Have you ever wondered how many people, who have read the bible, have stood in front of a mountain and said go throw yourself into the sea or to a mulberry bush be uprooted and planted in the sea or to a fig tree may you never bear fruit again? Maybe you have done this yourself or maybe you just read it and thought about saying these things. But how many of these people then said that is impossible or when they said it, nothing happened and then they doubted God’s word as truth, even though Jesus said truly I tell you. The problem here is that most Christians don’t believe this is even remotely possible. They have just accepted that these are verses in the bible that they read and leave because it is not possible. It makes for a nice story about Jesus that they love to hear.
Yesterday we talked about keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. As we talked about faith, we saw that the disciples asked God to increase their faith. Jesus then responded Luke 17:6 “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Another time Jesus said to a fig tree Matthew 21:19 “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.” In Mark the withered fig tree was described like this. Mark 11:20 “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.”
Let’s go back to the mustard seed. Jesus responded to the disciples when they said increase our faith with “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed.” Jesus had told the parable of the sower. The disciples asked him why he spoke in parables. Jesus said, Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heartsand turn, and I would heal them.” Today we have the same problem as people are not understanding or perceiving. Instead of reading verses and believing, these verses are either ignored or thought to be nonsense. Jesus goes on to say, Matthew 13:31 “He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Earlier he talked about the seed falling on good soil. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
While there are lots of interpretations of this verse like praying to move a mountain of debt or the mountain means the temple and more, I believe it is a lot simpler than that. Jesus was talking about the power of faith and as I said most people do not believe it is possible to throw a mountain and bush into the sea, so they come up with something else. Jesus made it clear, believe this part about the mountain and then whatever you ask you will receive. If you don’t believe the mountain part, you will not receive. Let’s go back to the beginning of time. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Exodus 20:11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” As I said yesterday, if you don’t believe this you are in trouble with the rest of the bible, for example let’s say a verse that talks about mustard seeds, mountains and bushes. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Then you have the wonders that happened in Egypt, the Red Sea parting, the Jordon river heaping, Jericho’s walls crumbling, sun and moon standing still, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego alive in the furnace, Daniel alive in the lion’s den, Jonah alive in the large fish, Elijah raising a son from the dead and replenishing oil, floating axe, vast armies destroyed and on and on we could go. Then you get to the New Testament, and you see the miracles, signs and wonders that Jesus and disciple performed. If you believe in the creation and no you really can’t argue about it. You either believe or you don’t. Neither side can really prove their argument because we were not there as only God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were and the bible explains all that. I myself believe that God is the creator of the universe, others believe in god particles and big booms. All through scripture we see this power and every day we see the handiwork of God in His creation. Science is also pretty consistent. For example, someone built my house as it didn’t all of a sudden appear out of nothing or today you see lots of tanks in the news. Picture all the parts need to build one of those tanks and then put them in a pile and then blow it up. You and I both know that no matter how many times you blow it up it will never be a tank. Science tells us that. Plus there is the problem of where all the parts came from and where the power for the boom came from. It really is nonsense. It is much easier just to bow before our Sovereign God and believe His words.
The bible is filled with signs, wonders, miracles, healing and casting out demons. The bible starts off with faith and continues all the way to the end with faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7“For we live by faith, not by sight.” Faith is about believing and trusting the words of God. Romans 3:22 “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 10:10 “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” The Jews refused to believe and still refuse. John 10:24 “The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “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.” Even the disciples did not believe. Mark 16:14 “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” In the book of John, the word believe (NIV) appears 84 times. After Jesus rebuked His disciples He said, Mark 16:15 “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.” Most people in the church do not actually believe the last part and the ones who say they do are not seeing it. That is easily proven by this verse. James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” That is not happening. Jesus said He came to heal us. Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
The church today spends more time trying to disprove scripture instead of believing scripture. You end up with the powerless and pathetic manmade church we have, instead of going to the ends of the earth clothed with power from on High and doing as Jesus did. Jesus said 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. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Notice that Jesus said very truly I tell you, yet most people don’t believe this verse. Many say this verse means that the church as a whole will go out and do greater things, evangelizing the world. Well, the church is a mess and desolate and the world has been taught other gospels while the church remains powerless, so I don’t think so. Here is a thought, yes this is sarcastic, just maybe the verse means what it says. The disciples showed this to be true as they did as Jesus did and nowhere does the bible say it was supposed to stop. The good news and the power that goes with it was to continue. Acts 5:12 “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” It wasn’t just the apostles. Acts 6:8 “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” Acts 8:4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” We saw that Mark 16:20 “the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” What were those gifts? And that means all of them. 1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” And there are many who don’t even believe these verses. So yes, John 14 means what it says but the church is not seeing it because of a lack of belief. The church has rebelled against God’s word and has now been defeated by satan.
You may have noticed a repeat in the verses above. John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Earlier you read Matthew 21:22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Mark said it this way. Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” People will respond, but I tried that and yes most people have but have you tried repenting of your wicked ways and turning back to God and waiting to be clothed with power. Until God turns His face back to us, we will have to wait for His power to return. I will be talking about waiting in a couple of days. Failure to believe is the problem. When prayer is unanswered, the charismatics always like to blame the person who asked for pray for not having enough faith but the real problem is the charismatic. Yes, it does come down to a lack of belief but that is the church as a whole. We have a belief problem therefore we have a faith problem.
The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus answered, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed.” This is how powerful faith is. You only need a little bit of true faith. Now this is the belief part. These verses that talk about mulberry bush and mountain being thrown into the sea, is just that. You may never see it but that doesn’t matter. The question is do you believe it? At this very moment ask yourself do you believe this to be possible? And don’t say sure God could if he wanted to. It is not about whether God can, it is about whether you believe. You literally have to believe. It really is that simple. That is your gauge for faith. We see some examples of people who believed and understand there was available power. The church today lacks the power and the belief there is power to all who believe, but it will return. The centurion had great faith. Matthew 8:5 “When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Then we saw Mark 5:22 “one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.” In the midst of this journey Jesus healed a lady who also had great faith. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” As this happened 35 some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Then Jesus said these amazing words. 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.” And yes, she was really dead. They did know what dead was.
This should be the church today, but this power is not happening, not because it is not possible but because most believe it is not possible. Romans 10:16 “But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 21 “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Do you believe God’s word or are you stubborn and obstinate? Our rebellion has caused God to turn His face from us but if we would return to Him. Jesus said Mark 9:23 “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” If we would believe, we would see that fig trees could wither, mountains tossed in the sea and mulberry bushes transplanted, you would have only need faith the size of a mustard seed. We would then see Matthew 21:22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” This is about believing the word of God for today. When you read about Jesus healing and casting out demons, you must believe that will happen today. God help our unbelief.