This morning we are in Mark 11:20-25. Our topic is faith. The extraordinary sight of the withered fig tree was an illustration of the power of faith. Today we are going to look at 5 qualities of anything-is-possible faith.
1) Anything-is-possible faith creates an audience. (20-21)
Yesterday the tree was full of life. Today it’s dead. What changed? Jesus said a word. It’s extraordinary. It’s incredible. How did this happen?
This was the constant reaction to Jesus. Eleven times in the gospel of Marrk the word is used to describe people’s response.
Wherever Jesus went the people were amazed. Jesus is amazing. If Jesus is living in us, the church ought to have the same effect.
Faith inspires faith.
Matthew tells us that the disciples were amazed at the sight of the fig tree.
Jesus uses the moment to teach a vital lesson that begins with an application.
Have faith in God.
2) Mountain moving faith rests in God. (22)
Notice the object of faith.
Not faith in faith.
Not faith in me.
Not faith in my faith.
Faith in God.
“Faith is holding on to the faithfulness of God and, as long as you do that, you cannot go wrong. Faith does not look at the difficulties. . . . Faith does not look at itself or at the person who is exercising it. Faith looks at God . . . . Faith is interested in God only, and it talks about God and it praises God and it extols the virtues of God. The measure of the strength of a man’s faith, always, is ultimately the measure of his knowledge of God. . . . He knows God so well that he can rest on the knowledge. And it is the prayers of such a man that are answered.” -MLJ
Our faith may not be great, but our God is!
That’s why Jesus tells us that it only takes a mustard seed sized faith to move a mountain. (Matthew 17:20) Nothing will be impossible for you.
Andrew Murray: “Faith is simply surrender: I yield myself to the impression the tidings I hear make on me. By faith I yield myself to the living God. His glory and love fill my heart, and have the mastery over my life. Faith is fellowship; I give myself up to the influence of the friend who makes me a promise, and become linked to him by it. And it is when we enter into this living fellowship with God Himself, in a faith that always sees and hears Him, that it becomes easy and natural to believe His promise as to prayer. Faith in the promise is the fruit of faith in the promiser; the prayer of faith is rooted in the life of faith. And in this way the faith that prays effectually is indeed a gift of God. Not as something that He bestows or infuses at once, but in a far deeper and truer sense, as the blessed disposition or habit of soul which is wrought and grows up in us in a life of intercourse with Him. Surely for one who knows his Father well, and lives in constant close intercourse with Him, it is a simple thing to believe the promise that He will do the will of His child who lives in union with Himself.”
It is not the size of our faith, but the object of our faith that determines the outcome of our prayers.
This is good news!
The more we turn our focus from our internal experience, our sense of faith and set our eyes on our great God, the more faith will flow.
Old man flying, “it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I’ll tell what I never put my whole weight down in that plane.”
“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” – Charles Spurgeon
3) Anything-is-possible faith speaks to mountains. (23)
Mountains represent impossibilities. A mountain is something that seems impossible, that is beyond my ability to change.
“We have a God who delights in impossibilities.” -Andrew Murray
As seek first the kingdom of God in this life we will face mountains. Mountains of circumstance. Mountains of illness. Mountains of hard hearts.
Faith looks at a mountain from the vantage point of heaven and addresses the mountain with the authority of heaven.
When Peter and John met a disabled man who asked for money, Peter saw the man and his disability with the eyes of faith.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
Do you think this is the kind of mountain Jesus was talking about in Mark?
Peter spoke to a mountain of physical impossibility with the authority of heaven.
4) Anything-is-possible faith rejects doubt (23)
“and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass”
The word doubt in the Greek is diakrino – to decide between two things, to make a judgment. In the sense of doubt it is the act of considering two things.
Many Christians live in a constant state of vacillating between two options. We are like a kid on a high dive, forever walking back and forth – torn between leaping into the beyond or climbing back down the ladder to familiar ground.
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Faith moves past considering and eliminates an option. Faith is single minded.
W Griffith Thomas – “This is probably the reason why prayer and thanksgiving are so often associated in the writings of St. Paul. They represent to us the two aspects of faith. Prayer is the faith that asks; thanksgiving is the faith that takes. We lose a great deal in our Christian life by failure to distinguish between these two aspects of faith. We keep on asking, when we ought to commence accepting.” Two friends at a meal, “for what we are about to receive, Lord make us truly grateful.” You’ve been praying for 25 years to be made grateful, don’t you think it’s about time that you were grateful?
The teaching of Jesus in this passage is meant to produce action.
Have faith in God!
Believe that you have received it!
This requires that we reject doubt.
This is an act of the will!
Christian! Rise up in faith! Resist doubt! Resolve to believe!
5) Anything-is-possible faith changes the landscape (24-25)
The image of a mountain lifted and thrown into the sea is a powerful image. It’s an image of dramatic change.
The prayer of faith opens our landscapes to the power of heaven. It changes things.
With Jesus, everything can change in a moment.
A marriage locked in conflict for decades can change in a moment.
A life chained by years of addiction can change in a moment.
A body tormented by seasons of illness can change in a moment.
A heart hardened by a life-time of sin can change in a moment.
This is the lesson of the withered fig tree and the mountain cast into the sea.
What mountains are you facing?
Is it time to eliminate the options and take a leap off the diving board?
Is it time to speak to a mountain in your life?
The first and greatest act of faith anyone can make is to trust in Jesus.
He lived a perfect life.
He was crucified on a cross as a substitute for our sins.
He rose again on the third day.
Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Do you believe?
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown