“Have faith in God.” Those are the powerful words Jesus spoke to His disciples in Mark 11:22. Other translations quote Him as saying: “Have the faith of God,” and Greek scholars tell us it should be translated, “Have the God kind of faith.” That sheds a little more light on this scripture, doesn’t it? If we are going to have the God kind of faith, we need to know what that means so we can develop it.
The key to understanding and developing the God kind of faith is to study how God and Jesus demonstrated faith. So, let’s take a look at Mark 11:22-23 in context, and see what we can learn:
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (verses 22-25)
Jesus was teaching His disciples how to live by faith—specifically how God works, how the God kind of faith works and how we should use the God kind of faith.
How God Works
Jesus’ lesson to His disciples on faith began the previous day: “…as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. Then Jesus said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat your fruit again!’ And the disciples heard him say it” (verses 12-14).
In that moment, Jesus had spoken, releasing the God kind of faith through His words. We first learn about the power of God’s Word back at Creation. Repeatedly, God spoke His will into existence in Genesis 1:
- “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (verse 3).
- “Then God said, ‘Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.’And that is what happened” (verses 6-7).
- “Then God said, ‘Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.’ And that is what happened” (verse 9).
- “Then God said, ‘Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night…’ And that is what happened” (verses 14-15).
Five more times throughout Genesis 1 God spoke and the world became. Think about that. God created and evoked change through His words. He had no doubt that His words would do what He wanted them to do. And Jesus was no different.
When Jesus spoke to the fig tree, He was doing what He had seen His Father do and saying what He had heard His Father say (John 5:19). He was speaking God’s Word and trusting it to be fulfilled just as He wanted it to happen.
As imitators of Christ, we’re called to do what we see Jesus doing, and to say what we hear (or read) Jesus saying (Ephesians 5:1). We have to release our faith through our words, too…words that reflect and repeat the Word of God. This is a key element in developing the God kind of faith.
How God’s Faith Works
Notice Jesus spoke to the tree, saying, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” He wasn’t speaking about the tree; He was speaking to the tree. He spoke what the desired end result was. He didn’t wait until the circumstances or outward situation changed and agreed with His words before He said anything. No, He boldly spoke what the end result would be before there was any sign. He knew the situation would line up with His words.
We can follow His example by proclaiming what our end results, which are based on the Word of God, will be too. If we need healing, we can boldly say, “I am healed,” because Isaiah 53:4-5 promises that Jesus paid the price for our healing. If we need provision, we can proclaim, according to Philippians 4:19, that He meets our every need completely. If we need peace, we can thank God for the peace that guards our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7). If we need joy, we can trust that God’s joy will be the strength that pulls us through every situation (Nehemiah 8:10).
How We Should Use the God Kind of Faith
When Jesus and His disciples passed by the tree the next day, they discovered that Jesus’ words—the words He had heard His Father say—had come to pass: “The next morning as they passed by the fig tree He had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up” (Mark 11:20).
In the 24 hours since Jesus had spoken, the Word was working “from the roots up.” Jesus had spoken to the root of that particular situation. He didn’t call fire down from heaven. He didn’t send freezing rain. He didn’t send a blight. No, He went to the roots.
It’s the same with most situations—poverty, disease, depression or lack. The Word affects change at the root. Even when we can’t see or feel it, the Word is still working. Our responsibility is to trust God Word to work and to uphold it with our own words, agree with God’s Word, and thank Him for its fulfillment.
Once Jesus spoke to the fig tree, He considered the situation settled. He didn’t agonize over it or beg for God to make it so. No, He spoke to the tree and walked off. He trusted that His words would be fulfilled, and so can we. Once we speak God’s Word over a situation, we can trust that He will make it happen. We can peacefully turn the situation over to Him and then praise Him for the desired result.
Jesus used this encounter with the fig tree to teach His disciples, and ultimately believers throughout history, how to walk by faith—the God kind of faith. He knew the importance of this lesson. When challenges come, we, as believers, have a choice. We can muddle through and let the enemy determine the outcome, or we can walk by faith and trust the Word of God to overcome Satan’s fiery darts every time. The choice is ours. God has given us the tool—His Word—and Jesus has taught us what to do. Now, it’s up to us to make the most of it by using the God kind of faith!
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