There is a danger for the Christian to read Scripture with a simple literal understanding.
Take for example Mark 11 where Jesus teaches on prayer. A modern understanding of it would be that Jesus is teaching us that what ever we desire we can ask God in faith and if we don’t doubt we will receive what we want….so many set their desires on asking God for what ever it is they want.
Mar 11:22 Jesus told his disciples, “Have faith in God!
Mar 11:23 I tell you with certainty, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ if he doesn’t doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
Mar 11:24 That is why I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.
Mar 11:25 “Whenever you stand up to pray, forgive whatever you have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins.
Mar 11:26 But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.”
Yet the historical Biblical context of that teaching is rooted in Deut 4 where Moses tells the Israelites that after God has punished them for turning away – if they seek the Lord their God with all their heart mind and strength they shall find what they are looking for which is God!
The casting of the mountain down in Greek actually says if you have God’s faith…or the Faith of God… not if you have Faith in God… which creates a whole new nuance of thought… the mountain Jesus is pointing to is the Temple on the mountain and again we see a reference to what God says to King Solomon that he will honour the temple as long as it is used to honour him…by the king / nation….when it is stopped being used for that purpose – God will cause the temple to be cast down and destroyed…which we saw happen in the time of captivity.
While the Christian message is simple to understand; in that all have sinned and are in need of forgiveness and that God offers the free gift of forgiveness towards all who turn to him and ask him. We also need to understand that the Scriptures are based in a culturally different environment to our own and that we do the Scriptures a disservice if we read them in a simple literal fashion without exploring the richness in how they speak .