Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a series of broadcast studies about faith.
[These notes are from a radio broadcast study taught more than 40 years ago.]
Last week I promised that we’d share four reasons why Christians have difficulty living by faith. I’ve found in talking with Christians that most want to live by faith, but many say they can’t.
First, let me dispel the idea that you can’t live by faith. You can live by faith because God’s Word tells you too and you can do anything God asks of you. A better way to state it would be to say that we may not know how or won’t live by faith.
One of the most stated reasons for not walking by faith is FEAR. Many Christians are afraid to live by faith. They are afraid of what might or might not happen. If you are afraid to live by faith, then you have alerted a friend or counselor to a basic problem in your life – immaturity in love.
1 John 4:18 reads – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
The word “perfect” used in 1 John 4:18 means “complete, mature.” An amplification of the verse might be – “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].” (AMP)
There is a great need in our lives to have a deep understanding of what Christ’s love really is and how it operates. The Apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians 3 –
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
Paul first prayed in verse 16 that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. That would lead to their making a home that Christ could finally settle down into and feel at home in their hearts. We are to be rooted and grounded in love. In other words, that we would have a foundation of love so we would be able to comprehend and grasp with other saints the experience of that love.
The love of Jesus Christ is experiential and can be known. The knowing of this love day after day will mature us to the point that the foundation and building of love will cast out all our fears.
- You won’t fear death because you know God loves you.
- You won’t fear hurt because you know God loves you.
- You won’t fear loneliness because you know God loves you and is always with you.
- You won’t fear persecution because know that God loves you.
- You won’t fear the new day because you know God made it for you. God loves you.
- You won’t fear the night because you know God made it for you. He loves you.
- You won’t fear separation from a loved one because you know God will pour out His infinite love upon you and give you the strength you need.
- You won’t fear troubled times because you know God loves you and is working everything for your good.
In other words – perfect, complete, mature love casts out every fear and gives lasting peace.
Another reason Christians do not walk and live by faith is worry and anxiety. The root problem is often living by temporal values. Instead of living by an eternal value system, we often opt for the temporal – those things we can see but last for only a short time.
Many times the inner tension of worry shows up on the outside through self-criticism, a complaining attitude, open hostility, argumentation, under-achievement, and an excess concern about material things. This worry can be caused by a belief of being inferior which leads to insecurity and fear. Of course, there are those who live temporally simply because they don’t care about God and His Word, but I’m speaking primarily to those Christians who really want to live by faith but have difficulty doing that.
First of all, let me say you cannot “get up enough faith” in God. The Scripture teaches that faith is a gift from God. The faith to believe in God is placed into you by God for salvation and there for you now to use in the process of living by faith. I cannot “get up the faith” to believe in God for salvation because prior to salvation I had a reprobate and disobedient mind. If God didn’t call me through His grace and give me the faith to believe in Him, I would never have been saved.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:27-28
God gives us faith to believe Him. What we need to do now is yield ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit and He will give us the faith to live by faith. All credit goes to God.
Rocks in Springs
There are nine things we cannot “get up” in the flesh. They are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
This is the “fruit” of the Spirit of God, not the fruit of our flesh.
When we are lost and alive in the flesh, we are spiritually dead in sin. Our works are these:
- and such like
But when we are saved we become brand new individuals. We die to the flesh and come alive in and to the Spirit.
The fruit Christians see in their life should be –
Notice that “faith” is listed as one of the things the Holy Spirit produces in a Christian’s life.
If you’re a child of God, you can love .. you can have peace .. you can have joy .. you can suffer long .. you can be gentle .. you can be good .. you can be meek .. you can be temperate .. and you can have faith.
You can have faith!
How often have we heard Christians say, “I just cannot believe that this or that will happen.” Why would you think that way? Because you’ve thrown a rock over the spring. Let me illustrate.
In John 7:38-39, Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
We know that Jesus was speaking figuratively here about what the Spirit of God would do in a believer’s life. “… rivers of living water” will flow from us as we live for God by the power of God that lives in us (the Holy Spirit).
In John 4 we learn that Jesus is the source of this living water –
“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:10-14
A friend of mine once shared with me that when he was a little boy he lived in the country. Near to his house was a large spring of water and every day he would go to drink from that bountiful flow of crystal clear, ice cold water. His family eventually moved away and it was more than 20 years before the boy, now a man, returned to the old homestead to see what had become of it.
As he was walking around the property he remembered that wonderful spring and thought to himself, “what a treat to drink from that ice cold spring on this hot summer day.” He walked to where the spring had been, but it wasn’t there. It was all dry ground. He wondered to himself, “what happened to the spring? Where did it go? Did the water stop flowing? Did it dry up?”
Sometimes that’s how we feel about our life as Christians. We remember the power that we once had with God. We remember the blessed fellowship that we had with Jesus. We remember the times we used to drink from the spiritual fountain of blessing We remember how refreshed we were after a season of precious prayer and fellowship with our Lord and Savior. But things changed through the years. The joy doesn’t flow any longer. We can’t seem to love the way we used to love. We don’t know the peace we once knew. We struggle to be gentle and kind. We don’t suffer long. We don’t live by faith. We ask ourselves, “what happened? Did I lose my salvation? Did God forsake me? Is there any hope?”
My friend told me that as he looked at the dry ground where the spring had once flowed, he decided to dig into the ground to see what may have caused the problem. As my friend dug through the dirt he found that rocks, limbs and leaves had fallen into the spring through the years since he had moved away. He remembered how he used to clean out the spring regularly so nothing would stop the flow of the cold, pure water.
As my friend removed all of the debris, he came to a large rock that had fallen over the hole of the spring. He lifted the large rock from the hole and immediately cold clear, refreshing water began to flow like it had before. The water had always been there, but the rock and debris had kept it from coming to the surface where the water would be available for drinking.
As I listened to my friend’s story, I thought about how that is what often happens in our lives. We allow the the debris of sin to cover the flow of spiritual water we have available to us in Christ. We allow disobedience, worry, anxiety, and temporal living to choke out the life of Christ from within to flow to the surface of our lives where we can be strengthened and refreshed for spiritual service. We need to dig deep and clean out sin from our hearts and remove the stones and sins that so easily beset us and once again receive “refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”
Why can’t we live by faith? Because of sin. We’ve disobeyed God. We’ve let the cares of this world take over our minds and hearts and rule us. We’ve become greedy for temporal blessings and have forgotten about that which is eternal.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3
Jesus wants to be Lord of every area of our life. He can be, but we need to cooperate with Him. God’s Word tells us how we can and should live. We need to realize that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). We need to stop being insecure in ourselves and find our security in Christ. Why worry when we can pray and see the hand of God on our life?
God has called us to live by faith and He will give us the faith to do that.
“I care not today what the morrow may bring, If shadow or sunshine or rain, The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above, Trusting, confiding in His great love; From all harm safe in His sheltering arm, I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise, Obscuring the brightness of life, I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies— The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through, No matter what evils betide; Why should I then care though the tempest may blow, If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day, Our troubles will then all be o’er; The Master so gently will lead us away, Beyond that blest heavenly shore.”
Wells / Winsett
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 40 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your ministry.]