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Any Amount of Faith Will Do (part 2) by Jonathan Brackens

Remember, last time we discussed how our frustration with faith comes from a compulsion to compare our faith with those in the scriptures, how the depiction of their feats are, in some cases, the result of NT embellishments likely used to preserve oral tradition, and how we need to identify and get rid of embellishments so we can recalibrate the faith scale. Now, we conclude our discussion by finding out how we recalibrate the faith scale using Peter’s “if-faith”, “conditional”, or “little faith” as the level of faith Jesus appreciates and requires.


As the “walking on water” story fights for survival, we realize that despite Jesus either “showing off”, the reciter insulating the message from extinction, or it being the exact occurrence the practical power of faith, like mitochondria, kept faith alive. No matter how much Jesus had and wanted to prove something — “that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me” (John 17:21 KJV) — Peter had nothing to prove to the world.

There, stranded in the middle of the sea during a storm, an approaching apparition further frightens the disciples, they think it is a ghost, despite Jesus identifying himself. Peter says, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water” (Matthew 14:28 KJV). Jesus said, “come.”


Please appreciate the power of “if”; “if” is the conjunction that connects both uncertainty and certainty, the synchrony between faith and doubt, it is the buoy under the feet of Peter that led him to Jesus. It grabbed Peter when he later began to sink. It brought Peter and Jesus into the boat. Peter proved that “if” will see you through.


Faith Never Left Peter:

“O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt” (Matthew 14:31 KJV)? Do you think the above is negative in any way? If so, why? The text did not tell us that Jesus was angry or disappointed.


To edify you, I must bore you slightly with grammar, Greek, and gaff. The phrase “little faith” is the Greek word “ολιγοπιστε”, meaning just that: “of little faith” or “faithless.” It is an adjective written in the vocative, singular, masculine. You care about the vocative case, here, because it is not the accusative case; for if it were written in the accusative, then Peter would be the object acted upon, making “faithless” or “little faith” a verb denoting that faith was leaving Peter. Also, notice that the verb is singular, not plural, even though everyone in the boat believed Jesus was a ghost (Matthew 14:26 KJV). Jesus only described the state of Peter’s faith, and since faith did not leave Peter — evinced by the vocative case — and Peter’s walking on the water was based on his “if” — having both faith and doubt — then Peter’s faith was in no different position during propositioning, walking, and sinking.


Peter perfectly displayed “if-faith.” In fact, as Peter sank, he shouted to the Lord, “save me.” WARNING: More Greek. This is the Greek word “σωσον”, a verb written in the aorist, active, imperative second singular, meaning, “I do not know when or how fast you will (aorist), but I need (imperative) you (second singular)!” For the second time, Peter’s faith calls out to Jesus and only Jesus, and immediately Jesus caught Peter. From the boat to the sea, from the sea into the sea, from out of the sea into the boat, from the boat to shore, “if” kept Peter afloat. Jesus simply described Peter’s persistent condition: some faith, if-faith.


“Wait, preacher! Jesus also said, ‘wherefore didst thou doubt;’ that does not sound benign to me.” Good point. WARNING: just a little more Greek. Jesus asked “εις τι εδιστασας”, let’s break it down: εις (“toward” (i.e., spatially related)), τι (“who, which or what”), εδιστασας (“to doubt”). Jesus asked Peter to direct Jesus to the person, place, thing, or circumstance that originated Peter’s doubt. Notice, Jesus made no inquiry into the source of the other disciples’ doubt. We are tempted to believe that Peter’s doubt originated from Peter’s observance of the forceful wind (ανεμον); however, that is what Matthew surmised, there is no indication that Peter ever told Matthew what he was thinking. Note that neither Mark, Luke, nor John attempt to tell us what Peter was thinking at the time (Matthew 14:22–36; Mark 6:45–56; John 6:16–24; Luke is silent). It is important that the answer to the question remains unpenned.


Any polishing of the text did not solve the uncertainty here, and for that we are grateful. I believe that because Peter was the only one who engaged Jesus, Peter was the only one Jesus engaged. Jesus invited Peter to point Jesus toward the person or object that served as the basis of Peter’s “if-faith.” Why? Because later Peter would be one of three disciples who would see Jesus transfigure upon the mountain (Matthew 17). That experience helped increase Peter’s faith, weakening the source of his doubt.


Faith is not fragile as to vitiate in the mere presence of doubt.

Using “if-faith” causes Jesus to ask you to point Him to the object or circumstance that is the catalyst of your doubt. Like with Mary and Martha, Jesus intends to confront the object or circumstance to increase your faith.


Wrapping-up:

Remember: (a) the NT was embellished to keep the text alive for centuries, do not be discourage if your faith is less than Herculean — it’s what sold back then; (b) “if-faith” acknowledges belief and doubt and is the minimum needed to see God’s supernatural involvement in your life; and (c) engaging Jesus with “if-faith” leads to him asking you to point Him to the catalyst of your doubt. This will lead you on a tailored journey to increase your faith.


How does God increase your faith? Well, we may have gotten ahead of ourselves. We need to understand what faith is. Faith is not the enigma in Hebrews 11. We’ll discuss that in the next article.


However, if asked now, how much faith is needed to live a successful Christian life? I hope you say, “Ehhh, any amount of faith will do.”


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