Last week we saw the new movie Do You Believe? Yes it was a Hollywood movie with lots of action and in the same genre as other movies that have tied together lives which all culminate at one individual point, but still was able to ask this life or death question, do you Believe? This is the question from the beginning of time. Do you believe in the living word of God? If Adam and Eve did they would not have eaten from the tree. If Israel did they would not have turned away to follow other God’s. Now when it comes to our day, it appears that many any the church want to avoid the question do you believe, I think because they do not want to know the answer. It is like the topic of death; it is easier just to avoid the subject, but as we know death is inevitable as is the question about belief. The two will eventually collide. We live in an era where man, in their disobedience have indoctrinated themselves to cover their unbelief. For example many say God does not do that anymore, referring to miracles, signs and wonders, or they say salvation and death are the great miracles. That is actually true but we must still believe in miracles and signs and wonders as described in scripture. The churches lamp barely flickers and people have grown accustomed to it. It is good to know people are asking the question do you believe but what actually is the answer. I think most will say they do believe but yet the way of belief is far from them. This indoctrination has made people very comfortable in their unbelief. The bible is always the answer to the question and what we do in the church should look just like scripture.
Since much of scripture is not happening even in the area of salvation but death is still happening we have to join with Gideon and ask, Judges 6:13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” God had chosen Gideon to save his people from the hands of their enemies. “6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. 7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” You see this was all new to him. He had heard of the days gone by but now they lived an impoverished life. The good news is the God we serve is more powerful than the enemy and with 300, the vast army was defeated.
We live in an impoverished time in the church where the power is not as it should be. People in the church have grown accustomed to going to church on Sunday week after week but not seeing the wonders of God. For most Christians, the true answer to the question do you believe, is that most don’t. Why do I say that you may ask? It really is simple because when you look at the church you either see very little happening that looks the gospels and Acts or you see a false power and in both cases people are being deceived.
When you think of belief, you think of the fig tree, well at least I have been. I was surprised at how many times fig tree shows up in scripture. There is even a sycamore-fig tree. Ficus sycomorus, a fig species that has been cultivated since ancient times found in rich soils. An example of the fig tree is in this great passage is a promise based on belief in the form of obedience. Deuteronomy 8:6 “Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” Along with it we get a warning. “10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God.” This second part has happened to the church today and we are not receiving the blessing of the good land. So we picture a healthy fig tree producing fruit as it was designed but in disobedience the fig tree fails to produce a crop. But remember the warning. The choices are a healthy fruit bearing fig tree or a dead one that does not bare fruit. Jeremiah 5:14 “Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says: “Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes. 15 People of Israel,” declares the Lord, “I am bringing a distant nation against you— an ancient and enduring nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you do not understand. 16 Their quivers are like an open grave; all of them are mighty warriors. 17 They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust.” This is what happens when we disobey. Habakkuk 3:16 “Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.” Even though the enemy would advance against them because of their disobedience, Habakkuk knew to look beyond the enemy and fear God. This is why he could rejoice. Haggai 2:19 “Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. “‘From this day on I will bless you.’”
Jesus also uses the fig tree to teach. Luke 13:1 “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.” Like the Old Testament the fig tree represents blessing and curses. If it bears fruit the land is blessed if not we are under curse.
I know that especially this time of year you may have a hard time with me saying we are under a curse because Galatians 3:10 said, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Yes this true but if you look at the verse at the beginning of this chapter you will see in Galatians 3:1 “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” In the Old Testament they lost the land because they did not believe. 2 Kings 17:7 “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God.” 2 Kings 22 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
This is exactly what has happened in our day. Because of the unbelief of those who have gone before us and our unbelief, many actually have come to believe that the man made church is of God. But this cannot be. Revelations 2:4 “You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelations 3:1 “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” Revelations 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Hebrews 10:29 “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
It is extremely dangerous teaching to say that because Jesus came 2000 plus years ago means we are safe even if we go are own way is beyond ludicrous. I believe it is actually this teaching that will cause many to spend eternity in hell. They have been deceived. The land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Matthew 21:18 “Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. 20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” It is interesting that in Mark the fig tree story is with Jesus clearing out the temple. Mark 11:5 “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers. 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. 20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Sadly the church today still needs to be cleared. We also do not have the power to do the things Jesus said we could do because of our unbelief. Most Christians have a hard time with verses like these because like Gideon they have never seen this kind of power, as most in the church today have not. I have never seen it either but it does not matter as I believe in the word of God so I did not have to be there for creation or walk with Gideon or stand by Jesus when he healed, I have his word, so I believe. Do you or have you fallen pray to the false teaching that has infiltrated the church.
John 1:47 says, “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” How long will you take before you believe? This week a man named George died who attended our church. I considered him a brother although I only knew his a short time. He and I were born on the same year if you are dyslexic. I was born in 1963 and he was born in 1936, He wanted to know the truth and wanted more of it. He now knows the truth of the gospel. George went into the hospital and died very quickly. I was alone with him for a while the day he died and I asked him if he was ready and I knew there was peace. Yes his body was finished but he lives. John 11:5 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” What great hope there is for all who believe.
Please take this seriously. Many will say they believe but have been deceived. Please make sure what you believe is actually the gospel because if for example you do not believe this passage you do not believe in God’s word and are denying Him. Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Just because you have not seen it does not mean it is truth. John 20:24 says, “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Can you say “my Lord and My God” based on your belief in the word of God? I am not asking you if you believe in the stories about Jesus and his works, I am asking if you believe in the living very present, very relevant word of God. I am asking you if you believe in Hebrews 4:12 “the word of God that is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." If you believe this you will know that God knows if you truly believe. You may fool others but not God. Let’s get really specific here. If you do not wake up and believe in this living word of God, you will never see. You do not want to die in a state of unbelief. John 10:24 “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” If we did believe John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”