Discourse 44 – Can faith move mountains?




Charismatic and evangelical occultism. / Book by Dave Hunt 00, pages 501 ff

The healing miracles

The faith of the disciples

The lack of faith of believers

What should our attitude be to demonic influences? / Herbert Jantzen 00, lecture part 1, CS-CD1 33.07.06

The faith of unbelievers

The faith of believers


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Charismatic and evangelical occultism. / Dave Hunt, book DH00, pages 501 ff +))

Human beings have always found it helpful to have something concrete to believe in. A magic wand is a magical instrument that apparently works miracles. Any object may be used as an auxiliary tool for prophecy, if it constitutes a point of contact with the spiritual world. Fetishes and talismans and Roman Catholic scapulars, crucifixes, medals and images, as well as the icons of the Orthodox church, all fulfill the same function.

Other tools of prophecy are ouija boards, pendulums, divining rods, Tarot cards, astrological signs and so on. All these objects offer a visible medium, so as to create an expectation in those who believe in them. Witchcraft makes use of magic potions, candles and other tangible objects as a bridge to the spirit world. All these things function, of course, in keeping with the principles which Pat Robertson refers to as the metaphysical laws of the hidden kingdom.

The “point of contact” of the charismatic movement belongs in the same category of occult aids. (...) W. V. Grant sent his followers an outline of his feet, so that the recipients could use this as a point of contact by standing on it. Oral Roberts on more than one occasion sent his followers an outline of his hand, so that they might lay their hands on it and so experience contact in the same way. Other “faith healers” have their own variants of this occult technique – and in television transmissions the screen itself becomes for the viewer an object that may be touched.

This mistaken belief in a “point of contact” results from a misunderstanding of Jesus’ statement as it is rendered in the English King James Bible: “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Mt 18,19, King James version). The expression “touching” is here understood as meaning that two persons must literally be touching the same object in order to activate the power of God. But the archaic English term “as touching”, as it occurs in the King James Bible, has nothing to do with physical “touching”. The Greek word that is translated here as “touching” is peri, which means simply “about, with reference to, relating to”, and is also rendered in this way in other translations.

Simple ignorance here led to the false conclusion that some kind of “point of contact” would be the key to unlock miracles. In this way faith healers have led millions of their followers into yet another form of occultism.

+) This extract is taken from the book “Die okkulte Invasion” [Original title: “Occult Invasion”, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR] by Dave Hunt, Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung e. V. [Registered Society for the Dissemination of Christian Literature].

(Dave Hunt, “Die okkulte Invasion”, CLV – ISBN: 3-89397-272-2)



In the introduction to the book from which the above quotation is taken, the author writes, amongst his other remarks:

“In the Christian church today a literally explosive growth of the ’signs and wonders’ movement is taking place. This embraces not just Charismatics and Pentecostals, but evangelical Christians as well, who up to a few years ago were still confidently speaking out against something that they would then have described as an imposture. Today, in spite of the warnings given us by Jesus and Paul, hardly a thought is wasted on the idea that these current signs and wonders might be a part of just that spiritual seduction that the Bible tells us is to come.

Forming part of the ’signs and wonders’ movement, we also find a flourishing ’congregational growth’ movement, a ’praying and fasting for awakening’ movement and a movement ’for the waging of spiritual war’. All of these are working towards the same goal. There are few who have the courage to point a connection between these movements within Christianity and the false ’signs and wonders’ which the Bible foretells for the time of apostasy.”

Thus far the quotation. Let us mention at once that this book, with its 640 pages, offers such a wealth of admirably researched material for demonstrating the constantly proliferating growth of occultism in the world at large that it should be an absolute must for all interested Christians – and not just for them alone. The book offers up-to-date background information, drawn from the spheres of politics, science, economics and religion, such as perhaps is hardly to be found elsewhere – and that, too, in such an extremely concentrated form.

But let us turn now to Dave Hunt’s statements on the various “auxiliary resources” for faith which a good many preachers and “faith healers” – including evangelical ones – avail themselves of, in the first instance predominantly just in the USA.

It is somewhat difficult to refute the assertions of such people, as they often describe themselves as “prophets” and as having been “anointed by the Lord”; and they also have no qualms about threatening their critics with the “curse of God”. A Christian who has faith in the Bible will not be particularly impressed by this, admittedly, but the great mass of the public, even if they would claim to be Christians, have very little knowledge of the Bible, so it is possible to proclaim to them the grossest untruths with impunity, and without any fear that they might actually take notice of the fact.

These untruths, however, are particularly dangerous, because they always include some portion of the truth. Thus, for example, every civilized person on earth knows that the Lord Jesus worked miracles when he was alive. The apostles who followed after him also had this gift of the Holy Spirit to some extent, and so it seems perfectly plausible to a person who has not yet had a serious encounter with the statements made in the Bible that today too there could be preachers and faith healers who might be able to work miracles. It is human ignorance, then, that is responsible for this kind of mistaken development. 

And one such mistaken development has been revealed by Dave Hunt, indeed, in the extract cited above. As a result of the mistranslation of the Greek word “peri”, the King James Bible gave us “touching” for “in respect of”, and so opened the floodgates for charlatans to mislead people with all kinds of “remote action”, even in Christian circles.

As can be seen from this example, such a mistaken development could have been avoided if the Greek text – the original source – had first been consulted. And this is in general a fundamental mistake that occurs in the assessment of statements which are supposedly biblical. There are few people who take the trouble actually to read these assertions in the scriptures and so form an opinion of their own.

We, however, would like to avoid this mistake; and so we will go on to check what the Bible actually says about miracles and miraculous cures.

The healing miracles.

Although there are also reports in the scriptures of miracles worked by the apostles – especially by Peter and Paul – we will here refer only to those miracles of healing that Jesus himself performed. And that because in all these accounts the Lord concludes by making a statement that is practically identical in all cases. What he tells us is that these miracles could only be performed because their beneficiaries had the faith that was needed.

Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.

Mt 9,20 And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; 9,21 for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” 9,22 But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well. Mt 9,20-22;


We have here the miraculous healing of the woman with a hemorrhage. And this is the best example – more than all other cases of miraculous healing – of the way in which the faith of the beneficiary, together with the power of the Son of God, succeeded in accomplishing the miracle. This woman had not exchanged a single word with the Lord up till this point. She saw him going past, and went after him. She probably did not have the courage to speak to him, but she said to herself, “If I can only succeed in touching the fringe of his cloak, I shall get well.”

And that is what she then did, by touching him from behind. Although all around him the disciples and other persons in attendance were speaking to him, Jesus noticed that power had gone out from him, and when he turned around, he knew immediately what had happened. And then he said to this woman, “Daughter, take courage: your faith has made you well.” 

The Lord, then, did not contribute anything here himself – apart from the fact that his power was “tapped”. There were no words, no gestures, nothing at all. Only the touching of the garment of the Son of God, and the faith of this woman that it would be sufficient. And it is likewise people’s belief that this Jesus of Nazareth had the power to heal them that enabled the following miracles to come about.

And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.”

Mk 10,46 Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 10,47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 10,48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

10,49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” 10,50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 10,51 And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”

10,52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. Mk 10,46-52;

And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Lk 7,36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 7,37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 7,38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.

7,39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” 7,40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”

7,41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 7,42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 7,43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”

7,44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 7,45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 7,46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.

7,47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 7,48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 7,49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”

7,50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Lk 7,36-50;

And He said to him, Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.

Lk 17,12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 17,13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 17,14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed.

17,15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 17,16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.

17,17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine – where are they? 17,18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 17,19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Lk 17,12-19;

Then Jesus said to her, O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.

Mt 15,21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 15,22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”

15,23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” 15,24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

15,25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 15,26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”15,27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

15,28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. Mt 15,21-28;


If we now analyze these scriptural passages, and try to form a picture of the beneficiaries of these miracles, we can recognize that the blind beggar in the passage above, Mk 10,46-52, must have been an Israelite of the faith of Moses. He does not just call Jesus the Son of David, he also addresses him as “Rabboni”. The whore in Lk 7,36-50 may perhaps also have been an Israelite, but cannot possibly have been a believing one before she encountered Jesus, or she would not have been able to practice such a profession.

The ten lepers could also have been Israelites, because the Lord told them after they had been healed to go and show themselves to the priests. Finally the woman in the last quoted passage, Mt 15,21-28, whose request was made on behalf of her daughter, was by contrast a Canaanite, and so definitely not a believer. We can see, then, that adherence to the faith of Moses was by no means a precondition for a person’s being judged worthy of a miracle. Nor a pious mode of life either, as we can see from the example of the whore.

And although the Lord said to the Canaanite woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, thus giving her to understand that, as she was not an Israelite, she could not have any expectation that he would heal her daughter, he went on to heal her daughter after all. The reason for this was in the first place her faith that Jesus could work miracles, but it was also – as this passage shows us very clearly – because she recognized the fact that Israel was the chosen people of God, and that she, as a Canaanite, could have no more right to a miracle than the dogs have to the few crumbs that fall from the table of their master.

The faith of the disciples.

And it is highly interesting now to find that, by contrast with the great faith of all these people for whom Jesus worked miracles, the faith of his own disciples always left something to be desired. We find this clearly shown by the following accounts.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Mt 6,28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 6,29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 6,30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

6,31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 6,32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 6,33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

6,34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mt 6,28-34;


On this occasion, of course, it is not a miracle that occupies the foreground; rather, the passage has to do with the fact that the disciples were anxious about food and clothing. But the Lord saw even in this their poverty of faith. How else was it possible for them to think that God would not provide them with the things they needed to live?

He said to them, Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?

Mt 8,23 When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 8,24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 8,25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!

8,26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. 8,27 The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Mt 8,23-27;


And here, as in the following scriptural passage, we are told how the disciples – on one occasion with the Lord, another time without him – were crossing the sea in a boat and got caught in a storm. Here again the Lord reprimands them. They should have had confidence that the Lord would not leave them in the lurch. And if they had had faith “as a mustard seed” they would have been able themselves to command the wind and the sea.

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, You of little faith, why did you doubt?

Mt 14,24 But the boat (sc./ with the apostles) was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 14,25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.

14,26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 14,27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

14,28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 14,29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

14,30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 14,31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Mt 14,24-31;


The incident that occurs in the second part of the above scriptural passage, where Peter, on the Lord’s giving his consent, first walks on the water but then sinks, now shows us very clearly the background to all these situations, and the reason for the disciples’ lack of faith. It is doubt, purely and simply: just doubt, and nothing more. First of all, of course, doubt of oneself. Although the Lord had repeatedly preached to them that with a “mustard seed”’s worth of faith nothing would be impossible to them, they lacked the necessary self-confidence.

But it is also doubt in their Master. Although they were the disciples of the Lord, and although they knew – as Peter showed by his confession of faith – that Jesus was the Son of God, they still were not yet fully convinced of it in the depth of their hearts.

And if the Jewish theologian Pinchas Lapide gave one of his books the title “He did not walk on the sea”, it is hardly possible to reproach him for this when we reflect that his fellow countryman Simon Peter still had doubts about it two thousand years ago, even in the presence of the Son of God.

But this can also be a lesson for us Christians today. How hard it is for us, after all, at the beginning of our life in faith, to attain to this confidence in the Lord, and so also to confidence in ourselves and in our own faith. Here Peter’s experience can be a helpful experience for us as well.

You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?

Mt 16,5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. 16,6 And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

16,7 They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” 16,8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? 16,9 ”Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? 16,10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? 16,11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 16,12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Mt 16, 5-12;

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible to you.

Mt 17,14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,

17,15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 17,16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17,17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”

17,18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. 17,19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”

17,20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”Mt 17,14-20;


Here now, in Mt 17,20, we come upon this famous saying of the Lord about faith “as a mustard seed”. Of all kinds of seed, the mustard seed is the smallest, as the Lord tells us in Mt 13,32. And a faith like a mustard seed is therefore the smallest measure of faith imaginable.

And if no stories have been handed down to us in the present day about Christians moving mountains, we nonetheless have credible accounts in the New Testament of the apostles Peter and Paul raising the dead, and performing other miracles as well (e.g. Acts 3,1-9; 20,9-12). This power of faith, then, was put to the proof not just by Jesus Christ but by others too.

So if we Christians today do not succeed in moving mountains and raising the dead, this certainly cannot be because the promise of the Lord in the above passage, Mt 17,20, is no longer valid: the reason is rather to be looked for in ourselves, and in our shaming lack of faith.

If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.

Lk 17,5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" 17,6 And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. Lk 17, 5- 6;



The lack of faith of believers.

But it was not just the disciples who had problems with faith: the inhabitants of Nazareth as well, Jesus’ home town, had their doubts about his being the Son of God. To them he was just the son of Joseph and Mary. His brothers and sisters lived among them, and they were not prophets, nor did they perform any miracles. Why then should the eldest son of the family, of all people – who was not Josephs’ son, either – be blessed in such a way?

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

Mt 13,53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 13,54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 13,55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 13,56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

13,57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 13,58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. Mt 13,53-58;


The saying of the Lord given here, Mt 13,57, has established itself as a proverb in almost all the languages of the world: the prophet meets with no recognition in his own country. But as we can see, the Lord was referring not to the country but to the town, and to his own family in particular. So the principle that applies is this: the more closely people are related to some one, the harder they find it to accept his calling to salvation.

So the Lord could not work any miracles there either. And it was worse than that: in the end they threw him out of town, and wanted to hurl him off a cliff. But he passed through them as if they were not there at all, and so left Nazareth (Lk 4,28-30).

To sum up, on the basis of all the scriptural passages that have been quoted we can now make the following statements about faith and the lack of faith:

1. Faith is a power that dwells in the human heart.

2. This faith has many effects, among them that of healing.

Mt 9,22 Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.

Mk 10,52 Go; your faith has made you well.

Lk 7,50 Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

Lk 17,19 Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.

Mt 15,28 O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.

3. Doubt can weaken the power of faith, or blot it out altogether.

Mt 6,30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Mt 8,26 He said to them, Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?

Mt 14,31 You of little faith, why did you doubt?

Mt 16,8 You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?

4. A strong faith can move mountains.

Mt 17,18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. 17,19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" 17,20 And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."

5. Unbelief denies the power of faith and so puts obstacles in its way.

Mt 13,57 But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household." 13,58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.


These are all personal statements made by the Lord, and should therefore be beyond doubt. But there are a number of Christian theologians, it appears, who cast doubts on the power of faith. Let us take as an example an extract from a lecture by Professor Herbert Jantzen.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(What should our attitude be to demonic influences? / Herbert Jantzen, lecture HJ00 part 1, CS-CD1 33.07.06*)

Who moves mountains today? In America and some other countries, where big machines are available, this can be achieved by the machines with the help of the people who control them. In this way whole mountains can be removed. In Switzerland they don’t go so far, they just drill a hole or tunnel into the mountain, to avoid disfiguring the landscape. But in other countries where a more extensive land area is available, it doesn’t matter so much whether a mountain or two disappear – and so entire mountains can be removed. But otherwise, to bring about such effects just by speaking – that is something that only God is able to do. You may have faith that reaches from here right up to the sky, but you won’t manage to move a mountain. This is because it is not faith that accomplishes such a thing – it is God. Faith has achieved nothing in the past. Nothing at all. It is not faith that moves the arm of God – God can move his own arm without any contribution from us. (…)

I mean it now in an absolute sense: faith accomplishes absolutely nothing and does nothing. Do you understand what I am saying? Faith is an attitude, in a relationship to another person, who is able to do something. So you can summon up all the faith you like, and nothing will happen – unless it is the will of God. But see now, if God does something, then you must be accurately informed about his knowledge, his will, his intentions and his plans. If you know that God intends to move a mountain, and he wants to involve you in this whole process, then you can say: Yes, I believe that You can do this, and if You intend to do it, then You will actually do it. But in order to have faith here, you must first have knowledge. Biblical faith is a form of faith that knows in advance. Faith in the Bible is a confidence on the basis of knowledge. And Christians do not move mountains - or shift any problems either. Unless of course the Christian believer happens to know what the will of God is. If I am quite clear about that, then we can see that “exousia” (Greek: = commanding authority - ed.) in prayer is connected ith this precondition. This means commanding authority, or the right of command. We have no right to move mountains, if this does not form a part of God’s plan.

* H. Jantzen was Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Freie Evangelische Theologische Akademie Basel [Free Evangelical Theological Academy of Basel] (now the “Staatsunabhängige Hochschule Basel” or Independent Basel High School) from 1970 to 1980.


(This lecture, together with many other documents of extreme interest - both in written and audio form – may be obtained free of charge – at the cost of postage – on the “Christliche Software CD-1” [“Christian Software CD-1”] from:
Wolfgang Roth Wolfgang.Roth@web.de / http://mitglied.lycos.de/woroth0/)



Of course we have to agree with Professor Jantzen’s assertion. If it is not the will of God, nothing is going to happen. This rule applies throughout the universe. We must likewise agree with his statement that “it is not faith, that accomplishes such a thing - it is God”. Well, of course. Only the point must also be made here that everything is subject to the will of God. And if it is not the will of God that Professor Jantzen should give his lecture, he will not be able to give it. But from this we cannot infer that if Professor Jantzen gives a lecture it is God who is speaking. But this also has the following implication: if it is the will of God that a special efficacy should be given to the faith of a human being - and this is of course confirmed, in many statements, by God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ - then this has general validity, and God does not have to be actively involved (and “move his arm”) in the background to every act of faith on the part of human beings.

And now our author opines:

“You may have faith that reaches from here right up to the sky, but you won’t manage to move a mountain.”

The Lord Jesus on the other hand tells us in Mt 17,20: “For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” And as we are on the subject of faith here - clearly I am going to put my faith in the Son of God rather than in a mere human being (even if he is a professor of theology).

And if we do not succeed, as Christians, in moving mountains, this certainly does not mean that our Lord has pulled the wool over our eyes and that faith is in fact incapable of having an effect; rather it shows that our faith is inadequate. That it is less than a mustard seed. But if we put the mercy and grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ into the scales, even our minute capacity for faith acquires a weight that may perhaps not be able to move mountains, but which can nonetheless “move the arm of God” to help us in our distress.

If we now consider the statement of our author that follows:

“It is not faith that moves the arm of God - God can move his own arm, without any help from us. (…) I mean it now in an absolute sense: faith accomplishes absolutely nothing and does nothing. Do you understand what I am saying?“

- then the question suggests itself why it is that our author should here so radically deny that there is any efficacy in faith at all. This would not just be in stark contrast with the statements made by the Lord – it would also, more importantly, contradict the life experiences of any Christian believer. Unless we should suppose it to be the case that a person has never in his whole life experienced an answer to prayer, has never prayed for help, having faith in God and in the Lord Jesus, and so has never had the experience of finding a prayer offered in faith, as described by the Lord (Mk 11,24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted to you) become an absolute reality. Such a person would certainly have difficulty in imagining that prayer can have this kind of efficacy.

At the end of the extract quoted above, we then have a statement which perhaps may supply an explanation of this very curious position. Here the author writes:

“Unless of course the Christian believer happens to know what the will of God is. If I am quite clear about that, then we can see that “exousia” (Greek: = commanding authority - ed.) in prayer is connected with this precondition. This means commanding authority, or the right of command.”

Quite apart from the fact that the Christian believer would have to be omniscient in order to know the will of God in advance, we are told here that it is a precondition for prayer in faith that a “right to command” should be present. Now this appears to us to be a major misunderstanding. We have, as Christians, no “right” to command the fulfillment of our prayers, any more than we have a “right” to expect anything from God whatsoever. It is the grace and mercy of our God that we supplicate, when we pray in faith. Only arrogance and an overestimation of our own powers could lead us into the delusory belief that we had a claim to anything at all from God.

And it is indeed, in very truth, this faith of ours that “does something”, that “accomplishes something”. It attains to the love of God. This is our proof and confirmation of the fact that we know and love God as our Father and that he knows and loves us as his children. This father-child relationship is the basis both of faith and of granted prayer. I had to undergo an operation for cancer. The surgeon told me later that this kind of tumor tends to reappear, in all probability, in a short space of time, and admitted to me that he would have been prepared to bet that I would find myself on the operating table again in a few months. With the therapy I have received, I have got through almost a year and a half now, and the regular examinations - thank the Lord - continue to come up with negative results. This was a case of a whole family praying in the belief that they would receive what they ask. And that is how it has turned out. Drawing on my own life experiences, I could go on to tell a whole string of similar stories of prayer being heard, none of them any less dramatic. If a person has not yet experienced the way in which faith and prayer can “move the arm of God” to resolve our problems, either he has no problems, or he has no faith.

The faith of unbelievers.

Actually this should be phrased “the faith of those who are not saved”, for in the scriptural passages below it can plainly be seen that the power of faith - like that of a strong feeling - can be harnessed to different aims. As a person of strong feeling can be capable of intense love but also of relentless hatred, so one who possesses the power of faith can use it in different ways.

If we have been able to demonstrate from the scriptural passages quoted above that unbelievers too might be helped by miracles, in the incident recounted below we have a scriptural proof of the fact that unbelievers could not only benefit from miracles, but could actually perform miracles themselves.

Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name.

Mk 9,38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.”

9,39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 9,40 For he who is not against us is for us.” Mk 9,38-40;


John’s statement in this passage, Mk 9,38, that this man was not “following” them is certainly not to be understood as meaning that he just was not one of the apostles. There were hundreds, even perhaps thousands of people who “followed” the Lord. They were not always with Jesus and his apostles, but they counted among his disciples, and were followers of his teachings.

But this man who was casting out spirits in the name of Jesus was not a follower. This means that he had not accepted the teachings of Jesus, and so did not follow him either. And it was possible for him to perform miracles all the same. If any further proof were needed that the faith of a person is a completely self-sufficient power, and independent of any circumscribing conditions, we can say that we have found it here.

At all events, this account demonstrates for us a second aspect as well, without which it would not be possible for human beings to work such miracles. On the basis of the analysis we have pursued hitherto, it would be quite possible to assert that if a person’s capability of developing faith is independent of his way of life, his spiritual state and his religious confession, then in fact all human beings – irrespective of their view of life and their religion – should be capable of performing miracles.

And here we must return once more to David Hunt’s remarks, cited at the beginning of this Discourse, where he states that “Human beings have always found it helpful to have something concrete to believe in.” And he goes on to point out that the spurious miraculous healers of our own time send outlines of their hands or feet to delude their potential victims into believing in a “point of contact”.

If we now consider the scriptural passages that have been cited hitherto, we can recognize that in every single incident there was indeed such a “point of a contact”. And this was not a print of the foot or the hand, nor was it just any one at all, but solely Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Every single one of these miracles was only possible because the Lord was involved, either explicitly or implicitly. And here even this man without belief, who nonetheless had the faith to cast out spirits, could only do so in the name of Jesus. In any other name, including his own, he would never have been able to do so. And the apostles too, like Peter and Paul for example, worked their miracles “in the name of Jesus Christ”. The only “point of contact” for faith, then, is the Lord Jesus – not outlines of hands and feet, not talismans, images of the saints, scapulars, crucifixes, medals or crystal balls.

And here the circle now closes. The capacity for belief is certainly a self-sufficient power in the individual human being, as are likewise love, hatred, joy or fear. But by contrast with all these human impulses which may be triggered or activated by various events, the faith that brings salvation can only be attained to by turning to the Son of God, to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is what the Lord also tells us himself:

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already.

Jn 3,17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

3,18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Jn 3,17-18;

He who believes in the Son has eternal life.

Jn 3,35 “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. 3,36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Jn 3,35-36;

He who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

Jn 6,35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” Jn 6,35;

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’

Jn 7,38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 7,39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Jn 7,38-39;

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.

Jn 11,25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 11,26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Jn 11,25-26;

He who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.

Jn 14,12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” Jn 14,12;


The faith of believers.

But it is not the case, if we are in agreement with what has been said hitherto, that we can likewise count ourselves entitled to expect that we will see the effects of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.

Otherwise it would be as if we were building a house, and trying to set up the doors on the green grass. First of all we must excavate the ground, and then establish a firm foundation – only then can walls with windows and doors be constructed.

And just as we first have to make a principled decision that a house is going to be built, before we make a start with the work, so too we must consciously choose Jesus Christ, before we can begin to build up our faith.

And then, too, we must excavate the ground, to make room for the foundations. We must ask the Lord that our sins may be forgiven. All our sins, that is: sins of thought, sins of speech, sins of action, the conscious and unconscious sins, and likewise the sins of omission.

And although it is already a miracle that the Lord forgives us all these sins, we cannot start off our life of faith by immediately asking the Lord to perform some kind of “miracle”. We must first ask the Lord in our prayers to show us his will for us, and to govern our actions in keeping with his will. We must ask him to strengthen our faith, our trust and our love of him, and to open our hearts.

If we do this in all seriousness and with good intent, the Lord will surely not leave us in the lurch, but will very soon point us in the right direction on our path. In our daily prayer we will then recognize that the Lord is coming closer to us all the time, that we are the children of God through our faith in Christ Jesus and can truly address our father in heaven as “Abba” – dear father – as Paul tells us in his Epistle to the Galatians:

There is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gal 3,23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 3,24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 3,25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 3,26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 3,27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

3,28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 3,29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Gal 3,23-29;

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!

Gal 4,1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 4,2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 4,3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.4,4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 4,5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

4,6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 4,7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 4,8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 4,9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? Gal 4, 1- 9;


And as for miracles, we should – even as proven Christians – leave it to the Lord to decide where and when he judges it appropriate to make them happen. It is open to us to pray for ourselves and for others. And the more serious and sincere our prayer is, the greater is the likelihood that we will be heard.

And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.

Mt 21,18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 21,19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

21,20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21,21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.

21,22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Mt 21,18-22;


In the phrase the Lord uses here, in Mt 21,22,  “all that you ask, believing”, the emphasis is to be put on that “believing”. Even as Christians, we will not receive all that we ask for, but only what we ask for when we truly believe. And this “believing” means that we – even as we ask – already believe that we shall receive it. In specific terms, this means that we have previously given thorough consideration to our request, and are so convinced of the importance and urgency of our needs that, even before we pray, we can be certain that the Father will hear us.

All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Mk 11,23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

11,24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

11,25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mk 11,23-25;


This is why the Lord also says to us in the above passage, in Mk 11,24, “Believe that you have received them”, and not “Believe that you will receive them”. This gives expression to the fact that God knows, long before we have begun to pray, what it is that we are in need of. He knows this before we do and better than we do, and has already acted on it, even if we are not yet able to recognize the fact.

Altogether, this is an important realization for the life of faith. If we travel back in spirit over the course of our lives – especially if we find ourselves in later life – we will recognize in countless recollected events that God has always acted before we asked him to. This to such an extent that we must recognize that the guidance and help of God were already present in our lives, at a time when we were still far from having any intention of getting to grips with God or with issues of faith.

And seeing that God not only knows before we do, but also knows better than we do what it is that we need, we should also not ask for our prayers to be answered in any specific way. Often our personal conception of the solution of a problem would only make it more difficult, rather than resolving it. We must leave this decision to the Lord, and we may be sure that he will direct things in such a way that they will turn out for the best for us and for the resolution of our problem, whatever our problem may be. And throughout all this we should not overlook the fact that our most important request should be that we may be permitted to do the will of the Lord.

Whether we are ourselves praying for some one, or some one else is praying for us, the matter should not be publicly “proclaimed from the rooftops”. Any one who makes a big noise about matters of this kind only furnishes a proof that he has no access to God, and so that his prayers can have no effect. As the Lord tells us in Mt 6,6, our prayers should be not taken beyond the limits of our own inner room.

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room and pray to your Father who is in secret.

Mt 6,5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6,6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

6,7 And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 6,8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”. Mt 6. 5- 8;


But in all our prayers an attitude of thankfulness should not be lacking. As we have seen from the example quoted earlier of the ten lepers who were healed by the Lord, there are nine out of ten people who – after their requests and prayers have been heard – will quite simply go on with their daily business, and forget to thank God for his help.

Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine – where are they?

Lk 17,12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 17,13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 17,14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests” And as they were going, they were cleansed.

17,15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 17,16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17,17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine – where are they? 17,18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 17,19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Lk 17,12-19;


The greater the grace that we have received from God, and the more our requests have been heard by God, the more our thankfulness is required. Nor is thankfulness just a “deal”, where a prayer that has been heard is matched by a corresponding “gesture of thanks”. If, for example, the Lord has saved us from a serious illness, we have good reason to be thankful to him for every day of our life remaining.

But here it will also be revealed whether we have uttered our requests “in the name of the Lord”. Whether, that is, they are so important and so necessary, and have been proffered in a spirit of such sincerity that the Lord too can accept them. If this is really the case, no one will need to urge us to give thanks. We will express our thanks to God for his goodness and mercifulness, with a joyful heart, in every day of our lives.

A person who does not merely offer his “prayers” in the form of letters as a commodity, but then also expects to be paid for it –  like the preachers and miraculous healers referred to by Dave Hunt in the passage quoted earlier – can only deceive those who are themselves lovers of lies and act in a lying spirit, and so have been rejected by God.

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.

2The 2,11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 2,12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2The 2,11-12;


Every one who really and truly believes in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Redeemer, and in God the Almighty, our dear Father in heaven, will not come to shame, but will inherit eternal life, and therefore will not be taken in by such charlatans.

As Christians who believe in the Bible, we do not have to be afraid, if we oppose these cheats, of any “curse of God”, any more than we need be afraid of being magically attacked by such false prophets. Here our Lord will protect us against any such dangers. For unbelievers or merely nominal Christians, on the other hand, who have deliberately entered into contact with such persons, it will be more and more difficult to opt out again. And it seems quite possible that in this case the help they hope to receive may be turned, through these occult practices, into the very opposite, and they may find themselves abruptly exposed to seriously damaging effects.

In connection with occult practices like this, it seems a matter of utmost importance to point out here that any kind of meditation brings with it the danger of being seduced by occult influences. Whether it is a matter of oriental TM (Transcendental Meditation) or any other kind of meditation – as also practiced, for example, in the Catholic church – whenever we are invited to switch off our minds, our conscious spirit, we run the risk of being taken over by occultism. Scripture tells us that  “God is spirit”. So any one who switches off his conscious spirit is also switching off God. This means that the Holy Spirit’s access to the spirit of the individual is barred, while the door is thrown wide open for occult spirits to enter.

In conclusion I would like to offer you a scriptural passage which has been very helpful to me personally in my life of prayer. It is the statement made by the Lord in Jn 14,13-14, which can leave us in no doubt that the Lord hears our prayers:

If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

Jn 14,13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14,14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Jn 14,13-14;


I have found this promise to be repeatedly confirmed in my own life. We should however take note here of the fact that it reads: “Whatever you ask in my name”. This name of the Lord is not just a signpost that we should keep referring to in our prayers. This “in my name” means also, and especially, that the content of our prayers must be such that the Lord Jesus would be able to make the same request of his Father. And consequently such prayers as a request that we should win the lottery, or that the football team we support should be victorious, or anything of that nature, are automatically excluded. 

So we certainly cannot expect our faith and our prayers to make us rich, or famous either, but we can lead a simple life in communion with God in secure tranquility, with the good things that the Lord grants us. And so, finally, our thanks for all the graces we have received should not be wanting.




Summary

In view of the foregoing analysis, the question that formed the starting point of this discourse, “Can faith move mountains?” must be answered with a definite affirmative. The fact that among Christians today “mountains” are no longer moved cannot be taken to imply that faith is ineffective, but is rather to be put down to people’s deficient power of belief. But as H. Jantzen says in the above passage, we might have faith that reaches “from here to the heavens” without as a result coming even a single step closer to the Kingdom of Heaven. With faith, it is not quantity, but quality that counts. In fact, saving faith calls first for repentance, conversion, the admission of one’s own sinfulness, atonement and the forgiveness of sins through the acceptance of the redeeming sacrifice of Our Lord on the cross. This constitutes the basis for real authentic faith. Anything else is an abuse and betrayal of the name of Jesus, and amounts to a free ride to damnation.