Full text of preacher Paul Washer’s sermon titled “Four Pillars of Walking With God”
Notable quote from this message:
“Joy comes before obedience rather than after. And if you don’t understand that, you will really be messed up all your days. Joy is not the result of obedience. Joy is the result of what God has done. So now your joy is fixed on a fixed and stable source. When your joy is based on your performance, it’s going to be up and down like the wind, up and down like the raging sea, double-minded, mutable, changing constantly.”
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Paul Washer – Director of @HeartCryMission
It is a tremendous privilege for me to be here this morning. This is going to be kind of unusual. It’s not going to be what you would consider probably a Sunday sermon. It’s going to be more like discipleship.
We’re going to look at some very, very simple but very important and foundational truths that — well, my purpose is this: I want to see you with more joy. I want to see you more greatly encouraged.
Now, this is not going to be a sermon that kind of stirs the emotions so that you walk out here with some kind of spiritual high. But it’s going to teach you a few things that if you will live by them, it will increase your joy. And increasing your joy, it will increase everything else good that the Lord has put in your life. I want you to be encouraged.
So often I look at God’s people – And I’m talking about God’s people… people who show the fruit of salvation in their life, and yet so often they seem so downcast, so tight in their heart, so trodden down. I don’t want that. That’s not God’s will for you.
God’s will for you is to recognize all that He is, all that He has done, all that He will do. For you to recognize that, grasp it, and walk in the power of it.
Now here is something — I want to start off by saying something, that there are great Biblical truths that are absolutely necessary to live by. But oftentimes, in the heart and mind of a believer, they become nothing more than clichés. Because we can say them, we can even know that they’re true to some degree, but we really can’t articulate them. We really don’t know what they mean.
And if we use them often enough, they’ll end up in bittering our heart, because we say things, and yet they seem to have no power to change us.
Let me give you an example. You’re downcast and trodden. And someone comes up to you and says, “You just need to trust in God.”
Yeah, but what do you mean? What does it really mean to trust in God?
Or, “You just need to look to Christ.”
Where? Where do I look? What are you talking about?
Or, “You just need to contemplate and meditate upon the gospel.”
Or, “You just need to savor and relish the gospel.”
Yes. But what does that mean? How do I do it? What are you really talking about?
Or, “Hey, don’t be downcast. The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Yeah, I know. I read that in Nehemiah 2. But what does it mean? How can it really impact my life?
I was a brand new believer, well, probably about – I don’t know — less than a year into the Christian faith. And I went to hear Leonard Ravenhill preach. But before he preached, a younger preacher got up and preached. And he preached about an hour and a half on how we all needed to walk in the Spirit.
It was powerful. I mean, he was yelling at us, he was rebuking us, he was admonishing us to walk in the Spirit. After the sermon, I went up to him and I said, “I really appreciate that sermon. It was really good. I really want to walk in the Spirit. I just have one problem: I don’t have a clue what that means. What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?”
He looked at me, got very serious, and then began to basically tell me off. But I was very fortunate, there was an older believer — a college student but had many more years in the faith. They were a senior, I think — and was standing behind me and put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me out of the way.
And he walked up to that preacher and said, “Preacher, you didn’t answer his question. You didn’t tell him how to walk in the Spirit. You did not tell us how to do that in the sermon. You’re not telling him how to do that now. Do you even know what it means to walk in the Spirit?”
You want to ruin a lot of good sermons? Raise your hand and ask them what they’re talking about. The question is we hear all these great truths, but sometimes they just spin around in our heads. They spin around in our heads.
You all know that there’s a thing called Systematic Theology, right?
Well, why is it called systematic theology?
Because it’s theology that’s presented in a systematic way.
Now why is that necessary?
Because you and I, in our mind, we use categories. We do. We can’t get away from it. We think, “This is a reality, and this is a reality, therefore this.”
Well, it’s the same way sometimes when we study the Scriptures.
How can I take all these truths that are swirling around and really put them in a category so that I can actually do something with them? Okay?
Now I want to give you a statement that I wrote out in my mind at about 3:00 AM on Thanksgiving morning, because I couldn’t sleep. And it’s this: I want to talk about the four pillars… just four simple pillars of, well, you can call it the Christian life. You can talk about four pillars of walking with God, four pillars of being encouraged, four pillars leading to obedience, I don’t care what you call it.
But here are four things that I want to give you: Knowledge of the truth. That’s the first one.
Knowledge of the Truth. And we’re going to go through these separately. But knowledge of the truth is the beginning. “You will know the truth” about everything, about everything in the Scriptures, about every aspect of the Christian life. It is important to know the truth. You must know truth and be able to discern the difference between truth and a lie. That’s essential. And that’s the first pillar, the first foundation.
Knowledge of the truth, apprehended by faith. It’s not enough to know these things but to actually believe them, so that although they are unseen, they are still greater, they can become even greater realities than that which is seen. So it’s knowledge of the truth, and then it is you believing that truth as opposed to believing a lie.
Knowledge of the truth, faith in what is true, believing what is true, and, that, in the Christian life, will always lead to joy. The more you apprehend the truth about who God is, about what God has decreed, about what God has done, and what God will do: and with each one of those, I could end it “for you, for you, for you, for you.”