HAVE FAITH IN GOD
By John C. Carpenter
 
The apostle, Mark, the son of Mary in Jerusalem, wrote, And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it (Mark 11:11-14), then added,And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 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. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:20-26). Many in the contemporary church interpret these verses, specifically Mark 11:22-24 to mean that Christians, believers in Christ, can speak their desires into existence provided they have enough “faith.” Is this interpretation correct? What does it mean to have faith in God?
 
AND SAITH UNTO THEM
 
The context of our subject verses begins at the beginning of Mark, chapter 11. Holy Scriptures instruct us, And when they [Christ and His disciples] came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said [questioned]unto them [the disciples] even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them [the disciples and the colt] go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he [Christ] sat upon him (Mark 11:1-7). Jesus told His disciples to go over to the village before them, that they would find a colt tied up which no man had sat upon. Jesus further instructed His disciples to bring the colt to Him, and instructed them that if anyone questioned why they were taking the colt, the disciples were to tell them that the Lord had need of him. To the surprise of the disciples, everything the Lord told them was true. Scriptures instruct us that the disciples of the Lord in fact found the colt tied by the door, and, as the Lord said, some of those observing the disciples taking the colt questioned them as to why they were doing so. What is the point of these verses? The point is that what the Lord speaks is true, and will come to pass in His time.
 
BUT SPEAK THE WORD ONLY
 
Elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures, we are given another example encouraging believers to have faith in what God says: And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour (Mat 8:5-13). In this example of faith, a centurion approached the Lord and told Him that his servant was at home sick of the palsy. Christ offered to go to the centurion's home and heal the servant, but the centurion exclaimed that he was not worthy for Christ to enter his house. Because he was a centurion, a person in authority, and understood how authority worked, the centurion asked Christ to simply speak the word of healing for his servant. The centurion knew that Christ had the authority to speak such a word of healing, and Christ's word would be accomplished in the natural and spiritual realm, and his servant would be healed. This is, in fact, what happened. Christ told the centurion to go his way, and that as the centurion had believed, it would be done for him. It is important to note here, that the centurion had faith or believed that his servant would be healed, not because he believed in his own mind, or thought, that the servant would be healed, or because the centurion himself spoke words of healing, but because Christ had spoken the word to heal his servant. Because the centurion completely believed that what Christ said would come to pass, Christ responded about the centurion, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in [all of] Israel.” Again, the point is that what the Lord speaks is true, and will come to pass in His time.
 
JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO IT
 
Our third example of having faith in the words of Christ can be found in verses 11 thru 22 of our subject verses. Scriptures instruct us, And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. And when even was come, he went out of the city. And in the morning, as they passed by, they [Christ and His disciples] saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 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. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive  them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses Mark 11:11-25). In these verses, Christ and His disciples saw and approached a fig tree that had leaves, but no fruit. With His disciples watching and listening, Jesus spoke and cursed the fig tree so that the tree would never again produce figs. Later that evening, Christ and His disciples left Jerusalem, and the following morning they all saw that the fig tree had dried up from the roots and was dead. Peter was surprised when he saw the dead tree, and questioned the Master how this could have happened. Christ responded to Peter, “Have faith in God.” Again, the point of these verses is that what the Lord speaks in true, and will come to pass in His time.
 
Many in the comtemporary church use verses 23-24, 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. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them (Mark 11:23-24), to justify their belief that believers in Christ can “speak to their mountains and thereby cause them to be cast into the sea,” if they do not doubt that the words they are speaking will come to pass. I disagree with this interpretation. I believe that such teaching is doctrinal error, for three reasons: (1) this interpretation is not consistent with the context of our subject verses which teach that we should have faith in what Christ says, (2) this interpretation is not consistent with the teaching of the rest of Scriptures, and (3) in over 30 years of attempting to understand the Scriptures, and follow and love Christ, it has not been my experience that Christians can speak their own words and expect those things to come to pass. Expecting words we have spoken to come to pass simply because we have spoken them, is nothing more than the expression of the lust and wickedness of our own minds and hearts.
Let me list these subject verses one more time, with what I believe is the correct contextual interpretation (which will be obvious to you with the changes I will make): For verily I say unto you, That whosoever [any individual] shall [after having sought the Lord in prayer] say unto this mountain [desire or need the believer may have], Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea [my desires and needs met]; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he [He, i.e., Christ] saith [answers in response to our prayer] shall come to pass; he [the believer] shall have whatsoever he [Christ] saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire [prayerfully in asking Christ], when ye pray [and are asking for an answer], believe that ye receive them [believe that you will receive in God's time the answer to your prayer that God has spoken to you], and ye shall have them [the very things which Christ spoke to you] (Mark 11:23-24). I believe that the correct teaching of verses 23-24 is that when we have a need or desire, and seek the Lord in prayer regarding those needs or desires, we can believe completely that whatever answer Christ has given us will come to pass in God's time. If we are able to speak to our mountain and tell it to be removed and cast into the sea, and it is in fact removed, the mountain in removed, not because we spoke it, but because God spoke it to us first. If we could speak and have our own words come to pass, we would and could be operating as God, and would therefore have no need of God. It is only God's words which come to pass, not ours; and the only time when our words come to pass is when we speak what God has already spoken.
In our subject verses, the word “faith” is translated from the Greek word “pistis,” which means “assurance, belief, fidelity, or faith.” Having faith in God simply means, in this context, to be assured, to believe, and to trust to the last detail, that what God says and speaks is true, accurate, complete, and effective, and will come to pass in God the Father's timing. Seek God in prayer, and have faith in what He tells you. If God has clearly spoken to you, and you are waiting for His words to be fulfilled in your life, be patient and rest assured that in His timing God will bring to pass everything He has said to you. The fulfillment of His words to you may take days, months, years, or even decades, but God is faithful and trustworthy, and God will always do exactly what He has said. My prayer is that we may all have the faith and trust of the centurion, and that Christ will eventually say to us, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in [all of] Israel.” Mark exhorted believers to have faith in God.  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of
mine enemies, and thy right hand
shall save me"
(Psa 138:7)





 
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