Jesus came as a prophet and a miracle worker to His own house, Israel. Yet, “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). What an incredible statement. Unbelief limited even Christ’s power to work.
We see other tragic results of unbelief throughout the New Testament. The disciples couldn’t cast out a demon from a small child because of their unbelief—and Jesus rebuked them for it (see Matthew 17:14-21). After the resurrection, Christ was shocked again by their unbelief: “[He] upbraided (rebuked) them with their unbelief and hardness of heart” (Mark 16:14). Moreover, Paul says of the Jews, “Because of unbelief they were broken off” (Romans 11:20).
Why is God’s judgment of unbelief so severe in the New Testament? It’s because believers today have been given something that Old Testament saints could only dream of. God has blessed us with the gift of His Holy Spirit. Under the Old Covenant, believers were only occasionally visited by God’s Spirit; they had to go to the temple to experience the Lord’s presence. But today God makes His dwelling place in His people. We are His temple, and His presence abides in every believer.
In the Old Testament, Abraham was occasionally visited by an angel or given a word from God. He trusted that God was able to do all He pledged and “staggered not at the promise of God” (Romans 4:20). Yet, today, Jesus is available to us at any hour of the day. We have the ability to call on Him our entire lifetime, and we know He’ll respond. He invites us to come boldly to His throne room and make our petitions known. And He gives us comfort and guidance through the Holy Spirit.
Yet, in spite of these blessings, we still doubt God in our times of extreme testing. Jesus rebukes such unbelief, saying, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8). If Christ were to return today, would He find faith in you?