Have faith in God (1 of 3)

Mark 11:20-26 NASB
²⁰As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.
²¹Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”
²²And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
²³Truly 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.
²⁴Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
²⁵Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
²⁶[But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.]

Study

The next morning, as they passed by, they observed the fig-tree dried up from the roots (Mark 11:20).
More is included many times in Christ’s curses than is expressed, as appears by the effects of them. The curse was no more than that it should never bear fruit again, but the effect goes further, it is dried up from the roots. 

If it bear no fruit, it shall bear no leaves to cheat people.

● Observe how the disciples were affected with it. Peter remembered Christ’s words, and said, with surprise, Master, behold, the fig-tree which thou cursedst is withered away (Mark 11:21).
Note what effect the Christ’s curses have, and make those to wither presently, that flourished like the green bay-tree. Those whom he curseth are cursed indeed. 

This represented the character and state of the Jewish church; which, from henceforward, was a tree dried up from the roots; no longer fit for food, but for fuel only.

The first establishment of the Levitical priesthood was ratified and confirmed by the miracle of a dry rod, which in one night budded, and blossomed, and brought forth almonds (Numbers 17:8), a happy omen of the fruitlessness and flourishing of that priesthood.
And now, by a contrary miracle, the expiration of that priesthood was signified by a flourishing tree dried up in a night; the just punishment of those priests that had abused it.

And this seemed very strange to the disciples, and scarcely credible, that the Jews, who had been so long God’s own, his only professing people in the world, should be thus abandoned; they could not imagine how that fig-tree should so soon wither away: but this comes of rejecting the Christ, and being rejected by him.
This is a warning for us too!

● Observe the good instructions Christ gave them from it; for of those even this withered tree was fruitful. 

○ Christ teacheth them from this to pray in faith (Mark 11:22); Have faith in God. They admired the power of Christ’s word of command; “Why,’’ said Christ, “a lively active faith would put as great a power into your prayers (Mark 11:23,24).

Whosoever shall say to this mountain (this could have pointed to the mount of olives, as to the mountain on which the temple was standing) “Be removed, and be cast into the sea”; if he has but any word of God, general or particular, to build his faith upon, and if he shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith, according to the warrant he has from what God hath said, shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Through the strength and power of God in Christ, the greatest difficulty shall be got over, and the thing shall be effected. And therefore (Mark 11:24), “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye shall receive them; no, believe that ye do receive them, and he that has power to give them, said, Ye shall have them. I say unto you, Ye shall (Mark 11:24). Verily I say unto you, Ye shall’’ (Mark 11:23).

▪︎ This is to be applied to that faith of miracles which the apostles and first preachers of the gospel were endued with, which did wonders in things natural, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; these were, in effect, the removing of mountains. The apostles speak of a faith which would do that, and yet might be found where holy love was not (1 Corinthians 13:2).

▪︎ It may be applied to that miracle of faith, which all true Christians are endued with, which doeth wonders in things spiritual. 
• It justifies us (Romans. 5:1), and so removes the mountains of guilt, and casts them into the depths of the sea, never to rise up in judgment against us (Micah 7:19).
• It purifies the heart (Acts 15:9 ), and so removes mountains of corruption, and makes them plains before the grace of God (Zechariah 4:7).
• It is by faith that the world is conquered, Satan’s fiery darts are quenched, a soul is crucified with Christ, and yet lives; by faith we set the Lord always before us, and see him that is invisible, and have him present to our minds; and this is effectual to remove mountains, for at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, the mountains were not only moved, but re-moved (Psalms 114:1-8).

○ To this is added here that necessary qualification of the prevailing prayer, that we freely forgive those who have been any way injurious to us, and be in charity with all men (Mark 11:25,26).

When ye stand praying, forgive!
Note that standing is not an improper posture for prayer; it was generally used among the Jews; hence they called their prayers, their standings; when they would say how the world was kept up by prayer, they expressed it thus, “Stationibus stat mundus” — The world is held up by standings. 
But Christians generally used the more humble and reverent gesture of kneeling, especially on fast days, though not on Lord’s days.

When we are at prayer, we must remember to pray for others, particularly for our enemies, and those that have wronged us; now we cannot pray sincerely that God would do them good, if we bear malice to them, and wish them ill.
If we have injured others before we pray, we must go and be reconciled to them (Matthew 5:23,24). But if they have injured us, we go a nearer way to work, and must immediately from our hearts forgive them.

▪︎ Forgive them because this is a good step towards obtaining the pardon of our own sins. Forgive, that your Father may forgive you; that is, that he may be qualified to receive forgiveness, that he may forgive you without injury to his honour, as it would be, if he should suffer those to have such benefit by his mercy, as are so far from being conformable to the pattern of it.

▪︎ Forgive them because the want of this is a certain bar to the obtaining of the pardon of our sins; If ye do not forgive those who have injured you, if he hate their persons, bear them a grudge, meditate revenge, and take all occasion to speak ill of them, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 
This ought to be remembered in prayer, because one great errand we have to the throne of grace, is, to pray for the pardon of our sins: and care about it ought to be our daily care, because prayer is a part of our daily work.
Our Saviour often insists on this, for it was his great design to engage his disciples to love one another.

Twitter: @SchoemakerHarry
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