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                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                    Faith And Forgiveness (11:20-26)

INTRODUCTION

1. So far in Markís account of the Last Week, we have considered...
   a. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Sunday - Mk 11:1-11
   b. The cursing of the fig tree and cleansing of the temple on Monday
      - Mk 11:12-19

2. On Tuesday, the day begins with Jesus and His disciples passing by
   the fig tree...
   a. Which was withered to its roots - Mk 11:20
   b. Wherein Peter comments, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You
      cursed has withered away!" - Mk 11:21

[Jesus uses the opportunity to teach His disciples two important
lessons, both related to prayer.  We do well to give careful heed to
what Jesus taught His disciples, beginning with...]

I. FAITH AND PRAYER

   A. THE NARRATIVE...
      1. Jesus tells His disciples to have faith in God - Mk 11:22
      2. He says that with faith and no doubt, a mountain can be cast
         into the sea - Mk 11:23
      3. He tells them that if they pray believing they will receive,
         whatever they ask will be given them - Mk 11:24

   B. SOME OBSERVATIONS...
      1. This passage clearly teaches the importance of faith in prayer,
         yet many have abused it
         a. Taking it too literally
         b. Ignoring what the Bible teaches elsewhere regarding prayer
      2. Moving a mountain was a metaphor in Jewish literature for doing
         what was seemingly impossible (Isa 40:4; 49:11; 54:10; cf. Mt
         21:21-22). Those who believe in God can have confidence that he
         will accomplish even the impossible, according to his sovereign
         will. - ESV Study Bible
      3. The ESV Study Bible offers further insights worth considering:
         a. God delights to "give good things to those who ask him" (Mt
            7:11) and is capable of granting any prayer though we must
            ask with godly motives (Jm 4:3) and according to Godís will
            (1Jn 5:14)
         b. Those who trust God for the right things in the right way
            can have confidence that God will "supply every need...
            according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Php 4:19),
            knowing that he will work "all things together for good" and
            will "graciously give us all things" (Ro 8:28,32)
         c. Some have misused this verse by telling people that if they
            pray for physical healing (or for some other specific
            request) and if they just have enough faith, then they can
            have confidence that God has already done (or will do)
            whatever they ask
         d. But we must always have the same perspective that Jesus had
            - that is, confidence in Godís power but also submission to
            his will: "Father, all things are possible for you - Yet not
            what I will, but what you will" (Mk 14:36)
      4. So let us seek to grow in faith as we pray, but also with
         understanding that what we ask must be in harmony with the will
         of God
      5. If we feel that we lack in faith, there are two things we can
         do to grow in faith:
         a. Read the Word of God - cf. Ro 10:17
         b. Pray that the Lord will help increase our faith - cf. Mk
            9:24; Lk 17:5

[The importance of faith in prayer cannot be overestimated.  But neither
can the importance of praying with a forgiving spirit...]

II. FORGIVENESS AND PRAYER

   A. THE NARRATIVE...
      1. Jesus enjoins the need to forgive others as we pray - Mk 11:25
      2. Without a forgiving heart, we cannot hope to receive
         forgiveness ourselves - Mk 11:26

   B. SOME OBSERVATIONS...
      1. Forgiving others was very important to Jesus, as stressed time
         and again
         a. In the sermon on the mount - Mt 5:7; 6:12-15
         b. In response to Peterís question - Mt 18:21-22
         c. In the parable of the unforgiving servant - Mt 18:23-25
         d. In the sermon on the plain - Lk 6:37
         e. In teaching the disciples how to pray - Lk 11:4
         f. In teaching His disciples to forgive - Lk 17:3-4
      2. Jesus and His followers demonstrated the forgiving spirit
         a. Jesus on the cross - Lk 23:34
         b. Stephen as he was being stoned - Ac 7:59-60
         c. Paul when he was abandoned - 2Ti 4:16
      3. We must develop the forgiving spirit, which we can do by:
         a. Focusing on Godís love for us - Ro 5:8; 1Jn 4:10-11
         b. Remembering Christís willingness to die and forgive - 1Jn
            3:16; Lk 23:34
         c. Meditating on the passages above about the importance of
            forgiving others

CONCLUSION

1. We have considered two very important conditions for having our
   prayers answered...
   a. Faith, that we believe what we ask according to Godís will shall
      be done, for God does not answer the prayers of doubters - Jm 1:6-8
   b. Forgiveness, for unless we forgive God will not forgive, and God
      does not hear the prayers of the unrighteous - 1Pe 3:12

2. What Jesus teaches about faith and forgiveness is challenging...
   a. But consider the blessings that will come from acceptable prayer!
   b. Where we must confess a weak faith and an unforgiving spirit, let
      us pray that grace will create in us a new heart!

Such grace comes through responding to the gospel of the grace of God...
- cf. Tit 2:11-14; 3:4-7
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