~ I have always found it very difficult to systematically understand all the stories in the Bible that are about faith. Here is one more to think about. I have struggled with this one before, but it makes more sense now.
29 “Come,” He said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” ~ Matthew 14:29-30
(1) First thing to note is that Jesus said “Come”. This indicates that for Peter to walk on water would be for him to do something in line with the will of God.
(2) The second thing to note is that Jesus said “You of little faith” meaning that Peter did have some measure of faith, though not a full measure of faith. As such Peter experienced some measure of success, though not a full measure of success.
(3) That said … I have often thought that faith is an either/or thing. Either you have faith or you don’t such that if you have faith in something going down, then it will go down.* You cannot have faith that something will happen and then it not happen. (Indeed it will happen, however it will not happen of necessity.**)
The above passage seems to challenge this. It seems like Peter had faith and yet still he experienced a failure. How can this be?
The answer: Simple. Peter did not have faith for the whole walk. He had just enough for 2, 3 steps. Hence Jesus said to him, “You of little faith” meaning that Peter did have faith but only to sustain him for 2-3 steps, but not for 10-11 steps. He ran out of faith. He went totally broke on it and completely lacked it. However he still did take a 2-3 steps forward and that is commendable.
~ The thought here is this: If Jesus says “Come.” then this means that you can get to where you are bid to come full of faith. You may need to keep replenishing however – that is you may have to keep to your devotionals steady, keep praying, keep meeting with other believers, keep your eyes continually fixed on Jesus and so on. To exercise faith in a step-by-step fashion you need to continually keep replenishing. I am reminded of where Jesus said “According to your faith be it done to you” type of faith. I think this is something along those lines.
All that said, this sort of thing is not the case every time. Other times, other trials, the very presence of faith is once and for all enough to experience a full measure of success. Thats why Jesus said that if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…
*Note: This has to do with some very basic considerations of modal logic. If any one reads just Chapter 1 of any Modal Logic book, and nothing else then they will know what I am talking about. There is a link to a free book on said topic on the right by Ed Zalta in the Online Books section.
**Note2: I am doing a 2nd round of study of Modality via Vern Poythress’ book on Logic and will need to reassess all this. He seems to be saying things that challenge my thoughts here. Is all good though! The book is free (click link) and the cover design is wonderful!!! Fantastibulous!