Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE SKILL OF LIVING BY FAITH” Part 2

Matthew 6.10

Wednesday night I preached on the skill of living by faith. This morning, on our 2012 edition of PayCheck Sunday, I want to bring a second message to those of you who are believers in Jesus Christ on the same subject.

You know that a believer in Jesus Christ matures over time, do you not? You recognize that you do not get everything the Lord Jesus Christ has for His own all up front, do you not? Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples for more than three years. That is more than three years of virtually round the clock instruction, including weekends, with no known time off. Giving them fourteen hours a day, 365 days each year, for three years, you have more than 15,300 hours of personal instruction, mentoring, and discipleship by the master Teacher. Even the Apostle Paul spent approximately ten years maturing and learning in his Christian life after his conversion before his apostolic ministry actually began in earnest in Antioch. The Apostle Peter summed it up in most excellent fashion in Second Peter 1.5-8:

5      And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6      And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7      And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8      For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John’s keen insight into this maturation process is found in First John 2.12-14:

12     I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

13     I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

14     I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

Therefore, it is established that conversion to Christ is the beginning, and only the beginning, for a believer. The child of God’s normal span of life on earth after conversion is spent not only serving God and exalting Christ, but you are also supposed to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”[1]

It is along this line that I would like you to turn to our text for this morning, Matthew 6.10, the second sentence in the verse: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” This is the third of seven petitions found in what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, that sample prayer or prayer template the Lord Jesus Christ gave to serve as an example for His disciples. The first three petitions concern God and the final four concern man. I read the old English Baptist John Gill’s comment on the will of God as he understands it in this verse:

The will of God may be said to be done by us, when our wills are resigned to his; when we patiently submit to every adverse dispensation of providence; when our hearts and actions are, in some measure, conformed to his law; when what is done, is done in faith, with a view to his glory, and without dependence upon it; of which such only are capable who have a spiritual understanding of the will of God, believe in Christ, receive grace and strength from him, and are assisted by his Spirit. These desire to do the will of God, as it is done in heaven; meaning not so much by the inanimate creatures, the sun, and moon, and stars, as glorified saints and holy angels, who do it voluntarily and cheerfully; speedily, and without delay; constantly, and without any interruption; and perfectly and completely.[2]

 

What is interesting about John Gill is how different his understanding of the phrase “thy will be done” is from most present day commentators. Most today explain this portion of the Lord’s Prayer to be a request that God’s will be done when His kingdom comes, as though the petitioner is asking, “Lord, I just cannot wait until your kingdom is established here on earth so people will obey you.”

Of course, that is the ultimate fulfillment of the prayer, but John Gill recognized that the thrust of the heart’s desire of the man praying after the spirit of the Lord’s Prayer is for God’s will to be done by him now, the way it presently is in heaven, and the way it will be when His kingdom comes. I point this out because a right understanding of this portion of the Lord’s Prayer is critical to a Christian honing his skill of living by faith. You will remember from last time that your faith lays hold of God’s promises. The question may rightly be asked, How can I expect to receive the blessings of God’s promises? After all, Hebrews 11.13 declares that “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

The issue is not whether or not God keeps His promises. God always keeps His promises. The issue has to do with the manner in which God dispenses the blessings of His promises. Remember, God gives blessings related to His promises before the promises are fulfilled. In light of this reality, let me rehearse for you three truths to be mindful of with regard to God dispensing the blessings of His promises:

First, GOD ALWAYS SUBSCRIBES TO HIS OWN PRIORITIES, NOT YOURS

What, pray tell, are God’s priorities? From many different places in scripture, we can safely conclude that God’s priorities are always His Own glory first, and your benefit second. This means that God works in you to prepare you for the blessing you will receive at His hand.

One notable pastor observed that he had never seen a desperately poor man who was not in his heart desperately proud.[3] In such a case, God will first humble the Christian man’s heart before He bestows upon him material blessings in the form of a better job, or a promotion, or a raise. In like manner, modern day Christianity for the most part demands assurance of salvation for every professing Christian. However, the Word of God shows that God sometimes withholds assurance of salvation from someone who is genuinely converted.[4] Why would He do such a thing? The answer is obvious when you remember that God’s first priority is His own glory. Which is better for the child of God, humility in response to a certain lack of assurance, or strong assurance of salvation that is accompanied by spiritual pride and arrogance?

So you see, God has priorities. God subscribes to His priorities. As well, He will not deviate from His priorities so that He might subscribe to your priorities. Third John 2 shows us what God’s priorities are in the Christian’s life: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” God’s first concern after His own glory is your soul’s health. God’s second concern after His own glory is your physical health. God’s third concern after His own glory is your material prosperity. This is precisely opposite the priorities of most people, as is evidenced by most people’s attitudes toward tithing and giving offerings above the tithe. They want to keep the money, while God wants to bless their giving.

Next, GOD WILL FULFILL HIS OWN TIMETABLE, NOT YOURS

Two examples will suffice here:

Remember the wedding feast in Cana, in John chapter 2? In verse 3, the Lord Jesus Christ’s mother told Him, “They have no wine.” Mary mentioned the problem because it was a great embarrassment to run out of wine at a wedding feast in those days. That being the case, she wanted Him to operate on her timetable to spare the host any embarrassment. He refused. What was His response to her? “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” Mary then yielded to Him, saying, “unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Whereupon He very soon after that chose to work the miracle of turning water into wine, adhering to His timetable and not Mary’s.

Another example is found in Acts 1.6, where the disciples asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” The Lord Jesus Christ’s response to their question let them know that God would do what He chose to do, when He chose to do it. Let us readily admit that we all want comfort. We all want assurance. We all want what we want when we want it, which is to say, we all want convenience. There is even a bit of wanting God to wait upon us, rather us waiting upon God. However, whether God’s timing is soon, as was the case with Mary, or not soon, as with the case of us having now waited for 2,000 years for the kingdom, God will fulfill His timetable and not yours or mine.

Finally, GOD WILL BLESS ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WISDOM, NOT YOURS

Proverbs 30.8-9 reads: “. . . feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” This obviously speaks not of food only, but of the necessities and blessings of life. John Wesley commented that “convenient” has to do with that which is “Moderate and suitable both to my natural necessities, and to that condition of life in which thou hast put me.”[5]

Therefore, know that God promises nothing but as He sees fit for your good. Thus, it may be that you will not receive this blessing or that grace. Thomas Hooker, the man of God who had so much influence on Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “Whether you have so much prosperity, so much good or not, or so much grace, it does not matter so much; it is enough that you are elected to eternal happiness.”[6]

What you should grasp at this point is that God never surrenders His divine prerogatives, even when He makes promises to His children. Not that He will not always do precisely what He promises to do, but the timetable, the priorities, and the wisdom by which He acts will always be His and no one else’s. Do you see how at odds this is with the Christianity that is portrayed on television, on the radio, in the minds of most evangelicals, and far too many Baptists these days? Do you see the necessity of consciously resisting the encroachment of wrong philosophy and erroneous beliefs about God into your mind? God is not a glorified bellhop Who waits for us to summon Him to do our bidding. Even in the dispensation of the blessings associated with His grand and great promises, God is still God. That is something to always remember.

Therefore, so you do not damage your faith more than you strengthen it, make sure that when you embrace the promises of God you do so in light of what we have reviewed this morning: First, in fulfilling His promises, God subscribes to His priorities, not yours, God subscribes to His timetable, not yours, and God blesses according to His wisdom, not yours. How does a believer in Jesus Christ damage his faith? One way is by foolishly withholding God’s tithes and offerings. Another way is consciously disobeying God in any way. Obey God in every area of life and learn the skill of living by faith.

What part of learning the skill of living by faith does our PayCheck Sunday offering play in your life? I could answer in any number of ways. With one Christian, it could be to discern whether there is any faith at all, with some self-serving justification for doing nothing possibly demonstrating that you have a faith that does not work. The letter written by James speaks to that problem. With another Christian, it could be to take a step of faith today that will prepare you as a believer for something in your future that is entirely unanticipated. Of course, this all ties in with the normal and necessary material support of our church that is partly met by the PayCheck Sunday offering.

The Lord willing, I will bring the concluding message on this brief series of the skill of living by faith tonight.



[1] Philippians 2.10

[2] John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)

[3] Thomas Hooker, The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ, (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), page 92.

[4] 1 John 2.3; Hebrews 10.27; Romans 8.16; 1 Thessalonians 5.19

[5] John Wesley, Notes On The Bible, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

[6] Hooker, page 94.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org