In `Matt. 17:20`, Jesus said to his disciples “if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Could one have faith to remove a literal mountain? (A.C.D.)
<ANSWER>–The question would seem to be a preposterous one, but when we reflect upon the meaning of the word faith; that it is not imagination or blind credulity, but, as defined by the Apostle, “Faith is a basis of things hoped for; a conviction of things unseen.” (`Heb. 11:1`.) We can see that our Lord’s teaching here is in agreement with what he taught on another occasion (`John 15:7`) where he set forth that the request must be in harmony with the Divine will. But since there is no basis of evidence for faith that the will of God is to remove literal mountains in answer to any idle or self-willed, or ignorant commands of men to do so, a genuine faith in his willingness to do it now is an impossibility. But regarding the mountain as a symbol of difficulty and obstruction in our individual Christian course, or in the course of God’s work, we know that “Miracles” are wrought for those who exercise faith; and they going forward in the strength of the Lord, are permitted to overcome difficulties and to work righteousness otherwise impossible.
How can I get faith when I don’t have it naturally?
<ANSWER>–Faith may be cultivated as any other mental quality, and is increased in proportion to knowledge and reliance upon that knowledge. To have faith in God we must learn His character, plans, and purposes. This we acquire by a study of His word and relying upon the promises and truths therein stated. False doctrines have made God’s character appear hideous. “Fear (dread) of him is taught by the precepts of men.” A true knowledge of his character and plan greatly increase our faith in and love for him. Faith is scripturally defined as “the understanding of things hoped far, the proof of things unseen.” Man hopes for eternal life in happiness. A basis for that hope is found in the word of God. A doubter may become a most earnest and tenacious believer upon receiving proper evidence. “Life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.” (`Rom. 6:23`.) His word is the only evidence pointing out clearly the way of obtaining that gift. To increase our faith we must, therefore, study God’s word in a humble and prayerful manner, with the desire to know and do His will, and to rely upon His word. One who knows the letter of His word and fails to rely upon it has little faith. Another both knows the word and relies upon it and strong faith results. This is illustrated by the following incident; A man doubting the strength of the ice to bear his weight crawled across the river an his hands and knees, and just as he reached the opposite shore he was overtaken by a man, who had confidence in the strength of the ice, gaily driving a team of horses hitched to a sled loaded with pig iron.
`Luke 18:8`, “Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh shall He find faith on the earth?” Is it the mountain-moving faith that will be lacking? Please explain. (A.C.D.)
<ANSWER>–A word for word rendering from the oldest Greek manuscripts of the quotation given above is as follows: “But the Son of Man coming, indeed, will He find the faith on the earth?” The “faith” in the text would have the meaning of system of belief or doctrines, as expressed in the Bible statement, “The faith once delivered to the saints.” The Master’s words imply that the existence of the true faith at the time of His second coming would be somewhat doubtful. The Lord’s words are remarkably fulfilled in the conditions of the present day. We see that, owing to the hundreds of conflicting creeds and doctrinal systems; the many “isms,” and the strong delusions and multiplied errors; so that if it were possible the very elect would be deceived; not many are holding to the true faith–only the “very elect.” (`Matt. 24:24`.) The object of the Lord’s return is to put aside all of the evil and the error, and to fill the whole earth with the true faith and knowledge of God and thus to bring about the blessing of all mankind.–`Habakkuk 2:14`.