Great Faith

Title: Great Faith

Bible Book: Mark 2 : 1-12

Author: Keith Fordham

Subject: Faith



"And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion."

I. Great Noising

The word went out that Jesus was in the area. The people heard and their interest was peaked. Jesus the God of all comfort and consolation had come to the city of comfort and consolation(City of Nahum = Comfort).

In Verse 1 the text states that it was "noised" that Jesus was present. We need a great "Noising" of the Gospel. We have kept silent about Jesus long enough. On the airplane, in the grocery stores, in the Schools Jesus should be the topic of topics. There was a time when you could get on an airplane and have somebody stand and give a testimony about Jesus. People would break out singing about Jesus. Acts 8:4 states, "Therefore, they that were scattered abroad went everywhere evangelizing the Word." Jesus is here and Jesus saves. Jesus is here!

II. Great Paralysis

As with other physical sicknesses which Jesus healed, the paralytic's condition pictures spiritually some of the problems which sin creates. Compare the physical condition of this man to the spiritual condition of a person in his or her sins. Like the paralyzed man, the sinner is unable to walk in the ways of God, for sin has disabled him. Not only can he not walk, but he cannot even stand; for he lacks the strength to stand. This is the sinner's condition before salvation - he cannot stand before God because of sin. The Scripture put it this way, "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). The sinner is truly at the mercy of God For salvation, for he is helpless apart from Divine grace. He has No ability to save himself just as the paralytic had no ability to move about by himself.

Let me say a word to Southern Baptists about our evangelism. It appears that we have a form of paralysis in reaching people between the ages of 9 to 29. Last year our baptisms dropped by 126,286.

I had an exceptionally good year in evangelism in 1972. In a youth revival in Decatur, Alabama 130 teenagers accepted Christ. Every church in town baptized someone from that meeting. In Huntsville, Alabama I was the preacher for an evangelistic team in a weekend revival. We had services on Friday night, Saturday night and two Sunday services. The key to the success of this meeting was the one-hour witness training session on Saturday and the witnessing that followed. The youth went to 125 homes of their peers who were on the Sunday School roll, but not on the church roll. Seventy of those young people were saved that afternoon and the pastor baptized forty of them before we left on Sunday Night. You see, they noised the message that Jesus was available and young people responded!

Why have Southern Baptists been down in baptisms in the three age groups that should be easiest to reach? There is a lack of intentional evangelism in the 9-29 age group. We are not "noising" the message to them. We are not spreading the message of Jesus to that group the way we should and could! Forty-nine percent of SBC churches did not hold a revival, and 32% of the churches did not hold a Vacation Bible School. Of the churches that held VBS, many had no evangelistic service.

I have also noticed this past year that some of our churches are keeping the children and teenagers out of the revival services. They have alternative activities for them on some other part of the church campus. The entire purpose of youth and children's ministry is to bring the youth and children to a saving knowledge of Christ and to become thriving members of the body of Christ. To miss the opportunity of special nights that get the youth, children and families in the revival services is a tragedy. Make it a goal to get those young people to love the preached Word and fellowship with all believers.

III. Great Faith

When men came to the paralyzed man, and brought him to Jesus, the Bible tells us that Jesus saw their faith! These men knew Jesus could do what no one else can do. Jesus saw the faith of those who brought the lost man to Him. Jesus gets excited about the faith of men who bring others to Him. Thank God that revival is not dependant on everybody's faith. If you are in a church where no one else will go witness, you can go. A famous pastor told me, when he was in Mississippi, that he would baptize 50 people even if no one else led any one to Christ but him. He broke the record for baptisms in the state of Mississippi that year. Each one of us can make a difference. If no one else has faith, you can have faith that brings results!

"When he saw their faith, he said unto him, 'Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.'" (Luke 5:20)

The faith the four carriers had in Christ was the condition that resulted in Christ working this miracle. Christ is not in the habit of working where faith is absent. He can work anywhere regardless of men's faith, but He chooses not to bless men when they lack faith in Him. Unbelief is an insult to Christ. You do not insult Him and get much of a blessing. Of the town of Nazareth Scripture says, "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matthew 13:58). The fire of heaven falls where it is likely to spread.

The carriers centered their faith in Jesus! Here we note the characteristics of their faith. This faith of the carriers, which Jesus saw, was of great character. We note six excellent characteristics of their faith.

A. Great Wisdom

It was wise faith in that it caused them to bring the man to Christ; the only One Who could heal. First Baptist Church, Leesburg had in a revivalist, Larry Ferguson, just after the church had been through a little difficulty. Then they invited a harvest evangelist follow up in a subsequent meeting. Bobby Harrell had the members knock on every door in his town to invite people to the Revival He knew that obedience to the command to go would bring God's blessings. What happened? Forty-three new members came into his church. Wise faith believes the Word of God.

Jesus Said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to me." A wise minister of music will lift up Jesus by name in the songs he chooses. The preacher will lift up Jesus in the sermons he preaches. The people will lift up Jesus in their witness. This will bring people to Christ!

B. Great Persistence

It was persistent faith in that it was not deterred by the great difficulties of the circumstances. In Alapaha, Georgia the crowd grew each night. On family night a 77 year old man made his profession of faith and joined the church. The church had been praying for him since 1960. The pastor had said that he was a pillar in the community and his decision would impact all of Alapaha. His family was ecstatic. Some were keeping the nursery and when they were asked to come out because their father had joined the church, they could hardly believe it. Tears flowed freely that night. Eighteen professions of faith, 24 rededications, and 2 transfers by letter were a part of the revival. I know there will be other decisions resulting from the revival as 4 other individuals have stated they plan to make public their decisions this Sunday.

Mike Gibbs had the church hold its first Vacation Bible School in years. He followed it up with an old fashioned revival using an old time evangelist. I agree with Billy Graham. I do not want to set evangelism back 50 years, I want to set it back 2000 years - back to the beginning of the Church as recorded in the Bible.

The carriers who brought the man to Jesus did not stop at the door when they saw the crowd. They found another way. They tore up the roof and let the man down to Christ. They had persistent faith!

The Bible says you will reap in due season, if you faint not. Let me put that in plain English so Georgia folks can understand it. Concrete will crack if you beat on it long enough.

C. Great Sacrifice

They had sacrificing faith in that they gave much time and much effort to bring the man to Christ. Some time ago a church had a crusade. They spent some $20,000 on it and had one teenager saved. The next Sunday some of the men gathered in a group in the church and complained about spending so much money and only seeing one 15 year old boy saved. A man walked up into the circle. He said, "Guys, excuse me, but if you give me a little time I'll pay back the money you spent on that crusade." When they asked why he would do that, he replied, "It was my boy who was saved and it was worth every penny!" It is hard to have a revival when you are pastoring the First Church of the Gadarenes.

Warrior, Alabama was the sight of sacrifice. Chairs were in the aisles every night. I preached on the blood atonement on Monday night in Warrior, Alabama because many there had just seen the Passion of the Christ. A 73-year-old man came to see the pastor the following day and said; "I need the cleansing blood of Christ applied to my heart." He made that decision public on that very night and the church rejoiced in his decision.

Pastor hold a revival, spend the money and time make the visits. Use an evangelist. Jesus evangelized the poor. Paul said, "Woe is me if I evangelize not". A Roman Catholic woman at First Baptist Church in Mt Juliet was among the 5 saved and 5 transfers. The pastor and staff had gone out on the Saturday before the meeting started on Sunday and had people ready to come forward to make decisions for Christ. Don't just use an evangelist to preach your meeting, be evangelistic and get ready for the revival meeting!

Paying for the hole they made in the roof was costly. No doubt the men who carried the man to Jesus had to miss work to get him there. But they were willing to pay a price. We must do the same today in order to get men to Jesus.

D. Great Boldness

Their faith was bold and public in that it was unashamedly exhibited in public. Some churches are losing their boldness. In one revival the youth and children were taken to a separate place outside of the rest of the church body. In another the Awana leaders did not want the older children sitting at the front during the service. They did not want to bring the children into the revival service. I was told that the reason was because the leaders feared that the children would misbehave and not listen. Well, I insisted that they come into the service and they did behave and they did listen. I became so angry I shook all over. I have not been that mad in a long time. Well, as I said, the leader brought the children into the service and 9 of them made professions of faith in Christ.

In a Florida revival, the youth and children were held out of the service to play and sing in the gym. I was assured the gospel would be presented. With over 100 out there every night, not a single soul was saved. Seven professions of faith were made that week. If it had not been for the youth and children being in the Sunday morning service even that would not have happened. Youth and children are supposed to love Jesus and be a part of the church. Anybody Jesus ever called had to make it public. And that includes children and youth.

In Alabama they sent the children home before service. I insisted that they stay till they could be counseled and 10 of the 14 who came forward were saved. Pastors and leaders, don't take you children and youth out of the worship services and revival services. When they hear the Word of Christ, they will come to Him in faith and believe upon Him as Savior!

E. Great Humility

Note how humble the carriers were. Matthew Henry said, "They would not ask Christ to visit him, but brought him to attend the Jesus meeting." The lowly task involved in bringing this man to Christ shows humility.

Jim Brady had not used an evangelist in his church. He then realized that God gave some to be evangelists, as the Word of God says. So, Jim humbled himself and asked an evangelist to preach a revival in his church. Jim had not even had a revival in his church in seven years. Well, he planned the meeting, secured an evangelist and results speak for themselves: WOW! 11 saved, 1 Transferred Letter, 1 by statement, 4 young children to follow up and 1 answered the call to ministry.

Humble yourself and totally count on God even for the timing. A great lack of humility is shown in the following attitudes. Some men say "We are in revival and do not need a God called evangelist or a revival or Harvest Day." Most of us have a revival when we think we can. Nobody can give revival but God and He can do it anytime but always in His way.

F. Great Activity

Active faith in that they were busy bringing a man to Christ. Instead of talking about it, they did it. Years ago my dad was in a deacon's meeting. The discussion that night was on an expensive light bulb that needed to be replaced and how difficult it was to get to. My dad excused himself as if going to the bathroom. He drove to K-Mart and purchased the bulb. He came back to our house and got a ladder. He went back to the church, replaced the light bulb and slipped back into the deacons meeting. They were still arguing about this light bulb. Dad interrupted the conversation and said, "By the way I just purchased the bulb at no cost to the church and replaced it. We can go on to something more important than a light bulb."

At Calvary Baptist in Albany Tuesday night was family night and evidently a number of families made a commitment to family prayer and Bible reading. The following testimony shows the effects of praying and reading the Bible with your family. During the invitation on Wednesday night, a teenager about 15 years of age came down the aisle with tears in his eyes. He told the pastor he had walls in his life between himself, God and the church. He said he could no longer deal with it. He wanted to be saved. While the pastor was leading him to Christ a man came forward and I quickly stepped down to greet him. The man said he needed to rededicate his life. He told me, "That is my son down there (being saved). I have held my family back from God and the church. I went home last night and the four of us (his family) got on our big bed and read the Bible together. The first night I go home and do something right and the next night my boy is saved. We are going to be reading the Bible when we get home tonight and we are going to keep doing it. I am going to be in church and so are they. We are not going to miss any more because that is what we need." What a blessing! There were three others also saved on that night.

IV. Great Power

While it is true that the paralytic must have had saving faith, it is also true that Jesus forgave and healed him because of the faith of the four men. Matthew tells us that Jesus told the paralytic man to be of Good Cheer. He was afraid being let down through the roof and even more afraid of Jesus.

When the disciples were in the boat being tossed about Jesus came walking on the water and said, "Be of good cheer because Jesus is here!"

Jesus said be of good cheer in John 16 because He has overcome the world. We are on the winning side and we need to act like it.

A homosexual got right with God this past week. Jesus can save and heal anybody.
The order of the cure is that Jesus forgives first, and then he heals the physical. The Spiritual is always more important than the physical. Preach first and tend to the physical next. Rescue missions and medical missions have learned that people often will not stick around for their true needs because they are paralyzed and dead spiritually.

Jesus Christ is God. All power, all judgment and this very world are in His hands. He's got the whole world in His hands.

Jesus was acting as God's representative. John says: " The Father judgeth no man but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." (John 5: 22.) Because Jesus is God, He not only judges but He can also forgive. Jesus has the power of attorney; He has absolute disposal of all goods and property. He agrees that the other man should act for him, and that the other man's actions should be regarded precisely and exactly as his own. We could take it that that is what happens for us when we give our lives to Jesus. The word Jesus speaks was none other than the very word of God.

Lewis Hind tells us of the day that he discovered his father. He had always respected and admired his father; but he had always been more than a little afraid of him. He was in church with his father one Sunday. It was a hot drowsy day. He grew sleepier and sleepier. He could hardly keep his eyes open as the waves of sleep engulfed him. His head nodded. He saw his father's arm go up. He was sure that his father was going to shake or strike him. And then he looked up and saw his father smile gently, and the father's arm went round the boy's shoulder and cuddled the lad to himself that he might rest more comfortably. His father held him close with the clasp of love. That day Lewis Hind discovered that his father was not as he had thought him to be, that his father loved him. That is what Jesus did for men and for God. Jesus literally brought men God's forgiveness upon earth. Without Him men would never have even remotely known about it. " I tell you," He said to the man, " and I tell you here and now, upon earth, you are a forgiven man." Jesus showed men perfectly the God's love. He could say, " I forgive," because in Him we find forgiveness of sin through His blood!

V. Great Glorying

I do not know of anything that causes the church and Sunday school teachers and the deacons and pastor to get more excited than seeing souls saved.

As could be expected, the people were really amazed at this miracle as they were of other miracles of Christ. In the KJV Matthew says that the people "marveled" (Matthew 9:8). Mark says the people were "amazed" (Mark 2:12). Luke says the people were "amazed" (Luke 5:26). These words are translated from three different Greek words. These different words used by the various Gospel writers do not contradict each other; rather, each word is simply another word for wonderment. Together they emphasize the great astonishment the people experienced.

But in all their amazement, most of the people did not turn in faith to Christ. "They were amazed. They were astonished. They were filled with wonder at His mighty works. But they were not converted" (Ryle). Those who were converted would be very few, for unbelief prevailed. This reminds us that it takes more than miracles and proof to instill faith. The Spirit of God must work in the hearts of the people to bring them to Christ. But today we are inclined to think that the sensational will convert sinners, for our churches are busy thinking up new and greater shows to impress people and get a bigger crowd thinking this is what will bring more to Christ. The rich man in hell thought the same and so requested of Abraham that he would send one from the dead "to my father's house" (Luke 16:27) so they would believe and be spared of going to hell. But Abraham answered, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31). So keep preaching the Jesus. You do not need the sensational. You need to be obedient. If you have the Word, you have all you need.


Dayton, Tennessee is the location where the "Scopes Monkey Trial" was held in 1925. I call it the "Scopes Pig's Tooth Trial." I do so because the physical evidence they used was a pig's tooth. The evolutionists said that it was a monkey's tooth, and was proof for evolution. The evolutionists lost the case. Science did prove the tooth actually belonged to a pig about a year or so after the trial.

Revival often comes in the preparation and aftermath of the actual meeting. First Baptist Dayton is a case that proves this point. People were already joining the church during the preparation weeks before the revival meeting. While there were at least ten saved and seven transferred letters during the revival, others came after the meeting had finished and sought counsel from their Pastor.

A lady in her sixties came to Pastor Knox and said that she had understood clearly while Bro. Keith was explaining to the children that salvation must come before Baptism. She told Pastor Knox that she needed to get her baptism in order. Saturday evening just after the University of Tennessee football game, Pastor Knox went to a home and had a coach's child nail down a commitment for Christ. The next day, Sunday, he had two more for baptism.

The story of a little boy about ten years old named Nicolas is one of the most precious I can tell you. Nicolas had not been coming to church on a regular basis. His parents are pharmacists and came very sporadically. Nicolas came to hear Homer share the Gospel. I always tell the children that if you understand that you have sinned and that your sin has the consequence of taking you to hell when you die, you are old enough to be saved. You must understand that when Jesus died on the cross it was not for His sin but for your sins (Jesus never sinned). If you clearly understand that, I tell them there are three things you need to do to put your faith in Christ. One is to pray and invite Christ in your heart, thanking Him for dying in your place and asking Him to forgive your sin. The second thing is to raise your hands to let me know you have prayed. And the third thing is to come forward during the invitation. I ask the children not to pray if they are not going to come forward at the end of the revival service. The word faith means commitment. Nicolas prayed and asked Christ to save and forgive him. His mother came to the church to pick him up and take him home. He insisted on staying for the revival service. He told his Mom, " I just asked Jesus to save me and I must stay for the revival service and go down front during the invitation." She allowed him to stay. The following week on Wednesday morning Nicolas's dad came to Pastor Knox and said, "My son is changed. He has something I do not have. Pastor, I have been watching you over the years and you have the same thing. I want what you have and I just do not know what I need to do to get it." Brother Knox said, "You need Jesus," and led him to faith in Christ.

When people are saved, it affects the people around them. When God's people pray and invite folks to get under the hearing of the Word of God, lives are going to be changed. The Word of God is like a hammer that breaks the rock. Revival allows people to get under the hearing of the Word more than usual.

As they say in Georgia, "Concrete will crack if you beat on it long enough." The word of God is that sledgehammer. Even when whispered in the ear, it has a pile driver effect on the hardest of hearts.

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