Sermon #48†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Series: Mark
††††††††††† Title:†† ††††††††††† ďHave Faith In GodĒ
††††††††††† Text:†††††††††††††† Mark 11:20-26
††††††††††† Readings:†††††† Office: Ron Wood Auditorium: Bob Poncer
††††††††††† Subject:††††††††† Faith, Prayer, and Forgiveness
††††††††††† Date:†††††††††††††† Sunday Evening - April 12,1998
††††††††††† Tape #†††††††††††† U-63b
††††††††††† The title of my message is taken from the Words of our Lord to his disciples Mark 11:22. ďHAVE FAITH IN GODĒ.
Proposition:††††††††††† Faith, true faith in God, is that which distinguishes true believers from mere religious hypocrites.
††††††††††† Letís read Mark 11:20-26 together. As we do, I want to call your attention to three very important, but commonly neglected lessons here taught by our blessed Savior. Our happiness and peace, as well as our usefulness to one another and in the cause in this world greatly depends on how well we learn these three lessons.
1. Faith in God is essential (vv. 20-23).
2. The prayer of faith is effectual (v. 24).
3. A forgiving is the fruit of true faith (vv. 25-26).
I. Faith In God is essential (vv. 20-23).
A. When the Master said to Peter, Have faith in GodĒ, he was reminding him and us of the lesson of the barren fig tree.
††††††††††† Peter seemed a little surprised that the fig tree cursed yesterday was withered today. But the Lord Jesus here declares that all men shall likewise perish without true faith in God. It is not just faith that is essential. Everyone has faith in something. But that which is essential is true faith in the one true and living God, the glorious, triune, eternal, sovereign, holy Lord God who has revealed himself in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ through the Scriptures.
B. Believers are people who live by faith in Christ, who is God our Savior.
††††††††††† It is written, again and again in Holy Scripture, ďThe just shall live by faith.Ē Faith is more than an isolated act. It is more than a creed, a confession, or a ceremony. Faith is the believerís heart attitude of confidence in the Lord God. This faith in God is the gift of God to chosen, redeemed, called sinners. It is the very root and essence of true Christianity.
1. Initially, it is trusting Christ alone as our Lord and Savior (1 Cor. 1:30).
2. But true faith is something more than trusting Christ to save me. - It is trusting Christ to rule me, protect me, provide for me, and do all things needful for me, according to his own infinite wisdom, goodness, and grace for all time and all eternity.
††††††††††† If we would know the true meaning and value of faith, we should often read and meditate upon Hebrews chapter eleven. It was by faith that the elders obtained a good report. ďHe that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek him.Ē
C. Our Lord used a proverbial saying in verse 24 to describe the great power of faith in God.
††††††††††† This proverbial statement about removing mountains must be interpreted cautiously and soberly in this day of religious nuts who have been taught by these health, wealth, prosperity hucksters, If you want a million dollars, just trust the Lord for it; and show that you trust him by sending me all your money.
††††††††††† Our Lordís statement here is not a blanket promise that God will do anything we take a notion for him to do as long as we have enough faith, or believe perfectly, without a doubt in our hearts. No man has perfect faith.
††††††††††† What he is telling us is this - True faith in our God enables believers to overcome great obstacles, accomplish great things, and triumph in great conflicts.
††††††††††† Do you want to grow in the grace and knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ? Do you want to be a strong, valiant believer? Do you desire to grow in spiritual maturity? If you do, pray for more faith and jealously guard that faith God has given you. Nurture it with the Bread of Life in the house of God, water it with prayer, and exercise it with consecration to Christ.
††††††††††† Blessed are they who rest the whole weight of all things upon their faithful, covenant God and Father, who walk by faith and not by sight. ďHe that believeth shall not make hasteĒ (Isa. 28:16).
II. The Prayer of Faith is Effectual (v. 24).
††††††††††† Again, I remind you that prayer is not a blank check waiting for you to fill in the amount you want. Prayer is a spiritual exercise, involving spiritual matters. I do not mean that prayer has nothing to do with carnal things. It has everything to do with the believerís carnal things. But to the believer, his carnal things are spiritual matters, turned over to the Master. So when our Lord here tells us that when we pray in faith we have whatever it is that we desire, he is simply re-enforcing what he taught in the model prayer, by which he taught us to pray (Matt. 6:9-13).
††††††††††† I do not pretend to know much about prayer, but I do know that - Essentially, these are the things for which believers pray. In all our petitions before God, these are the things we truly want. And, if these are the things you really want from God, when you pray, you shall have whatsoever you desire.
∑ The Honor Of Godís Name.
∑ The Establishment of Godís Kingdom - The Salvation of His Elect.
∑ The Will of God Your Father.
∑ Godís Daily Provision For Your Needs.
∑ Godís Forgiveness For Your Sins.
∑ Godís Protection From Temptation, Sin, and Satan.
∑ To Personally Give Praise, Honor, and Glory To God.
III. A Forgiving Spirit is the Fruit of True Faith (vv. 25-26).
††††††††††† The connecting link between the necessity of faith and the spirit of forgiveness is prayer. First our Lord taught us that faith is essential to both life and prayer. Here he teaches us that we do not have true faith and cannot truly pray, if we have not been given a forgiving spirit from God the Holy Spirit. I want us to see two things in these two verses. My God himself inscribe them upon our hearts.
A. Bodily posture is totally irrelevant in the worship of God.
††††††††††† Commonly, when we think of prayer, we think of kneeling. Here our Lord speaks of standing to pray. This is not accidental. When we worship God, in public or in private, our physical position is totally insignificant. The only thing required in this regard is that we do nothing to call attention to ourselves, that we make no pretentious show of piety or humility.
B. The one thing that does matter in all aspects of worship and prayer, the one fruit of grace and faith without which we cannot worship or pray is that brotherly love which is manifest in a spirit of forgiveness.
††††††††††† Our Lord, of course, is not telling us that we win Godís forgiveness by forgiving one another. But he is telling us that if we have not learned to forgive one another we have not yet experienced or known Godís forgiveness.
††††††††††† It is not enough that our prayers be earnest, fervent, and sincere. It is not enough that we pray in Christís name. Our prayers must have one more ingredient, or they are worthless. They must rise to the throne of God from a forgiving heart.
††††††††††† We have no right to ask for mercy, if we refuse to extend mercy. We cannot seek forgiveness from God, if we do not forgive one another. WE must have the heart of a brother, if we call God our Father and Christ our Brother. We only flatter ourselves with a delusion if we think we have the Spirit of adoption, but harbor ill feelings, cherish resentment, and deny forgiveness to one another.
††††††††††† What a heart-searching matter this is. Not all are gifted to sing, preach, or even speak a word for Christ. But all who truly know what forgiveness is and do forgive the offenses of others. Our Savior went to great lengths to teach us this repeatedly. May he now give us grace to lay it to heart.
††††††††††† As we prepare now to gather around the Lordís Table, in the name of communion, let us do so with serious questions on our hearts, questions that simply must be answered.
∑ Do we know what it is to forgive one anotherís faults and offenses?
∑ Can we overlook the injuries done to us?
∑ Can we pass over the transgressions of others?
∑ If not, how dare we imagine that we know the Son of God?
Application: The nearest approach we can make to being like Christ in this world is to bear injuries, forbear offenses, and forgive one another. Godís free forgiveness of our sins is our highest privilege and greatest joy, and or only title to heaven and eternal life in the world to come. Let us, therefore, be merciful, kind, and forgiving in the few days we have here, where forgiveness is needed. I will not need your forgiveness in heaven; but I need a bunch of it here.