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THE POWER OF BIBLICAL FAITH
Intro: Genuine, biblical faith is a miracle! Faith in God is something we do not possess naturally. Eph. 2:8 tells us that faith is “the gift of God.” God enables us to believe in Him for salvation, then He gives every believer some “measure of faith, Rom. 12:3. That is, God empowers His children to believe Him, to serve Him, to glorify Him through the power of the faith in Him that He gives to us!
This outworking of faith in God’s people has allowed them see demonstrations of God’s power that boggle the mind. It has allowed them to receive answers to prayers for things that appeared impossible. Consider the following:
· Joshua 10:12-14 Joshua commanded the sun to stand still so Israel could defeat the Amorites.
· Isaiah 38:1-6 King Hezekiah was told that he would die. He prayed to the Lord and God added 15 years to his life.
· Genesis 22:1-14 Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac, who was the son of promise. He obeyed by faith and God spared Isaac, providing a ram in his place.
· Joshua 14:6-16 85 year old Caleb believed God for the power to defeat a mountain infested with giants. God gave him that mountain.
· 1 Samuel 17:1-54 A teenage boy named David believed God for the power to defeat a giant named Goliath. God gave him the victory.
· Daniel 3:1-30 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed God to keep them from the power of a pagan king and a fiery furnace. God met them in the furnace and protected them there.
Many, many more examples could be given, Ill. Heb. 11:32-35, but these are enough to teach about the power of biblical faith in God. The passage before us today magnifies the power of biblical faith.
On Monday morning of the Lord’s Passion Week, as Jesus his disciples walked toward Jerusalem, Jesus cursed a fig tree, 11:12-14. When they passed by the next day, the fig tree was dried up. Jesus uses this experience to teach His disciples a lesson about The Power Of Biblical Faith.
When we exercise biblical faith in God and His promises, we can expect amazing results. The key to that statement is the phrase “biblical faith. A lot of people think that faith is a blank check. They believe they can ask for anything they desire and that God is obligated to do all they ask Him to. That is not exactly what the Bible teaches.
This passage has much to teach us about The Power Of Biblical Faith. That’s what I want to preach about today. I want to show you, from these verses, The Object Of Biblical Faith; The Opportunities Of Biblical Faith; and The Obstacles Of Biblical Faith. Let’s examine these truths together.
I. v. 22 THE OBJECT OF
(Ill. When the disciples are amazed at the withered fig tree, Jesus simply says, “Have faith in God.” The emphasis of that command is that God people should have a deep-settled, consistent, ongoing confidence in Who God is; what God has said; and what God will do. It speaks of a constant communion of prayer with God, dependence upon God, and obedience to God. When Jesus says “have faith in God, He is encouraging faith in several aspects of Gods character.)
A. In God’s Person If you are saved, God is your Father. As your Father, He cares about every need in your life, 1 Pet. 5:7. As your Father He invites you to bring your needs, burdens and concerns to Him, Phil. 4:6-7; Heb. 4:16. As your Father He desires to open the resources of His kingdom and give them to you, Luke 12:32.
We are not dealing with an aloof, disconnected deity without compassion and care for His people. Our God loves His children and He wants them to come to Him on the basis of simple, childlike faith. Like a child trusts its parents for every need, (Ill. Clayton), the child of God can trust the Heavenly Father.
B. In God’s Promises When it comes to the matter of faith and approaching God in prayer, the people of God have some very precious promises.
Ψ God invites us to pray to Him – Phil. 4:6; Matt. 11:28; 1 Pet. 5:7.
Ψ God promises to hear us when we prayers – Jer. 33:3; Psa. 10:17; 65:2.
Ψ God promises to answer our prayers – Matt. 7:7-11; Isa. 58:9.
When it comes to the promises of God, we have the Lord’s guarantee that He will keep every one of them, Rom. 4:21; Heb. 6:18; Num. 23:19. God will not back away from a single promise He has given His people!
By the way, you cannot have faith that God will do something for which there is no biblical promise! Prayer and faith are not a blank check! Prayer and faith are an opportunity for God’s people to demonstrate their confidence in the written Word of God.
When God says something in the Word of God, we can have absolute faith that He will do what we ask. When we pray outside of the Word of God, we cannot pray in absolute faith because we do not know what God’s will is in that matter. Faith is always based on a clear word from the Lord, Rom. 10:17.
So, while it is right to pray about every matter in your life, it is wrong to expect God to do everything you want Him to do. God honors faith, but genuine, biblical faith is always based on the Word of God! Always!
C. In God’s Power Its one thing to make a promise; it is another thing to have the power to keep the promise. The children of God can have absolute confidence in Gods power to do everything He has promised to do. He has the power to do anything we ask Him to do. He has the ability to do anything He pleases to do. We serve an awesome God Who possesses all power in Heaven and earth, Matt. 28:18; Eph. 3:20; Jer. 32:17; Job 42:2; Luke 1:37; Isa. 40:12. All I am trying to say is that our heavenly Father can do anything!
D. In God’s Purposes When it comes to faith in God we must always remember that He has an eternal plan that He is working to accomplish. He has a purpose, and everything in the universe, even our requests, are subject to His will. He will do nothing that is outside the bounds of His eternal purpose. He will do nothing that is not part of His plan. He will not do everything we ask, just because we ask it. He will do those things that He wills to do, and He will accomplish all things that He has willed to do. (Ill. Isa. 46:10; Eph. 1:9-11; Pro. 19:21)
A lot of people believe that they can ask for anything they want, and that God has to do what they want Him to do. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Prayer is never about getting what we want from Heaven. Prayer is always about aligning our will with God’s will so that His will is done on earth. Lord willing, we will come back to this thought later in the message.
II. v. 23-24 THE OPPORTUNITIES OF
A. Allows Us To Believe The Impossible From where Jesus and His men were standing they would have been able to see the Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea. Jesus was giving them a very vivid illustration.
He was also using a familiar Jewish proverb to teach them a deeply spiritual truth. The Jews commonly spoke of moving a mountain to refer to something that was absolutely impossible, or to something that would be a long task.
There are so many situations in life that appear hopeless. There are people that seem so lost that they will never be saved. There are needs so great that it appears they will never be met. There are problems so big it appears they will never be overcome.
Faith in God, and in the promises found in His Word, allows us to believe God in the impossible situations of life. I can believe God for the salvation of that lost soul because of what He said in His Word, 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4. I can have faith that God will meet that need which seems impossible, because that is His promise, Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:19. I can have faith that I am saved, Rom. 10:13; 10:9. I can have faith that I am secure in Jesus, John 6:37; 10:28. I can have faith in a place called Heaven, John 14:1-3. I can have faith that He will never leave me alone, Heb. 13:5.
The list could go on and on. Faith in God and His promises allows us to believe Him for those things that appear impossible to us!
B. Allows Us To Receive The Impossible Jesus said that, if we could believe Him, we could have what we ask for. Faith has the remarkable ability to enable us to hold in our hands things that have yet to be seen, Heb. 11:1. The word “substance in that verse means foundation, or that which stands under something. Faith is the guarantee, the assurance that we will have the things God has promised to us. The word evidence means conviction. In modern vernacular it refers to the smoking gun. Faith allows us to hold in our hearts things that have yet to appear.
The faith described in that amazing verse is the absolute, God-given, present confidence in a future reality. It is the conviction that what we have believed by faith is already ours, even though we cannot yet see it. This kind of faith is not based on what the eye can see, but it is based on what God has promised!
The faith mentioned here gives substance to the promises of God for our future. We hope for:
Ψ Christ’s Return Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ
Ψ The Resurrection Of The Dead 1 Pet. 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Ψ Our Future Glorification 1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Ψ That We will Reign With Jesus 2 Tim. 2:12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him:; Rev. 22:5, “they shall reign for ever and ever.
Faith in God and His Word make these future promises present realities. Heaven is real to me today. The resurrection is real to me today. My future glorification and eternal change are real to me today. These things are real, not because I have seen or experienced any of them, but because God has promised them to me and He has given me the faith to believe them!
All the things I mentioned, and many more besides, seem impossible to our minds. Yet, they are real, because God has given them to us by faith!
Thank God for the power of genuine, biblical faith! Some people here are holding the unseen things of tomorrow in your hands today through the awesome power of faith. God has confirmed His promises in your heart and you are merely waiting for Him to fulfill them all in His time! Others don’t believe it, but God has assured you through faith. Trust Him friend! Hold onto His promise and in His time, He will bring it to pass!
III. v. 23-26 THE OBSTACLES OF
(Ill. While Jesus points out the great Object of faith and reminds of the Opportunities of faith. He also mentions some Obstacles to faith. While faith in God is powerful and allows us to experience the incredible and receive the impossible, that faith can be hindered. There are many other obstacles to prayer in the Bible, that are not mentioned, but I want to focus on the three that are mentioned here.)
A. v. 23 Unbelief and shall not doubt in his heart Doubt is deadly to effective prayer. The word doubt means to be divided in ones thinking; to hesitate; to draw back.
When we pray from a heart of doubt, we are drawing back from the Word of God. We are saying, “I know what God said, but I do not believe it in this matter. Doubt calls into question to character and ability of God. Doubt says, God may have promised it, but I don’t believe He can or will do it. The prayer of the doubter will not be answered, James 1:6-7.
B. v. 23-24 Selfishness What things soever ye desire The word desire means to ask, to beg, to call for, to request. It sounds like a blank check. It sounds like you can ask for anything and receive it. I would just remind you that this verse says no such thing!
There is not a single verse in the Bible that contradicts any other verse. The Bible is very clear that answers to prayer come when we pray according to the will of God. 1 John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Prayer must always be based on what He wants and not what we want. Ill. John 14:13-14, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
When we pray “in Jesus’ name we are not using a magic formula that guarantees God has to do what we ask Him to. We are not just to close our prayers by saying in Jesus name and then believe that God has to do what we tell Him to do.
To use Jesus’ name is to pray for the things Jesus Himself would pray for. It is to pray for His purposes and will to be fulfilled, and not for our own selfish reasons. It is to petition God on the basis of Christ’s righteousness and not our own. It is to pray for His glory alone. (Ill. Matt. 6:9-10.)
It is like a “power of attorney When you are given power of attorney over someones affairs, you are given the right to make decisions on their behalf. It does not mean that you can do anything you want with their resources. It means that you act in their best interest, always remembering that their name and reputation are at stake.
When we pray selfish prayers that are based solely on what we want in a situation and not on His will, we can expect those prayers to be unanswered. James 4:3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Joshua, Caleb and all the others who received big answers to their prayers of faith did so because they were asking for things that God had already promised them in His Word. Does God ever answer the prayers of His children when they ask for things He hasn’t explicitly promised? Yes! But, we have no right to demand anything from Him; we must always condition our prayers according to His will!
C. v. 25-26 Unforgiveness Jesus commands His disciples to forgive those who have wronged them. On the surface, there seems to be no connection between faith and unforgiveness. I think the connection is found in the matter of prayer. Just as faith connects us to God and enables our prayers to get through, unforgiveness stands as a barrier between us and the Lord.
An unforgiving spirit puts us at odds with the Lord. He has forgiven us of all sin, and He expects us to forgive others of their sins against us, Eph. 4:32. When we possess an unforgiving spirit, our prayers will be hindered and God’s forgiveness will not be realized in our daily walk. In other words, we will walk through this life out of God’s will and out of touch with God. That is a terrible thing!
Conc: Biblical faith is a powerful weapon. Mountains yield to its power. Sin, Satan and sorrow all must bow before its authority. Faith is among the greatest of God’s gifts to His children.
In light of what we have heard today, how’s your faith? Are you walking in faith, believing God for the unseen? Are you looking to Him to move some big mountains in your life? Are you seeking His will for every situation you face? If that describes you, keep praying, keep trusting; in His time, He will bring it to pass in your life!
Does your faith need work? The Lord is here to help strengthen your faith, if you will ask Him to.
Have you been demanding your way from the Lord? You need to come and humble yourself to His will in that situation. Trust Him to do what is right, because that is exactly what He will do!
Do you have a mountain that needs to be moved? Come and talk to Him about it!
Do you need to be saved? Come to Jesus and ask Him, He will not turn you away!