Is “name it and claim it” biblical? – Mark 11:23-24
It is common for some Christians to believe and some teachers to teach that if Christians have enough faith, they will be saved, become wealthy and obtain anything that they desire. They say that nothing is impossible if one has enough faith. Our salvation and answered prayer all depends upon how much faith a Christian possesses. Consequently, some Christians are trying to increase their faith because that is the key to obtaining what one wants. This is known as “name it and claim it” theology. But does the Bible teach that this is true? What follows is an examination of what the Bible teaches.
“Name It And Claim It” Teaching
For some Christians, Mark 11:23-24 appears to teach the “name it and claim it” theology. Here is the passage.
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 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. 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.” Mark 11:22-24 (NASB)
The meaning of the passage is simple. The only unusual part of the passage is that the phrase “will be granted” is more accurately translated as “it is his” according to the Greek text.
View #1 – Christians Can Move Mountains
Now how should we understand Mark 11:22-24? Some teach that the passage means Christians can move mountains if they have enough faith. First, they must ask (that is “name it”). Next, they must believe that they will receive their request (that is, “claim it”) and then they will receive it. If they do not receive their request, then the fault is with their “little faith” or how they worded their request. That is one view of the meaning of Mark 11:22-24.
Some have taught that salvation also works by “naming it and claiming it.” Romans 10:9 is cited as an example. Notice how the passage is interpreted.
. . . that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (that is “name it”), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (that is, “claim it”), you will be saved . . .
Therefore, anyone who wants their sins forgiven so that they can go to heaven must say the correct words and then believe their request so that the request made with those words will be granted.
View Contradicts Ephesians 2:8-9
But this is false teaching for two reasons. The first reason is that it is contrary to the message of Ephesians 2:8-9.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)
Here we are told that faith is a gift from God. Saving faith, faith that saves, is not something someone creates, develops or increases in order to “claim it.” These two verses reveal that God gives us this faith that saves. That is why we believe in Christ. That is, we believe because God gives us the faith. That is the plain sense, simple message of the passage. God’s gift of salvation is not something we “name and clam.” Since Romans 6:23 says that eternal life or salvation is a free gift, then both faith and salvation are gifts from God. The person who thinks he or she must to do something to earn salvation will go to hell since salvation is not by works.
View Contradicts What The Apostle Paul Experienced
The second reason that “name it and claim it” is false teaching is that the apostle Paul prayed three times to have a thorn in his flesh removed and each time God rejected his request (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Since he was an apostle who had seen and spoken with Christ on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-9), had visions, revelations, had gone to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) ,and performed the signs of an apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12), are we supposed to believe that the apostle suffered from “little faith”? Are we to believe that the apostle Paul, whom the apostle Peter praised for his incredible knowledge and spiritual insight in 2 Peter 3:15-16, did not understand this principle? The correct conclusion is that “name it and claim it” is not biblical.
View Contradicts The Reality That We Are Sinners
The third reason that “name it and claim it” is false teaching is would God give sinful men the sovereign power of God to redesign His universe? Would God actually allow Christians, who still sin and get angry at people, to redesign His creation by moving mountains, change the flow of rivers, or by faith redesign someone’s face? If a Christian should be able to have anything they want, if they just believe enough, then would there be any limits? Can a Christian create new planets or put money in their bank by simply believing what they request? Now a practical question. “Has anyone actually moved a mountain?” The answer is no. Historical records reveal that the mountains have remained in their locations since the time of Christ.
View #2 – All Christians Can Do Extraordinary Things
Another possible view as to the meaning of Mark 11:22-24 is that Jesus was speaking figuratively of great empowerment. That is, Christians would not be able to move mountains, but instead Christ was saying that they could do miracles and wonders such as walking on water, just as Peter did (Matthew 14:28-33). We would be able to raise the dead and heal as Peter did (Acts 3:7; 5:15-16; 9:34, 40) and as Paul did (Acts 14:10; 16:18; 19:11-12; 20:10-12; 28:5, 8). This view says that the apostles demonstrated what Christ meant by casting mountains into the sea.
It is important to notice that Mark 11:22-24 was addressed to Christ’s disciples (Mark 11:20-21) and not to every Christian.
As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” Mark 11:20-21 (NASB)
It is also important to remember that in the upper room, on the night Christ was betrayed, Christ told the disciples that God the Father would grant them whatever they asked (John 14:13-14). Scripture states that God had given the apostles the ability to perform signs in order to prove they were apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3). God empowered them with signs and wonders but they could not violate God’s will. They were constrained by God’s will as every Christian is (1 John 5:14). For those who claim that Mark 16:17-18 reveals Christians should be able to do extraordinary things, the question and answer “Should verses 9-20 be included at the end of Mark 16?”
Therefore, the second view is wrong because Mark 11:22-24 was a promise to the apostles and not to all Christians.
View #3 – Disciples of Great Faith Are Extraordinary
The third view recognizes that in Mark 11:22-24 Jesus was saying any disciple who had great faith would be considered extraordinary. In the Jewish culture of Christ’s time there was a common metaphor known as the “rooter up of mountains.” It meant that someone who had great faith was very significant. Therefore, when Jesus referred to casting mountains into the sea, Christ was saying that if the disciples had great faith, they would be significant.
An example of an extraordinary man of faith is described in James 5:16-18. In this passage we are told the righteous man who by faith prays fervently will accomplish much. But we are not old what he will accomplish.
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16-18 (NASB)
Men of great faith can do much if it is according to God’s will. Notice in 1 Kings 17:1 that when Elijah prayed, he recognized his dependence upon God. The fervent prayer of faith submits to God’s will (Matthew 6:9-10) and will be limited by God’s will (1 John 5:14).
Unfortunately, Christians ignore the greatest miracle of miracles in which Christians can be involved. It is called the new birth.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NASB)
Notice the gospel is powerful. Every Christian can share the gospel which has the power to draw people to Christ. Christians need to realize that the gospel is powerful. It is more powerful than casting mountains into the sea. It transforms lives from death to life.
Sadly, “name it and claim it” theology promotes self-centeredness. It promotes greed, which is a sin. If you only have enough faith you can get anything you want, including wealth. “Name it and claim it” teaching ignores 1 Timothy 6:10.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10 (NASB)
It is also important for Christians to realize that the miracles recorded in Scripture, except for Peter walking on the water, were miracles performed for other people. Mark 11:22-24 was a promise for the apostles prior to Christ’s ascension. It should be noted that Scripture never reports that the apostles cast a mountain into the sea or moved mountains or withered a fig or mulberry tree. When Jesus referred to casting mountains into the sea, it was a Jewish expression that referred to an important person – in this case, an important person of faith. It did not literally mean the person could redesign God’s universe.
1. John Lightfoot. Commentary on the New Testament From The Talmud and Hebraica. Hendrickson Publishing. 1989. p. 283.
Suggested Links:Should verses 9-20 be included at the end of Mark 16?
Can we move mountains if we have the faith of a mustard seed?
Characteristics of Biblical Faith
Walking By Faith