Believe and Receive – those words are often heard when someone asks how to appropriate some kind of blessing or miracle in their life, or in the life of a loved one. Simply believe and receive, they say… but those words do little good if we do not know what those words actually mean.
In-fact in many Christian-circles (mostly charismatic) the words believe and receive have almost taken-on a mystical or magical quality to them. Someone says, “I need healing.” They are told, “Just believe and receive.”;
“I need financial provision”
“Just believe and receive”
“I need ____”
“oh, well, just believe and receive”
You see? It does little good, unless we define the terms. Believe what? And how exactly do we receive, anyway?
I have had countless people ask me what these terms actually mean, and I used to wonder about them myself as well – and when I used to ask what they meant, no-one could ever answer the question – they would just give me blank stares or tell me to ask someone else.
Thankfully, Jesus did no such thing. He in-fact did answer the question, and I would like to share that answer with you today in this study, so that the phrase “Believe and receive” would actually be meaningful to you, from now on.
As we begin today, let’s first take a look at belief. What is belief? Have you ever truly stopped to consider it? Most people just assume the meaning of belief without stopping to think. Yet if someone asked you to explain what belief actually is, would you be able to?
Oddly enough, our modern dictionary wouldn’t help much, because it defines belief as a noun; while in the scriptures belief is used as a verb.
To help us understand this, take a look at Romans 10:9-10:
“That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
Notice that in both of these verses, it mentions that a person believes with their heart. And as we have studied before, remember that the “heart” being spoken of here is not the physical muscle in your body that pumps blood, (even though the Greek work is καρδία, from which we do derive the word cardiac) but-in-fact the Greek word καρδία, refers to primarily your soul, which is your mind and your emotions. This is proved repeatedly in scriptures, such as Luke 5:22, when Jesus perceived the thoughts of the Pharisees, and asked why they were reasoning such things in their hearts; (which is the same Greek word, καρδία).
So what we see from the scriptures, is that the heart is not referring to the physical muscle in the body that pumps blood, but it is actually the place of reason, thoughts and emotions – or what we call the soul. And furthermore, what we see from our text here in Romans 10:9-10, is that the heart is also where belief happens.
So how exactly does this happen? After all, belief in the scripture is a verb. How do you take action with your soul? How do your thoughts and feelings really “believe” something in a verb sense?
Well, look at the second-half of verse 10: with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
And this is something that we have touched on before… but these two things are not entirely separate, but they are in-fact connected: we speak what we truly believe. Again, this is proved in many scriptures, most notably by Jesus Himself in Luke 6:45 where He says that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
A good example of this, is if something really good and exciting happens to you – let’s say you win the super-jackpot lottery as much money as you could ever hope for – would you tell your friends about it?
Of course you would!
Why aren’t you telling them about it now? Well, because it hasn’t happened. You didn’t win the super-jackpot lottery.
You see, we judge a thing as done or not done based on our current experiences and what we tend to see and feel… and we do not really think it to be, until it meets the criteria of our experiences or senses.
In-fact there are many people who think that the miracles that they are waiting for, will not happen until Jesus returns. However, go a few verses up from our text here, to verses 6-8, and you will read this:
“But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise, Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what said it? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;”
You see, the righteousness of faith speaks differently than the others. The righteousness of faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ has an entirely different perspective.
It doesn’t say we will have it when we ascend into heaven (or when Christ comes down). Which is what many are waiting for.
And it also doesn’t say we will have it when Jesus is brought up again from the dead. Which is what some others are trying to accomplish. Yes, there are people trying to “Bring Christ back again from the dead” by cloning DNA from the shroud of Turin.
People are looking to all kinds of different places for answers and deliverance; but look at what verse 8 says: the word is near you, the ῥη̑μα word of God is very close to you, even in your mouth! That is the word of faith; the information about Jesus, His finished work, and your new identity in Him. The word of faith which we preach.
Psalms 107:2 says it this way: Let the redeemed of the Lord, say so. Yet many are not saying so, because they do not really see themselves as redeemed. They see themselves as somehow waiting to be redeemed – waiting for some future event, when Christ has already finished the work and redeemed us.
Your belief, when properly founded on Christ, will put you in the correct position and give you the right perspective. And your speech, and indeed your entire life will testify to that fact. That is why belief is a verb in the scripture.
So what about Receiving, then?
For that, let’s transition over to Mark 11:22-24 – verses of scripture that are probably well known in certain Christian circles, but even so I think they too have forgotten how basic and simple Receiving truly is.
“And Jesus answering said to them, Have faith in God.
For truly I say to you, That whoever shall say to this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he said shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he said.
Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.”
In the preceding verses, Peter was marveling about how the fig tree which Jesus had cursed, actually dried-up and withered and died. It was one of the many times that Jesus spoke and things happened. That’s power – that’s the power of a King, when the king speaks, things happen; and Jesus used this opportunity to teach about how we can utilize the very same power.
Don’t be afraid of this, because if Jesus says that we can do it, and He takes time to actually teach us how, we would be wise to listen. And the very first thing Jesus says is have faith in God. And we have studied this before, that while belief in the scriptures is a verb, faith is actually a noun. Faith is the information that is given to you by God, and in short, as we saw here today belief is what you do with that information; whether you stand on it or not.
Now the literal Greek of Jesus’ words in verse 22, is “Have faith of God”, in other words have the faith [the information] that comes from God” the faith of God. Chances are you already have it, and you don’t even know that you have it. The Holy Spirit of God is producing faith in you all of the time – He is a Spirit of faith.
If you have a sickness in your body, what does faith say about that situation? The faith that comes from God says that you are healed. You probably already know that, but you have just been reluctant to believe it and receive it.
If you need provision of any kind, the faith that comes from God says that you already have it. Again, you probably already know that, but again, you just haven’t been inclined to believe it and receive it.
That’s changing today, however.
So requirement number 1 of Jesus’ teaching here is met: Having the faith of God.
What’s the next one? Verse 23: And note the emphasis here…
Truly I say to you, Whoever shall say to this mountain ‘be removed and cast into the sea’ and shall not doubt in his heart, but believe that those things which he says shall come to pass, he shall have whatever he says.
These are the words of Jesus, just as much as any other. And the first thing He says is “Truly I say to you” – honestly I think He reaffirmed this because so many people have a hard time accepting it.
Then, He says, Whoever… And this whoever is the same as in John 3:16. When Jesus says whoever, He means exactly that. This wasn’t just for His disciples traveling with Him at that time – it includes you and I today as well.
Whoever shall say to this mountain… and remember that our speech, what we say in this context is a direct product of the abundance of our heart. Many times we do not “say to the mountain” instead we often say things about the mountain based off of our perceptions and our worries and fears. We often say how big the mountain is, or how intimidating the mountain is, or how impossible the mountain is to cross, instead of telling it to get out of the way.
And remember, this isn’t just new age positive thinking or positive confession here, this is all based on the faith of God, mentioned in verse 22. You can do what Jesus says here, precisely because of what He accomplished, and who you are today in Him, a new creation in Christ, with His Spirit inside of you.
So speaking to the mountain is the second criteria.
The third is not to doubt in your heart but believe, if you have followed the study up to this point now, you already should have a firm grasp on belief. So what about not doubting? Well, it may comfort you to know that it doesn’t merely mean having a doubting thought once in a while… What it means is when those doubting thoughts come your way, you still stand on the truth of Christ; you still stand on the faith of God, and you refuse to take those doubting thoughts and side with them.
Some people verbalize every single thought that comes into their head as if it was their own. But Jesus said “take no thought, saying”, in Matthew 6:31. There are certain thoughts that we are not supposed to take. Who do you think the author of doubtful thoughts is, anyway?
To recap, have the faith of God? Check.
Say to the mountain? Check.
Believe and not doubt? Check.
What’s left? Verse 24:
Whatever things you desire, when you pray, Believe that you receive, and you shall have them.
So many people hold a level of contempt for this phrase, by saying “Oh so you’re saying I can just believe and receive whatever I want?”
No. I am not saying that… Jesus is.
And I’m not trying to be brash, it’s really important that you make this distinction. If you merely see the statement as something said by a man, then you have no foundation for it at all.
If however you see this as a statement made by God Himself, directly to you regarding what you can do… then that changes the entire perspective!
Now, notice what Jesus says here, because we often reverse the entire thing. He says “When you pray, believe that you receive”. However we often want to see it before we believe it.
What then does it mean to believe that we receive?
Think about what it means to receive something.
If someone gives you a gift, what does it mean to receive that gift?
Well, first there is a transfer of ownership. Whatever is being given is now yours. You own it. You control it. You posses it. It is yours to do with as you will.
Usually there is also emotion involved. There is excitement of receiving something.
Such thoughts and emotions accompany the act of receiving. And Jesus says at the moment of speaking, that is when you acknowledge reception of what is desired. There’s no middle-man, there’s no guessing game or wait and see attitude. You already have your answer. The mountain is moved, the fig-tree is dried-up, the problem is solved, the provision is given.
That is what it means to believe and receive, straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ.
As we close today, let’s put this into practice…
What’s something that you have been desiring to receive?
Do you have faith from God regarding it? Do you have information from God, a promise that it is yours in Christ?
If so, then you have the foundation upon which to speak.
Speak regarding your desire, and speak with the authority given to you by Jesus Christ. Speak with confidence.
And believe that you receive it right now… how does it feel to have what you have desired?
Be thankful for it.
It is yours.