The Barrier of Unbelief

Theme: The Earthly and the Spiritual
Mark 6:1-6
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.


To understand all this, we must understand what true faith is. It is not mere belief; it is belief plus a total commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. I know a man who once quoted Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead; you will be saved.” He went on, “I believe this, and the man that believes this, he’s got his nose over the line, and that’s enough.” But that’s not enough. Salvation is not a cheap insurance policy to keep you from the flames of hell; salvation is a new creation. This means new life, new love, new desires, a new direction of will, a new center for living, and a new acceptance of the course of life, recognizing the sovereignty of God in even the littlest events of life. Faith is the total commitment of the life to the Lord Jesus, and that is why the Lord Jesus did not perform His greatest works without its being present.
How does the Lord Jesus work? He works by His truth. He works by His love. He works by His Holy Spirit. Now, how can a truth operate within an individual if the truth is not believed? Unbelief blocks the advance of the power of God in a person. The same is true of His love. How can His love bless and cherish if it’s not trusted? You may have someone who loves you profoundly and who does everything for you. But if you look with suspicion at every act he does, that love can never really become operative for you. Suspicion of love is the end of love’s working. How many Christians there are who seem to suspect the love of the Lord Jesus! “It can’t be that good” is the attitude Christians frequently have. And so Jesus can do no mighty work of love in your heart because you will not trust and accept that love.
Then there is the Holy Spirit. How can He hallow you, how can He cleanse you if you will not yield to Him? If we do not allow Him to come in and break down the barriers, how can the fullness of the Holy Spirit be found? A true work of God in your life is conditioned by three things: the nature of God the giver, the nature of man the receiver, and the nature of the gifts bestowed. These gifts, of love, power, and truth cannot operate except according to the laws that are in God, in us, and in the truth itself.
Positionally, those of us who have believed in Jesus Christ have everything, but experientially, the working limit for us is our own faith. Everything is available in God, but how much are we going to have? It depends on how much we lay hold of by faith. God asks each one of us, within the limits of our circumstances, our makeup, and our capacity to receive, to yield to Him completely. God is not going to judge you if you are not a tremendous vat that will hold 500 million gallons of gasoline. If you are a pint cup, God says, “What I ask of you is that your pint cup be yielded to Me. Wherever I put you, whatever limits there are on your life, yield fully to Me, so that faith can take My life, love, and truth and have it fill your life completely.” Then what mighty works we will see the Lord do!
That is exactly what happened to the disciples when Jesus fed the five thousand later on in chapter 6 (vv. 33-44). Jesus’ challenge to the disciples to feed the crowd was a call to their faith. They had to learn that they had more than they realized, and they had to yield to that truth in faith.
Consider what happened as Jesus broke the bread and fed the crowd. There were twelve baskets and twelve disciples, and I believe that the Lord had taken each one of the baskets and filled them with loaves and fishes. Then each disciple went with a basket full of food, and from that moment, the Lord never touched the food again. The disciples went out and the miracle was performed in the hands of the disciples as they passed out what Jesus had created. Each person took all they wished, but the baskets were still full of the pieces the Lord had put in. When everyone had had all they wanted, there were still twelve baskets of food, absolutely full. The supply was undiminished, and the need completely met. The miracle had gone on in the disciples’ hands, though their faith was still imperfect.
Day by day, God also makes us channels of miracles. We see men being made alive with the Word and yet we live so often in faithlessness. We are unwilling to take hold of the power and life that is ours, and to believe that the Lord makes His strength perfect in weakness. May we lay hold of that power and allow Him to work within us!


  • What is salvation? Why is it so important to humanity?
  • How does salvation change our ability to come to a knowledge of truth?
  • Can we know what is true versus what is not true? How?

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