Summary: Jesus declared we could move mountains if we have faith and do not doubt. Did He really mean that? What are the implications of that for believers today?
Faith to Believe
Mark 11: 22-26
Clearly our text today deals with faith we are expected to have as believers. Faith is something we often discuss but fail to exercise as we should. It is easy to walk by faith when all is well, but it is an entirely different situation when we face adversity and an uncertain future. We must bear in mind that Jesus spoke these words to His disciples at a significant moment in their lives. While they had yet to fully realize all that would transpire, their world was about to change in dramatic fashion, and they would be forced to walk by faith.
It is impossible to overemphasize the need and importance of faith in our lives. The Bible declares that it is impossible to please God without faith. We are expected to walk by faith, not by sight – what we see and experience in the physical realm. Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the guaranteed assurance of things hoped for, the conviction and proof of things not seen. Faith is essential to a victorious Christian journey. George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘You see things as they are, and ask “why?” But I dream things that never were, and ask “why not?”’ Faith sees the impossible and believes the impossible will become reality.
As we continue in Mark’s gospel, I want to discuss the requirements Jesus revealed regarding faith as we consider: Faith to Believe.
I. The Exercise of Faith (22-23) – In these opening verses, Jesus challenged the disciples to exercise their faith. Notice:
A. The Command (22) – And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. This statement was made in regard to their amazement at the withering of the fig tree so quickly. Jesus will use their amazement as an opportunity to teach an eternal truth. He offers a simple statement, yet it is also a very emphatic statement. He commanded the disciples to have faith in God. This was not given for their consideration; Jesus fully expected them to comply with His command and exercise faith in God.
This statement was given to the disciples, but it applies to everyone who follows the Lord. We are to exercise faith in God. He is the source of our life, our hope, and our strength. In fact, He is the source of all we possess. Everything we have and enjoy in life comes from the good hand of God. We must learn to rely on God to continually provide our every need. We know that we are unable to provide for every situation we face. We even know that God is able to do whatever He pleases, and yet we doubt Him at times. Dr. Adrian Rogers said, “Faith is not knowing God can; faith is believing God will.” We must exercise faith in God.
B. The Confidence (23) – For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. We need to remember that Jesus and the disciples were on their way from Bethany back to Jerusalem. They were very near the Mount of Olives. The text doesn’t specifically say, but it appears likely that Jesus may have referred to the Mount of Olives as He spoke these words. It has an elevation of 2,710 feet above sea level. Jesus declared that if the disciples had enough faith, believing in their hearts without any doubt, they could say unto the mountain, “be removed and cast into the sea,” and their request would be granted. I can only imagine their amazement at this moment. Such a statement exceeded the wonder of a withering fig tree.
We must understand that genuine faith is required – faith that believes and does not doubt. That faith must be centered in the Lord. Have faith in God. Faith does not rest in the power of faith itself, but in the power of God. One would think such a task would require monumental faith, but a small measure of genuine faith can move mountains. Matthew 17:20 – And Jesus said unto them…for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
We need to take a moment to discuss the focus of Jesus’ comment to the disciples. While I am convinced God has the power to literally move mountains, and our genuine faith in Him, can also move mountains, Jesus used this to illustrate the power available to them to overcome obstacles in their lives and enjoy victory over defeat. We must always remember that God is sovereign and we are not. He possesses all wisdom and we do not. In order for God to move in accordance to our faith, our faith must be motivated by Him and directed toward Him. I do not believe the Lord is teaching that we can literally cast mountains into the sea apart from the divine will of God. In reality, what good would that do any of us? Who would get the glory in such a situation? What would be the genuine motivation for such an action? Jesus does teach that faith can move the impossible. Faith can bring victory to our lives!