Matthew 17:14-23 & A Check that Clears

Gardner’s Bookstore in Tulsa boasts being the largest used bookstore in Oklahoma with over 23,000 square feet packed with books. When I would browse the religion section looking for a jewel in a mountain of straw my frustration would be alleviated by humorously observing two of the titles that most populated those shelves. There were regularly at least half a dozen copies of Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, and Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez each.

People generally discard user’s manuals, especially if those manuals prove faulty. A lot of people bought these books hoping they were true. I speculate that a lot of people sold them having found they were false. The prosperity premise may not necessarily be rejected, this just wasn’t the right how to for them. “This plastic must be old; run a different card and I can stil have the goodies, right?” The results are diabolical. They think they took God’s check to the bank and it failed to clear. Keep the major premise and you can only come to two conclusions. God has limited funds, or you’ve irritated Him such that He put a hold on that check. You can only doubt God, either as regards His funds or His love. Either this isn’t by grace, or there just isn’t that much of it. Here is a text that is meant to bolster faith but when the prosperity wolves finish chewing on this bone it leads only to doubt. That is unless the manual worked for you, but then the results are still diabolical, for you are worshipping mammon and using God instead of worshipping God and using mammon. Doubt is still the end result, for your faith is in a different God.

Why is it a faith issue for the disciples to fail to drive out this demon? In Matthew 10:1 Jesus gives them “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal ever disease and affliction.” Jesus says they have little faith, but it is not themselves they are doubting. They are dumbfounded as to why they can’t handle this (v. 19). They are doubting Jesus. Faith is anchored in the word of Christ, not the abilities of self (Romans 10:17). What is being bolstered by this promise then is not faith to move whatever mountain you desire, but faith to move whatever mountain Christ has commanded. To properly appropriate this promise you need to ask yourself not, “What mountain do I want to move,” but, “What mountain have we, the church, been commanded to move.”

What mountain can we move in faith?

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).’”

Jesus had just gone up a mountain and glory was breaking through while the disciples were powerless below. Christ has ascended higher into greater glory, powerlessness should doubly not be our state.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight (Acts 1:8-9).”

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