So Jesus answered and said to them, “ Have faith in God.For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart,but believes that those things he says will be done,he will have whatever he says.Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them – Mark 11:22-24
Faith is a principle. And because it’s a principle, it is impartial; it works in the same way for everyone. Anyone can easily learn it. One of the most important passages about faith in the Bible is in Mark 11.
Introduction & review of last week’s message:
Jesus curses the fig tree. The next day Jesus and His disciples notice that the tree has withered. The disciples knew that Jesus had said, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again”, but they did not expect it to happen as He said it. Which is why Peter exclaims with surprise, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away”. Jesus replies by telling them to have faith in God. If they have such a Faith, they could tell even a mountain to remove itself and be cast in the sea and if they believed it, it would happen. Her he indicates that anyone with such a faith could do this.
In verse 24, He says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them”. This is how faith is meant to be used in prayer as well. He starts in Mark 1:15 saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel”. From there, He continues speaking about faith. Through chapters one to ten, Jesus speaks about faith ten times. Then in chapter 11, He curses the fig tree. Then He speaks about mountain-moving faith.
The gospel that Jesus talks about is an all-inclusive Gospel. There are many aspects contained within the Gospel apart from salvation. The Kingdom is not just a sermon that Jesus preached. Kingdom is a reality and it is full of power.It is the power vested in us, to be able to do the impossible. It works for us in and through Jesus.
Talking to the Mountain:
In Mark 11:23, Jesus says, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says”.
Let’s look at a few things about speakingto the mountain. Sometimes, people ask in disbelief, “How is it possible that what we say will happen?”But note that Jesus spoke to the fig tree and it had happened as he had said. Peter was surprised that it had happened exactly the way he spoke about it. We tend to disregard the part where Jesus says what we say will happen. We generally don’t give much weightage to our own words. We often say things that we don’t mean. We may not believe that war we say will come to pass, but we must realize that what we ‘have’ today is because of what we ‘said’ on the past.Even Peter did not believe that what was said would happen.
The verse says, “whoever says… and does not doubt in his heart”. The word “whosoever/whoever” refers to a believer who believes without doubting. Whatever such a believer says, will happen. A believer can exercise his faithand receive God’s blessings only if he is aware of hisauthority. A believer who is ignorant of his authority will be unable to exercise his faith. Authority is an inheritance given to each believer. Jesus says, “whoever”, so it means ‘any believer’.
Today I’m going to show you the relationship between the authority of the believer and the exercising of his faith. We shall also consider how authority was given to the believer, how he lost it and how he regained it through the death of Christ on the cross.
Authority of the believer:
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed,dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “ I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “ Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel – Matthew 8:5-10
Note how the centurion tells Jesus that it was not necessary for Jesus to go to his house; He could just say the word right from that place and his son would get healed. This statement is what made Jesus ‘marvel’ at this person.
Spiritual authority works irrespective of physical/geographical distance. Jesus expresses surprise that a non-Jew knows so much about faith. He says that He hadn’t seen anyone of such faith even in Israel. We should pay attention to such faith in a man whowas not one of the inheritors of the covenant. He says that since he is a ‘man of authority’, he knows how it works. And because he knew how authority works, he also knew how faith works. He understood authority, and that’s why his faith was special.
In Mark 11:23, Jesus asks us to speak to the mountain. Only a person who understands authority can speak to mountain-like problems. Can a person speak to a mountain? Can he use his authority like this? Yes! Jesus did the same. He came into this world as a man and showed us how men should live. Not only did He use His authority, but expected the apostles touse theirs, and today He expects every believer to use their authority in the same way.
Has such authority been given to man? When was it given? If men have authority, why do we live in the current state that we live in? Many Christians have not understood that such an authority has been given to them. They put themselves down as dust and worms.And many preachers also say this. So people have become used to thinking very low of themselves. Therefore, they are unable to believe that they have authority.
Let the Weak ‘Say’ I am Strong:
Let’s see what the Bible says about authority in book of Genesis.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light – Gen 1:1-3
At the beginning of creation, the earth was formless, empty and dark; the Spirit of God was hovering. Even though the Spirit was present, there was formlessness, emptiness and darkness. There was no change in that situation just because the Spirit was present. However, when God said, “Let there be light”, there was light.
The Holy Spirit may be present in our lives,but He is waiting for our spoken word. When we don’t speak, the Holy Spirit cannot do anything about theformlessness, emptiness and darkness in our lives. If we understand that the word is necessary for the Holy Spirit to bring about a change in our lives, we will understand why some of us still face such emptiness and darkness.
Many of us wonder how long it will take to read the whole Bible and then understand it and then change our circumstances, but it is sufficient to read the first four verses & understand it to send out the formlessness, emptiness and darkness and bring in abundance and blessing into your life. When God spoke the Word, the Holy Spirit changed the situation.
For Example: When you get into the elevator, you just don’t stand there and expect it to go where you want it to go. You ‘tell’ the elevator where to go by pressing the required button. You don’t press the button with the number of the current floor you’re on, but you press the button which has the number of the floor you wantto go. Some people are standing in the elevator and saying, “I am actually at the ground floor. So, how can I press the button to the 4th floor?”… it is a similar situation to people saying, “I am sick, how can I say that I am well?”. Imagine, you are now in the floor called ‘sickness’, but you want to get to the floor called ‘health’. All you need to do is to press the button called ‘health’ by simply speaking it, and you can get there. Some say that they will say it only after they get healed. In the lift can you press button 4 after youget there?No, you press it before you get there.
That’s what it means when the Bible says, “Let the weak say I am strong”.
In the midst of formlessness, emptiness and darkness, before there was light God said, “Let there be light”. And the situation changed and there was light.
That’s why Mark 11:24 says, Whatever you “ask” for in prayer. Asking for what we want is the right kind ofprayer. Describing the current situation is not the right kind of prayer. Heaven is nota police station where you file complaint-like prayers. God is capable of changing situations. So we have to tell Him in prayer what we want. If a woman complains against an abusive husband, the police can advise him to stop abusing her, and he might, for fear of punishment. But the police cannot change the character of the husband. But God can. When we pray, we have to tell God what we want, rather than what we have.That is what God did at creation.
Origin of Authority:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth – Gen 1:26…
The words ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ mean ‘exact duplicate in kind’. God created man just as He is.
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth – Genesis 1:28
God gave the command ‘multiply’ to all creatures and plants. But He gave an extra command to man; to ‘subdue and have dominion’. If there is formlessness, emptiness and darkness, we need not call upon God to come down and change the situation, but we are expected to subdue and have dominion over it.
To subdue and have dominion of this world, physical strength is of no use. We need the strength & authority of the word.
For example, if a mouse came and tried to destroy our garden or field, we would easily chase it away or kill it. But if a herd of elephants came to destroy our field, what would we do? We would feel powerless against it, because of its size. However, in a Circus, we see how the same huge elephant is tamed and made to perform its master’s every command. How? Because it IS possible to tame it by our words & authority. We see many animals like bears, dogs, tigers, horses etc. performing and obeying their masters, because they have been created in this manner, to obey the words of a man.
God has created them to obey. And God has created us to command. We have been vested with authority. Just like we follow God’s commands, other creatures follow our commands. Man rules using his words.
So he answered and said to me:
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it” – Zechariah 4:1
Zerubbabel wishes to build the temple. It was going to be a very big effort, as the temple was being built &restored after a long time. Some people tried to prevent it from happening. At that time of opposition, the word of God comes to him saying, “Who are you, O great mountain?Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain”.
Here we again see the word ‘mountain’. So, Jesus commanding us to speak to the mountain is not a new concept. It has already been mentioned in the Old Testament in the book of Zachariah.
When Zerubbabel faces opposition, God says, “For who are you, O great mountain (of human obstacles)?” (SeeAmplified Bible). God wants us to know that we have more power than any mountain-like obstacle that stands in the way of fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. The verse goes on to say, “And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!”
“Grace” is God’s willingness to use His ability on your behalf even though you are not worthy of it. God has created us in such a way that we can speak ‘Grace’ upon our situations of sickness, poverty, debt, failure, depressions etc. And thus we subdue and have dominion over our world. God has created us so.
How the ‘Word Became Flesh’ through Faith:
Lets look at the birth of Jesus.
First lets understand why Jesus had to come as a ‘man’ to redeem us.
When God created the earth, He gave authority to man. When satan wanted to tempt man, he came in the form of a serpent and succeeded & man fell into sin. In this process, the authority that was given to the man was transferred, by man, to satan. But God could not revoke that decision when man handed over the ‘authority’ to satan, because it was a legal transaction done by the ‘man’ who originally had the authority. So now God had to come in the form of another ‘man’ to redeem the earth & restore it.
That is why He is a God who works through us. He asks us to open our heart to Him, so that He can make a covenant with us and work through us.
Note that both God and satan need a man to do anything on this earth. Even though God has the ability to do things on His own, He won’t, because He is a God who respects the law, order and the covenant. But satan on his own, does not have any capacity to do things on this earth.
The first promise about the Saviour is mentioned in Gen 3:15.
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel” – Genesis 3:15
God says that there will be enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of satan. But woman does not produce the seed. She only has a womb that can carry the seed.
The angel of God appeared to Mary and said that she would give birth to a son and that she should name him Jesus, even when she says that she hasn’t had a husband. How could she reproduce without a man’s seed? The angel replied that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the most High would overshadow her. And she would conceive and have a son. She immediately accepts it, saying, “Be it unto me, according to your Word.”
In a similar situation with Elizabeth, the reaction and consequences are slightly different. The angel of God appeared to Zachariah and said to him that his wife Elizabeth would bear him a son. But Zachariah, unlike Mary, utters words of disbelief that he and his wife were old and that he wanted a sign from God. The result was that Zachariah became dumb till the birth of John.
Let’s compare the two situations. The only problem in the case of Zachariah and Elizabeth was their old age. Mary however had a bigger problem, she did not even have a husband. She had not known a man. And yet, while Mary accepts God’s word, Zachariah questions it.
Elizabeth and Mary are friends. When Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, she tells her, “He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name” (Luke 1:49). Note how Mary says it in the past tense with assurance, even though nothing had happened yet. The words of the angel (who came from God)had given her that confidence and assurance. The word given to Mary was the ‘seed’. It was the seed of ‘the word’ that was conceived in her womb and was born as a child. That is how “the word became flesh”.
Similarly, when we accept the promises of God for our lives, conceive it in our spirit and confess it with our mouth, we are able to birth it in our lives. This is how the fulfilment of God’s promises come to pass.God had given all authority to man in the garden of Eden. He, in turn, gave it to Satan. That is why Paul in II Corinthians 4:4 says, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded”. Man, to whom authority was given has now become a slave.
The Faith of Abraham:
To set this right, God made a blood covenant with Abraham. Abraham was a hundred years old and his wife was ninety years old when they had a son. God then asked Abraham to sacrifice his son.
God was testing Abraham.
When two people entered into a blood covenant, it meant that everything each person had belongs the other. If one needed any help that the other could provide, it was their duty under the covenant to provide it. If Abraham asked God to intervene on his behalf, God would do it. Similarly, When God needed Abraham to do something on this earth, God would ask Abraham and he would do it for God.
When the word says that God tested Abraham, he wanted to know if Abraham would really give God anything that He asked for. And Abraham was ready. When Isaac asked him on the way about the ‘lamb’ for sacrifice, Abraham replies saying that God would provide. Abraham very well knew that all of God’s promises to him would have to be fulfilled through Isaac. So he believed that God would definitely provide a lamb. Maybe God would even raise back Isaac from the dead. But God would somehow provide. That was the faith of Abraham. God saw his faith and his loyalty to fulfil his part of the covenant. So He stopped him from killing his son and provided him a lamb instead. That is why the Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to Him as righteousness.
“By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies” – Genesis 22:16,17
This verse does not just mean that Abraham would defeat his enemies, but because he did not withhold his only son, his descendants would inherit the gates of satan’s plan against humanity. The same satan who deceived Abraham’s forefather Adam and had taken away authority over the earth, would now be defeated by Abraham and his descendants.
What does it mean to ‘possess the gates’? In those days, all cities were fortified with walls and gates. If the gates were captured it would mean that the whole city and everything in it was captured. God says here that there would soon come a day when hell and its powers would be subject to man. It was fulfilled later through Jesus, which is why Jesus says, “…Resist the devil and he will flee” and “…In my name, they will chase demons”
If Abraham had not been ready to sacrifice his son, the covenant would not have been complete. The plan of salvation that God had for mankind, hinged on Abraham’s loyalty to keep the covenant. Only because Abraham gave his son to God, God was able to give His son Jesus and His righteousness to all of us. And He put our sin, sickness, punishment and curse upon Jesus that He might bear it in our place and we can be restored & redeemed.
Authority & Dominion:
Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it – Colossians 2:15
Here Paul explains what happened on the cross. When an army officer is stripped of his authority, it means that his rank, his medals, his position, his uniform are all taken away from. He is stripped bare of all authority. Similarly, God ‘stripped’ satan off of his authority over the earth.
But many Christians still believe that Satan has much authority. What believers need to know today is this: God sent his only son and ‘stripped’ the devil of all authority. Through the cross of Calvary the verse, “your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies” has been fulfilled. We are the children of Abraham and we are the inheritors of the promise and we are the ones who possess the gate of the enemy.
Through the cross, Jesus stripped satan of his authority. That means now all authority lies with Him. We know that Bible says Christ is the head and we are the Body. So, if the Head has authority, then the Body also has the same authority. Therefore, we have authority.
And it is not just an authority to drive out demons, but it is a ‘dominion’ kind of authority that enables us to ‘dominate’ and ‘rule’ everything. We have the authority to speak to ‘mountains’ and ‘trees’ of our lives and rule them. That is why Jesus says, “whoever says to this mountain”. The authority we have ensures that whatever we say will happen. Just like how the fig tree withered and died, we can also destroy our problems and difficulties with our words, we can totally remove and uproot our challenges and emerge victorious in life. That is the kind of authority that God has given us.