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Mark 9:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If Thou canst Believe - This was an answer to the inquiry above. I can furnish a sufficiency of power, if thou canst but bring faith to receive it. Why are not our souls completely healed? Why is not every demon cast out? Why are not pride, self-will, love of the world, lust, anger, peevishness, with all the other bad tempers and dispositions which constitute the mind of Satan, entirely destroyed? Alas! it is because we do not believe; Jesus is able; more, Jesus is willing; but we are not willing to give up our idols; we give not credence to his word; therefore hath sin a being in us, and dominion over us.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 14-29

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 17:14-21.

Mark 9:14

Questioning with them - Debating with the disciples, and attempting to confound them. This he saw as he came down from the mount. In his absence they had taken occasion to attempt to perplex and confound his followers.

Mark 9:15

Were greatly amazed - Were astonished and surprised at his sudden appearance among them.

Saluted him - Received him with the customary marks of affection and respect. It is probable that this was not by any “formal” manner of salutation, but by the “rush” of the multitude, and by hailing him as the Messiah.

Mark 9:16

What question ye? - What is the subject of your inquiry or debate with the disciples?

Mark 9:17

A dumb spirit - A spirit which deprived his son of the power of speaking.

Mark 9:18

And wheresoever - In whatever place - at home or abroad, alone or in public.

He teareth him - He rends, distracts, or throws him into convulsions.

He foameth - At the mouth, like a mad animal. Among us these would all be considered as marks of violent derangement or madness.

And pineth away - Becomes thin, haggard, and emaciated. This was the effect of the violence of his struggles, and perhaps of the want of food.

Mark 9:22

If thou canst do any thing - I have brought him to the disciples, and they could not help him. If thou canst do anything, have compassion.

Mark 9:23

If thou canst believe - This was an answer to the request, and there was a reference in the answer to the “doubt” in the man‘s mind about the power of Jesus. “I” can help him. If thou” canst believe,” it shall be done. Jesus here demanded “faith” or confidence in his power of healing. His design here is to show the man that the difficulty in the case was not in the want of “power” on his part, but in the want of “faith” in the man; in other words, to rebuke him for having “doubted” at all whether he “could” heal him. So he demands faith of every sinner that comes to him, and none that come without “confidence” in him can obtain the blessing.

All things are possible to him that believeth - All things can be effected or accomplished - to wit, by God - in favor of him that believes, and if thou canst believe, this will be done. God will do nothing in our favor without faith. It is right that we should have confidence in him; and if we “have” confidence, it is easy for him to help us, and he willingly does it. In our weakness, then, we should go to God our Saviour; and though we have no strength, yet “he” can aid us, and he will make all things easy for us.

Mark 9:24

Said with tears - The man felt the implied rebuke in the Saviour‘s language; and feeling grieved that he should be thought to be destitute of faith, and feeling deeply for the welfare of his afflicted son, he wept. Nothing can be more touching or natural than this. An anxious father, distressed at the condition of his son, having applied to the disciples in vain, now coming to the Saviour; and not having full confidence that he had the proper qualification to be aided, he wept. Any man would have wept in his condition, nor would the Saviour turn the weeping suppliant away.

I believe - I have faith. I do put confidence in thee, though I know that my faith is not as strong as it should be.

Lord - This word here signifies merely “master,” or “sir,” as it does often in the New Testament. We have no evidence that he had any knowledge of the divine nature of the Saviour, and he applied the word, probably, as he would have done to any other teacher or worker of miracles.

Help thou mine unbelief - Supply thou the defects of my faith. Give me strength and grace to put “entire” confidence in thee. Everyone who comes to the Saviour for help has need of offering this prayer. In our unbelief and our doubts we need his aid, nor shall we ever put sufficient reliance on him without his gracious help.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The father of the suffering youth reflected on the want of power in the disciples; but Christ will have him reckon the disappointment to the want of faith. Very much is promised to our believing. If thou canst believe, it is possible that thy hard heart may be softened, thy spiritual diseases may be cured; and, weak as thou art, thou mayest be able to hold out to the end. Those that complain of unbelief, must look up to Christ for grace to help them against it, and his grace will be sufficient for them. Whom Christ cures, he cures effectually. But Satan is unwilling to be driven from those that have been long his slaves, and, when he cannot deceive or destroy the sinner, he will cause him all the terror that he can. The disciples must not think to do their work always with the same ease; some services call for more than ordinary pains.
Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 157

Faith such as this is needed in the world today—faith that will lay hold on the promises of God's word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears. Faith such as this connects us closely with Heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. Through faith God's children have “subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Hebrews 11:33, 34. And through faith we today are to reach the heights of God's purpose for us. “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:23. PK 157.1

Faith is an essential element of prevailing prayer. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” “If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:14, 15. With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the unyielding persistence of Elijah, we may present our petitions to the Father, claiming all that He has promised. The honor of His throne is staked for the fulfillment of His word. PK 157.2

The shades of night were gathering about Mount Carmel as Ahab prepared for the descent. “It came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.” As he journeyed toward the royal city through the darkness and the blinding rain, Ahab was unable to see his way before him. Elijah, who, as the prophet of God, had that day humiliated Ahab before his subjects and slain his idolatrous priests, still acknowledged him as Israel's king; and now, as an act of homage, and strengthened by the power of God, he ran before the royal chariot, guiding the king to the entrance of the city. PK 158.1

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 341

The Lord does not choose or accept laborers according to the numerous advantages which they have enjoyed, or according to the superior education which they have received. The value of the human agent is estimated according to the capacity of the heart to know and understand God. “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The highest possible good is obtained through a knowledge of God. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent.” FE 341.1

This knowledge is the secret spring from which flows all power. It is through the exercise of the faculty of faith that we are enabled to receive and practice the word of God. No excuse can be accepted, no plea of justification received for the failure to know and understand the will of the Lord. The Lord will enlighten the heart that is loyal to Him. He can read the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is useless to plead that if it had been so and so, we would have done so and so. There is no if about God's requirements; His word is yea and amen. There can be no question in the heart of faith as to the power of God to perform His promises. Pure faith works by love, and purifies the soul. FE 341.2

To the distressed father, seeking for the tender love and pity of Christ to be exercised in behalf of his afflicted son, Jesus said: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” All things are possible with God, and by faith we may lay hold on His power. But faith is not sight; faith is not feeling; faith is not reality. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” To abide in faith is to put aside feeling and selfish desires, to walk humbly with the Lord, to appropriate His promises, and apply them to all occasions, believing that God will work out His own plans and purposes in your heart and life by the sanctification of your character; it is to rely entirely, to trust implicitly, upon the faithfulness of God. If this course is followed, others will see the special fruits of the Spirit manifested in the life and character. FE 341.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 66.1

Weakened Will Power—Some things that look impossible to you now will certainly change in appearance when your heart is changed by the grace of God. Your heart has become sad at times as you know you are in an unsaved state and that you are grieving the Saviour by your wrong doings. When you come to yourself you are amazed at the distance you have placed between yourself and your Saviour. You have again and again resolved to reform, but you have as often failed because you made these resolutions in your own strength. Your moral power has become weak. Your will power is strong enough, but it is not strong on the Lord's side. You are not able to fix your mind upon the Word of God. You have talked enough, but it has only sunk you lower. Your heart does not feel when you try to pray. TSB 66.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 140

*****

In the case of Sister Hannah More, I was shown that the neglect of her was the neglect of Jesus in her person. Had the Son of God come in the humble, unpretending manner in which He journeyed from place to place when He was upon earth, He would have met with no better reception. It is the deep principle of love that dwelt in the bosom of the humble Man of Calvary that is needed. Had the church lived in the light, they would have appreciated this humble missionary whose whole being was aglow to be engaged in her Master's service. Her very earnest interest was misconstrued. Her externals were not just such as would meet the approval of the eye of taste and fashion, for familiarity with strict economy and poverty had left its impress upon her apparel. Her hard-earned means had been exhausted as fast as obtained to benefit others, to get light to those whom she hoped to lead to the cross of truth. 2T 140.1

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 124.3

All things are possible to them that believe. Since God is working in you, you can safely set your face as a flint to do His will, and you may trust the Lord perfectly.... OHC 124.3

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