Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Weakness of Strong Faith

Multiple dimensions.

John 11:17–27

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Martha confesses Christ but still can’t imagine that He will raise Lazarus. So, is her faith strong or weak?

It’s both. Her faith is strong in depth but weak in range.

She absolutely believes, but she doesn’t know the full extent of what that means.

This is true of every Christian. I can absolutely believe that Jesus is Lord, but still fear things. I know the essentials of the faith are true, but I don’t know—and can’t even imagine—all that can mean.

But it’s wrong to say I need more faith. “More” isn’t the right word. The list of the seven deadly sins (envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, rage, and sloth) most definitely does not include fear.

In fact, if someone has no fear, that person is the one that we should worry about. The “health and wealth gospel” is false. Fearsome things happen to Christians. Real persecution and suffering are a normal part of life in Christ. Christians aren’t expected to enjoy suffering, even as we count it all joy when we fall into various trials (James 1:2b). Like the soreness you get after exercise, it may be normal, but it still hurts.

And this is just one example. Growth in Christ has more than one dimension. Our faith can grow deeper and/or it can grow wider. Our faith can even grow in ways that aren’t described by either term.

For example, my faith in Christ is the same as it was a year ago, but my faith in the power of prayer has grown immensely. Specifically, I’ve seen God powerfully bless prayer groups that meet over the internet. I now see the words “gathered” and “midst” in Matthew 18:20 in ways I could have never imagined.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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