“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’ And His disciples heard it.”
“When evening had come, He went out of the city. Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’ 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.’”
What Is the True Faith?
When we look at today’s Scripture passage in the Gospel of Mark, we can see that our Lord went to many places in the vicinity of Jerusalem with His disciples preaching and performing wondrous works, and in the evening the Lord became hungry and looked around to see if there was anything to eat. At that time, He saw from a distance a fig tree full of leaves. Jesus went to this fig tree to see if there was any fruit on the tree, but the tree had no fruit. And so Jesus pointed to this fruitless fig tree and cursed it, saying, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”
A fig tree normally bears fruit in the middle of summer. It bears fruit continually from summer until autumn. The fig tree bears fruits first, and the little flowers blossom inside the fruit after that. A fig tree also signifies the country of Israel. These fruit trees grow in many places throughout in Asia. I saw many fig trees when we were in Japan when I visited that country about 10 years ago.
Jesus and the disciples became hungry after traveling together, so they went towards a fig tree to find some fruit to eat. But He could not find any fruit although it was full of leaves. Therefore, the Lord cursed this fig tree. Our Lord also said, “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.” The Lord’s intention through the account of this fruitless fig tree was to teach us about true faith. The Lord actually requested such faith of believing in the Word of God from us, saying, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). The thing that our Lord requests from us is faith of believing in the Word of God. God wants us to live by faith of believing in the Word of God instead of leading a random life. The Lord said, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them,” and through this He was telling us to believe that we have received whatever we seek and pray to God for.
There are some things we hope to be fulfilled by God. We wait in patience for their fulfillment by faith. If we believe in the Word of God exactly as He has spoken, then we must pray to God by faith and wait patiently. He promised that it will be fulfilled exactly as He said if we believe that the Lord will fulfill these things and if we pray for His help, saying, “God, please, bless us.” The Lord hears our prayers and works for us so that things will be fulfilled according to His goodness. The Lord says this is the faith of believing in God.
Our Spiritual Life Is Led by the Faith of Believing in the Righteousness of God
We need many things in body and spirit to be able to lead a life of faith. It is uncomfortable and unsatisfying when even one of these things are lacking. Therefore, we need all kinds of things. But can we have all these things by our own strength? No, we cannot. During these times, we must believe in God, pray and put our faith into action.
The Lord said that it is upright and proper to believe in the righteousness of God and live by faith, and we must follow the will of God absolutely in order to live by faith. The Lord told the disciples in the Gospel of Mark, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them,” and it means that when we seek the things we need from God, He absolutely grants these things we ask for. It means that God gives to us exactly as we have prayed. We must now believe that God answers our prayers when we pray to Him. And the Lord said that we have already received the things we have prayed for. When we believe in the Word of God, He fulfills all things as recorded in the Word of God. The Lord is telling us to believe in this Word.
This is living solely by faith of believing in the Word of God. For example, the proper season has to arrive so that the fig tree can bear fruit. But the work of the Kingdom of God is fulfilled in season or out of season, exactly as we seek from the Lord when we seek and pray to God believing that He will absolutely fulfill the things we pray for.
This is the life of faith that believes in God. Our life of faith that believes in and depends on God is to believe that God absolutely grants us the things we seek for and the necessary things we pray for. Then God fulfills it exactly as we believe. God answers our prayers and grants us these things we are in need of when we pray to Him. God said this is the true faith.
The Lord cursed this fig tree and it dried up from its roots. And the Lord then said to us, “Whatever things you ask for when you pray, believe that you receive them.” This is the part that God showed us clearly that the things we ask for are fulfilled exactly as we ask for. When we pray to God and believe that it will be fulfilled exactly as we prayed, God fulfills it exactly as we yearned for. Can you believe in this truth?
The life of faith is to believe in the work of God. It is written, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). There are so many things we need while living in this world. Are there not many things that need God’s help and that can be resolved by the power of God? However, when we just pray to God for everything and believe that God will absolutely answer whatever we pray to Him, all these problems will be resolved. The Lord hears our prayers attentively and answers our prayers. This is the faith of believing in God.
We must live by faith. The righteous shall live only by faith. What can we accomplish if we do everything according to the given circumstances? We cannot do anything. However, we can do the things God is pleased with if we do His work by faith of believing in God. It is saying that we receive blessing when we believe in the righteousness of God, and we receive curses if we do not believe in it. If a person who has received the remission of sins does not live by faith of believing in the righteousness of God, he is committing a terrible sin before the presence of God.
I Request Many Things from the Lord Because I Believe in Him
The first thing I do when I get up early in the morning is to pray. I pray to God and tell Him the things I need and the things the Church needs; I ask God every morning to grant those things. I believe that the Lord will fulfill all these things. And these prayers just come out so effortlessly. It is like this because I believe in the Word of the Lord that He absolutely answers the things we pray for and seek from Him.
Praying to God is similar to something like this: There is a withdrawal slip when you go to a bank, and when you write the amount you want to withdraw on the withdrawal slip, you are guaranteed to receive that amount of money shortly. Our faith of believing in God is just like this. Therefore, we must believe in the fact that God grants the things we need when we pray to Him. Do you believe this? This is true. Believing like this is true faith. You might not pray like this when you do not have faith in God. But you would pray to God fervently if you really had this faith of believing in Him. We are in the midst of despair because we do not have faith of believing in God. Otherwise, we would not fall into despair if we really had faith of believing in God.
The Lord explains what this true faith is all about by illustrating the fruitless fig tree. The Lord told us that true faith is faith of believing in the Word of God and of course God, and not relying on natural principles. It means everything will be fulfilled according to God’s will if we just believe in Him and His Word. It means that we receive all things we pray for if we believe in God’s Word and that we receive everything we need by praying to God. Do you believe that you will receive all things when you pray if you believe in God?
The most important thing in today’s Scripture passage is that we absolutely need to have faith of believing in God in our prayers to Him and in living a spiritual life. We must believe in God with a sincere hearts. God told us to believe in Him and that He would grant anything we ask for if we believed in Him to our hearts’ content.
However, the problem is that we often doubt God. God answers as we believe if we completely trust in Him and believe in Him, but we do not receive anything if we do not believe. How can you wait for an answer from God without even believing in Him? Try believing in God. Check and see if you actually receive answers to your prayers or not. You can say something to God only when He has not answered your prayers even though you have prayed to Him by faith; but how can you not believe in God from the outset by saying that God probably would not answer you while you do not believe in Him.
Believe in God first. Are you able to believe in God? You want to believe in Him; but is it as easy as you think? What can be more reassuring than believing in God? When we tell someone, “Friend, I trust you,” then that person tries to uphold the trust we have placed in him in order to not betray that trust. It’s because we believe in that person. If someone does not uphold the trust we put in that person, then it’s entirely his fault. On the other hand, anyone would feel disrespected if we did not trust them. However, we feel great when someone places his trust in us. Trust builds when people trust one another.
God can do anything for us. We just have to believe in Him from our side. It’s because God can fulfill everything sufficiently. And God also feels great when He answers the prayers of people who believe in Him. It is really killing two birds with one stone, satisfying both God and the person. It’s good for all involved; like catching two birds with one stone; like sweeping the front yard and also picking up some coins in the process. That’s how it is.
However, the problem is that humans do not believe in God from their side. God gives us the Word of truth; God tells us to believe in Him. God says, “Will you believe in Me? I will grant you whatever you ask for if you just believe in Me.”
Dear fellow believers, how much have we believed in God? And how much had we believed in God before we were born again? We say we believe in God, but we give up faith easily when something does not go the way we wished it to go.
Then how much have you believed after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Have you given up when things became difficult when you professed to believe in the Lord for a while? How much have you believed in God? Have you believed in God until the end?
God is the almighty and the merciful God who really answers our prayers joyfully. The Lord said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). But God cannot do anything for us if we do not believe in Him from our side. God would do His work for us if we believed in Him, but He cannot do it because we do not believe in Him. Therefore, we seem so pitiable from God’s point of view. We seem like capricious and immature children who believe for a moment and then not believe the next moment; entrust the matter to God, then not trust in Him and going back and forth like this. We entrust a certain matter to God saying, “God, please take this problem and resolve it. I believe in You, God.” Then we become insecure and unsure about it after thinking about it later. Then we take the matter back from God, saying, “No, I think that is a bad idea. Give it back to me.” And then we entrust the matter to God once again and take it back again, saying, “I am sorry, God! I really think you are the only One who can solve this problem.”
Let’s Please God by Believing in Him
The Lord said, “Whatever things you ask for when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” This passage means that the Lord will answer whenever we pray by faith. The Lord promised to make us the preachers of His Word when He said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Lord is saying that we became the witnesses of the gospel automatically because we have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We just have to believe in the righteousness of God to become a preacher; and we do not have to try so hard to become His preacher. God works in us when we believe in Him and work according to His Word. Therefore, we must believe in God.
The Lord went to the fig tree and saw that the fig tree did not have any fruit and He cursed the tree, saying, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again” (Matthew 21:19). Immediately the fig tree withered away. If this fig tree possessed the faith of the righteous, it would have prayed to God even though it could not bear fruit until then. It would pray, “God, do this for me so that I can bear fruit. I believe in You, God.” A fig tree will start bearing fruit when it believes in God. This is true faith.
Our Lord is saying through this that this fig tree speaks about us who have become righteous people. In the Scriptures a tree always signifies a human. All the work that we do can be fulfilled if we believe in God, and nothing can be achieved if we do not believe in Him. It means that nothing can be accomplished if we do not carry it out by faith in God no matter how much we have poured our efforts into it. In short, we can do God’s work only with faith of believing in Him.
God’s work can be done only when we believe in Him. As we have received the remission of our sins by faith, God absolutely answers when we seek and pray to Him by faith about matters concerning our everyday life, our concerns, our worries, and even all the things we need in the future. God has answered us already. God grants exactly the things we ask for when we believe in Him. Do you believe this? The true faith is also a very simple matter when we really look at it plainly. It is just to trust in God from our side.
Asking for the things we need, believing in God, and waiting for His answer is faith. Then God fulfills all these things we ask for. We must confirm the fact again that the only thing we must do is to believe in God. And we must believe in Him unwaveringly. What is the indispensable thing we must do? It is to have faith in God. Whatever we do, we must do it by faith. We must pray to God and believe, “God, I know you will do this for me and the Church.” God works in us when we believe in Him.
Do You Want to Experience How God Works?
Do you want to experience how God works for you? Then believe in Him who works in you. You will taste the power of God if you believe in Him. Otherwise you will taste the curses of God instead. You don’t just remain in the same state if you do not believe in Him. Even the things you have will be taken away from you. Whatever we do, we first need the faith of believing in God. We definitely need faith. In our life, we must have faith of believing in God, and in all things we do in following Him. We absolutely need faith that says, “God, I believe that You will grant this to me. God, please do this for me.”
Dear fellow believers, you must practice faith of believing in God. Leading a random life after receiving the remission of sins is not a life of faith. You can eat the fruit from a fig tree even during the winter if you believe in God. Even the impossible things become possible when you believe in God. You are blessed abundantly by your faith in God. This is the faith of believing in God. When you pray to God and believe that you have already received the things you ask for, then God fulfills them exactly as you have prayed. When you pray, “God, give it to me. Please, allow it to me. I know that you will grant this to me. I believe in You, God,” then God absolutely grants this to you. But the only necessary thing is to have faith in God from our side. You need faith in your life. You need faith of believing in God in all your concerns. We need faith of believing in God in all the things we ask for. They will all be fulfilled if we just believe in God.
The Lord took the disciples every corner of the country and showed them what faith of believing in God should be like. Jesus wanted to teach the disciples like this: “You can eat the fruit from a fig tree even if it is not in season if you just believe in Me. You must not try to live a random life according to your circumstances once you have received the remission of sins and become My disciples. You must believe in Me. You must believe in Me in order to keep your everlasting life. I will work in you if you just believe in Me.” The Lord wanted to teach this truth to His disciples. The Lord told the disciples repeatedly, “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.” When we pray to God and believe that He has already granted our request as we believe in Him, He then fulfills it exactly as we have prayed. Therefore, we must raise our children by faith. We must entrust to God by faith even the things that seem impossible. Everything is fulfilled if we believe in God.
Believing in God is the key to receiving answer to our prayers. Believing in God is faith of believing that He will grant to me the things I have asked for. The answer to a prayer is the result of true faith. Our Lord taught this truth to us very clearly. This is the reason why we must believe in God as we live in this world and also it is a matter of course that God asks such a faith from us. God asks from us this faith of believing in Him.
Do you have this faith of believing in God? Believe in God without a doubt. Then you will become rich in faith. The most important thing for us in praying to God is to have faith in Him. The only thing we need is our prayer of faith. When we pray to God, we come to realize that there really is no other way but to believe in Him. We come to forsake every means besides that.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
The only thing we need to do is to believe in God and ask Him. Before we do anything else, we need faith of believing in God. God requests our faith from us. God requests from us faith of believing in Him before we choose the natural principles of life ruled by our circumstances. God definitely answers our prayers if we depend on Him and have faith of believing in Him.
Concerning this faith, the Book of Romans tells us that the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). Here in today’s Scripture passage, the Lord also said that God will fulfill everything as we pray if we just believe in Him. Faith is very simple.
Do you still think that one must attend church for a long time to have a strong faith? No, it’s not like this. Examine your heart and see if you have this true faith of believing in God in your heart. Do you believe in God? You are a person of faith if you believe in Him, but if you don’t believe in Him you have nothing to do with Him.
I believe in God in every circumstance. I have resolved so many impossible things by faith of believing in God. It’s because I believe that God will definitely grant the things I have prayed for. I just need to believe in God only. God does the rest. Therefore, we do everything by faith; we work by the faith of believing in God; we make a living by faith; we battle against Satan by faith; we carry out our tasks by faith; we preach by faith; we work in a company by faith; we maintain a family by faith; and even all the worries and matters of living are done by faith. We live only because we believe in God, and we would not be able to live if we did not believe. Life in itself is hell when we do not believe in God.
God promised that He will grant the things we have prayed for if we just have faith as small as a mustard seed. You have lived until now because you have believed in God. You would have committed suicide if you did not believe in God. Faith is absolutely necessary for all of us. We need faith especially when we are in despair. If there is one thing indispensable to us, it is faith of believing in God. The thing we the righteous absolutely need is faith of believing in God. Faith of believing in God is absolutely indispensable. You do not have much else to worry about if you just have this faith.
Dear fellow believers, do you believe in God? Do you have faith of believing in God? That’s wonderful. The more you believe in God, the more bountiful your faith becomes. The more you believe in God, the more you become rich in faith. There is a need of faith everywhere in our daily lives.
One goes to Heaven by having true faith, but one can also go to hell by having the wrong faith. The Bible is the history of faith. We defeat the enemy by faith; we fight the battle of faith by faith; we become victorious by faith; and we also concede our prestige to others by faith. Anyway, we do everything by faith. The people who go to hell are going to hell by their faith. Those who go to Heaven are also going to Heaven by their faith.
Those who believe in God say, “Lord, I believe. I believe that the Lord has blotted out all my sins.”
Then the Lord says, “That’s right. You are going to Heaven.”
Those who do not believe say this, “I cannot believe the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I believe I have sins.”
The Lord says to such people, “You should go to hell according to your faith.”
Therefore, they go to hell. It is fulfilled according to one’s faith.
The righteous do everything by faith. By faith of believing in God, we even know that He created the heavens and the earth and all things in it including us. We have a firm conviction in the Word of God by faith of believing in Him. Were we there when God was creating the heavens and the earth?
God probably would not have been able to create anything if we were there because we would have given Him such a headache.
We would have questioned, “God, why are you making that mountain so sharp like that? Children could get hurt. Why don’t you make it rounder in shape?”
Then when God makes the mountain in a rounder shape, we probably would say another thing, “Children would slip on it because it is too rounded.”
Then God would eventually become upset, saying, “Go ahead and do everything by yourself. I don’t work with you anymore. I think I made you too early.”
Everything we face needs faith. What else is there? We cannot even trust the things we remember in our brain. Even when I look at myself, I have forgotten many of the vocabularies that I used to know and the songs that I used to sing. There is nothing indispensable except this faith. If there is one thing we can resort to whenever we are frustrated, it is having faith of believing in God because He is always alive.
Faith is like a blank check and we can withdraw money with it by writing as much money as we want at anytime. People of faith just seek God every time they need His help by praying, “God, I believe in You. I believe in You in balancing my budget at home and the Church. If we need money, I know You will give it to us.” You ask why we need faith when we can run a church as things go. We must confess that we believe in God. We need faith even in raising children. We believe that God will make them prosper. Even in leading our brothers and sisters in God’s Church, we pray, “God, I believe. I believe that You will bless them and make them prosper in both body and spirit. Please help them. Bless them. Protect them. I believe in You, Lord.” All these prayers of faith are blank checks in the world of faith. The last card that we can use unconditionally is the card of faith. Whenever we bring out this card, God says, “Okay. You believe in Me this much. I will do for you as much as you believe,” and He does exactly as much as our faith, nothing more and nothing less.
Instead of thinking of this as a mere teaching sermon, let’s think about how much we have believed in God. It means that our wishes will be fulfilled if we believe in God, but that they will not be fulfilled if we do not believe. Our God has told us how essential our faith of believing in God is. Let’s believe in Him.
We face difficulties while living in this rough world. There are also times when everything seems dark and laborious, is this not true? Call out the name of the Lord and believe in Him in such times. The Lord told us to believe that we have received whatever we have prayed for and asked for. Ask for whatever you need. Praying is pleading. Plead to God to give you what you need. Then just believe that you have received whatever you have sought from God. It means that you must believe that God will absolutely answer your prayer. Bring out our last card. We just need to believe in God. This is none other than the life of faith. This is the life that the righteous people are leading. Pleading itself is faith.
Dear fellow believes God is your God. God is the Savior, your Shepherd, and my Shepherd. Do you believe that God gives us the things we need whenever we ask and pray to God for? Do you believe that God blesses us?
Dear fellow believers, let’s use our faith of believing in God as often as we can. Let’s always believe in God. Let’s always believe in the Lord. Our future is bright when we believe. Otherwise, we will decay. The Lord said the righteous shall only live by faith. We will prosper if we believe in God and we will receive curses if we do not believe in Him.
Jesus could have just passed by this fig tree. He could have just passed by, saying, “This is not the season for figs. I forgot about that momentarily.” However, the Lord cursed the fig tree, saying, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” This means that we receive curses if we live under the natural principles without believing in God. It means that we cannot even keep the things we already have. You would make plans as follows: “I will save up a certain amount of money each month from my income, and then it will become a certain amount after 10 years. I will then provide for my children’s wedding with it and go to God after living a peaceful life like this.” If you do not believe in God and you just live according to the way things go by naturally, God would say to you, “That’s okay, man! That is just your expectation.” The Lord said that we will lose even the things we have if we do not believe. God will sweep away everything from unbelievers.
If we do not believe in God, He will bring down curses upon us. We don’t just maintain the status quo if we do not believe. Rather, we lose even the things we have. Does the Lord not speak about this with the parable of talents? The Lord said, “So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents” (Matthew 25:28). And He also said, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). If you do not believe in God, you cannot even keep what you have acquired. You lose everything if you do not believe in God. You cannot live naturally.
After receiving the remission of sins you might think, “Since I have this amount of money and I have this position in the world, I will resolve this problem this way and that problem that way although I do not believe in God. I just have to live like this.”
If you have such thoughts, throw them away immediately. It is a very dangerous notion.
It is written,
“Unless the LORD builds the house,
they labor in vain who build it;
unless the LORD guards the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
We are born because of God and we receive protection from Him and we live because of Him in the future as well. We receive protection of all the things we have come to possess from God. I want you to realize that living naturally is the shortcut to the way of destruction. There is only blessing or curses in the presence of God. There is nothing in the middle.
If you have such thoughts, cast them all away and believe in God. You will not suffer loss by believing in God. God is worthy to believe in. How wonderful is it when we believe in God? Catch two birds with one stone and sweep the yard and also pick up some coins. How wonderful is that? Living by faith of believing in God is the very blessing. You receive this and that when you believe and you receive protection, security, and blessing as well, and how wonderful is that? How regretful would it be if you lost even all the things you had because of your unbelief?
Let’s believe in God. Only those who have received the remission of sins are eligible to believe. It is proper to say that only those who have received the remission of sins are qualified to believe in God. A person who has not received the remission of sins will go to hell even if he was left alone, but God does not just let such a person go to hell but also takes everything away from him. God said that He strikes down the arrogant.
People of faith say, “Are you not such an insufficient human being? God is worthy to be believed in. You will absolutely not incur a loss. Believe in God.”
Then an unbeliever says, “It is hard to believe.”
That is a foolish notion. We must just believe in God unconditionally without calculating this and that arrogantly. What do we have to brag about? We must just believe in God. God is worthy to believe in. God has never lied to us, not even once. Let’s believe in Him. Let’s believe as we live in this world. Let’s shout out together, saying, “God, I believe in you.” “We believe in You, God!” Let’s always live joyfully in the midst of faith.
Faith! The Scriptures tell us that this is the spiritual life. Our Lord has not asked us to do a huge and difficult work. God just asked us to believe in Him. He said this is the spiritual life. Let’s believe in God as we live in this world. Regardless of what it is and what situation you encounter, believe in the God of salvation in all your thoughts, all your plans, and all your concerns. Then God will take care of everything else.
I give thanks to our Lord God.