Summary:Unbelief permeated the culture of Jesus' day, just as it dominates many sectors of our modern world. Jesus' ministry to a boy with seizures contains jewels of insight to help keep us from being influenced by our faithless culture.
Mark 9:17-24 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”  “O UNBELIEVING GENERATION,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? BRING THE BOY TO ME.”  So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.  Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But IF YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, take pity on us and help us.”  “ ‘IF YOU CAN’?” said Jesus. “EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR HIM WHO BELIEVES.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I DO BELIEVE; HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!”
•• The bottom line, and today's sermon theme is: “A Faithless Culture Teaches Unbelief.”
(1) “O UNBELIEVING GENERATION” — we face that today, as they did then.
•• A longtime pastor in our Rogue Valley was often heard to say: “This valley is full of unbelief.”
•• A man at a wedding in Vermont said to me: “I believe we’ll achieve perfection through technology.” He had no faith in the Lord for that hope!
•• Virtually all unbelievers — and, sadly, most Christians — turn immediately to doctors for healing needs, rather than to the Lord.
•• Interestingly, Jesus included even His disciples in the rebuke as an “unbelieving generation.”
•• Unbelief is contagious! The culture around us is faithless. Watch out, lest its pernicious influence spread to you.
•• The rest of this account gives us some clues to overcoming the infectiousness of unbelief.
(2) “Bring the boy TO ME” — Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
•• Jesus is Lord over demons, as here.
•• Jesus is Lord over blindness, deafness, cancer, and every other disease.
•• Jesus is Lord over fig trees...tall waves...bread and fish.
•• In great need? “Bring the boy TO [JESUS].”
(3) “IF YOU CAN do anything” — too low an appraisal of Jesus.
•• There should never be an “if you can” on our lips.
•• James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
• NIV: When he asks, he must believe and not doubt.
• Doubt says, “Jesus, you either can’t or won’t do it.”
(4) “IF you CAN?” — Jesus’ reaction was amazement.
•• In Mark 8, the disciples mentioned forgetting to bring bread to eat. Jesus reminded them of His having fed the 4,000 with 7 loaves and the 5,000 with 5 loaves. Then He said, “Do you still not understand?”  — kind of a Jewish “Mama Mia!”
•• Jesus was saying to them [and us]:“No more of this ‘if you can’!”
(5) “EVERYTHING is possible” —
•• Enlarge the horizons of what you are looking to the Lord for. Don't limit God!