The floor was open for
questions or comments at the end of the Sunday morning service. Our
pastor had been teaching from Mark 11. In that passage, the disciples
of Jesus had been astonished that the fig tree Jesus had spoken to
earlier had dried up. When Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, look! The fig
tree which You cursed has withered away,” Jesus took the
opportunity to teach them.
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have
faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this
mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does
not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be
done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever
things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you
will have them” (Mark 11:22-24).
I had to ask: “What does this mean? How do I
know if I am ‘having faith in God’? Is this something we
muster up from within ourselves? Is it something that is supposed to be
resident within us 24-7? How can I have faith that Infinite God will be
there for puny, finite me when I speak to a mountain?”
I had been longing for a more intimate and
victorious walk with the Lord and desired a deeper understanding of
faith. I had listened to preachers on television and radio and read the
writings of other ministers of the gospel. I had studied the Scriptures
and asked questions. I had prayed, asking the Father for the Spirit of
wisdom and revelation that I may know Him better (Ephesians 1:17).
Through the answer that my pastor gave that Sunday
morning, God quickened my heart in what may be the most profound
revelation that I have ever experienced. I can sincerely say that it
changed my life. My understanding was opened instantly. The walls of
ignorant doubt came tumbling down, doubt that had hindered my faith for
victory in my own life, as well as for my ability to intercede in
faith-filled prayers for others.
My pastor stated that faith in God is based on
1) Who God is—His personal character,
2) What God says—the Holy Bible, and
3) What Jesus did on the cross.
It was so simple and so profound! Mountain-moving
faith rests solidly on the foundational tenets of Christianity:
God’s immutability (eternal changelessness), the inspired
and inerrant Word of God, and Jesus’ sacrificial death and
resurrection. Those things are true, they don’t waver, they are
trustworthy, and I can stand in great faith on them no matter how I
feel. (See Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 13:8;
REVELATION BRINGS CORRECTION
Suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, God revealed
to me that my faith had more often than not been based on where I
thought I stood with God at any given moment. On a subconscious level,
I expected the strength of my faith and the power of my prayers to be
governed by my current state of perceived righteousness—my right
standing with God. If I had spent enough time in His Word or prayed
enough, i.e., if I had been “good,” God would move on my
behalf. If I had failed somewhere, God probably would not even listen
What a revelation God had given me of myself! I
repented in sorrowful tears as we were served the elements of communion
and reaffirmed that my righteousness is as filthy rags before God and
that I stand wholly in the righteousness of Christ.
Many people who love God with all of their hearts
are unaware that they are trying to earn God’s favor, and even
their salvation, through their good works and by “being
good.” Human flesh will always come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That is the very reason we need a Savior.
Let me offer a cautionary caveat. Even though we
stand in the righteousness of Christ, we are not standing in a cheap
grace; Jesus gave His life to pay our sin penalty. In no way are we
ever given license to practice willful sin. As with a child, our
maturity and behavior determine how much power and authority we can be
trusted with. I believe as the Church grows in obedience and holiness,
we will see great signs and wonders following her.
THE SPIRIT OF FAITH
The revelation God gave me that day in church
opened my understanding about many things. I learned about the three
foundations upon which our faith in God can rest securely without
wavering. I began to comprehend the fullness of the supernatural life
in Christ that is promised to believers through faith. The Word of God
For months after that, I knew that something had
happened that had changed me, but I didn't know how to explain it to
others until some time later when I heard another minister teach on the
“spirit of faith” from 2 Corinthians 4:13. The spirit of faith causes one to say, “I
believe; therefore I speak.” Does that sound familiar? It should.
It’s the same way we are born again.
Think about Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV): “But what does it say?
‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your
heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you
confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that
God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart
one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made
unto salvation.” The spirit of faith is about believing with your
heart and confessing with your mouth—the very same way we
Faith works by believing with the heart and
confessing with the mouth. Do you need to be saved (born again)? Do you
need a healing? Do you believe in your heart what God says about it?
Remember, He is trustworthy, and His Word is true. If you believe it,
then speak it; confess your belief, and thank God for it.
Speaking your faith aloud is like drawing a line
in the sand; when you step over it, you are committed. The natural mind
is fearful of making that kind of commitment to faith. I know the mind
dialog well: “What if it doesn’t happen; you will look like
a fool sticking your neck out like that.” I wonder if
that’s what the Bible calls being “stiff-necked.” You
cannot hold the neck rigid and stick it out in faith at the same time.
(I hope you are laughing.)
At those times when you fear drawing that line of
faith and stepping over it, test yourself to see if you have fear of
embarrassment, or doubt that God means what He says. The caveat here is
that we must know the Word of God and whether what we are believing for
is in the will of God. An example of this is healing. We know that
healing is God’s will because His Word says that by the stripes
of Jesus, you were healed. Be careful about trying to exercise faith
for things such as stopping rain because you are having a cookout;
there may be farmers praying for the rains to come to water their crops
so that you will have corn on the cob at your next cookout. You can,
however, stand in faith against adverse winds. Use wisdom.
Additionally, sometimes the Holy Spirit gives us a check to hold off,
wait, or sometimes to go in a different direction. The best Scripture
directive is Galatians 5:16: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill
the lust of the flesh.”
THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus accomplished many things on the cross. We
will examine only a couple here.
The Atonement Provision
Jesus took upon Himself the judgment for the sins
of humanity. He shed His blood and gave His life to pay the penalty for
them all—past, present, and future—when we repent and
accept Him as our Savior. On that cross hangs a sign, “Paid In
Full!” The law was satisfied.
At the moment of His death, the thick veil that
hung in the temple and separated the people from the presence of God
was rent from top to bottom. The rending from the top down showed that
the hand of man was not involved. God Himself opened the way of access
to His holiness and His presence through Christ. Prior to this, only
once per year and under the strictest conditions was the high priest
permitted to enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of atonement.
Jesus paid the penalty once for all. Man could be redeemed to God.
What God accomplished through Jesus’
sacrificial death does not stop there. In Christ's suffering and death,
He accomplished much more than atonement for the sins of man.
Jesus said in John 10 that He is the
“door” to the sheepfold. Only through Jesus, the Door, will
those who have believed come in to the sheepfold and go on in to find
“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most
assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came
before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I
am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in
and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and
to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that
they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good
shepherd gives His life for the sheep.’ ” John 10:7-11.
The atonement—the sacrificial death of the
sinless Lamb of God on the cross—paid for our sin penalty once
for all and, thus, our entry into the sheepfold, but Jesus never
intended for us to take up residence in the gate. Have you ever seen a
herd of sheep? They will all congregate right in front of the gate, not
going on in themselves and preventing others from going in. No wonder
God likens us to sheep.
The Good Shepherd leads us into green pastures.
That’s abundant life! There lies beyond the door of salvation a
kingdom that is filled with promise and provision when we understand
and press on into it.
Matthew 11:12 (AMP) tells of this pressing in. And from the days
of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has
endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a
precious prize--a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most
ardent zeal and intense exertion].
I am convinced that most of the violent struggle
is simply getting past the doubt and unbelief of the teachers and the
sheep who have congregated at the gate. Luke 11:52 (AMP) addresses this: “Woe to you experts in the
[Mosaic] law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You
yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were
Jesus has already paid for our entrance into His
abundant Kingdom. I am reminded of my trips to Six Flags and Epcot
Center. When we walked up to the ticket counter and got our ticket,
everything inside that gate was open and available for our enjoyment.
We were limited only by our own choices.
The Suffering Provision
Christ suffered in His body a suffering that was
not necessary in providing atonement. He suffered in order to bear our
griefs and to carry our sorrows. He suffered for our peace and for our
healing. He suffered for our abundance.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (AMP) says, “Surely He has borne our griefs
(sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and
pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken,
smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded
for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities;
the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was
upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and
First Peter 2:24 (AMP) says, “By His wounds you have been
healed.” Notice that this Scripture is past tense. The work
is complete. It is finished!
The Hebrew words for “griefs” and
“sorrows” specifically mean physical affliction (or
sicknesses and pains). “He was wounded for our
transgressions” means He was pierced for our rebellion and
trespasses. “He was bruised for our (guilt and) iniquities”
means He was crushed for our “evil nature” and crooked
behavior. “We are healed by His stripes” means the blows
from the whips that cut into His flesh bought our healing and made us
Man’s greatest need was atonement for sin in
order to escape from judgment and to have reconciliation with God, and
God provided that by Jesus’ death. Jesus did not need to suffer
to provide the sin atonement.
By His suffering, God provided for abundant life,
beginning today (John 10:10). That means healing, and more. Neither work of the cross is
automatically appropriated. Each—a soul’s eternal salvation
or a person’s physical healing, peace, and well-being—must
be received by faith. Christ’s work on the cross makes each
possible. Simple faith receives each as we choose. God has already done
His part. The Way has been bought, paid in full, and presented to
“whosoever will.” It is now up to each individual to
receive it by faith, including appropriating healing.