Turn with me to Ephesians 1. Weíre going to continue in verse 15.
Weíre talking about the characteristics of real faith. Very obviously
weíre not doing a complete study on faith. Remember weíre studying
Ephesians, and weíre seeing from Ephesians what real faith is. There are
so many other things you could add to this. If we took other books we
could do months and months of study just on the subject of faith.
As I was meditating on this, I began to think of how faith and love
all seem to have something to do with each other. I remember back when I
first married Diana. Oh me, that was a wonderful day. Itís been a
wonderful almost twenty-four years with her. But I was thinking about
the fact that I thought I loved her. I very obviously thought I trusted
her. She worked at a place where there were all men except for her. For
some reason or another I thought I trusted her, but I really didnít. I
gave her a fit. I would come home, and I would say, "Did you talk to
anybody today? Did anybody...?" You know, I just drove her nuts. But as
we grew and as we matured (it took me a little longer than Diana) I
began to realize that love grows.
In one of the Gospels, the disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, increase
our faith." A soldier came to Him one day and said, "Lord, I believe.
Will You help me in my unbelief?" Remember Jabez from the Old Testament?
He said, "Lord, enlarge my boundaries. Enlarge my coasts." In other
words, "Lord, expand me. Help me to trust you even more." It begins with
a little seed in our life, and it grows within us as we learn to love
Him and as we learn to trust Him.
You might be already wondering whether or not you even have real
faith. Maybe you see the standard of the Ephesian believers, and you
say, "Well, somehow I donít think Iím measuring up to that." Well,
listen, if youíre growing, the main thing is the direction youíre headed
in trusting God. Youíll never get to the place, until you get to glory,
that youíll absolutely do it right all the time. The whole thing is tied
together with love and trust.
Now I donít worry about Diana. I really donít. I donít think she
worries about me. Iím not sure. Sheís still sort of concerned, but she
knows me. I just trust her. Sheíll come in sometimes and tell me
something sheís done. Maybe sheís spent this or that. That doesnít
bother me. I know her walk. I love her, and I love her for what she is.
Love and trust just somehow grow together. Isnít it beautiful how God
You say, " I really love Jesus tonight, but Iím not sure Iím trusting
Him in every area of my life." Well, I challenge you to grow in that
because if you get saved thatís when it starts. It doesnít stop there.
So often we hear, "God loves you just like you are." Well, certainly He
does. He knows us, but thatís a "yes" and "no" situation. No, Heís not
satisfied with us just like we are. His whole desire is that we be
conformed into the image of Christ Jesus Who walked in total conformity
with His Father. So if you are complacent with that little statement,
"God loves me like I am," and youíre not growing in your faith, and
youíre not learning to love Him more, then friend, youíre going
backwards. Youíre not going forwards, and God is not pleased with that.
Youíre not walking worthy as God has designed the walk to be.
Look at this statement. Spurgeon wrote this. I love this, and I trust
this is my own heart cry: "If all my senses were to contradict God. I
would deny every one of them and sooner to believe myself to be out of
my mind than believe that God could lie. And I desire to feel that in
every emotion of my spirit, every throb of my heart, every thought of my
brain, and everything that is contrary to the plainfully revealed truth
of God I will count myself a mad man, and I will reckon God to be wise
and to be true."
You see, faith is in what God says and who He is and in what He does.
Look at verse 15. He says, "For this reason I too, having heard of the
faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for
all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you." Paul says, "I am so
encouraged by your faith. Youíre trusting Him, youíre trusting His Word,
youíre trusting what Heís doing in your life." Itís not just a spur of
the moment decision. Thatís point number one. Itís a lifestyle of loving
Him and trusting Him and obeying Him. Paul says, "You so encourage my
Whatís your life like right now? Do people know about you? Are they
hearing about you? Are they saying, "Boy, do you know this couple over
here? They believe God. Man, they live like they really believe God."
Thatís the witness that we have to a lost world. Thatís what itís all
about. When you entered into the covenant with the Lord God you entered
in by faith, no other way. That same faith that saved you is the faith
that sustains you. If youíre not trusting God, you need to confess that
as sin in your life. Weíre commanded to trust Him. Weíre commanded not
to be anxious about any one single thing in our life because Heís the
Lord of our life.
Maybe thatís the point of growth that youíre in right now. Maybe
somethingís happened. A crisis of belief has come in your life. Youíre
not willing to go on and trust God in what He says. Youíre going the
other direction, and Godís trying to speak to you somehow through all of
Well, Paul has just told them how much God loved them. He says, "In
love Heís blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In love He
has chosen us before the foundation of the world. In love He has
predestined us to the adoption of sons to Jesus Christ to Himself. In
love He has seen to it that in Christ we have redemption through His
blood and the forgiveness of our trespasses. In love He has made the
mystery of His will to us. In love He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit
of promise. And in love He has guaranteed our inheritance." Now thatís
who He is, and thatís what Heís done for us. Now he says, "You encourage
my life because youíre living according to your faith in Him day by
day." The lifestyle of those Ephesian believers quickened an old manís
heart as he was in prison having to face daily uncertainties of what was
going on in his life.
So first of all, the first point was faith is a lifestyle. Itís not a
spur of the moment decision. Secondly, faith, real faith in Jesus
Christ, trusts His motive when He allows things to go bad in your life
and when He allows difficult circumstances to appear in your life. Now
let me say that again. Real faith in Jesus Christ trusts His motive when
He allows you to go through difficult circumstances. You trust His
motive. Remember the song, "When you canít see His hand, trust His
heart?" The object of their consistent faith was the Lord Jesus Christ.
My faith has found a resting place. Thatís where it is. Itís the object
of faith that is everything about faith. What are you believing in? Itís
the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When you focus in on Him you trust His motive even when He allows you
to go through difficult circumstances. The term is right there in the
verse. Verse 15, "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in
the Lord Jesus which exists among you." There is a term there for Lord
which we look at and see "master" or "authority." They looked at the
same term and saw something more. The word kurios is used there
for Lord. Itís the word that meant "the one who exercises his authority
to do good and what is moral in a personís life." Itís a very special
word. They understood it that way. When you refer to somebody as lord
using the word kurios, youíre referring not only to somebody in
the position of authority, but youíre referring to somebody who, in that
position of authority has a concern and a passion for others who are
under his authority. Thatís what the word means. It expresses concern.
When you refer to Jesus as Lord Jesus Christ, youíre not just referring
to the position He holds, but youíre referring to the compassion He
feels for the people whom He oversees. They understood that, and I think
itís high time that we understand that. Whatever He does in the
authoritative position that Godís put Him in is for our good, always for
Jesus is the one who is the fulfillment of that covenant promise in
Jeremiah 32:40. Remember what it said? God said, "I will not turn away
from them to do them good." Whatever God is doing to people in the new
covenant is good. It may look as if itís bad, but God, as Romans 8:28
says, causes all things to work together for good, that which is
benevolent to us, that which meets our spiritual need. God does that in
our life. Even when weíre going through difficult times, Heís still
doing good in our life.
Faith trusts His motive behind the difficult circumstances He allows
us to go through. Thatís why James could say what he said in James 1.
Look over there for a minute. This is why James says in James 1:2,
"Consider it all joy,Öwhen you encounter various trials." That word
"encounter" means "to stumble into" because thatís the way difficult
things come to us. We donít plan them. Donít you wish you could plan
them? But you canít plan them. You stumble into them.
One of the things that blessed me when I was studying through this
one day, taking it a word at a time, was that little word "various."
That little word "various" is a powerful word. It means "multicolored."
Our trials are multicolored. But now listen, if you know that Godís
motive in your trial is to do good for you, and Heís going to cause the
things to work out the right way on an eternal perspective, then you
need to know something else. If the trials are color-coded, look at I
Peter 4:10. Here we find a subject thatís bigger than the context. Iím
not violating a context. Spiritual gifts are just one little aspect of
Godís grace. Godís grace is much bigger than talking about spiritual
gifts, and look what he says about it: "As each one has received a
special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of
the manifold grace of God." Guess what? The word "manifold" is the same
word as "various" over in James. Itís multicolored. "You mean to tell me
that Godís grace is color-coded to my trials?" Yes, and what is Godís
grace that He wants to do in me and to me and through me that I canít do
myself? The transforming power that God has in my life. When Iím going
through a difficult time I can bear up under it. I can endure it. Why?
Because God will give me the special grace to go through it. Now He
might just throw in what I want Him to do, but sometimes He doesnít do
that. Why would He do that? Because Heís always doing good, whateverís
going on in my life.
Thatís the heart of God. I can trust His motive. For every low place
that I go through Iíve got a high place. Habakkuk said, "He made my feet
like hinds feet to walk on high places." Then he said, "He made me to
walk on my own individual high places." All of us have our individual
low places, and all of us have our specialized individual high places.
When weíre in a low place, and weíre going through a trial we trust in
the heart of God. God will cause that trial to work together for good
for us. Heíll lift us up on a high place. He may never change the
circumstance, but Heíll change us in the midst of the circumstance.
Walking by faith trusts His motive.
The thing thatís blessing me as I look at this through Scripture is
that life is never supposed to work against me if Iím a believer. It
always works for me. My trust is in the One who is orchestrating it. I
know that His motive is right regardless of what my mind sometimes wants
to tell me. I can trust His motive in whatever He allows or whatever He
does. Heís a benevolent ruler over me. Heís concerned about me. Heíll
never turn His back upon me to do me good. Sometimes that good is
chastening me and disciplining me and scourging me. He brings you right
down to the very edge. God will sometimes create circumstances and
orchestrate them. Sometimes we inflict our own pain, but youíve still
got to realize that God is still overseeing that in our lives. He has a
good desire to bring us to Himself, to rescue us in the middle of it, to
draw us to Himself. Whether He ever changes our circumstances or not, we
serve a God that loves us and has proven it beyond any time that weíll
ever need to defend Him.
Well, real faith in Christ is a lifestyle, not a spur of the moment
decision. Itís not what you do when your kids get sick or your marriage
gets on the rocks, or where you donít have any money. No! Itís an
everyday, moment by moment, saying, "God, I trust who you are. I trust
Your Word. I will obey You no matter what." But then secondly, faith in
Christ Jesus trusts in His motive. So when bad things happen I donít run
and hide. I know somehow Heís in control of it, and nothing can get to
me that doesnít get by Jesus first. KuriosóHeís the Lord Jesus
Christ, the benevolent ruler. He cares about the people over which He
Finally, real faith in Christ Jesus (and this one was a surprise to
me), is accompanied by something that normally I wouldnít look for. In
other words, how is it manifested in people who are really trusting
Christ? How do you know who they are? Well, sometimes you donít.
Sometimes they can fake you out. You may think theyíre trusting the
Lord. They know how to say it, and they know how to do it, but maybe in
their hearts they really arenít. Is there any other way we can know who
they are? Yes. Real faith in Christ Jesus is accompanied by an
unconditional and compassionate love for others. In other words, if you
believe Heís working that way in you, then youíre willing to open your
heart up and let Him work that way through you to others. Thatís your
whole desire to others. Thatís His heart working in you.
"Now Wayne, thatís far-fetched. Where did you get that?" Look at
verse 15. "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord
Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints."
Now, what are we talking about? Listen, when you talk about faith youíre
talking about everything in the Christian life. Youíre talking about
your relationship with Christ. Youíre talking about you loving Him and
trusting Him and obeying Him. That is the normal Christian life. Itís
the life of faith. Without faith we cannot be pleasing unto God. When
youíre allowing God to work in you, and youíre trusting Him, His motive,
His Word, and all that Heís doing, obviously if Heís working in you,
itís going to be manifested by Him working through you. The way you
treat others is going to have a whole lot to do with how much youíre
walking by faith in Him.
John 13:35 gives us a principle that we need to hang on to. It says,
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love
for one another." One presupposes the other. If you have faith in Him,
and itís working in your life, and youíre trusting Him, then itís going
to have an outflow. Itís going to touch somebody else around you.
Thereís going to be a kind of love thatís just incredible. Isnít that
amazing? How do you know people in the body of Christ are really
trusting Christ? Well, look how they treat one another. My relationship
vertically with Him is directly somehow hooked in to my relationship
with others that are around me. You see, thatís why itís been so easy to
fake it. Some of us know how to say it, but weíre not expressing it to
other people that are around us.
What is this love that weíre talking about? The word is agape.
It refers to the kind of love that is intensely committed to oneís
spiritual best. Now where would that come from? It would have to come
from a Ruler who was intensely committed to oneís spiritual best. When
Heís working in me He transforms me and begins the work through me. My
attitude towards others is a direct reflection of His attitude towards
me. I begin to see others for the first time in their need, and my heart
will reach out to want to meet that need. Itís not a feeling, but itís a
willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of someone else. Itís
totally unlike anything the human flesh can produce.
So, do you want to know whether or not youíre trusting God? Well,
stop looking at your finances. Stop looking at the problems youíve got
right now. Shift gears and look at your relationships. See how the two
are connected. If Iím walking by faith Heís doing a work in me and to
me, but if Iím walking by faith Heís also doing a work through me. Itís
going to be manifested in the way I see others and the way I care about
the needs that others have.
Look over at Galatians 5:22 for just a second. Paul talks about this
love and shows you that you canít produce it yourself. Itís something
God the Holy Spirit has to do. As a matter of fact, itís the signal that
Godís working in your life. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control..." Thatís the evidence of that love working in somebodyís
heart. So when you have people in the body of Christ who canít get along
with one another people, who are more interested in themselves than they
are somebody else, then obviously youíve got people in the body of
Christ who are not walking by faith. Godís not doing something in them,
therefore, Heís not allowed to do something through them.
Who are the people who have real faith? They daily place themselves
in Godís hands, and they donít make demands upon Him. Itís a lifestyle.
Thatís the way they live. They trust His motive in the difficult times.
They know that He loves them, and whatever He does is right. They
experience His working in them which is evidenced by their unconditional
love for the people of God. Thatís what real faith is all about. If
weíre going to walk by faith then the world will know it. Theyíll know
it sometimes not by how much we affirm that we believe God, theyíll know
it by the way we treat one another, by the way we love one another.
Automatically theyíll know it. If Godís doing a work in me then Heís
changing me, and that heart that He has toward me now is turned and
expressed towards somebody else who is around me.
In verses 15 and 16 Paul says, "For this reason I too, having heard
of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your
love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while
making mention of you in my prayers."
You know, weíre just a piece of the body. Weíre certainly not the
body of Christ. Iíve said many times that if God doesnít lead you to our
church you need to go wherever Heís leading you. The door swings both
ways. We just want people that are sent. All we want is whatever God
wants to do in your life. Weíre not trying to measure your spirituality
by how often you come to church or how much you get involved. We just
want you to know God, to walk with Him and to experience Him. I
guarantee you we wonít have to worry about anything else because the
results will be dynamite. Itís what God does.
So often we miss the boat of what Christianity is all about. Weíre
not talking about "Churchianity," weíre talking about Christianity.
Christianity is a walk of faith, believing who God is, believing in Him,
what He does and believing everything that He says.
"When your senses," as Spurgeon says, "ever seek to contradict
anything about the character of God, then you should deny every one of
them and rather believe yourself to be out of your mind than to believe
for a second that God could lie." Thatís the walk of faith. Where you
are in that journey is between you and the Lord. Iím not here to judge
you. You might have just gotten started, or you might be way down the
road. The key is are you moving and progressing or are you backing up?
Thatís the key.
Remember this. Your reputation is what people think you are. Your
character is what your wife and your children know that you are. Youíre
either a man of faith or youíre not. We want to examine where we are in
our faith walk. Are we trusting God regardless of what He does? Are we
trusting God in all that He says, and are we trusting God in the motive
that He has behind what He allows into our life, who He is, all those
things that are involved? Just meet with the Lord. Say, "God, I want you
to answer this." Probably you already have had it answered. "Where am I
in trusting You? Where am I trusting Your Word in my life? Whatís my
relationship like to my brothers and sisters in Christ? Is it what you
want it to be? Is my heart full of peace and joy and things that ought
to be there? Is your Spirit working in my heart?" See what the Lord says