This study in Luke 8 vs 26-56 was given by pastor Barry Forder on 5th February 2023 as part of our verse-by-verse study in the Gospel of Luke.
There are three silent, but powerful, ‘enemies’ that hinder the work of God in our lives: Fear, doubt and unbelief. So often, fear leads to doubt and doubt to unbelief. James tells us: “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord”. (James 1:6-7 NIV). Jesus clearly stated that He was unable to work miracles in Nazareth that He did elsewhere ‘because of their unbelief’ (Matt 13:58). Over 300 times we are told to ‘not be afraid’ / ‘fear not’, clearly showing that we have a choice! The only fear we should have is the fear of the LORD which is the beginning of wisdom! Oswald Chambers said that if you fear God, you’ll fear nothing else!
Sadly, instead of fearing God we fear everything else, for what if God’s promises don’t ‘come true’? What then? That leads to us doubting God’s Word, which then gives way to unbelief.
Thinking back to the four soils at the beginning of Luke chapter 8, we see that the seeds that fell on the wayside were immediately met by unbelief: “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe” (Luke 8:12). The seed that fell on the rocky soil started well, only for doubt to consume and destroy (v13). The seed that fell among the thorns was choked by ‘life’s worries’ (v14) – in a word, fear.
John Piper once said: “The tap root, out of which sprouts all the weeds of sin, is the tap root of unbelief in the promises of God. When you trust, or believe in a promise of God, you glorify God. In fact, trusting somebody’s promise is the most fundamental honour you can do that person. The reverse is also true: The greatest contempt that you can bring down upon a person, is to say to them, ‘I can’t trust you’. So, when we don’t trust a promise of God, we bring contempt upon Him, we give Him a vote of ‘no confidence’.
In Luke 8:22-25 we see the disciples in a boat on the sea of Galilee. Whilst Jesus was asleep, a storm arose. In a state of fear the disciples awoke Jesus who then calmed the storm and chided the disciples for their lack of faith (v25) – their unbelief. Jesus had already ‘given His word’ and told them they were going to the other side of the lake, but here, overwhelmed by the circumstances’ they fear (demonstrating a lack of trust), doubt Jesus’ word, and their unbelief is exposed.
In the remainder of Luke chapter 8 we see Jesus continuing to preach and actively demonstrate the ‘good news’. In quoting from Isaiah Jesus had said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).
Now Jesus demonstrates that He had come to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) – both sin and sickness – by delivering a man who had been possessed by a legion of demons, healing a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years, and then raising from the dead Jairus’ daughter!
Significantly, Jesus tells the woman with the issue of blood “thy faith hath made thee whole” (v48).
To Jairus (upon his hearing that his daughter had died) Jesus said “Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.” (v50).
We cannot get away from the fact that two thirds of Jesus ministry were spent healing the sick and performing miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit – in direct fulfilment of Isaiah 61:1. This is an integral part of the gospel (good news!) He came to proclaim. The good news is that through Christ there can be reconciliation with God and forgiveness of sins, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins“* He also heals the sick! Do you believe this?
Are you prepared to take God at His Word? Or do we receive the Word with joy, only to have doubt creep in and tell us that this is not how it is, that God doesn’t heal today?
Andrew Murray stated: “Oh, that we could learn to believe in the promises of God! God has not gone back from His promises; Jesus is still He who heals both soul and body; salvation offers us even now healing and holiness, and the Holy Spirit is always ready to give us some manifestations of His power. Even when we ask why this divine power is not more often seen, He answers us: ‘Because of your unbelief. The more we give ourselves to experience personally ‘sanctification by faith’, the more we shall also experience healing by faith. These two doctrines walk abreast. The more the Spirit of God lives and acts in the soul of believers, the more will the miracles multiply by which He works in the body. Thereby the world can recognize what redemption means.”.
“The Bible does not authorize us, either by the words of the Lord or His apostles, to believe that the gifts of healing were granted only to the early times of the Church; on the contrary, the promises which Jesus made to the apostles when He gave them instructions concerning their mission, shortly before His ascension, appear to us applicable to all times. (cf Mark 16:15-18)”
“Paul places the gift of healing among the operations of the Holy Spirit. James gives a precise command on this matter without any restriction of time. The entire Scriptures declare that these graces will be granted according to the measure of the Spirit and of faith.”.
“In this chapter (Isaiah 53), the expression ‘to bear’ occurs twice, but in relation to two different things. It is said not only that the Lord the righteous Servant bore our sins (v12), but also that He bore our sicknesses (v4). Thus, His bearing our sicknesses as well as our sins forms an integral part of the Redeemer’s work. Although He was without sin, He has borne our sins, and has done the same with our sicknesses. “As soon as a sick believer understands the meaning of the words, ‘Jesus has borne my sins’, he is not afraid to say ‘I no longer need to bear my sins’. In the same way, as soon as he fully believes that Jesus has borne our sicknesses, he is not afraid to say ‘I no longer need to bear my sicknesses.’ “Jesus, in bearing sin, bore sickness also, which is its consequence. He has made payment for both, and He delivers us from both. In Jesus, we have both pardon and healing. They are two sides of His redemptive work.”
Consider the impact on your family, friends, colleagues, if they heard of, or came to church and actually saw miracles of healing… It would be just like it was in the Book of Acts where we read: “and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles… And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:43-47). “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)… There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.” (Acts 5:14-16).
It will not and cannot happen except by the work and power of the Holy Spirit among a people who yield themselves to Him, to ‘Walk in the Spirit’ (Gal 5:16), and who are ‘Led by the Spirit’ (Gal 5:18). Not wavering, not doubting, willing to take God at His Word, letting the Seed of His Word sink down into the good soil of faith and belief. Who not only hear, but also do!
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian believers and asked: “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal 3:5).
May this study challenge and encourage you to a deeper walk with the Holy Spirit.