Calvary Road Baptist Church

“FIRST, YOUR FAITH”

Mark 2.1-12

 

I enjoyed and was greatly blessed by missionary to Chile Dustin Reinhardt’s message the other night. You may remember that he brought a message from Mark chapter two in which he spoke about the four men who brought their crippled friend to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, while the missionary was preaching I must admit to being provoked by the text to bring to you an entirely different message from the exact same passage.

Turn in your Bible to the gospel according to Mark, chapter two. When you find that portion of God’s Word please stand for the reading of my text for this morning’s message:

 

1      And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

2      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.

3      And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

4      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.

5      When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

6      But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

7      Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

8      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?

9      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?

10    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,)

11    I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

12    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.

 

The reference to the Lord Jesus Christ returning to Capernaum takes place after the Savior’s public ministry had begun and following His first tour of Galilee in which He preached and worked miracles. Of course, His fame spread like wildfire. Now, back in the town where He had located His headquarters, He has become an extremely popular figure, verse 1, making it impossible for anyone to get through the throngs that surrounded the house He was in, verse 2. The reference in verse 4 to four men lowering the fellow afflicted with palsy through the roof was accomplished in uncomplicated but physically strenuous fashion. Houses in that region were constructed with a flat roof that frequently included outside stairs that led to the roof to enjoy the cool of the evening. This would have been how they reached the roof with the crippled man and then removing tiles and stones to create a large enough hole through which to lower him. In verse 5 we read,

 

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

 

Focusing only on His comment to the afflicted man, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,” there are certain things we can be sure about even though no explicit comment is made in this passage.

We can be absolutely sure the afflicted man trusted Christ. How can we be sure? His sins were forgiven, and we know that no one is saved apart from faith in Christ. Salvation by grace through faith in Christ is the universal theme of the Bible, so that even though direct mention of that principle is not explicitly stated in this verse it simply cannot be otherwise. Perhaps the paralyzed man had previously heard the Savior teach and preach. Perhaps the paralyzed man had been listening to the Lord Jesus Christ for some time that day at a distance before being taken to the roof top and lowered down. After all, though we know the man and the four who brought him came, we are not told where they had come from. It is just as likely the paralyzed man had been brought from the outer fringe of the assembled multitude as from anywhere else.

These things understood, that no one’s sins are forgiven apart from that sinner’s faith in Christ (even that paralyzed man), and that though considerable effort was required on the part of the four to get him up to the roof top it was not a complicated enterprise, let us make use of this passage in our own lives. How do we do that? We begin by recognizing that

 

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”

 

Second Timothy 3.16. Then we seek out ways to apply what we find in God’s Word to learn spiritual lessons applicable to our own lives. That is the goal of my message this morning, to apply Mark 2.1-12 to you and to me. If you will reflect on this passage for a bit you will readily conclude that this text is not provided for us to learn what transpires in the heart and mind of a sinner that results in the forgiveness of his sins. Oh, we can agree that the man’s physical condition, his paralysis, is certainly a picture of the spiritual weakness and impotence of every unsaved person.[1] But you see, we find in this passage no evidence of what the Savior preached and taught, no evidence of when and where the man heard the Word of God delivered in such a way as to produce faith, Romans 10.17, by the Spirit of faith, Second Corinthians 4.13. Those blanks in his personal history are left for us to fill in from other portions of God’s Word.

In this passage care is taken to focus the reader’s attention on the four men, who serve as examples to show us from our perspective how a sinner’s sins were forgiven. Therefore, I have titled this message, “First, Your Faith,” because before this paralyzed man had faith in Christ to the saving of his eternal and undying soul, before his sins were forgiven by means of his faith in the Savior, there was already acknowledged by the Lord Jesus Christ the faith of those four men:

 

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

 

Before your son will have faith in Christ there needs to be something produced by your faith, and also the faith of several others, I will wager. Before your spouse trusts Christ with saving faith you are going to have to demonstrate some faith yourself, and it is likely that it will have to something substantially more than you are showing at present. What do we see in this passage but four with faith greatly exerting themselves in a collaborative effort to bring someone to Christ. Is this not the work of faith, the labor of love?[2]

Come and let us consider this man’s salvation from the perspective of the four who carried him. Notice the sequence of events as they unfolded, with me simplifying the narrative to tell the story without confusing anyone. For just a few minutes, will you imagine with me that you are one of the four who carries the paralyzed man to the flat roof of that little house, so he might come into the presence of the Savior?

 

First, YOUR FAITH WORKING TO GET THE LAME MAN TO CHRIST

 

We do not know where the paralyzed man had been earlier in the day. Perhaps he had been brought to the house the Savior was in, but could not get closer for the press of humanity crowded around Him. Or perhaps the paralyzed man was still at home, but he had previously heard the Lord Jesus Christ teaching and preaching in and around Capernaum before the Lord headed out on His first preaching tour of Galilee. Whatever the case, the paralyzed man was immobilized. He could not, on his own, make anything like a move to hear the Savior on his own. Yet the Savior’s acknowledgment of those four people’s faith shows us something you need to consider further. There are different kinds of faith, with James 2.14-20 persuasive to convince us that faith without works is dead. Additionally, the Apostle Paul observed in First Thessalonians 1.3 the “work of faith” of those new Gentile Christians. Thus, at some point those four men’s active and living faith actually exerted itself by an abnormal effort and a wonderful collaboration to bring this paralyzed man into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of them thought of it, the rest of them discussed the matter with each other, and then they greatly inconvenienced themselves to expend both time and effort to bring this man, be he relative or friend, into Christ’s presence.

So you know the Lord Jesus Christ? If so, you have saving faith in Christ. We see that in Genesis 15.6 with Abraham, as well as in Romans 4 and Galatians 3. Faith is the means whereby a sinner lays hold of the Savior and his sins are forgiven, the result being a new life in Christ. However, that is not all. Though no one must work to be saved, saved people do work, Ephesians 2.10:

 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

 

Beginning with Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son Isaac, and even with Rahab the harlot, we see from James 2.21-26, that those with saving faith must also certainly possess working faith and demonstrate what the Apostle Paul identifies as “the work of faith.” Though it is unlikely that such specific thoughts were running through these four men’s minds, the faith they possessed by means of the preaching of God’s Word and the gracious activity of the Holy Spirit produced in them faith that showed itself, faith that exerted itself in an inconvenient and difficult way, to bring this man into Christ’s presence. Does that not describe what you and I ought to be doing to bear fruit for the Savior?[3]

So, what can be said about the other men who knew this paralyzed man? What can we surmise about those who did nothing to bring this paralyzed man to where the Savior was seated and preaching? Those who loved him and were genuinely concerned about his welfare, but were too busy or distracted to actually collaborate with others to do him any practical good? Nothing. Nothing at all can be said. The Savior, you see, commented only about the faith of those who together did something to move the man closer. About all the others who knew him nothing is said.

 

Next, THE SPIRIT’S WORK OF IMPARTING FAITH TO THE UNSAVED MAN

 

We know that faith was imparted to the unsaved man because in every case faith is actually given by God, Ephesians 2.8-9, specifically the Holy Spirit, Second Corinthians 4.13, using the preaching of the Word of God, Romans 10.17. Therefore, since the Savior said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,” we know the Spirit of God was involved in this entire process.

Let me review what we know about the Spirit’s involvement in any unsaved person’s life who is then saved from his sins: First, we know from the Savior’s comments that the Holy Spirit will deal with an unsaved person about such issues as sin, righteousness, and judgment to come, John 16.8-11. The Spirit’s dealings may take the form of providential dealings (such as financial reversals, illnesses, disappointments, marital difficulties; etc.). Of course, the paralyzed man suffered enormously from his paralysis. As well, there will be exposure of some kind to the things of God, be it Christian witness, a gospel tract, the preaching and teaching of the Bible, etc. Charles Spurgeon was converted under the preaching of the gospel. Eugene Kozachenko was saved the same way. With Ibrahim ag Mohammed it was reading the New Testament and observing his cousin praying. With Samuel Rai it was a gospel tract and a Christian’s witness. Somehow and in some way the Spirit of God uses experiences to create openness to the truth, curiosity, or even desperation. And then He uses the Word of God (either heard or read) to produce saving faith in Christ.

 

Finally, THERE IS FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST

 

At some point, perhaps when the sinner first responds in faith believing, or in some cases after false hopes, through the Spirit’s dealings with the individual a simultaneous occurrence of God the Father drawing the sinner to His Son, with the Holy Spirit regenerating the individual (the new birth), and the sinner actually trusting Christ for the forgiveness of his sins, a salvation event takes place.[4] Paul refers to one aspect of this event in Romans 5.1 where he writes,

 

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Moses described this occasion in Abraham’s life in Genesis 15.6:

 

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

 

We see the involvement of God’s people in the salvation of a sinner in two of many places: In Acts 8 we read of Philip joining the Ethiopian and explaining Isaiah 53. Then, in response to the Ethiopian’s question in Acts 8.34,

 

“I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?”

 

verse 35 records,

 

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”

 

Of course, the Ethiopian was subsequently saved. In Acts 16 we find the Apostle Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail, with events leading to a confrontation between the jailer and the two men of God, whereupon the jailer asked,

 

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

 

in Acts 16.30. Their response, which led to his salvation, was

 

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

 

So you see, the episode in Mark 2.1-12 provides for us a physical example of the role of believers in bringing a sinner to Christ. Philip was brought to a fellow who was almost ready for an encounter with the Savior by virtue of his previous reading of scripture. The further illumination then provided by Philip while riding in the chariot with him resulted in the Ethiopian’s salvation through faith in Christ. In the Philippian jail the apostle and Silas were imprisoned when God startled the jailer with an earthquake. Had he previously been exposed to the truth of God’s Word or had he overheard the testimonies of the two Christian preachers in his custody? We are not told. However, after the earthquake he is frightened and concerned about his spiritual welfare, asking the two men what he must do to be saved. They then told him and he followed their directive and was saved. With the paralyzed man we see the involvement of the four believers illustrating with their physical activity how believers minister to the lost. They exercised faith that works by physically hauling the man to the house, going through the exertion of hoisting him atop the house, opening up the roof, and then lowering him to the Savior. Throughout the Spirit of God has no doubt been dealing with the paralyzed man who could not have approached the Savior apart from the exertions of the four men, and when he is lowered into the Savior’s presence and the four men’s work of faith is lauded, his sins are then forgiven. Though not stated in this passage, he must have at that instant trusted the Savior with faith given to him by the Holy Spirit as he was drawn to Jesus Christ by God the Father.[5]

 

Can we take a step back and consider the activities of the four men? We know they are believers because their faith has been at work and is commended by the Savior. We also know that they were useful to the salvation of this man by the exercise of their faith, their faith being displayed by the collaborative effort of the four men to bring about the close encounter of this paralyzed man with the Savior. I submit to you that the Christian life and personal evangelism is supposed to take place in very similar fashion. If we know anything about evangelism in the New Testament it is that God uses the efforts of men to reach men, and the efforts of people to reach other people. I am not suggesting physical exertion is always crucial, though from time to time it may be necessary. No, I am suggesting that Christians with living faith must collaborate, need to coordinate with each other in this gospel enterprise to bring a lost person into close proximity with the Savior.

It is not your task to save anyone. Neither you nor I can effectively insist or compel anyone to become a Christian because our faith is useful only to arrange an encounter. It must be faith exercised by the unsaved sinner in Christ that brings about the forgiveness of his sins. That, however, is between him and the Savior. Our task, yours as well as mine, is to coordinate with each other to haul the paralyzed man (sometimes really exerting ourselves or otherwise greatly inconveniencing ourselves) to prayerfully bring about that decisive opportunity.

Do you do that?

Do you work, either by yourself or with the help and aid of others, to get sinners under the preaching of the gospel?

If that loved one or friend already attends church, do you then do those things that bring about his consideration of his spiritual condition, leading to his concern about his welfare, and finally perhaps a confrontation with the claims of Christ?

If you don’t do those things, are you willing to learn how to do those things? I urge you, do not be content to merely pray when the Biblical examples are to first pray and then do. Perhaps, when your concern to please your heavenly Father and your concern for a loved one’s welfare outweighs your interest in convenience, or when your personal fears are superseded by your love for Christ and your fear of that loved one’s eternal damnation, then we can discuss by what means you can grab one corner of a blanket and help others haul a guy to the roof top so he can be lowered to the Savior.

Once we have done that our involvement has concluded; it is now a matter to be settled between the sinner and the Savior. Do not, however, comfort yourself with the false conclusion that you are done with your role in reaching a loved one before you grab your corner of the blanket and put in some extra effort to see him or her brought to an encounter with the Savior.

Your faith must be put on display and be seen before that unsaved person will have faith in Christ:

 

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”



[1] Romans 5.6

[2] 1 Thessalonians 1.3; Ephesians 2.10; 2 Thessalonians 1.11

[3] John 15.1-8

[4] John 6.44; 3.5; 6.47

[5] John 6.44, 65


Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org