task before him which he hardly dares ask his Lord to enable him to perform because he lacks the necessary faith in his Lord’s power and willingness to help him! Now, my dear Friend, as you are in doubt in this case, I want to ask you what is to prevent you from doubting in the next difficulty that occurs to you–and then in the next after that, and so on? You say that it is only upon this one point that you are in doubt and that you think you have very good reasons for not believing in this particular case? But the next circumstances that occurs to you will very probably furnish you with just as weighty reasons for doubting–and so will it be with each succeeding case as it arises. It seems to me that you are shut up to this alternative, either to trust God in this case or else to confess that you do not intend to believe Him in any case. I know you willurge that the present case is a very peculiar one, but I shall remind you that the next one will also be a very peculiar one. I have not lived as long as some of you have but, during the years that I have been able to observe what has been passing around me, I have noticed that every year of my life has been a crisis in the affairs of the nation–at least so the papers have always told us and so have some good people always told us! I think it is very likely that the present time is a most solemn crisis and I also think with equally good reason, that this is a most solemn crisis in your history and that if you do not believe now, you are not likely to believe in the next crisis that comes to you. The fact is, you must either believe God always or you must never believe Him! If you think Christ is not “able to do this”–forgive this sin, remove this trial,overcome this temptation, or strengthen you for this duty–you will probably think the same when the next testing times comes.
Moreover, it seems to me that if you doubt God concerning any one trial, you give up the whole case. You wouldhave me believe that your present trial is very peculiar and strange. Well, suppose I admit that it is? Still, if you do not believe concerning thisand if there is any onething that He cannot do, then He is not Omnipotent! If there is any one heart too hard for Him to break, if there is any one sin too strong for Him to enable me to abandon, then He is not Omnipotent. If you look this thought fairly in the face, I think you will scarcely dare to rob your Lord of one of the most glorious of His attributes! You would surely hesitate to put forth that right hand of yours to snatch from His crown one of its most precious gems! No, you would sooner lose your life than commit so traitorous a crime as that–yet you do practically commit it if you do not believe that He is “able to do this,” whatever, “this,” may be and, therefore, you do virtually say that He is not Almighty!
Besides, your doubt concerning God’s power sets up a new god. Do you start in alarm at that statement? It is true,for that which is mightiest in the world is God–but if there is anything which surpasses the power of God–somethingthat is more potent than Omnipotence, that something must be god! I only put the matter thus to show you that you areobliged to believe that God can deliver you out of your present desperate plight, or else you must become an idolater! You must feel that your difficulties and trials are greater than God and, therefore, you deify them! Of course you do not mean to do that! You feel a cold shiver go through you at the bare thought of such blasphemy, yet you practically do it whenever you doubt that God is “able to do this,” whatever, “this,” may be!
Further, to doubt God’s power to do “this,” whatever it may be, is challenging every attribute of the Divine Character. I could prove this if I had the time, but I will indicate only one attribute of God, that is, His truthfulness. Take such a promise as this, “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble.” Now, if you doubt God’s power to fulfill that promise, you practically challenge His veracity! Can you calmly contemplate such a sin as that would be? Yet it seems to me that you cannot avoid committing that sin unless now, by simple faith, you believe that He is “able to do this.” But grant that God is Omnipotent, once really accept that Truth of God in your heart and then you will feelthat there remains no strait into which you can be brought out of which He cannot deliver you, that there is no temptation which may assail you from which He cannot preserve you, that there can be no position of peril in which He cannot protect you and out of which He cannot bring you unharmed! May the Holy Spirit graciously reveal to us the unsafe, treacherous, boggy pit that would swallow us up if we doubt that God is “able to do this”–and may He enable us torealize that it is safe walking and happy walking when we walk by faith!
II. My second statement, which is as simple as the first, is that TRUE FAITH, ESPECIALLY IN THE MATTER OF SALVATION, MUST BE PERSONAL.
If I have any true faith in Christ at all, I must believe that He is “able to do this”–that is, that He is able to do forme what He has done for many who are now in Glory–and what He is doing for many who are rejoicing in His salvation here on earth! I know that I am addressing many who believe in the Bible. At least you say that you do and that you believe that Jesus Christ is able to do everything. That is the theory of your faith, yet you do not believe this–that JesusChrist is able to save you now. You have got an idea in your mind that for some reason or other, on account of some lackof preparation in you, or for some equally foolish reason, the simple act of faith in Christ would not be the means of bringing salvation to your soul! You imagine that your case is not one that is covered by the promise of God, or encompassed by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!
If that is what you think, that Christ cannot save you–why do you not doubt whether He can save others? In fact, why do you not doubt whether He can save any sinner who ever lived? You tell me that your case is a very peculiar one. I will grant you that, but then the case of the next sinner you meet will also be a peculiar one. He is as honest a man as you are and he will tell you that there is something very peculiar about his case. I have very seldom talked with any person under conviction of sin who did not think that his case was different from that of anybody else–and very surprised has he been when I have told him that his words just described my own experience when I was under conviction of sin! If you believe that Christ cannot save you because of some peculiarity in your case, is it not equally reasonable or unreasonable that you should believe that He cannot save another sinner because of some peculiarity in his case? In this way you would soon get to believe that Jesus Christ cannot save at all! “No,” you say, “I shall never believe that.” But that is practically what you do believe! You do not believe that Jesus Christ is a potent Savior! You may think that you do, but if the matter were put to the test and you regarded every other sinner’s case as you regard your own, there would be just as good reason to suppose every other case to be hopeless as to conclude that there is no hope of salvation for yourself! If you are strictly reasonable in your belief, you must either believe that Christ can save you or that He can save nobody at all!
Then, as I said before under the previous head, if you do not believe that Christ can save you, you give up the wholecase. You have probably, all of you, held as one of the undisputed articles of the Christian faith that Christ is Omnipotent. But supposing that your case is one in which His blood has no cleansing efficacy–supposing that you are so vile that He cannot and will not receive you, supposing that your heart is so hard that He cannot soften it–then He is not Omnipotent! That is as clear as anything can be, for here is a case that has defied and defeated Him! Oh, tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon that there is a man here who professes to believe the Bible, yet He holds that Christ is not Omnipotent! “Oh,” you say, “I do not hold that!” But you do practically hold it, for if you thought Him to be Omnipotent, you must conclude that He is “able to do this,” that is, to save you!
More than that, disbelieving Christ’s power to save in your own case is virtually making yourself god. “Oh, no!” yousay in horror at the bare mention of such a thing! “I never did that!” Stay a moment and let me prove it to you. You believe that there is something in you which cannot be overcome by Divine Power. You think that there is something in you which makes it impossible that you can be saved. Now listen, the most mighty of all forces must belong to Deity–but if there is in you some force of wickedness, some hardness of heart, some obstinate willfulness which you imagine God really cannot overcome, then you are practically making out that the evil in you is more powerful than Omnipotence andgreater than God! Is not this very strange, as well as very wicked? You thought you were making yourself out to be very humble, but it turns out that you are very proud, lifting up yourself to the very Throne of God and seeking to usurp His place! This is what you are practically doing when you assume that Christ is not “able to do this,” that is, to save you.My dear Friend, look at the enormous guilt in which such unbelief would involve you and start back from it with the utmost abhorrence! And believe that Christ is mighty to save, yes, that He is Almighty to save even you!
I say again, as I said upon the first part of my subject, this unbelief of yours challenges all the Divine Attributes. Inbelieving that Christ cannot save you, you are dishonoring the Character of God in the Person of His well-beloved Son, for you have set a limit to His power although He said that all power in Heaven and in earth had been given to Him! When He asks, “Is My arm shortened that it cannot save you?” you answer, “Yes, Lord.” When He says, “Is My ear heavy that it cannot hear your cry?” you reply, “Yes, Lord.” You may not dare to say it with your lips, but you really mean it in your heart–and that is even worse! You are denying the Truth of Christ’s promise. He said, “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Yet you say, “Lord, I would come to You, but I would never getany rest. I would trust you, but I would never be saved.” You suppose either that Christ has promised more than He can perform, not knowing that He was doing so, which is challenging His Omniscience, or that He has deliberately promised more than He knew that He could do, which is challenging His truthfulness and honor! He has commanded that this message should be preached to every creature in all the world–“He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” He also said, “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life.” This is His declaration concerning every believing soul, so that if you believe on Him, it is not possible that your case could be beyond the limit of His power to save! I am not talking nowabout His willingness to save. If I were, I would speak just as confidently, but just now I am referring to His power. Christ’s own question to you, my dear Friend, is the same that He put to the blind men, “Believe you that I am able to do this?”–that, is, to save you! Think of the solemn consequences of unbelief–see how shamefully it maligns and slanders the Character of Jesus and then may His gracious Spirit sweetly compel you to believe that He is “able to do this,” and tosave even you!
After Christ had cured these blind men, He healed a dumb man who was possessed with a devil. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never so seen in Israel.” I wonder if there is one here who thinks himself the biggest sinner in the world, the most hardened, the most hopeless? If so, and he believes in Jesus, Jesus will save him and then he, also, will be able to say, “It was never so seen in Israel.” I know that when I found peace through believing in Jesus, I thought that it had never been so seen in Israel! And I have met with many others who have felt just the same about their own conversion. Well, supposing that it was never so seen in Israel, then there are new honors and fresh glories for Immanuel andthere is no reason why it should not be seen here tonight! At any rate, I pray God to show you the inconsistency of professing to believe the Bible and yet thinking that for some reason or other, or for all the reasons in the world put together, Christ is unable to save you!
III. My third statement, which is as simple as the first and second were, is that IN ALL MATTERS AFFECTING THE SOUL, THE VITAL QUESTION IS THAT OF FAITH.
“Believe you that I am able to do this?” must be the vital question concerning a soul’s salvation! Personal faith with regard to Christ’s power to save must be the main matter. Jesus did not say to these blind men, “Have you a proper sense of your blindness? Are you sufficiently sensible of the deprivation from which you suffer through the loss of your eyesight? Do you feel the degradation of the poverty which compels you to beg? Have you wept, moaned, groaned and grieved because you cannot see?” No such questions as these were put to them by our Lord! He simply asked them, “Believe you that I am able to do this?” There are various questions that many of you ask yourselves although Christ never puts them to you–His one enquiry is, “Believe you that I am able to do this?” If you can answer that question satisfactorily, you need not trouble about your own queries!
You will notice, too, that Christ did not ask the blind men whether they loved Him. He did not say to them, “I amnot going to do anything for you unless your hearts are burning with love to Me.” Oh, no! It would have been clean contrary to our Savior’s nature to say to these men, “Are you really fond of Me? Then I will do what you desire.” So, Sinner, Christ does not ask you whether you love Him because He knows that you do not–yet you ask yourself this question again and again–“Do I love the Lord or no? Am I a lover of Jesus? I have heard His people say that they love Him, but do I love Him?” Now, this is a very proper question for you to ask yourself after you have believed in Jesus–but you must have the root-grace of faith, first, before you begin to look for its fruits. I hope that you will afterwards attain to that burning, fervent love that many advanced Believers have to Jesus, but this is not the matter that concerns you just now. The question that Jesus puts to you now is, “Believe you that I am able to do this? Believe you that I can take your sins away and make you clean tonight? Believe you that I can take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh? Believe you that I can turn you, a lion, into a lamb? Believe you that I can give you the Grace of repentance though you cannot repent without My aid? Do you believe that I am able to do all that needs to be done in order to save you?” This is the question Christ asks you now. I trust the time will come when He will say to you, “Do you love Me?” and that you will be able truthfully to answer, “Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.”
There was another question which Christ did not put to the blind men. He did not say to them, “ Have you fearedwhether you would ever have your sight? Have you been frightened at the thought that you may have to grope about in darkness and poverty all your days? Have you been in such despair that you have almost feared that you would commit suicide unless your blindness could be cured?” No, Christ did not ask any such questions as these! His one enquiry was, “Believe you that I am able to do this?” Friends tell us sometimes about the terrors they have experienced before they came to Christ by simple faith, but it would be quite wrong on our part to conclude that such terrors are necessary! I believe that they are never necessary and that they are seldom useful–it certainly cannot be right to put them in the placeof faith in Christ! Dear Friend, I wish that you would answer the Master’s question and leave all other matters alone until He asks you about them. He does not question you concerning your fears and your terrors, the plowing and harrowing Law work of which some brethren are so fond of talking about. His first question is, “Believe you that I am able to do this?” Give Him an answer and may the Holy Spirit enable you to give the right reply, “Yes, Lord,” even as the blind men did when Christ put a similar question to them! The vital matter is faith in Jesus. “Do you believe on the Son of God?” O Sinner, how glad and thankful I would be if I knew that you were saying in your heart, “I do believe that Christ is both able and willing to save me. And I cast myself into His arms now.” If you have really done that, you are saved, and now you know, feel, and rejoice in His power to save all those who come unto God by Him! Trust in Jesus, for this is the vital sign by which we discern those who are chosen of the Father, regenerated by the Holy Spirit and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus! If you truly believe in Jesus, you are born of God–you need not fear that you shall ever perish, but you may even now rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of Glory!
IV. I close with this fourth observation, that THIS QUESTION IS ONE WHICH WE MIGHT NATURALLY HAVE CONCLUDED THAT JESUS WOULD ASK.
It was a vitally important question, and it was by no means an unreasonable one. If the blind men had not believedthat Jesus was “able to do this,” they would not have asked Him to have mercy upon them. It would have been an impertinence on their part, or something worse than that, if they had pleaded for mercy and yet had not believed that He was able to grant it to them! I should not feel pleased if a blind man came to me and said, “Will you be so good as to open my eyes?” I should feel morally certain that he was mocking me, for he would know as well as I do that I have not the power to give sight to the blind! Now, dear Friends, some of you have been praying to the Lord to have mercy upon you–so you see that you have committed yourselves just as these blind men had! You have not told anybody about it. Possibly it was behind the hedge, or up in the hayloft, or in that little bedroom of yours when no one but God could see you. Well then, how did you dare to pray thus if you did not believe that the Lord could do for you what you asked of Him? You did not mean to insult Him, did you? I think the very fact of your praying drives you to the conclusion that you do believe that He is “able to do this.” If you do not, you must not pray anymore! “Oh,” you say, “I cannot help praying.” I am glad you cannot and I hope you never will cease praying, but if you go on praying, yet do not believe in Christ’s power to save you, it is very much like a mockery of the Savior, for how can you pray with any sort of justification unless you can truly say, “O Lord, I do believe that You are able to save, and able to save even me”? I do not know whether the blind men at first fully believed in the Deity of Jesus, but I assume that all of us hold that He is “very God of very God.” I hope none of you have been led astray by the false Doctrine that Christ is a mere man. You believe that He is the Son of God, so what is more reasonable than that He should say to you, “Believe you that I am able to do this?” You must give up your belief that He is Divine or else you must believe that He is able to do this, that is, to save you! I have already shown you that Omnipotence is essential to Deity, so if you doubt that Christ is Omnipotent, I do not see how you canbelieve that He is the Son of God. But inasmuch as you say that you do believe that He is the Son of God, and I have no reason to question your veracity, how can it be a question with you whether He is able to save you?
Besides, you know that Christ has saved a great many other people and this should encourage you to believe that Hecan save you. The blind men had probably heard of His miracles of mercy and so were stimulated to cry to Him on their own account. You have seen the change that Christ has worked in some of your relatives or friends–and this being the case, Christ certainly has the right to expect that you should believe that what He was able to do for them, He is also able to do for you! Your case is not by any means as peculiar as you imagine. It can easily be matched by others where Christ’s power to save has been abundantly proved. If you are a drunk, we can produce drunks who have been saved by Christ. If you are a swearer, we can show you swearers who have been saved by Christ. If you are a harlot, we can bring harlots who have been washed in the precious blood of Jesus and who are now living chaste and holy lives. If, on the other hand, you have led an outwardly moral life and cannot feel the deep conviction of sin that others have experienced–if you say, with Cowper–
“I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel.
If anything is felt, ‘tis only pain
To find I cannot feel”–
we can find plenty of cases to match yours! Suppose you have a bad leg and you go to a doctor and say to him, “Doctor, you see what is the matter with my leg, but I don’t believe you can cure it.” He would certainly not feel flattered by your doubt concerning his skill, yet he might say to you, “Well, it so happens that I have had many cases exactly like yours, and in every instance the remedies I have prescribed have been the means of producing a complete cure.” If, after that, you still persist in saying that you do not believe the doctor can cure you, he would be fully justified in saying to you, “Then I think your unbelief is very unreasonable. Here in my book I have the record of many cases almost identical with yours, and as I was able to cure them, I have no doubt that I can cure you if you will only commit yourself to my hands and do as I tell you.” In a similar manner, I venture to say that there is not a case in this house–there is not a case in the whole world to which there has not been a very close parallel in which the power of Christ has already been displayed–and, therefore, He has the right to ask every unsaved soul, “Believe you that I am able to do this for you?”
My dear Hearer, I can most confidently assure you that He is “able to do this.” I know the ways of unbelief, for I have walked there. But oh, happy, happy, happy day when I understood my Savior’s Grace and power at least in some degree! When I saw that, although I was a sinner, He came to save sinners, and although I was black with sin, His precious blood was able to wash me whiter than snow–and although I was naked, His righteousness supplied me with a robe in which I might even dare to appear before God, and although I was spiritually dead, His Holy Spirit was given to quicken me and make me live forever–thus in Christ all my soul’s needs were fully met–and desperate as my case had appeared to myself, I had proved as so many before me and since have also proved that, “with God all things are possible.” May you come to the same conclusion, dear Friend, and cast yourself now upon the naked promise of God made in Covenant with Christ and ratified by His most precious blood! If He does not save you when you trust Him, this Bible is not true. If any soul can truly trust Him and then be a castaway, I have no Gospel to preach to guilty sinners! But that can never be the case, for He has Himself declared–oh that I could pronounce the words as He uttered them!–“Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Come then, everyone of you, and prove the truth of His blessed promise and so you shall be saved–and He shall have the Glory forever and ever! Amen.