Calvary Road Baptist Church


James 1.17

This morning I took as my text the second sentence in Matthew 6.10: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” You will remember that the message was the second of three installments on the subject of the skill of living by faith. You might also have noticed that both of the messages on the skill of living by faith I have brought thus far have not as clear and concise a treatment of the subject as you would, no doubt, like for them to have been. However, there is a reason for that.

Going back to Charles G. Finney’s impact on the cause of Christ in the mid-1800s, it is to be noted that he greatly depersonalized evangelism. Prior to Mr. Finney’s bad influence, it was not uncommon for evangelistic pastors to deal with sinners in a personal way, probing their consciences, examining and reviewing their innermost beliefs and convictions about God, sin, Jesus, and salvation. In short, it used to be that evangelism was an intensely personal enterprise. A personal sinner being dealt with by a personal minister that he might guide him to a personal Savior for reconciliation to the personal God he had so grievously committed personal sins against. Sadly, tragically, and very destructively, the result of Finney’s impact was to formulate and mechanize everything and reduce it from a reconciliation of persons, one human and the other Divine, to a mere formula, a plain recipe, what serves as a mere template.

How does that relate to our topic of living by faith? Simple. It is far easier to be concise and mechanical in sermonizing when one’s view of evangelism is mechanical, and when sinners are not really dealing with the personal God and sinners are not being guided to strive to come to the personal Savior.[1] When everything is mechanical, all is reduced to a recipe, or to some procedure. However, when you are seeking to guide a lost man to a personal Savior, or when you are providing instructions for a child of God to deal with his heavenly Father by faith, things are not mechanical. Things are . . . personal. This, you see, is why the name-it-and-claim-it guys on so-called Christian television are so wrong about their word of faith theology. With them, everything is in reality so very mechanical. If you say certain words, if you do certain things, they then suppose that God is automatically bound to give you this or to do that for you. However, God never so binds Himself, either by covenant or by promise, so that a man’s relationship with Him is reduced to the purely mechanical, or to the formulaic. No. God’s dealings with His creatures are always and in every case intensely personal. This is why, in the message this morning, I made mention of the verity that God will bless according to His wisdom, not yours. To recap: The blessings of God’s promises precede the fulfillment of those promises. Always. Yet God never surrenders His prerogative to give and withhold blessings to individuals on the basis of His Own wisdom in deciding what is best for the child of God. Thus, the timing of the blessings, the quantity of the blessings, even the choice as to whether to actually bestow the blessings, depends entirely upon God’s wisdom and His judgment of what is best for each Christian.

This naturally leads to my text for this evening, James 1.17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” If God’s gifts are always good and perfect, both in the giving of blessings and in the withholding of blessings, what must a Christian do to avoid grasping for what God may not want you to have? Take what God does give in His promises, by means of five directives:


Psalm 37.5 reads, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” The reason you can commit something to God is because you can trust Him. He is trustworthy. He is reliable. He is competent. His motives are pure. This is precisely why Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”[2]

At some point, you have to yield to God to produce the result that you seek, if your desire is to live by faith. Are you striving for a certain number of professions of faith? Are you working toward a goal of so many baptisms? Are you having a big day goal of so many in attendance? It should be no surprise why we see no such goal setting in God’s Word. Such is not of faith. That is why we have never had dollar amount goals for our PayCheck Sunday offering. Men can produce such results as those, while faith depends upon God to do that which man cannot possibly do. This is why Abraham’s example of faith is so valuable to us. God promised him a son. He trusted God to fulfill the promise He had made. Abraham relied upon God to do something that was completely beyond his own capacity to perform, and God came through. Our faith should function in similar fashion.

Let me close this point with an illustration that I will carry through this message. Say you have an unsaved loved one. Understand that you have duties, obligations, and responsibilities toward that unconverted person. You are obligated to rebuke his sin. It is your duty to witness to him. You are responsible to express and show love toward him. You commit sin against him if you do not pray for him. However, you can only commit his soul to God’s care. Whether he is convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, drawn to Christ by the Father, and saved through faith in the Savior, is out of your hands. You are to do what you are supposed to do, but then you must exercise faith by committing his salvation to God.

Of course, most professing Christians these days exhibit their lack of faith in God by seeking to force the issue, twisting the sinner’s arm to get him to pray the sinner’s prayer, coercing a profession of faith, and otherwise taking into their own hands things that should be properly left to God. To be sure, we should emulate Paul, who wrote, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”[3] However, God help us from dishonoring Him by a lack of faith that insists on trying to do what only God can do; convict of sin, draw to Christ, regenerate the soul, and give assurance of salvation.


Since the life of faith, trusting Another, is not a life of sight, proof, and constant verification, does it not make sense that faith requires that you wait upon God? It should be no surprise that faith requires what we normally think of as patience. In Luke 24.49, Jesus said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” What, precisely, is tarrying? Is tarrying not simply waiting? Sure it is. There are things you can do while waiting, but you should not do things instead of waiting. What did the disciples do while waiting, while tarrying? They prayed. They prayed while they were waiting. They did not stop waiting and then do something else.

As you can see, there is more to waiting on the Lord than just waiting. I would suggest to you that prayer is integrally involved in waiting on God to do what you trust Him to do. Do you desire something from God? Are you humble enough to admit that what you seek can only be given by God? Now that you have humbly committed the matter to Him, you should do just what Jesus told His disciples to do; tarry. You should tarry the way they tarried. They prayed. Who knows? Perhaps the time God wants you to wait may have been conceived by Him solely for driving you to your knees to pray. Psalm 10.17: “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.” God hears your desire. God will prepare your heart. God will cause His ear to hear. So now, you wait. While you wait, you pray. But throughout you are trusting God to work.

To revisit our illustration: You have committed the salvation of your loved one to God. You are fulfilling your duties, obligations and responsibilities toward that individual. You exercise wisdom and carefully chastise his sin, yet you love him, you witness to him, you do your best to present a good and consistent testimony before him. However, that is not all. As an integral part of your tarrying, you must pray for God to work. As Samuel did in First Samuel 12.23, you recognize that it would be a sin against God on your part if you fail to pray for that loved one.


Turn to First Samuel 1.18, where I want you to notice something in that verse’s second sentence that Hannah did after pleading with God for a child: “So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” This woman committed her issue to God. She wanted a child. She waited on God, and sealed the matter with prayer. Then she arrived at a settled conviction about the matter “and her countenance was no more sad.”

My friends, look at it this way: God is your heavenly Father, if you are a Christian. Thus, every problem you have, every issue that grieves your soul, every desire of your heart, is a matter of importance to Him, because He is your Father. In fact, your problems are actually His problems, and He solves His problems. Therefore, give the matter to God, trust Him to deal with it, prayerfully seek His blessing in the matter, and leave it with Him. There are so many people who bring their issues to God’s throne of grace and lay them before Him in prayer, only to drag them behind them after they have left off praying, because they still have a thread of unbelief tied to their problems. Don’t do that. Leave it where you left it.

What if you have been diligent to stay in the place of blessing and it seems that God’s answer is not forthcoming? Remember, for you to live by faith, you must not only trust God to answer at a time of His choosing, but also trust God to answer in the manner of His choosing. Sometimes God’s answer is to not answer when you want an answer.

What about our illustration of an unsaved loved one? Times goes by and it seems as though he is not interested in the things of God and shows no desire to obtain forgiveness for his sins. If this matter has been properly committed to God, then you should leave the matter with God. Continue to witness. Continue to rebuke as need and opportunity arises. Continue to love. Continue to pray. However, do not forget that this matter is God’s matter to handle, not yours. Remember, God works according to His wisdom, not ours.


Two examples from God’s Word will show the wisdom of this course of action:

First, turn to First Samuel 13.8-14:

8      And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

9      And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

10     And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

11     And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

12     Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

13     And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

14     But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

King Saul tarried, did he not? However, he eventually ran out of patience and took matters back into his own hands, trying to encroach upon business that was not his to meddle with. He tarried, but then he stopped tarrying. When he thought he had tarried long enough he meddled. The result of his meddling? He concerned himself with the consequences. People, the outcome is God’s business, not ours. Correct? The consequences are ultimately His concern. King Saul thereby forced himself, exhibiting great foolishness, sinning terribly against God, and being told that his kingdom would not continue, because God sought a man after His Own heart.

A second example is found in Acts 27:

1      And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.

2      And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

14     But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

15     And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

18     And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

19     And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

20     And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

22     And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

23     For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

24     Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

25     Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

31     Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.

42     And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

43     But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:

44     And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

The Apostle Paul received a promise from God. Paul committed himself to God’s promise. Paul waited on God. He remained settled in his conviction. He resisted becoming impatient. The result was, he and the others were delivered. Here we see Paul behaving in a manner decidedly opposite the behavior of King Saul, with opposite results. Resist becoming impatient. The Apostle Paul is a wonderful example for us to follow in our life of faith.

Finally, And To Conclude, PERSEVERE

One of the troubles we are oftentimes faced with is thinking too much. By that I mean, thinking apart from consideration of God’s Word. On one hand, a Christian can become cocksure and confident, thinking that God must bless him because he thinks he is so deserving. Such thinking is in reality so much pride. On the other hand, it is possible that one who is humble and also immature will think, “I do not deserve the least of God’s mercies,” as though that would lessen the likelihood of God blessing him. However, such thinking sets aside the graciousness of God and the mercy of God.

Of course, you deserve nothing from the hand of God. No one ever said you deserved anything, or that I deserve anything. That is not the basis of God’s dealings with His children. God’s dealings with us are by grace. After all, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”[4] If God has given to you His Son, why should He hesitate in granting to you anything of vastly inferior cost to Him? If I have given you a billion dollars, why should I quibble about giving you a quarter for the parking meter? So, there is another issue at work besides what you do or do not deserve.

Turn to Genesis 32, where we see the example of Jacob:

24     And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25     And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26     And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27     And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28     And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29     And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30     And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

I believe this to be Jacob’s conversion experience, but it provides an illustration useful to every Christian. Jacob vigorously exerted himself, yet salvation is by grace through faith and not works. Correct? Why, then, did the preincarnate Christ wrestle with Jacob? I think it was for the purpose of showing to him his weakness. Why did God demand from Jacob perseverance? To put on display his faith. Faith is displayed in perseverance. Jesus said, “. . . he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”[5] However, it is those who have faith who are saved. Thus, those who have faith will be those who endure to the end, will be those who persevere. Therefore, by placing you in situations where you must persevere, God is either showing you that you have faith, or He is showing you that you do not have faith, because faith perseveres.

I conclude with the example of the Syro-Phenician woman, who was rebuffed by the Lord Jesus Christ when she asked Him to bless her daughter, but she persevered. Why did she persevere? Our Lord said to her, “O woman, great is thy faith.”[6] The point is made. Faith perseveres. Faith continues. Faith sticks. Faith continues until the promise is fulfilled.

May I be so personal as to say that I think I am not terribly skillful at living by faith? However, by God’s good grace I am progressing in my Christian life. That said, I think I see others who routinely substitute gross presumption for faith, but it is not faith. I am gradually becoming more skillful at living by faith. In Malachi 3.10, God challenges the people to “prove me.” So, it is clear that He wants us to become more skillful in the art of living by faith. If you are a Christian you will live by faith. However, why live life by stumbling along in a clumsy fashion and without skill when it is possible to sharpen your skills and so be a greater testimony?

The Bible indicates in four different places that the just shall live by faith. Therefore, why not work at being skillful at it? As a starting point, hang tough and faithfully tithe and give offerings above your tithe. As well, consider participating in our church’s PayCheck Sunday offering in some way. Then observe what God will do with you as you develop greater skill at living by faith.

[1] The Savior did direct sinners to strive to enter in at the strait gate in Luke 13.24, a fact that is ignored to the sinner’s peril.

[2] 1 Peter 5.7

[3] 2 Corinthians 5.11

[4] Romans 8.32

[5] Matthew 10.22

[6] Matthew 15.28

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.

[email protected]