This is a radio sermon by Gordon Lindsay taken from a July 1954 issue of the Voice of Healing magazine. The sentences in bold I have emboldened. Find out more about the Voice of Healing here
FRIENDS, today I want to talk on the power of faith. I want to show you one of the greatest lessons on faith found in the Scriptures; it is the story of when Christ, by just speaking a word, caused the barren fig tree to die. There is something in this incident that inspires faith in God’s power ; faith even when every circumstance seems to be against you. Let me read the three verses found in Mark 11 :12-14 “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry : “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet “And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.”
It is not our purpose to explain just why Jesus cursed this barren fig tree. It is enough to say that, if we live our life without bearing fruit for God, a curse will come upon us. Every branch that beareth not fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. That is something to remember when God blesses you! We are saved to serve others. We are delivered so that we can help others to get delivered. A blessing can become a curse, if we don’t use it for His glory.
Jesus was passing over the Mount of Olives one day when He saw a fig tree. Being hungry that morning, He went up to the tree to eat of the fruit, but He found it was barren. The picture of Christ going up to the fig tree is vivid in my mind. When we were in Palestine, some time ago, we were on the summit of the Mount of Olives where this fig tree once grew. Toward the west lies the city of Jerusalem. On the side of the hill are many olive and fig trees. We thought of how Jesus went up to a fig tree and found no fruit on it. How He taught the disciples this great lesson on faith. He said to the barren fig tree, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever.” So far as we know, He spoke in a calm voice. He did not repeat His command. He just spoke these words and walked away.
The disciples heard what Jesus had said and looked to see what would happen. But the tree looked just the same as ever. The leaves were still green and flourishing. As far as could be seen nothing had happened. But friend, here is one of the most important lessons on faith. The word had been spoken, the command had gone forth, though apparently nothing had happened. Now notice so often when people are prayed for, the first thing they do is to look to their symptoms. If they can see no change, if the symptoms are still there, if they don’t feel any better; then they say, “I guess I didn’t get my healing.”
Actually, God does the work as soon as the word of faith is spoken, but if we refuse to believe God’s promise until we see something, we may lose what we already have. Jesus cursed the fig tree and went His way. He knew the disciples were wondering. But He never doubted but that which He spoke would come to pass. A day went by and again they passed near the fig tree. Peter remembered what Jesus had said the day before. Peter was on the alert. I like to see people on the alert. God often does amazing things, but some are so blind that they miss everything that is going on. But Peter remembered and he said, “Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.” ( Mark 11:21).
What had happened? Actually, when Jesus spoke the word, the life of the barren fig tree had gone; but it required time for the results to be manifested. The cursing of the fig tree illustrates just what usually takes place when a sick person is healed. The person was sick because something evil had attacked his body. Suppose the person had a cancer. That cancer is a diabolical living thing that seeks to destroy the body. When the cancer is rebuked by the word of faith, the life passes out of the cancer just as it did the barren fig tree. But the body of the cancer is still there and must pass from the sick person’s body.
The person may even feel worse for a while and, if he is wrongly instructed, he may think that he didn’t get his healing. That is just the way a person can lose his healing. But, if he will only believe God’s word is true, regardless of feelings, he will soon find that all the symptoms will go. That is he thing that caused the sickness to die just a the fig tree died. But you must believe that the work is done, not just hope it will. The great secret of Divine deliverance is to believe that the work is done, not hope it will be done.
Now notice the answer that Jesus gave to Peter’s remark. His reply, found in Mark 11 :22-24, is one of the profoundest statements on faith that was ever made: “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
When you pray, believe ye receive and ye shall have. This is the great secret of faith.You are not to believe that you will receive some time in the future. That is a denial that God has already answered prayer, a denial that He has kept His word. You must believe now, even though there is not the slightest evidence of any change. Instead of hunting for symptoms, you must resist the symptoms. Do not temporize with them, do not permit a mental conversation with them. Jesus says that as soon as the prayer of faith is made, you receive the answer even though it is invisible to the natural eye. You begin praising God for the answer before you can see it. This is the supreme lesson that Jesus would teach us on faith. It will work for the greatest of needs. “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
Friend, let us get the answer that we need from God now. Don’t tolerate defeat any longer.