Monday, November 30, 2009

Commanding Fruitful Religion

Yesterday we saw 3 fruits that Christ commands from His disciples that were absent in Israel's (as illustrated in the fruitless fig tree and the fruitless worship in the temple):

1. The Fruit of Faith

Mark 11:22-25 22 And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

“And Jesus answered saying to them”—this is a major tip off that Jesus is not beginning a new subject, but what he is saying is in response to Peter’s comment concerning the fig tree which was related to the fruitless religion in Israel as evidence by swapmeet taking place in the temple.

“Have faith in God”—present active imperative; it is a command; it is not a suggestion; present tense suggests be continually having faith in God.

Trust—I think it would be better translated as trust or dependence;

Everyone has faith because everyone is trusting or believing in or depending upon something.
J. Gresham Machen says “Faith is only as strong as the object.”

According to Jesus, what must be the object of our faith or trust? v.22 “in God.” This will help us to understand everything that follows.

23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

“whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ . . . will be granted”—What this does not mean—it does not mean that you have the decreetive power of God.

God, on the first day of creation said, “Let there be light” and there was light.
Also, Jesus is not telling us to do rediculous things.
Also, Jesus is not advocating the positive confession the Word-Faith teachers:
Do you know anyone in the history of God’s people who has ever moved a mountain?
The Word-Faith teacher can ramble on about a verse like this, but when push comes to shove, there are a whole lot of mountains on God’s green earth and I haven’t seen any of them move any of them.
But what does Jesus mean?

“this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’”—this mountain moving must be speaking of a seemingly insurmountable task.

But the question is, “Is Jesus calling us to believe in something that He hasn’t promised?” I don’t think so. I believe Jesus is assuming that belief or faith includes a promise from God or the character of God.

If the object of our faith is not God or His promises, then what is the object of your trust or faith? Yourself, your own words, or possibly as Kenneth Copeland says, “You must have Faith in Faith.” But who is the object of faith according to v.22? “HAVE FAITH IN GOD!!!”

Ryle says, “Do we desire to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we wish to make progress in our religion, and become strong Christians, and not mere babes in spiritual things? Then let us pray daily for more faith, and watch our faith with most jealous watchfulness. Here is the corner-stone of our religion. A flaw or weakness here will affect the whole condition of our inner man. According to our faith will be the degree of our peace, our hope, our joy, our decision in Christ's service, our boldness in confession, our strength in work, our patience in trial, our resignation in trouble, our sensible comfort in prayer. All, all will hinge on the proportion of our faith. Happy are they who know how to rest their whole weight continually on a covenant God, and to walk by faith, not by sight.”

2. The Fruit Faith-Filled Prayer

24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Objection—see, this just means that if we believe it and ask for it and believe enough, then we’ll have it. This cannot be true. How do I know that?

Mark 14:35-36 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Mark 14:39 39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.

How did John who was there when Jesus said this, pass along Jesus’ teaching:

1 John 5:14-15 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

How does this look?

When praying for unbelieving friend or family—Lord you have said in your word
Ezekiel 18:32 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”

You invite sinners to come to you “If any man thirsts let him come unto me and drink.”

You are glorified in the salvation of the lost. So God I beg you to save my parents. God I beg you to save my sister. God I beg you to save my friend.

When praying for Sexual Purity
1 Thessalonians 4:3 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

God You say that it is your will that I be sexually pure in my actions and in my thought life. So God I beg you with a believing heart to enable me to grow in this area. God help me to detest sexual immorality and may thoughts that invade my mind be driven out like an enemy who crosses the border.
3. The Fruit of Forgiveness

25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

“if you have anything against anyone”—someone has sinned against you and you are still holding it over them. There is bitterness in your heart towards them.

“forgive”—btw, this is the passage that won’t allow me to believe that forgiveness cannot take place if there is no confession and repentance.

Matthew 6:12-15 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’ 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Spurgeon said, “If you don’t forgive then when you pray the Lord’s prayer, you are writing your own death sentence.”

We must forgive others. Israel religion consisted of paying back and "eye for an eye and a tooth fo a tooth," which was never intended for personal revenge.

May God help us to grow in these areas of fruitfulness.

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