Profane or Holy?

Yesterday, I listened to most of the audio version of a sermon that one of the “fence-riders,” using someone else’s word, gave about Lakeland until I became so disgusted that I shut it off. This fence-rider was saying that he did not have a problem with Todd Bentley’s tattoos or his piercings. Maybe he doesn’t have a problem with them, but I do. Those tattoos, the piercings, and the dress tell me so much about the man (Bentley), especially the fact that he got them AFTER he had been in ministry for some time. We forgive and accept what was done before a person comes to Christ, but a man who has been in ministry for a few years should know better. A minister told me recently that he had been praying that people would begin to identify who they really are (by the things they do and say) ... And Bentley did just that! Maybe some people think it’s cool or a benign act, but to me, it’s like painting graffiti on the temple—profaning the sacred. Where is the holiness and the sanctity in this man who is supposed to be representing God? He is as profane as what he is doing and saying. The devil, through Bentley, is rubbing unholiness and irreverence in the face of God, and those who call themselves Christians are not only allowing it, they are defending it. Do I sound angry? I am! And I am in good company. Jesus became angry when greedy merchandisers turned His house, a house of prayer, into a den of thieves. They were profaning the holy.

Some people have said that Todd Bentley is a young man who loves God but needs to grow. I see Todd Bentley as a rebel, an impatient, self-centered, ambitious, carnal man who did not want to take the time to be discipled in the things of the Lord. Having gone his own way, he has opened himself up to demonic influence and is now, I would guess, willing to do anything to attain fame and fortune. I don’t know where he came from, however, nor who in his life would have had the maturity to train him, if he was even trainable. I have my doubts.

There are so many rebels with no accountability in the church today. Many of them are leading the church down the garden path right into great deception—the blind leading the blind. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the “priesthood of the believer” and how “spiritual authority” fits into it. Yet, Hebrews 13:17 says: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Young (and old) rebels, like some of our fallen ministers, get tired of being under the watch care of their overseers, so they find someone else to tell them, “It’s okay; you should be in ministry. Come, follow me!” Problem is, their overseers do nothing about it! I heard a minister talking about “marking” people whom he had deemed to be troublesome. I can’t find the Scripture for it, but maybe there is a time and a place to do this. How do some of you ministers feel about it? Some of the great ministers before our time were not afraid to call a spade a spade when it came to sin and rebellion and profaning the holy.

In the time of the early church, Jewish disciples gave their life-long allegiance to their chosen rabbi. They were committed to accepting and obeying everything their rabbi told them. In the New Testament church, The Rabbi is Christ. We, as His disciples, are to give our life-long allegiance and devotion to Him. “The central issue of being a disciple of Jesus is: How can I surrender – submit – every aspect of my life, including worldview, paradigms [pre-conceived ideas], career, personality, character, ethics, desires, motivations, values, family, ego, sexuality and attitudes to the authority of Jesus and His teachings?” (Making Disciples Jesus’ Way, by Doug Greenwold, preservingbibletimes.org) We are to be formed into the image of Christ, not some pagan.

People used to wrestle with the Word of God and cry out to Him in desperation for as long as it took to break through the veil of flesh and understand what He was saying. When will we start once again wrestling with the Word and crying out to hear from God? I’m tired of the politically correct mumbo jumbo that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. WE NEED GOD, and we need each other! Forgive us, our Lord God Almighty. Help me to do my part, in Jesus’ name. So be it!

True Signs and Wonders

True signs and wonders are fruit of walking in the Spirit and doing the work of the Lord. True signs and wonders were never intended for entertainment or "an event" that one travels to see.

Mark 16:17-20 explains: “And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well. … And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied [it].”

I will say it again: “True signs and wonders are fruit of walking in the Spirit and doing the work of the Lord.” Jesus knew that His followers would encounter many things in their individual lives and ministries that would have to be dealt with immediately. I have personally encountered a few serious demonic manifestations in others that had to be addressed immediately. I told the demon to shut up and come out! It did! (At the name of Jesus every knee must bow, Phil. 2:10.) There was no fanfare, but the person was set free.

I have prayed for many people who have been healed, and I personally have experienced healings in my own body. People have told me that I have certain spiritual giftings. I want to say, "Maybe, because I am filled with the Spirit of the Lord, but mostly, I have Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Spirit." As Christians, it should not be at all unusual to see disciples moving in true signs and wonders. And as Spirit-filled Christians, we should not be surprised when God moves through us in signs and wonders!


I think many people do not understand that when we have Jesus and are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have all that He has given us to do the works that He did on earth, and greater! John 14:12-14 NIV: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

I have been a Christian for almost 60 years, and I have learned well 2 Corinthians 4:7 (AMP): "However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves." Brothers and sisters, we all need a plaque on our walls with this verse, especially if God is using us to minister to others. There is no place for pride when moving in signs and wonders. In ourselves, we are only frail, human vessels of earth, simply earthen vessels through which God can exhibit His grandeur and the exceeding greatness of His power.

When Jesus gave His charge in Matthew 28 to "Go into all the world and make disciples in all the nations" (paraphrased), He prevented any argument by “showing them his badge,” so to speak. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." He is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named" (Eph. 1:21). Parts of the church have been pretty good about telling people they need to be saved, but for the most part, the last part of the Matthew 28 charge has been left out: "and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

It is no wonder that we are in the mess we are in. We get people saved so they won’t go to hell and send them out into the world like sheep among wolves before they are trained for service. It is no wonder that people so easily turn to their "natural" inclinations and glorify the flesh.

*Steve Crosby made some good points in his article, "Babies and Bathwater: Lakeland and Beyond": They [deceived and gullible Christians] don’t know the Scriptures. They have no discernment. Their senses have not been trained (through exercise) to discern both good and evil. They receive a revelation and think they are now experts. They lust for supernatural power. They are hungry for celebrity and one-upmanship. They substitute experiences with angels for the worship and presence of God." [I recommend reading the entire article at the link below.]

Why? Because, for the most part, Christians have not been taught and do not practice 2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the word of truth" [emphasis mine]. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34)—not chase after signs, wonders, and angels. Nor have they been taught that “He [Jesus] must increase, but I [me] must decrease” (John 3:30).

Hebrews 5:12-14: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."

New disciples, and even older ones, can be trained in all of these points above by being holy in all of their conduct (1 Peter 1:15), but it must first start in the pulpit. It has been proven that the social, seeker-friendly gospel works for growing big churches, but it does not work for maturing disciples. Let's return to the biblical pattern, and let's grow up and start making a difference in the church and the world. Jesus still wants His body to move in true signs and wonders, but we must be aligned in right relationship with Him through His Spirit and His Word rightly divided.

It's time for the Church to move on to maturity, or few of us will be ready for the days ahead.

Restore Your Church, Lord!

*
Steve Crosby

Have Faith in God - Mark 11:22


There are many supernatural, heavenly resources available to those who have partaken of the abundant grace, love, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the key that releases those heavenly resources into our situations.

In Mark 11:22, Jesus instructs His disciples to “… Have faith in God.” The Amplified version adds the word “constantly.” That is an important statement if Jesus really means that His disciples should constantly be in a state of having faith in God.

Is it hope, or is it faith?

The Collins English Dictionary defines “faith” as “strong or unshakeable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence. (In Christianity it is) trust in God and in His actions and promises.”

God’s Word says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

It is so easy for us to express our hope for something we want or need, either for ourselves or someone else. We say it with great conviction and sincerity. Hope, however, is for something that “will” happen. It is almost always future tense. If we stay in the hope realm, we may never realize what we are “hoping” for. Faith “real-izes” our hope. Faith completes our hope and makes it real. Faith believes it has already happened and translates our hope into substance that God can work with. Faith is for NOW!

There are probably very few Christians who haven’t heard that statement or memorized Hebrews 11:1. But perhaps there are many who, like me, have asked, “How? How do I change my hope to faith? How do I know I’m moving in faith and not mental assent? If faith is substance, should there be tangible evidence I can lay hold of.”

These are questions that sent me on a quest to learn more about faith. The Bible says if we seek, we will find when we seek with all our hearts.

In Matthew 17:20 (AMP), Jesus spoke to His disciples when they questioned Him about their inability to drive out a demon from a young epileptic, “Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith that is living like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

Many of us struggle at times with wanting desperately to believe but wondering if our faith is strong enough to meet the challenges. When we are believing in faith for something, we know our faith must be foundationally based on God. But what does it really mean to “have faith in God” and to have it constantly? You may think I’m pretty dense, but I needed that charge, "Have faith in God," to be broken down in order to fully understand what Jesus was saying.

The problem some people encounter, especially the young or immature Christian, is that their concept of God may be tainted by life experiences. If one has grown up with a father figure who was abusive, indifferent, or even absent, it’s very difficult to have faith in a loving, caring Heavenly Father. It is much easier for the person who has suffered such childhood pain and disappointments to grow up having “faith” for the negative. How can he (or she) put his faith in someone he doesn’t know or trust?

I believe that’s why it is important to examine the dynamic of having faith in God because there is often the temptation to stubbornly have faith in one’s own strength and ability, or even to have faith in our faith, as if to say, “If I exercise faith hard enough, God will surely approve of me and answer.” I can picture my little grandson sitting with his eyes and his fists tightly clenched, saying, “I will believe! I will believe! I will believe!” It is a childish picture, but we must always examine ourselves to see if this subtle, self-righteous pride is working in us. Any self-righteousness is bordering on idolatry, if it hasn’t already crossed the line. We must die to “self” daily.

What, then, does it mean to “have faith in God”? Are we to blindly, passively trust that God will work things out on our behalf? He is the Almighty God, the Sovereign of the universe. We may know intellectually that He is trustworthy, and most assuredly, there will probably be times when we must blindly trust Him. But that kind of blind “faith” is passive, like an infant resting in his mother’s arms. Faith is a very active word. Perhaps that’s why it is called exercising faith.

Think of a soldier on a battlefield. Does he blindly have faith that he will prevail over his enemy in the middle of battle? Does he blindly charge a hill toward the enemy and expect God to preserve him? As Jesus told the devil in Matthew 4:7, “It is written, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ ”

No, the good soldier is trained to follow orders and planned strategy. His training has taught him how to protect himself while obeying his commander’s orders. Through his training, he can instantly lay his hand on his weapon, his bayonet, his grenade, his ammunition, or any other thing he is carrying. He can react with lightning speed. He has an objective; he knows what to look for, when and how to move, the range, the trajectory, and the rules of engagement. He has a job to do, and he is committed. He knows his life and the lives of others are on the line.

I had an instructor in Bible college who would always pray on exam day, “Lord, help them to the level of their preparedness.” Because I always came prepared, I had faith that God would help me and bring to my remembrance what I had learned. My exam papers were always returned marked “A.” Second Timothy 2:15 became real to me, especially the part about not being ashamed!

As I sought to understand what it means to have faith in God, I learned that there are three basic elements involved.

God’s character and attributes

First, faith in God involves knowing God personally—His character, His attributes, His nature, His heart, His will. These are absolute, and they are absolutely trustworthy.

It is refreshing to remember that there are absolutes in our world to which we can cleave. Amid all of its political correctness, our society, driven by the agenda of the god of this world, has tried to whitewash many absolutes into an anemic relativity. “Your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth!”

Well, there is one absolute truth that we can stake our lives on: God IS! He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. His name YHWH, translated “Jehovah” or “Lord,” comes from the Hebrew verb which means “to be” (God is) and emphasizes God’s absolute being.

He is the Source of all being, all reality, and all existence. Everything else derives its being from Him. He is utterly transcendent, beyond all His creation. He is without beginning and without end because He always is. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all-true, all-loving, all-faithful, all-merciful, and all-righteous. God is wisdom, glory, faithfulness, goodness, beauty, and patience.

He is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider; Jehovah-Rapha, our Healer; Jehovah-Shalom, our Peace. He is the Lamb of God, our Redeemer, our Savior. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Abba Father. He is Love. He is Truth. God is perfectly holy and perfectly just. He is Jehovah-M'kaddesh, the Lord who makes us holy (Lev. 20:8 NIV).

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) offers us so much hope and comfort: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” This scripture says to us that God is good, He loves us, and we can trust Him. He doesn’t change.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that He is pleased only when we have faith in Him and that He is a Rewarder when we diligently seek Him: “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” (NIV).

As we get to know God intimately and learn about His character—that He is faithful, true, and loving—our love and trust grow. As the child who so freely propels himself into his daddy’s arms, we learn that it is quite safe and comforting to rest, in faith, in Abba’s loving arms, constantly.

The Word of God—The Bible

Second, having faith in God involves knowing what God says. Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Having faith in God involves the Word of Truth, the Bible rightly divided. Second Timothy 2:15 (KJV) says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Rightly dividing God’s Word has nothing to do with segmenting it. It means to rightly discern its truth by capturing the spirit of the Word.
We must not lean to our own understanding in studying God’s Word but, rather, depend on the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to receive the Word in truth according to the intent of the Holy Spirit.

First Corinthians 2:13-14 (NIV) explains: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

The Word of God tells us that in order to have faith in God constantly, we must constantly walk in the Spirit so that we are able to hear what God is saying to us.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Word of God judges us, in that it exposes to us our own sin and unrighteousness, much as a mirror will do. A two-edged sword cuts on both sides. It separates the good from the bad coming in and going out. It divides the unredeemed soul—the mind, the human will, and the emotions—from the born-again spirit of man so there is no doubt who’s doing the ruling in our life. It will show us if we are walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh—the natural man, usually the mind of reason. It’s impossible to have faith in God if you are walking in the flesh.

The Word of God not only reveals the sinfulness of the human heart in order to bring conviction and repentance, it reveals the Person, character, works, and the will of God. It makes known His eternal purposes in creation and His divine will for man. It records the history of man—his successes and failures, past, present, and future. It is our guidebook and our compass in the life that now is, and in things eternal.

Ephesians 6:17 says the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. That’s weaponry! It is to be used both defensively and offensively.

The Amplified Bible says the Word of God is the sword “that the Spirit wields.” When we speak or stand on the Word of God, in faith, in full armor, the Holy Spirit wields the sword for us.
The Collins English Dictionary (HarperCollins Publishers) says “wields” means: 1) to handle or use (a weapon, tool, etc.); 2) to exert or maintain (power or authority); 3) (obsolete) to rule.

The Holy Spirit handles the sword, bringing to our remembrance the Scriptures we need when we need them (if we have planted them in our hearts). He exerts the power and maintains the authority of the Word. In other words, He rules! (This idea has become rather obsolete in our politically correct society!) I don’t know about you, but I want to be on His side!

As I meditated on this concept of the Holy Spirit reserving the right to wield the sword of the Word of God, I could see the wisdom of God, because there are times when we, with the sword in our hand, might use it wrongly to harm, to literally cut people. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for protecting us from ourselves!

This is another example of how the Lord uses His Word to teach us to trust Him. Studying, learning, and knowing God's Word is vital to Christian growth and to having faith in God.

The Cross

Third, understanding how to have faith in God involves understanding what Jesus accomplished when He gave His life on the cross.

Many Christians have not studied and meditated on the scriptures enough to begin to understand what all Jesus did for us on the cross. They have not learned, and sadly, most have not even been taught, the wealth of the gifts and the rights that Jesus provided for us on the cross when we believe on His name, accept His marvelous gift of atonement, give ourselves to Him to be our Savior and Lord, and receive His indwelling Spirit. And the devil—the enemy of our souls—loves keeping us in our disadvantaged, ignorant state.

Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of humanity, and hanging on Calvary’s cross, He gave His life to pay the penalty for them all—past, present, and future—when we repent and accept Him as our Savior. But what God accomplished through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death doesn’t stop there.

God provided the sacrificial Lamb, just as He had done when Abraham obediently bound his son, Isaac, on the altar, except this Spotless Lamb of God satisfied the righteous requirements of God's Law and justice once for all and rent the veil that separated God and man, as a result of Adam’s sin in the Garden, and gave all believers access to God’s covenant promises (see Romans 3).

In Christ's suffering and death, He accomplished much more than atonement for the sins of man. 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 abundant life.

Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV) says, “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (For a more comprehensive teaching on the subject of healing, see my article called “The Healing Provision.”)

I believe we have only just begun to tap the surface of the many benefits and resources Jesus bought for us on the cross of Calvary and in the resurrection. As a good and loving earthly father plans good things for his children, how much more our Heavenly Father has planned for us.

Ephesians 1 has become one of my all-time favorite chapters in the Bible. It is full of promises to the believer in the Beloved. In the Amplified Bible, we see such words and phrases as “blessing,” “favor and mercy,” “deliverance and salvation,” “the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor which He lavished upon us,” “we obtained an inheritance,” “the guarantee of our inheritance.”

The more I meditate on verses 17 through 21, the more I am blessed by it. If this doesn’t thrill your soul, maybe you should check your pulse: “[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), and [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.”

When the revelation, the rhema, of Scriptures like these settle into our hearts and minds, our eyes are opened to the love God has for us, and our faith in Him and our love for Him will grow in leaps and bounds. He wants us to know and understand the hope to which He has called us—that we are joint heirs with Jesus, that the things He did we will do and greater, that we can speak to the mountains in our lives, and they will be cast into the sea.

In Summary

As my heart and mind were being opened to the understanding of how to “have faith in God, constantly,” He began showing me that my faith had often been based on my view of my own righteousness, or where I felt I stood with God at the moment. Had I done everything I should have done? Had I been "good"? Had I failed in some part of my life? Was God mad at me about anything? Would He even hear my prayers?

Brothers and sisters, I believe many of us struggle with that kind of questioning, especially when we long to please our Lord. However, it must become deeply ingrained in us that our righteousness is always as filthy rags before the Lord. We will never measure up in our own flesh because no individual can rise above his nature. We are accepted by God only through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Jeremiah wrote that
the coming King would be called, "The Lord our Righteousness." Notice that he did not say that Christ would make us righteous. Instead, the usage is in the abstract: Righteousness. We become the righteousness of God. How is this possible? Christ becomes our righteousness by personal substitution. When Christ becomes our Lord, we live an exchanged life—our life for His. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Now, I can have great faith in God, constantly, when it is based on the Person of God, on what God says in the Bible when it is rightly divided, and on the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Our sin penalty was PAID IN FULL on the cross, and
we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus when we believe, in faith, and accept Him as our Savior.

What does this mean for the believer? It means that no weapon (no matter what it is) that is formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). It means that when you encounter sickness, whether your own or in others, you can stand in faith and speak to the mountain of sickness to be removed and cast into the sea. It means that you have the authority and the power to speak to all of the circumstances in your life to come under the authority of the name of Jesus. And you have the power and the authority to pray for others.

I must give a caveat. I am writing about the true disciple of Jesus who understands that his or her salvation came through a costly grace. As a natural father understands that the amount of power and liberty his child is given depends on the maturity and the behavior of the child, so our Heavenly Father will deal with us. "For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God]" (Hebrews 10:26-27 AMP). I would also like to mention as a reminder that 2 Corinthians 4:7 states: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from god and not from us."

We have sung about “standing on the promises.” Isn’t it about time we do start standing on them and actually become doers of the Word instead of hearers only because we have faith in God constantly? I say, "Yes!"



Have Faith in God - The Healing Provision


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 three things:
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; James 1:17.)


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 to me.

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 came alive.

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 received salvation!

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 pasture.

“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 entering.”

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 made whole.”

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 whole.

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.


APPROPRIATING GOD’S PROVISIONS

People get mad at God when their loved ones get sick or tragic accidents happen. They get even madder at Him when He seemingly doesn’t answer their pleading prayers that He intervene and heal. But the fault does not lie in God. Satan is the destroyer, and our lack of knowledge makes us impotent against him. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). The knowledge that is needed here is that God has already
done everything that is needed. It is now ours to receive it by faith. The ball is in our court.

We need to know the Bible! The Holy Bible—the inspired Word of God—is our life manual. It is the only source of wisdom and knowledge about spiritual truths. 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Rightly dividing God’s Word comes through diligent study and refusing to suit its words to one’s own convenience or ideology. Rightly dividing the Word of truth mean to rightly discern its truth by capturing the spirit of the Word. The Word of God was written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and must be understood by the Holy Spirit. Personally, I study many different translations until I feel comfortable that I understand what the Spirit is communicating.

Jesus says in Luke 14:27 and 33: “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Discipleship means renunciation of all selfish interest for the sake of Jesus. Most people do not want that level of commitment, but then they wonder why they are powerless when tragedy strikes.

We know that God desired for all to come to repentance and faith in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross (John 3:16). But the choice of salvation is left to the free will of each individual. In the same way, we know it is God’s will to heal everyone who calls on His name because Jesus suffered for it. We appropriate God’s provision by faith. Faith gives substance to things we hope for; faith gives evidence to things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). God has given us the measure of faith, which is enough. As we grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s promises in His Word, our faith grows, line upon line, precept upon precept.

This is what I personally have learned that has changed my life, and it can change yours as well. I am fully persuaded that God is faithful and true and cannot lie and that His Word is inerrant truth. I am fully persuaded that God loves me (and you) and that He wants and has made provision for His children to have abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come. I am fully persuaded that God provided the atonement for my sins once for all and that I am forgiven of all past, present, and future sins when I come to Christ in godly sorrow and repentance. I am fully persuaded that God provided for my health and healing by suffering from the stripes He bore on His back on the cross. I am fully persuaded that I receive all of it by simple faith in God—faith in His righteous character, faith in His Word, and faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. But we can’t stop there. We must put feet on our faith.

We all are saved, or born from above, by believing and confessing with our mouth. Romans 10:9-10 says, ...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.

That Scripture sets the pattern for appropriating God’s promises and provisions. The principle is established at the very beginning of our life in Christ. Just as salvation is appropriated by heart belief and spoken confession, so His continuing work in our lives is advanced by the same means.

In Mark 11:20-21, the disciples were surprised to see the fig tree had withered that Jesus had previously cursed. Jesus responded with a simple command in verse 22, “Have faith in God.”

Then in verses 23-24, in calling them to “speak to mountains,” He led them to prepare for situations in which they would find it necessary to take direct authority in the spiritual realm to impact things in the natural realm. “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.”

A mountain is symbolic of an obstacle, hindrance, or insurmountable problem. Someone said that a mountain is anything that is bigger than you are. Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” To have faith in God is to believe.

The next thing He said is, “I say to you, whoever says to this mountain …” That’s spoken confession. And then He says, “Don't doubt in your heart!” The doubt Jesus was talking about may be a lack of faith in God to do what He says, which is insulting to God’s character, but it could also be doubt in one’s own worthiness to ask. Well, we all are unworthy. That is why we need a Savior Who IS worthy! Jesus died for our unworthiness so that we could live in His. When we command that mountain to be removed and to be cast into the sea, God sees only the worthiness of Jesus. A. W. Tozer once wrote: “Nobody ever got anything from God on the grounds that he deserved it. Having fallen, man deserves only punishment and death. So if God answers prayer it's because God is good. From His goodness, His lovingkindness, His good-natured benevolence, God does it! That's the source of everything.”


ABOUT AUTHORITY

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV). We are not to fight in the natural, physical world because that is satan’s territory. Our warfare is fought in the spiritual realm, using spiritual weapons, such as believing God (faith) and speaking in agreement with His will and His Word. That is why it is so important to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must know God’s Word thoroughly. Not knowing the Word of God is like going to war not knowing how to use our weapon. Our enemy can take that same weapon and do great damage with his lies. A good portion of our lives should be given to studying God’s “instruction manual.”

Jesus reminded His disciples in Mark 11:23-24 of the principles of believing and confessing—believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth. He was preparing them for situations when it would be necessary to take authority in the spiritual realm in order to impact things in the natural realm. This is so important for us to learn.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth. Authority is defined as, “the power or right to rule, control, judge, or prohibit the actions of others.” Just as an Ambassador is sent out with the authority of his country behind him (as well as the provisions needed, which is another sermon), we as Christ’s ambassadors on the earth are sent out in the name of Jesus (who has all authority) with all of the rights and privileges of a diplomatic minister or an authorized representative or messenger. We call it The Great Commission. We need to understand that it is not presumptuous to move in spiritual authority in the name of Jesus. It is not only our right, but it is our responsibility. God’s first command to man was to “fill the earth and subdue it.” We cannot subdue a thing without using authority.

Matthew 28:16-20 (AMP): "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed and made appointment with them ... Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, 'All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.' "

God wants us to take direct authority in the spiritual realm in order to impact, or change, things in the natural realm. Jesus gave us the right to believe what God says (His Word) and to speak that Word into our circumstances.

When sickness is attacking our bodies, as believers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we have the right to speak truth from our spirit (the spiritual realm) and to command our body (the natural realm) to come into line with the Word. We have the right to command (in the spiritual realm) our body (in the natural realm) to resist sickness and disease or any other mountain that would try to attack it. Sickness and disease are interlopers on the body of any born-again Christian. Unless a door has been opened to them, they have no spiritual right to be there. Under the authority of the name of Jesus, you have the right to speak to the mountain of sickness and to command it to be cast into the sea.

You may say, “But I have been guilty of abusing my body and, therefore, opening the door to sickness.” Remember that Jesus died for our sins—past, present and future. He died even for that sin. In Christ, we are forgiven. When we confess our sin and repent (turn from it), we have the right to have healing. Sometimes, the door to sickness and disease has been opened through a curse. Curses can come in two primary ways—a malevolent charge against a person, such as in witchcraft, and the speaking of negative words, either from oneself, a parent, clergy, or others who have influence over us. In the case of curses, deliverance may be needed before healing can be fully manifested.

Sometimes there may be a need to fast in order to subdue the flesh, to starve doubt, to humble self, to promote faith-filled prayer, and/or to repent for losing faith. Let each one judge himself.

Although there have been times when God has used people's sicknesses to bring glory to Himself when they were healed, I believe without a doubt that it is not God’s will for anyone to be sick, and it is especially not God’s will for His children to die prematurely. That’s the devil’s agenda and his attack. As believers, we have the right and the power, in the name of Jesus, to stop the attack.

I have given you the Word in a capsule. Also consider this: One can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight. When we come together with another faith-filled believer in agreement with God’s Word and will, no devil on earth can stand.

Be careful of your words. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. We must we aware of every idle word we speak and ask ourselves whether we are agreeing with God, the flesh, or the devil. Are our words producing life or death? We must try to always guard our words so that satan does not get a foothold anywhere.

We also need to stay in a right attitude of humility as the creature and not the Creator. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV reminds us: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” These rights are given to us by God’s grace and mercy. God is not our online shopping network. We need to be careful not to become prideful in our faith. That’s why it is so important for us to stay in a posture of worship; it reminds us who we are and Who we are not. Denying the flesh through fasting helps to bring us into humility.

It is vital also to remember that God gives to us from His abundance so that we might generously give to others, both from our resources and our hope. We can never give back to God what He has given to us, but out of love, we are to go and reach others.

God bless you is my prayer, and may the spirit of faith inhabit your heart continually!