by Bob Watts
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.” (Heb. 11:1-2)
From these verses we are able to see a couple things about faith: it is the very substance of things hoped for and it is the evidence of things which we cannot see. Without this faith one will not obtain a good report from our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is very common among all who have been born of the Spirit, but how many live by faith is another question. Grace is a gift to all those who have been saved by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8). At this point it is best that I speak a few words about grace; there is much included in this Grace. We all know that no man has grace in his or her natural being; grace is something outside of man. We can understand this because it is a gift from God. Now what is grace? We know that grace is not something apart from Christ. And it is not some thing that He gives, if it were there would be two Saviors, grace and Christ. So grace is Christ coming to us as our divine ability to believe and obey His will. Without this grace no one would believe in Christ; within this grace one obtains the ability to believe (have faith) and receive Him.
From Rom. 10:17 we can understand how faith comes - that is by hearing the word of God. Within the word of God we find Grace (God’s divine ability to believe and obey Him.) Also in the hearing of the word we receive faith. Now this does not in any way take away the responsibility of man. Man must hear the Word, and when he does he receives grace and faith. It is God’s desire to save all. We know that many will not hear, but this is their choice. Unless the Spirit draws a person there is no way to be saved. He gives each man an opportunity to be saved, but sad to say many reject the Spirit’s drawing. It is Christ as our faith and grace which are put within us, now we believe, repent, receive Christ and are born from above. Once we receive this grace and faith it becomes ours because we have received and experienced Christ. We can see very clearly that there is no way to have grace and faith apart from Christ. Many people believe in many different things but they do not have faith; there is only one faith (Eph. 4: 5). Even though faith includes believing that is not all; faith goes much deeper than just a worldly belief.
“Now the just shall live by faith: But if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38) It is not possible to please God without faith. If a person is JUST, he or she will live by faith. There is no such thing as faith without the Word, not the dead letter, but the Word which has been spoken to you, the living Word of God. It is not that we just take any verse in the Bible and claim it. It is only when the Spirit speaks that Word to you. He makes the Word real to us, living and effective in our lives. The Lord Jesus Himself said “THE WORDS THAT I SPEAK TO YOU ARE SPIRIT AND LIFE.” (Jn. 6:63b) Tell me, what is the dead letter? It is the Scripture without the Spirit.
In Galatians 5:22, one of the fruits of the Spirit is faithfulness. Surely when we are in the Spirit there will be faith. When one is in his or her natural man, or in the flesh, there you will not find faith. In the last part of Rom. 14:23 the Word says, “for whatever is not from faith is sin.” So we see dear brothers and sisters, that this matter of living by faith is a very serious matter.
A note to all who read this: when I speak of the Lord moving on my heart, or the Lord leading me, I am referring to God speaking to me. I felt to say this because we place much emphasis on the Spirit speaking the Word to us. Also in the Word we find that God was always speaking to His people. It is the spoken Word which we must hear and obey in order to walk by faith. God has not changed; He still speaks through His Word, through our brothers and sisters, through circumstances, and directly to us.
My burden in this article is not so much on the teaching of faith. Instead, I would like to give a few of my testimonies concerning faith. I have desired to live by faith since I first began to know the Lord Jesus in 1954. I do not claim to be a person of great faith, although what faith I have is great because it came from the Lord Jesus. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). I have noticed that faith and love always seem to go together, for how can one have faith in another without loving that person? How much do I really trust the Lord? How much do I love Him?
In The matter of faith, God’s speaking is of utmost importance. Only a few months after I was first saved I was reading the Word and I came to 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” In the first part of my Christian life I received very little teaching. I only knew that there had been some big changes in my life, and I did not understand why I was losing many of my old desires, friends, etc. But when I read this verse, 2 Cor. 5:17, the lights came on. This was the first Word which the Spirit spoke to me in such a clear way. By faith I took this verse and believed it with all my heart. If anyone is in Christ - that means you my dear brother or sister –they are a new creation and old things begin to pass away.
So, one of the first things that you must do to begin the life of faith is to believe the word when the Spirit speaks to you. Remember that Satan also believes, but he has no faith. So we have to say that faith is more than just simply believing. The Spirit put something inside of us when we were born of the Spirit, and that something is called faith. So we have the capacity to believe the Lord and His Word. For this reason we are called believers.
May I say that the life of faith has nothing to do with whether you have a job or if you are full time in the Lord’s work? All of God’s children should live by faith. Our faith (trust) should be completely in Him, not in the good track record of a certain company. God does not have one standard regarding faith for preachers and another standard for the rest of the believers.
In 1958 the Spirit began to touch my heart about the Latin American people. I was not sure where the Lord wanted me to go, so I was waiting, working at a normal job in Abilene, Texas. A brother who had been in Mexico for a year came by our house. He asked me when I was going to Mexico. (Before this brother came, the Lord had put in my heart that the place would be Mexico.) I told him that I did not know, because I did not have enough support. Then he asked me a very simple question, “When does the Lord want you to go?” I answered, “Now.” At this time we had six children, so how could a poor man like me go to live in another country without work? In Mexico a person from another country must have special permission to work, which I did not have.
In just a couple months my wife and I, with six little ones, were in Mexico. When we went to Mexico there were so many things which I did not know about the Lord and about His Word. I felt like a small child in the very first year of school, and believe me, I did have some fear. But, I felt very strongly that the Lord had spoken to me that I should be in Mexico, so there we were.
The time of suffering began the very first month. After being there for almost a year, child number seven was born. The Lord had dealt with me about paying my way as I go. Well, my wife was in the hospital and she was to be discharged at 2 P.M. I had not one peso to pay for her stay. Each morning, by the Lord’s mercy, we would spend time in prayer and in the Word until 12 or 1 P. M. So we had been praying and seeking the Lord about this hospital bill. At about 1:30 P.M. someone knocked on the front door. I ran downstairs to answer and a dear sister was at the door. She told me that because of illness she must return to the States, and that she had these pesos left over, which she felt that the Lord wanted us to have. Brothers and sisters, it is experiences like this which humbles a person. Praise to Him!
I went to the hospital, paid my bill and I had enough left over to go to the market to buy a few things. A strange thing had happened earlier that morning. I had wanted to go to the post office and check and see if the Lord had sent anything by mail, but the Lord had made it very clear that I was not to go, but that I just needed to talk to the Lord and spend time with Him in fellowship. This was the only time in all my life that the Lord sent someone to my front door to supply our need. In this walk of faith one must be always open to the Lord Jesus and obey Him. Of course, later we knew why we should not have gone to the post office - there was no need. Our Father had everything planned out just the way He wanted it. By the way the baby was a girl and guess what we named her - Annette La Fe. In English Le Fe means “The Faith”. And do you know that this dear sister is walking with the Lord now and loves the Lord very much, even as all of our children do love the Lord.
I had to go back to Texas each six months to obtain a new visa, because they were only good for six months. How we had the money for those trips was just the Lord’s mercy. At that time, it was a 12 hour trip just to the border. Each time when we went out we would try to speak in different groups in order to try to raise more support. Does this sound like the normal Christian missionary? Well, I never was much of a speaker to raise money. So you know what the results were. Most all the time we had just enough money to arrive back to Mexico. There the suffering would begin again, with very little food, not enough gas for the car, and hungry children. My wife was very merciful to me. She did her best in taking good care of the children. She could make a good meal out of nothing.
After almost two years, I began to ask the Lord what was the problem, because I knew that it was the Lord’s will to be there, but the needs were not being met. I did not put the blame on the Lord. I did ask the Lord to search my heart and let me know what was wrong. This, the Lord was very glad to do. The Lord looked at all my situation, at what I was doing. I told the Lord, “I am doing what all the other missionaries are doing.” The Lord spoke very clearly, “This, my dear friend, is your problem." The Lord dealt with me very strongly about the way I was trying to raise support. The Spirit began to speak of this new life in faith: “Why have you left this way? Your way of life is not pleasing to me.”
Then, I knew what I had to do. I sat down and wrote everyone a letter who was supposed to have been helping us. I told them that I would not be coming out to try to raise support. Each of them just needed to pray and do whatever the Lord put on their heart. Six weeks after I mailed this letter - praise our Lord - we never received another penny from those who were trying to help us. God out of His mercy left us alone, with no income at all. At this time we began to pray and trust only the Lord for our needs.
Please understand that I did not enter this life of faith in one day. It took the Lord quite some time to show me this way, which is His way. In just a short time the Lord spoke to a brother who did not know anything about our situation. He told me that his group was to support us completely. I was so happy in the Lord. The Lord at the same time was teaching me the walk of faith. This is not a course which one may learn in a Bible school, although one may learn something of the teaching there, but the experience is something much more glorious. All that was taking place was leading up to a deeper walk in faith, but at the time I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me.
Two years later the Spirit made it clear that we were to go to Paraguay, South America with some other Christians. So, I had these thoughts toward the Lord: “How will my family live in that faraway country?” Mexico is close by, but Paraguay is a long way off. Paraguay was a small country at that time of about two million people. The Spirit touched my heart and He seemed to have spoken, “Look there are over two million there. Most all they have food to eat every day and you are my son. Do you think that I am not able to meet your need?” From that very moment on, I had no unbelief in my heart about the Lord supplying all of our needs according to His riches in glory. The Lord was very faithful to take care of us while we were there. Many times we even had steak with eggs for breakfast.
All the time that we were there, we did not receive one penny from the ones in the U.S. Not that the gifts would not have been welcomed, but this was not the Lord’s desire at this time. We should not be bothered as to where the supply is to come from - that is the Lord’s business, not ours. We just need to trust only the Lord, not to look to man or churches, but only to the Lord. The Lord does not say, “Ask the church or a brother and you will receive.” No, He said, “Ask Me.” Remember that faith is based on the Word. If the Word does not teach you to ask man nor His churches, and one asks man or the churches, then this is not based on the Word and cannot be by faith. This does not please the Lord, for without faith that is not possible to please the Lord. One may ask, “Well, what about all the missionaries, full time workers etc.?” I cannot answer for them. Each must answer to the Lord Himself.
After Paraguay, we were in the States for a time. One day the Lord began to move again, this time about going to Australia. But this time it was a little different. I was working, making a normal wage, and God led me to begin saving all the money that was possible. This was in 1971. Remember in those days one was not earning the wage which one does now. I needed at least $4,000 to buy our tickets and to have enough to live on until I was able to find work (a month). I also needed to buy some kind of transportation. So I worked. We bought, we sold, and we saved. In one year, by the Lord’s mercy, we had $4,000.00. While there in Australia we worked at a normal job and trusted the Lord. We made tents, so to speak, in the daytime, and when we got off work we made our contacts with the people. When it was time to come back to the States it was the same. We worked, and we bought and we sold until there was money for the return trip. One brother did give us a thousand dollars to help on the return trip. This brother was there in the same town where we were.
This is the way the Lord spoke to us, and you know that this is based on the Word. God tells us to work, and God tells us to buy and sell to make a gain. If one will wait and listen for the Lord’s speaking, the walk of faith can be very glorious. When God speaks, act upon it. If there is no speaking, then do nothing. Brothers and sisters, if only our dear pastors, fulltime workers, and all of our precious brothers and sisters would walk in this way, how pleased the Lord would be. I know that each one of you have this desire to please the Lord, our Father. Well, this is the way to please Him. I once knew a dear brother who was a pastor of a group. This brother refused to accept a salary. He only asked the people to pray and whatever the Lord led them to give, to put it in the offering box. This dear brother lived this way for some thirty years. This is glorious! Thanks be to the Lord Jesus for this brother’s life of faith in the Lord.
Now let’s move up to some more recent times and experiences with the Lord. We had returned to the States in 1973, and by 1986 we had been away from Mexico for many years. The Lord began to deal with me very strongly about returning to Mexico. I prayed and talked to my wife about this. She was not ready to go, maybe because of all the suffering which we had there before. So, I told her that we would just wait before the Lord until His time. My dear wife began to have heart problems, an enlarged heart. This was another testing from the Lord. Time moved on and five years passed until it was January, 1991. I talked to my wife again. Yes, she was ready to go, and the Lord was also ready.
He led me to go to San Luis Potosi in May of 1991. I went by myself to look for a house and to get everything ready, because I wanted to have everything ready for my dear wife. After putting much work into the house, I returned to Houston to pick up my wife. The Lord had made everything so very clear to us about returning to Mexico. We did not ask one person for help or any church. The Lord had dealt with us very much about this, not to take the way of the nations. We had been in San Luis Potosi for one week to the day, and my dear wife went on to be with the Lord. I would have to say that this was the greatest testing that I had ever been through in all my life. I was still very sure that the Lord wanted us in San Luis Potosi. One dear brother told me that maybe the Lord wanted me to go back to the States. My reply was this, “Then what am I supposed to do with this burden which I have for this people here in Mexico, the Latin American people?” The burden had been there for years. There was no way that I could just lay it aside.
It seemed that everyone wanted me to return to the States. My small income was enough evidence for any normal person to make the choice to return, find a good job, and settle down. But I was not normal, because the Lord had spoken to me about Mexico, and that settled everything. At the same time I knew that I needed a wife to go on in the Lord’s work. So, we prayed about a wife, and the Lord spoke very clearly that if one does not have a wife not to seek one (1 Cor. 7:27). So, I told the Lord, “You know that I need a wife, yet you told me not to seek one. So, Lord, I put this in your hands. You find me a wife since I am not allowed to seek one.” In His time, this is what the Lord did. Almost two years later Hilda and I were married, and she has been a great helpmeet to me in the Lord’s work. As a wife she has taken very good care of me.
Before we married I sat down and told Hilda what income I had coming in. Her reply was, “What will we do?” I told her that the Lord had always supplied my needs, and that together we would trust in Him and He would supply. At that time Hilda had a small business, selling used items. We had prayed about this business, and the Lord spoke to us to sell everything and close the business, and He was going to send one person to buy everything. Praise the Lord; this happened in just a few days. By this experience my wife was strengthened much in her walk of faith in the Lord.
So, without speaking to different groups, without pleading with man, but seeking only the Lord, Jesus began to meet our need. The Lord gave me a burden to help others, so we began helping the poor, with no questions as to how they were going to use the gift, just giving. The more I gave the more the Lord would send in.
One day several years ago I was praying, and it seemed as though the Lord gave me a vision. In this vision I saw the balance on my check book, and to my great surprise the balance was double what it should have been. I said, “Lord that cannot be right; there is some mistake.” Maybe some of you do not believe in things like this. Well that’s okay. But this did happen to me, and it was the Lord. Two weeks passed. I needed to go to the bank here in San Luis and draw out some money with my ATM card. After drawing out the money, I noticed that my balance was much more than I had figured. So, I checked everything, and do you know what? My balance was doubled. This, my dear brothers and sisters, brought me to my knees. The Lord knows how to humble us. We are nothing, and I am not a great preacher and more than likely the worst missionary in Mexico. This same thing happened two more times. I had no idea who was sending the money, but I knew that it was from the Lord. After this time we began to receive two offerings each month. Almost eight years have passed, and just like clock work, twice a month, these offerings arrive. I only found out this: the person giving does not want to be known. The Lord knows I am so grateful to Him. We thank the Lord for the other brothers and sisters who help us each month. Each one of them helps because the Spirit has touched their heart, not because I touched their emotions.
We want to thank a dear brother of ours, Fred Malir. This brother has been a great blessing to us in this walk of faith. His example by his life of faith has been a great help to us. What do we do when someone asks us, “Well, what is your need?” Like brother Fred says, “You are asking the wrong person. I don’t know. Ask the Father.” “Well, do you have enough?” “Ask the Father.” The Lord’s desire is that we learn to seek Him.
I do know that many brothers and sisters gain their support by speaking in churches and also to other persons. I have only one question: “Is it based on His Word?” Not long ago we were talking to a dear brother and this brother was telling me that in their group there were several hundred dear Brothers and sisters which seemed to have a desire from the Lord to go to different countries to carry the gospel. But, they could not go because there were not sufficient funds for them. The normal thing people will do is try to raise more funds. Brothers and sisters, why don’t we just pray and seek the Lord, Him alone? This is what the Word teaches. And, according to God’s Word, all offerings were given from a willing heart. The Lord just touched people to give. Seek the Lord and His kingdom first and last. Only Him.
The way of faith will keep you in contact with the Lord, in fellowship with Him. All of man’s ways take us away from the Lord. One may pray about where he will preach, and how the Lord might touch the people concerning what he needs, etc. But truly, brothers and sisters, do you really know how much you need? Do you not believe that the Lord himself knows your need? We do not know what tomorrow holds for us. But the Lord Jesus does. Tell me, do you know the steps in which the Lord might lead you tomorrow? Do you know how much the Lord might lead you to give to the poor this afternoon? We need to learn to fully trust the Lord and stay before His throne.
Our Father really does care for us. “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. 7:7) This is the LORD’S WORD. Believe Him, trust only in Him and His living Word.
My dear brothers and sisters, we trust that this has been some help to you. May the Lord shine His truth upon you and in your heart. By His mercy we have been in San Luis Potosi for more than 13 years. Christ has always met our need, not according to what we felt that we needed, but according to what He wanted to give. Sometimes it was more than what I had expected, sometimes less. Christ alone is worthy to be praised for the way He takes care of His people. He is the only One who really knows our need, spiritually and economically.
I have just one more word in closing. Everything that we have from the Lord is related to His eternal purpose, even our faith which comes from the Lord Himself. Even our salvation which we have is not just so that we can go to heaven, even though this is a very glorious victory for us. Yet God the Father has greater things in His heart. He has a purpose and this purpose is His will, His desire. He has had this desire since eternity past, before the world was, and before man came into being. This purpose was decided by the Trinity, by the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Every truth in God’s Word is related to His eternal purpose. What is His purpose? It is easy to see - it is Christ His Son. Christ so pleased the Father and expressed the Father. Anyone who will repent and believe in the Son can begin to know the Father. Without Jesus there is no way to know the Father.
Now the Father enjoyed His Son so much that He made the decision to have many sons. Everyone that is born of the Spirit is a child of God. God not only wants many sons, but He wants all of us together to express the Father just as Jesus did. So, His eternal purpose is to have many sons built together forming the church, the body of Christ. The function of the body, the church, is to express Christ. Even this is our Father’s hope. Listen to this word: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) What is glory? I believe all know that glory is the shining of God, the very expression of Himself. Christ in you is the very hope that the Father has of being expressed. We are made in God’s image in order to express Him. When we permit Christ to live His own life through us, God the Father is expressed, and He has gained His purpose.
Brothers and sisters, this is so very important to the Father. Don’t you believe that it is time that our Father begins to have His heart’s desire fulfilled? Why don’t we forget our little problems, look to Jesus, deny ourselves, take up our cross and let Christ live His own life through us in order that the Father might be glorified? For Christ to live His life through each of us we need to use the faith we have, believe His Word and let God LIVE.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)