Faith is a core principle of the Christian faith. There are a number of examples within the New Testament text where a lack of faith restricts the possibility of God working in the lives of his people and of doing the miraculous works that draw the attention of non-believers and lead them to trust in Christ for salvation. Jesus often connected a lack of faith with the inability of his followers to walk in his footsteps and to be used by God to perform miraculous activities. Jesus affirmed that the tiniest amount of faith in the living God was sufficient to do anything that was within the will of God. What does it mean to have faith that moves mountains and what are the results in the life of the believer who lives in the power of such faith?
“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.'” (Matthew 17:20).
Biblical faith such as that described by Jesus is defined by the writer of the book of Hebrews at the beginning of the chapter describing the great deeds of faith accomplished by many throughout the history of the people of God.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation” (Hebrews 11:1-2).
Biblical faith combines the confidence that what God has promised he will do along with a trust that though the current physical situation seems to indicate that a situation will result in a particular conclusion that God is able to do anything necessary to accomplish his will. The source of such faith is the belief in a God who brought all things into existence.
“By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3).
Faith enables a person to grasp the amazing truth that God merely spoke the word and every individual thing that makes up the entire universe came into existence from nothing. The awesome power that is inherent in such an understanding is what produces a faith that is able to move mountains. Jesus spoke with confidence because he literally was God and he was the instrument through which God made all things.
“For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
Faith moves mountains
The faith that moves mountains has an incredibly high view of the greatness of God and the power that brought the earth, the heavens, and all things into existence. Creation was not merely effected through Jesus but it exists for his purposes. These purposes are those activities which faith releases. The will of God is activated on the earth as people of faith act on that faith and literally move mountains to see it occur. Nothing that God wills is impossible as faith is released through those who trust in him. Mountain-moving faith requires that individuals spend regular time in the presence of God in order to receive the revelation of his will and in order to subsume their own desires to the leading of the Holy Spirit of God. Mountain-moving faith is the supernatural outcome of believers in Christ who are filled with the Spirit and who boldly speak forth the will of God. For such a person no impediment is too great to overcome. Jesus gave his teaching in the context of his disciples’ failure to cast a demon out of a man’s epileptic son.
“And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, ‘Lord have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him” (Matthew 17:14-16).
Lack of faith was not merely a theological topic for Jesus but it represented the release of the power of God to counter the works of the enemy. In this case, a demon was ravaging the life of a young boy and the lack of faith of the disciples left the boy bound and hurting and his father in deep pain. Mountain-moving faith is about fighting the spiritual battle against Satan and releasing the power of God to counter the demonic attack. The release of faith through miraculous activity is a key means by which people who have been bound by the enemy can see that God’s power is greater and that will lead them to saving faith in Jesus Christ. The disciples did not yet have the faith necessary to release the power of God to remove the demonic element in the boy and Jesus’ sadness and frustration were evident in his rebuke.
“And Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me” (Matthew 17:17).
Jesus described the people of the day as being without faith and having distorted thinking about reality. As a result, he wondered how long he would have to put up with such faithlessness. Lack of belief is a sign of a mind that has been corrupted by sin and which is unable to grasp the truths of God. Jesus came to reveal the truth about God and to embody in himself the God who had made all things and thus had the exclusive right to demand worship and obedience from every person. Jesus came to call his followers to the kind of life that he enjoyed in the presence of the Father and in complete dependence upon him. Jesus worked in the power of the Holy Spirit because he was exclusively devoted to carrying out the will of the Father. As a result, he always released the power of the Spirit of God on every occasion and he demonstrated this power for his followers and for those who needed to come to him in faith and be saved.
“And Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly” (Matthew 17:18).
Mountain-moving faith speaks the will of God and moves in the power of the Spirit of God.
When Jesus rebuked the demon it responded to the power of God and left the boy who was healed instantly. Jesus did not have to build up faith and power for it flowed continually from him. Those who walk in the Spirit of God and who are solely focused on acting out the will of God are able to move mountains just as Jesus did.
The teaching of Jesus on mountain-moving faith was in response to his disciples’ question about why they were unable to remove the demon from the boy and see him brought back to full health. Jesus identified the smallness of their faith as the reason why they were unable to do what Jesus did simply and powerfully. Mountain-moving faith is acquired through regular time spent in the presence of God and through a continual commitment to subsume personal will to the will of the Father. Such faith can be built but it is difficult. Jesus was regularly tempted to act in ways other than the will of God and individual believers are as well. Right thinking, continual focus on God, and complete dependence on the power of the Spirit of God are all required to release mountain-moving faith in the world and to see miraculous works of God accomplished on the earth.