What does it mean, believers can move mountains?

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By BibleAsk Team


The phrase “believers can move mountains” is a powerful metaphorical expression found in the New Testament of the Bible, specifically in the teachings of Jesus Christ. It signifies the extraordinary potential and power of faith.

Biblical Context of “Moving Mountains”

The concept of moving mountains through faith is mentioned in several places in the New Testament. The primary references are found in the Gospels, where Jesus uses this metaphor to illustrate the power of unwavering faith.

Matthew 17:20 (NKJV)

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.'”

The mustard seed may be small to begin with, but hidden within it is the power of life, and, once given the right circumstances, it will grow. The possession of faith, Jesus says, is not a matter of quantity but of quality. It is not so much the amount of faith, but its truthfulness. Either a person has faith or he does not have faith. The very smallest amount of faith is enough to accomplish the impossible (Mark 11:23).

Too often the reason a Christian can’t experience God’s strength in his daily life is that he is “fearful” and has “little faith.” Christians need to cast away their trust in themselves and depend totally and completely on God’s power (Matthew 8:26). As Christ calmed the winds and the waves of the sea, so He is able to banish the storms of life that so often blow over the human soul.

Matthew 21:21 (NKJV)

“So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Assuredly, 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 also if you say to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” it will be done.'”

The meaning of moving mountains is contextual. Jesus said that His followers can move mountains in response to an incident where His disciples failed to perform a miracle of healing. A certain man asked the disciples to heal his epileptic son, who was suffering severely but the disciples, couldn’t. Jesus said to them, “…Bring him here to Me.” And He rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour (Matthew 17:14-18, NKJV).

The disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why could we not cast it out? (Matthew 17: 19). He answered them, “for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a 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 also 21:21; Luke 17:6).

Jesus, here, was speaking of figurative mountains of trials. For He Himself never moved literal mountains, nor did He intend His followers to do that. Christ spoke of the great problems that the disciples will face in their lives as they went out on His great commission to preach the good news to the world. And the Master assured His disciples that no difficulty, will be too great for them to overcome (Isaiah 45:18; 55:8–11). For “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NKJV).

Mark 11:23 (NKJV)

“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.”

In these passages, Jesus emphasizes the potency of faith. By using the metaphor of moving mountains, He is not suggesting that believers will physically relocate geological formations, but rather, He is highlighting the boundless possibilities that come with true, unwavering faith.

Theological Significance

Faith as Trust in God

At its core, the statement about moving mountains reflects the essential Christian teaching about faith. Faith, in this context, is complete trust and confidence in God and His power. It is not merely belief in the existence of God, but a profound trust in His omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness.

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

This definition from Hebrews underscores the nature of faith as a conviction in things not yet realized or visible. It is this kind of faith that Jesus speaks of when He says believers can move mountains.

Faith and Prayer

The metaphor also ties closely to the teachings on the efficacy of prayer. Jesus’ statements about moving mountains are often linked with instructions on prayer, emphasizing that faith-filled prayer can yield miraculous results.

James 5:15-16 (NKJV)

“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Faith, therefore, is not only about belief but also about active trust expressed through prayer. The mountain-moving faith is one that is exercised through persistent and sincere prayer.

Practical Implications for Believers

Overcoming Personal Obstacles

For believers, the metaphor of moving mountains can be applied to personal and communal challenges. Whether facing illness, financial difficulties, relational conflicts, or spiritual battles, the promise of mountain-moving faith encourages believers to trust in God’s power to intervene and transform their circumstances.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This verse resonates with the concept of mountain-moving faith, affirming that with Christ’s strength, believers can overcome any difficulty.

Advancing God’s Kingdom

The metaphor also applies to the broader mission of the church. The early Christians faced immense persecution and numerous obstacles in spreading the gospel. The assurance that faith can move mountains provided them with the courage and perseverance needed to fulfill their mission.

Acts 4:29-31 (NKJV)

“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

This passage demonstrates the early church’s reliance on prayer and faith to overcome the immense challenges they faced, essentially moving the mountains before them.

Challenges to Understanding and Applying the Metaphor

Misinterpretation of Faith

One of the significant challenges in understanding the metaphor of moving mountains is the potential for misinterpretation. Some might view it as a guarantee that every desire or prayer will be granted if one has enough faith. However, biblical faith is not about coercing God into fulfilling personal wishes but aligning oneself with God’s will and purposes.

1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

True mountain-moving faith seeks God’s will above all and trusts that He knows what is best for His children.

The Role of Doubt

Jesus also highlights the importance of not doubting. Doubt can undermine faith and hinder its effectiveness.

James 1:6-8 (NKJV)

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

This passage from James echoes Jesus’ teachings and emphasizes the necessity of unwavering faith. Doubt creates instability and can prevent believers from experiencing the full power of their faith.

Examples of Mountain-Moving Faith in the Bible

Abraham

Abraham is often cited as a quintessential example of faith. Despite his old age and the apparent impossibility of having a child with Sarah, he believed in God’s promise.

Romans 4:20-21 (NKJV)

“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

Abraham’s faith was metaphorically mountain-moving because he believed in God’s promise against all odds, and God fulfilled His promise.

Moses

Moses, leading the Israelites out of Egypt, faced numerous seemingly insurmountable challenges, yet his faith in God’s guidance and power led to miraculous events, such as the parting of the Red Sea.

Hebrews 11:29 (NKJV)

“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.”

Moses’ faith moved the mountain of the Red Sea, enabling the Israelites to escape from Pharaoh’s army.

The Ultimate Example: Jesus Christ

Jesus Himself is the ultimate example of mountain-moving faith. His entire ministry, culminating in His death and resurrection, was marked by faith in God’s plan and power.

John 11:41-42 (NKJV)

“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.'”

Jesus’ prayer before raising Lazarus from the dead demonstrates His unwavering faith in God’s power and purpose.

Contemporary Application

Personal Life

In contemporary Christian life, believers are encouraged to apply the principle of mountain-moving faith to their personal circumstances. This involves trusting God with their deepest concerns and challenges, believing that He is able to do far more than they can ask or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

This assurance encourages believers to bring their needs to God with confidence, trusting in His limitless power.

Community and Global Challenges

On a broader scale, mountain-moving faith can inspire action to address significant social and spiritual challenges. Whether combating injustice or spreading the gospel, faith empowers believers to undertake great tasks, trusting that God will work through their efforts.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

The Great Commission itself is a call to mountain-moving faith, trusting in Jesus’ authority and presence as believers go into the world.

Conclusion

The phrase “believers can move mountains” encapsulates the profound power of faith as taught by Jesus Christ. Through various biblical passages and examples, it becomes clear that this metaphor is not about literal geological changes but about the spiritual and practical power of faith to overcome great obstacles and achieve the seemingly impossible. By placing unwavering trust in God, engaging in fervent prayer, and aligning with God’s will, believers can experience and witness the extraordinary capabilities that faith bestows.

The teachings of Jesus, supported by the broader scriptural context, emphasize that faith must be genuine, devoid of doubt, and fully reliant on God’s omnipotence. This kind of faith has been exemplified by biblical figures such as Abraham, Moses, and ultimately Jesus Himself, each demonstrating that with God, nothing is impossible.

In contemporary application, believers are encouraged to apply this principle both personally and collectively, addressing challenges with the confidence that faith in God brings. Whether facing personal trials or engaging in broader missions, the metaphor of moving mountains continues to inspire and empower believers to trust in God’s power to transform their circumstances and the world around them.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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