Calvary Road Baptist Church


One of the highlights of my life as a minister of the Gospel results from opportunities afforded me as the pastor of this Church to visit different mission fields. For over three weeks in November 2022, I had the chance to travel with my wife to Nepal and India. Both parts of that trip resulted in life-altering experiences, although my activities in both places were very different.

Except for one occasion, during our time in India, I was called upon to preach messages from God’s Word exclusively to Baptist congregations with the help of several competent translators. So, for the most part, my ministry in India was directed to Church members.

In Nepal, our missionary, Dr. Samuel Rai, had gathered 180 Nepali Baptist pastors for a Bible conference.[1] The focus of that conference was on two books he recently arranged to be translated from English to Nepali and then printed for the pastors.

In Nepal, the task assigned to me and two other preachers from the USA was to bring messages related to the two books handed out to the Nepali pastors. One book, “Holiness,” was written by the 19th-century Anglican bishop, J. C. Ryle. It is a book every Christian ought to read; the sooner, the better.

The other book I chose to prepare the Nepali pastors for was the 17th-century Puritan pastor Thomas Watson’s exposition of the famous Westminster Confession of Faith[2] titled “A Body Of Divinity.”[3] Not a very big book; it is a series of sermons Watson preached to explain the Westminster Confession of Faith. The book is essentially an informal systematic theology, sermons explaining many essential doctrines using clear and concise language. I highly recommend it.

Of course, being a Baptist and being closer to the Bible than the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith, I wanted to highlight Watson’s excellent points while cautioning the Nepali pastors where Watson’s Protestantism might lead someone astray, precisely the issue of believer baptism and the doctrine of the Church being two of the most important.

With respect to certain matters, the Puritans were the best and deserve our attention. One of the topics we would all do well to learn more about from many of them is this matter of faith. Watson’s book is excellent, and I am rereading it, with this morning’s message derived from a portion of Watson’s treatment of the crucial topic of faith.

Why is faith important? Why is faith crucial? Without faith, it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11.6. Apart from the means of faith, no one is justified before God, Romans 5.1. One of the main reasons for paying attention to Gospel sermons is their utility to the Spirit of God to impart saving faith to sinners, Romans 10.17 and Second Corinthians 4.13. And those of us who are heaven-bound actually live our lives by faith, according to Habakkuk 2.4 and Romans 1.17.

Not only is faith crucial, but it is also something that is given as a gift, Ephesians 2.8. It is a gift that can never be entirely lost, misplaced, or cast off, Romans 11.29. And once given, faith can be increased, Luke 17.5. Here is where we come to two observations, Watson recorded in his book assertions from God’s Word related to a Christian’s faith that will bless your soul.

If you are not committed to self-destruction, there are two things about faith that should be of interest to you. 


My interest at present is in living faith, saving and keeping faith, real faith in Christ, what might be termed true faith. We know there are varieties of faith referred to in the letter written by James, he termed them dead faith as opposed to living faith, in James 2.17, 20, and 26. What characteristics can be associated with the faith the Spirit of God gives, through hearing the Word of God, so that with the giving of faith can be given the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord? I will treat, in turn, five characteristics that demonstrate the activities of faith in Christ, true faith:

First, faith is a Christ-prizing grace. It puts a high valuation upon Christ. Notice what the Apostle Peter wrote to those with saving faith, with faith in Christ, with true faith, in First Peter 2.7: 

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” 

Believe is what those with faith in Christ actually do. We believe. That is how our faith behaves. Thus, the point is made by the Apostle Peter that faith puts a high valuation on Christ. This is as it should be since true faith has for its saving Object the Lord Jesus Christ.

It would be argued by many that the Apostle Paul best knew Christ, and in First Corinthians 9.1, Paul wrote, 

“have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” 

Paul saw Christ with his physical eyes in a vision on the road to Damascus.[4]

In another passage, but perhaps referring to the same event, he remarked that he had been caught up in paradise, Second Corinthians 12.4. In yet a third passage, Paul recounted the events in the Upper Room when the Savior celebrated the Last Supper, though he was not there when that occurred. Had Paul seen that event after his conversion in a vision? Was it an observation he made during his exaltation to paradise? Or was it truth imparted to him by direct and divine revelation, First Corinthians 11.23-26?

By whatever means each of these was accomplished, it is accurate to attribute Paul’s insights to the eye of his faith and to assert. Therefore, he might very well have known Christ best. Recognize, with me, the estimation of all things to Paul due to his faith in Christ. He wrote in Philippians 3.8-9, near the end of his life, 

8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. 

Do you have a high estimation of Christ? I ask because some are willing to trade Christ for money. Others trade Christ for a spouse. Still others trade Christ for fame and reputation. From the apostles Peter and Paul, we learn that faith in Christ, true faith, values the Lord Jesus so that nothing will be traded for Him.

Next, faith is a refining grace. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote in 3.9 that men who are qualified to serve in congregations as deacons are men known for, 

“Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” 

Those qualified to be deacons are men who are faithful witnesses, who are faithful givers, whose homes are in order, and whose wives are exemplary. Our takeaway is that their faith in Christ produces a pure conscience.

Faith has been likened, and is described as possessing in a Christian’s soul the characteristic similar to that of a fire heating metal. It refines and purifies. Morality may wash the outside of a person, but faith in Jesus Christ results in the washing of the inside of a person. The Apostle Peter made this point when he spoke to the great assembly of apostles and Christian leaders in Acts chapter 15. In verse 9, he contrasted Gentiles come to faith in Christ with Jewish believers in Christ using these words: 

“And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” 

So you see, faith in Christ, true faith, makes the believer’s heart a kind of holy of holies. And while faith does not take away the life of sin, it does take away the love of sin. Examine if your heart is akin to an unclean water fountain, spewing out the mud and dirt of pride and envy instead of clean water. Thomas Watson insisted, "If there be legions of lusts in thy soul, there is no faith. Faith is a heavenly plant, which will not grow in an impure soil.”[5] He is more than likely right, and if you disagree with him you are more than likely wrong. Your soul is too important to risk that.

Third, faith is an obedience-producing grace. Paul used the phrase “the obedience of faith” in Romans 16.26. Faith melts the Christian’s cold and defiant will into God’s will. Faith runs at God’s call. If God commands duty, it is faith in Christ that obeys. Faith worked in my experience in this manner, as it likely did with many of you today. I did not want to obey God concerning some issues early on in my Christian life, but I wanted to want to. So I prayed and asked God to alter my desires, so I would want to want what He wanted me to do, and He did. I do not always obey God, but I now want to.

In Hebrews 11.8, we read, “By faith Abraham ... obeyed.” Nowhere in Scripture do we see evidence of faith in Christ, true faith, being an idle grace, a do-nothing commodity, a passive characteristic. Paul termed it to the new Christians in Thessalonica on two occasions, “the work of faith.”[6] Thus, real faith, genuine faith, true faith, faith in Christ, does stuff, does work.

As faith has an eye to look unto Christ, Hebrews 12.2, so it has a hand to work for Him. Faith not only believes God’s promise but obeys His command. Faith does not have knowledge that will evidence you to be a believer. After all, the Devil has knowledge. What the Devil lacks is obedience, which makes him what he is.

The true obedience of faith is also cheerful obedience. God’s commands do not seem grievous to the believer. The question is whether you exhibit obedience and obey cheerfully. After all, faith is associated with joy as the fruit of the Spirit. Do you look upon God’s commands as your burden or your privilege? Are His directives an iron shackle around your ankle or as a gold necklace about your neck?

Fourth, faith is an assimilating grace. Assimilation is defined as the process of becoming similar.[7] Faith changes the believer’s soul into the image of the believer’s Object, which is to say, true faith makes the believer more and more like Christ. Never did anyone look upon Christ with a believing eye, but he was then made like Christ.

A man with a disfigured limb cannot look upon a man with a perfect limb with any result. Neither can a plain woman look upon a beautiful woman with any result. But faith looking on Christ transforms the believer and turns that individual into a likeness of the Object of his faith. Looking on a holy Christ causes sanctity of heart. Looking on a humble Christ makes the soul humble. Looking on the exalted Christ lifts the spirit. Never fully and completely in this body of flesh, you understand. But spiritually and in one’s personality, the transformation is ongoing in the believer’s life this side of heaven.

And when we someday stand before Him the transformation will be completed, First John 3.2: 

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 

Fifth, true faith grows. All living things grow. Everything possessing life grows, develops, and matures. The Apostle Peter wrote, “But grow in grace,” in Second Peter 3.18, and faith is a grace. Are you growing in faith and the knowledge of the Lord?

I conclude this first main point with Paul’s comment about the growth of faith in Romans 1.17: 

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” 

These are five ways faith in Christ, true faith, is active. Is there anything like that in your life? 


There is a metabolism associated with life. That which is alive grows, sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly. But that which is alive grows. That which shrinks and shrivels and diminishes is not living but dying. What is to be looked for to see evidence of faith growing?

By arriving at milestones. Milestone? What is a milestone? Originally, milestones were rather large rocks set by the side of the road to measure progress. From one milestone to another was roughly a distance of one mile, hence milestone.

These days small green signs with white lettering have replaced milestones on the sides of the roads to show the location when you call AAA for a tow truck. The term has come to refer to a significant event in your life.[8]

Concerning your faith in Christ and trust in God and His Word, there are discernible milestones. After working out at the gym, a milestone would be dead lifting 500 pounds, bench pressing 200 pounds, or some such milestone lift. Graduating from trade school is a milestone. Reading through the Bible in a year is a milestone. Growth of faith is judged by strength. There are things we can do now that we could not do before. Thus, a milestone has been achieved in some sense. Perhaps a silly fool at work goes off on you, but you no longer react with the anger and indignation you used to display. Now, as a Christian, you trust God to provide remedy and relief for the problem, and you react more slowly, exercising wisdom because you are learning to live by faith.

Consider First John 2.12-14, where mention is made of fathers, young men, and little children in the faith. When a believer has reached spiritual adulthood, he can do what he could not do when he was a child. He can carry a heavier burden. In like manner, mature Christians achieve such milestones as being able to bear crosses with more patience than they used to possess.

Growth of faith is also seen by doing Christian duties in a more spiritual manner, with more fervency than when you were less mature, and your faith was weaker. And this arises from your greater and more intense love toward God. Fruit typically first grows in size before it develops in sweetness. In like manner, your service to God and the attitude with which you approach your ministry (you are involved in ministry, are you not?) displays greater love and more sweetness than before.

But what about before the arrival at a milestone of faith? Earlier in the Christian’s life, a person can wonder whether or not he or she even has faith. What if I have no true faith? After all, false hopes are a thing, and many who think they are Christians are no such thing.

That said, some believers lack assurance who really are believers. Then, there is an unrealistic and unsubstantiated assurance with others who most certainly are not believers. That is the time when a person must distinguish between a weakness of faith and no faith at all.

A weak faith is true faith. The bruised reed is weak, yet it is such a reed that Christ will not break. He promised.[9] So, though a Christian’s faith may be weak, do not be overly discouraged.

A weak faith may receive a strong Christ. A weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong one, and a weak eye might have seen the brazen serpent back in Moses’ day.[10]

Remember the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years in Matthew 9.20? It was in her physical weakness that she but touched the hem of Christ’s garment and was healed. But it was the touch of faith.

So, you see, the promise is not made to someone with strong faith but to anyone with true faith. The promise says not whosoever has a giant faith, that can remove mountains, that can stop the mouths of lions, shall be saved; but whosoever believes, be his faith ever so small.

The Lord Jesus Christ referred to “the poor in spirit” in His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5.3. That is someone who didn’t have much in the way of spiritual resources, including faith. Yet, even so, He added, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

As well, a weak faith may be a fruitful faith. After all, they are the weakest things that multiply the most. How strong is a grapevine? It is a very weak plant. But, oh, how fruitful. A weak Christian may have strong affections. How strong is your first love, which is after the first planting of your faith in Christ?

Weak faith may also be growing faith. Seeds typically germinate and grow gradually, do they not? First comes the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Therefore, don’t be discouraged. Take the longer view. You are not a radish, or a mushroom, or a bamboo, but more akin to an oak tree. Your growth will be slower.

Here is something that will help you. Notice what Paul wrote to the Romans in 14.1 and 15.1: 

14.1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 

15.1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 

Can you imagine the Spirit of God moving Paul to direct the Roman Christians to receive those who were weak in the faith and to bear the infirmities of the weak without doing the same Himself? Neither can I. God wants us to receive them that are weak in faith and will not Himself refuse the weak in faith. After all, a weak believer is a believer. And though Christ taught that the Husbandman would cut off from the vine the dead branches, He assured His disciples that the Husbandman would support the weak branches, John 15. 

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of faith. It is the means by which our glorious Creator interacts in a personal way this side of eternity with sinful creatures. The doctrine of justification by faith and sanctification by faith, so hidden from so many for so long in what was seen to be Christendom, was brought to the surface by the Protestant Reformation.

It was a great revival that changed the spiritual landscape of Europe and later North America for centuries. Distilled to its essence, it was a refocusing on the role of faith in God’s dealings with His creatures, their spiritual regeneration, and their growth as believers. There is no such thing as blind faith. True faith is always built upon facts, truth.

Being a spiritual reality, faith is hard to handle apart from a reliance on God’s Word. And what we have seen in this message are two things arising from the certainty that true faith grows, the activities of true faith and how true faith grows.

This message might be a comfort to you if you are a new Christian or a slow growing Christian. This message ought to alarm you if you imagine yourself to be a Christian and your faith is inactive and not growing.

The importance of faith in a phrase? It is the means God provides to connect one with no strength to one with all power. Discard the notion that you cannot become a Christian because you will certainly fail.

Of course, you will fail. But it is not up to you to succeed or fail. It is up to Christ, and He cannot fail because He has already succeeded.


[1] The total number of Churches he has established and grandfathered, plus a few already existing congregations that have chosen to closely align with his ministry now numbers 1134.


[3] The full title is “A Body of Divinity: Contained in Sermons upon the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism” ISBN 0-85151-383-2 and ISBN 1-58960-314-1

[4] Acts 9.3-9; 22.6-10; 26.12-16

[5] Thomas Watson, A Body Of Divinity Contained In Sermons Upon The Westminster Assembly’s Catechism, (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, Revised 1890), 152.

[6] 1 Thessalonians 1.3; 2 Thessalonians 1.11

[7] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 112.

[8] Ibid., page 1141.

[9] Isaiah 42.3; Matthew 12.20

[10] Numbers 21.4-9; John 3.14-15

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.