“THE SKILL OF LIVING BY FAITH” Part 2
1. I preached Sunday morning on the skill of living by faith. This evening I want to bring a second message on the same subject.
2. You know that a believer matures over time, do you not? You recognize that you don’t get it all up front, don’t you? Jesus taught His disciples for more than three years. Paul spent time growing after his conversion before his ministry actually began in earnest in Antioch.
3. Peter summed it up well 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.
4. So, 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 is spent not only serving God and exalting Christ, but we are also supposed to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
5. It is along that line that I would like you to turn to our text for this evening, Matthew 6.10, the second sentence in the verse: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
6. This is the third of seven petitions found in what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, that sample prayer 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.
7. I read 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.”
8. What is interesting about John Gill is how different his understanding of the phrase “thy will be done” is from present day commentators, who explain this portion of the Lord’s Prayer to be a request that God’s will be done when His kingdom comes.
9. Of course, that is the ultimate fulfillment of that prayer, but John Gill recognizes that the thrust of the heart’s desire of the man praying the Lord’s Prayer is for God’s will to be done now, the way it presently is in heaven, and the way it will be when the kingdom comes.
10. A right understanding of this portion of the Lord’s Prayer is critical to the skill of living by faith. You will remember from Sunday morning, 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?
11. 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.”
12. 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.
13. Let me give you three truths to be mindful of with regard to God dispensing the blessings of His promises:
1A. First, GOD ALWAYS SUBSCRIBES TO HIS OWN PRIORITIES, NOT YOURS
What, pray tell, are God’s priorities? 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.
1B. One notable pastor observed that he had never seen a desperately poor man who was not in his heart desperately proud. 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.
2B. In like manner, modern day decisionism demands assurance for every professing Christian. But the Word of God shows that God sometimes withholds assurance from someone who is genuinely converted. Why would He do such a thing? 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?
3B. So you see, God has priorities. God subscribes to His priorities. And 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: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” God’s first concern is your soul’s health. God’s second concern is your physical health. God’s third concern is your material prosperity. This is precisely opposite the priorities of most people.
2A. Next, GOD WILL FULFILL HIS OWN TIMETABLE, NOT YOURS
Two examples will suffice here:
1B. Remember the wedding feast in Cana, in John chapter 2? In verse 3, His mother told Him, “They have no wine.” It was a most embarrassing thing to run out of wine at a wedding in those days. But what did He answer her? “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” She wanted Him to operate on her timetable and He refused. But when she yielded to Him, then He chose to work the miracle of turning water into wine.
2B. 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.
3B. We want comfort. We want assurance. We want what we want when we want it, which is to say, we want convenience. There is even a bit of wanting God to wait upon us, rather us waiting upon God. But whether God’s timing is soon, as was the case with Mary, or not soon, as with the case of us waiting for 2,000 years now for the kingdom, God will fulfill His timetable and not yours or mine.
3A. Finally, GOD WILL BLESS ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WISDOM, NOT YOURS
1B. 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.”
2B. This speaks not of food only, but of the necessities and blessings of life. John Wesley comments 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.”
3B. 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. “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.”
1. 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.
2. Do you see how at odds this is with the Christianity that is portrayed on television, on the radio, and in the minds of most evangelicals these days? Do you see the necessity of consciously resisting the encroachment of wrong philosophy and erroneous beliefs about God into your mind?
3. God is not a glorified bell hop 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.
4. The Lord willing, I will bring the concluding message on this series of the skill of living by faith next Wednesday night.
 Philippians 2.10
 John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)
 Thomas Hooker, The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ, (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), page 92.
 1 John 2.3; Hebrews 10.27; Romans 8.16; 1 Thessalonians 5.19
 Hooker, page 94.