“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV). In this episode of the Radically Christian Bible Study Podcast, Wes McAdams and Willie B. Williams delve into the profound concept of faith and its pivotal role in the Christian life. They address the common struggles many believers face, such as discouragement, cynicism, and a defeatist attitude, which can hinder their faith. The discussion explores how these mindsets can limit our understanding of God’s promises and our ability to witness His mighty works. Additionally, they tackle the crucial issue of unity within the church and how a lack of faith can impede the body of Christ from experiencing the oneness for which Jesus prayed.

They emphasize the importance of consistently feeding one’s faith through the study of God’s Word and meditating on his promises. They highlight the necessity of believing in God’s ability to overcome any obstacle, whether it’s physical, emotional, or spiritual. The discussion also underscores the relationship between faith and love, emphasizing that true faith leads to a deeper love for God and a greater capacity to bear all things.

The guest for this episode is Willie B. Williams, III, the evangelist for the North Colony Church of Christ. As a passionate and enthusiastic proclaimer of the gospel, Willie brings a wealth of wisdom and experience to the conversation. His journey began with a humble church plant in his living room, and through unwavering faith, he has witnessed God’s mighty works unfold. Willie’s testimony serves as an inspiration, reminding listeners that faith can move mountains and that God’s promises are accessible to those who believe.

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Transcript (Credit: Beth Tabor)

Welcome to the Radically Christian Bible Study podcast. I’m your host, Wes McAdams. Here we have one goal: Learn to love like Jesus. How do you live a life of faith? That’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s Bible study. And just to give you a heads up, one of my favorite parts of the conversation is near the end when we talk about the relationship between faith and unity in the church. My guest today is Willie B. Williams, III. He is the evangelist for the North Colony Church of Christ. He is a good friend and a passionate, enthusiastic proclaimer of the gospel. 

I want to start today by reading Hebrews 11:1‑6. It says, 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” 

I hope that today’s Bible study is an encouragement to you, and, as always, I hope that it helps all of us learn to love like Jesus.

WES: Willie B. Williams, III, welcome to the podcast, Brother.

WILLIE: Wes, it is wonderful to be here. 

WES: It is wonderful to have you. This is long overdue. I’m so glad to have you, Brother.

WILLIE: Yeah, that’s my fault, but God gives grace. It’s a blessing.  

WES: No, no, I’m just glad it finally worked out, so thank you so much for being on the podcast. You and I have all kinds of great conversations. I’m excited for other people to get to listen in on the wisdom that I get to sit at your feet and hear all the time.

WILLIE: You know, it’s mutual, so… We both like to eat the bread. 

WES: I love it. I love it. Well, when we texted back and forth about what we should talk about, you brought up the idea of faith, and I was so glad that you did because this is something that ‑‑ obviously, this is something that every Christian ought to be thinking about all the time, but it’s one that we’re particularly thinking about at McDermott Road this year, where our theme is ‑‑ we phrased it as “Loving Loyalty,” but I’m trying to help people to understand that faith really is about loyalty; it’s about allegiance; it’s about commitment. So I was so happy that you brought up the idea of faith, so let’s talk about faith.  Particularly, what passages or what ideas have you been thinking about, meditating on that have moved you recently?

WILLIE: I think one of the things ‑‑ I think there’s a quote ‑‑ or there’s a saying about finding God, right? And so this man went to the deepest of the sea, he went to the highest mountain, he searched throughout all the world looking for God, and what he failed to realize is that God was in the flower. And the thought behind the writing was that God is in the simple things, and because you’re looking for the deep things, you end up passing up God when, actually, he was right there waving at you in the wind. He’s in the song of the birds. He’s in the wind of the trees. He’s literally right before us, but we’re looking for something so deep, and so sometimes we’re so familiar with scriptures that we fail to realize how awesome he is in that text. 

So there’s a scripture we quote all the time. A lot of people know it. Romans 10:17, right? “So faith comes by hearing.” There can be no relationship ‑‑ matter of fact, before you can have a relationship with anyone, there has to be some remnant of faith.  And so faith comes by hearing, which lets me know that my faith has to be fed. It’s an organism; it has to be fed. And so I started to meditate on one of the things that causes many Christians, including ourselves, as ministers, is we sometimes struggle because we’re good at feeding. We’re not good at receiving, or we don’t feed our own faith. And so, you know, as ministers, sometimes you will have so many Bible classes, so many lessons, you have so many people asking you for advice or they want to know what your thoughts are. They want you to speak into every subject. They want you to speak on marriage. They want you to speak on demons and the afterlife and what happens when you have anxiety, and you’re constantly trying to feed because you care about the people, not realizing you give more than you receive. You have to feed your faith, and faith comes by hearing. 

In Hebrews 11:6, he says, well, “Without faith it’s impossible to please him, for he that comes to God” ‑‑ God is basically saying, I won’t let you get close to me unless I see that you have faith. And sometimes I feel, even sometimes within the body of Christ, that our faith is getting low, and I can point that scripture to certain people and they’ll be like, yeah, I know that scripture, which means they’re not hearing it because we believe we already know it, but we don’t go back and meditate and really build our faith. Then you start looking at all of the other scriptures about what faith does. And so here’s an indictment on our individual walk, and here’s an indictment as the church, as a whole, are collected. If we say we’re going to do something great for God, you’ll hear laughter and sniggling and jokes because we preach faith, but very few people have seen a mighty move of it. We talk about how God created everything, and we cry over bills. We talk about how God ‑‑ he put molecules and atoms in flesh. He thought of that. He thought that maybe one day I will cut my skin, and he thought about the mechanisms of the body, how it can heal itself without outside interference. I can break my leg and ‑‑ which I did when I was in college. I broke my leg, and the doctor said we can do surgery. And I asked the doctor a question. I said, “Can it heal itself?” And the doctor said, “Hmm.” It was almost like, well, yes, it can. I said, “Well, let’s give God a shot.” I literally said that when I was in college. I said, “Well, let’s give God a shot.” He said, “Okay, we’ll just put a cast on,” and I’ve been fine ever since. I run, whatever. My bone completely broke, you know, in half. 

But, you know, faith has to be fed, and if faith is not fed ‑‑ so Romans 10:17, it is such a simple scripture. It is a scripture that is repeated constantly, but “faith comes by hearing,” which lets me know that faith can grow. Even though me and you may worship together, we don’t have the same level of faith, and if we look at what faith can do, there may be some things that are accessible to me because I hear and I’m constantly hearing; you may have just heard. And so sometimes there are some people who walk away and say, “The word didn’t do anything for me,” and then there’s another person that has a completely different testimony and they enjoy the word. They say, “Oh, God’s word is so powerful.”  It really depends on how ‑‑ you know, there’s an i‑n‑g at the end. Faith comes by hearing. You never stop. And so that ‑‑ when we were talking, that resonated with me because everything we do has to be done on faith.

WES: Yeah. Man, that’s so rich. I love how you’re framing it as a relationship with God, that faith is this relational type of commitment to God, and about this hearing. So many passages and ideas were going through my head as you were saying that. I was thinking about how the pivotal scripture in the law, the one Jesus went to when he said what’s the most important commandment in the law. Of course, he said the second was like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but the first was “Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one,” and in Hebrew, that first word “hear” is “Shema.” In my family, we say this with our kids every night. We try to say it every night. We start with that idea, “Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one,” and that Shema idea of hearing is something that is active. It’s not just hearing as in “I heard a noise outside.” It’s listen. Listen to what is being said. Listen to who your God is. Your God, Israel, is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and your soul and your mind and your strength. 

And you’re so right that we can hear, in a sense, the preaching, we can hear the scriptures, we can hear the promises, but sometimes we’re not really listening to them. And two people can be sitting in the same room and, in a sense, they can hear the same things, but one is listening and the other one isn’t, and we’re not internalizing not only the things we’re told to do ‑‑ and I think sometimes we have reduced faith to rules we’re supposed to follow or a way we’re supposed to live, and that’s certainly a part of faith ‑‑ or part of the response of faith, maybe I should say, but faith starts with who is God. 

And I love that you said, you know, all the things that God has done, both in the scriptures, the things that he has revealed to us by special revelation, but then there’s this general revelation, how God has revealed himself in the created world.  The way that he heals the body ‑‑ the body is created to heal itself. The way that God reveals himself in the flower. And you’re so right that sometimes we look at the things that we’re going through and we say, “Well, yeah, I know God brought down Goliath, and I know God parted the Red Sea, and I know God delivered the Israelites, and I know God created this and God created that, but this problem that I have right now, it’s too big for God.” And we wouldn’t say it that way, but that’s essentially the way we’re living our lives.

WILLIE: And if we look at faith ‑‑ you had mentioned something, the greatest commandment. The greatest commandment in the world ‑‑ the greatest commandment in the world ‑‑ cannot be accomplished without faith. You cannot love God with all your heart, soul, and mind because faith allows you to begin the relationship. I’m so glad that you brought up that scripture because ‑‑ and we’re wrestling with this concept that faith comes before love. If faith has to come before love, I cannot love you with all of me unless there’s first trust, because I’ll never jump. I can love you intellectually. I can love your gifts. I can love you in categories, but to fulfill that commandment, you have to jump off the ledge. You have to love God with everything. Most of us, we love people on reserve, so I’ll give you this love, but you won’t have access; I’ll hold back. And if you say, “Hey, I thought you loved me” ‑‑ I do.  “But why did you keep that secret?” Because I don’t love you completely. 

The greatest commandment in the world is loving God completely, but before there can be love ‑‑ if you think about any relationship, even if we just look outside of spirituality, if I’m going to love somebody ‑‑ right? If I’m gonna love you for who you are ‑‑ and I’m not just talking about agape love because I don’t need to know your name to have agape love to you, right? I love you through Him. But let’s just say, in a human perspective, I wanted to really just love you wholly. That means your past, your present, your future, your gifts, your ups, your downs, whatever the case may be. The first thing is, I have to listen. I have to start asking you questions. I have to get to know you, and the only way that my trust and my faith can be built is that I have to be quiet and you have to share. If you refuse to share, then we’ll never have that level of intimacy, and God wants to have intimacy with us. 

And the reason why we don’t shout about how great the church is and the great moves of God, like on the level that I believe we should, is because, somewhere along the line, we’ve stopped hearing the wonderful words of God. “Oh, he’s wonderful. Did you know he did this? And did you know he did that?” Not just in the Old Testament, but “Do you know what he’s doing in my life? And do you know I shouldn’t even be here? I should have died. The doctor said” ‑‑ “Hey, do you know ‑‑ I thought my family was over; he restored.” “Do you know my child came back to the church?” “Do you know my mother got baptized?” Like our testimony ‑‑ I know we don’t have testimony portions anymore, but I think the purpose of the testimonies was to remind people God not only did it for David, God not only did it for Peter, God not only was patient with Thomas, God was patient with me and he did it for me. And when your faith is built up, your relationship changes. So you don’t talk to your wife on Monday and say, “All right, I’ll see you next month.” In order to have a healthy relationship with your wife, your husband, your children, it is deposits. It is consistent deposits that you have to make, and I think that’s ‑‑ when it comes with reading and studying God’s word, it is deposits that we have.

WES: As you were talking, I was thinking about Psalm 1, and this is a great introduction to the Psalms. It’s also a great introduction to the Scriptures and to the life of faith. The psalm says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He’s like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked or not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

So there’s that idea that if we want to have this fruitful, healthy life, we are like a ‑‑ we have to meditate on the law day and night, and the more we soak it in, the more we drink it up, the more we devour it, the more we meditate on it and chew on it, we’re like a tree that doesn’t ‑‑ it doesn’t have seasons. There’s no like, well, it’s fall now so there’s no fruit on this tree. This tree is bearing fruit year‑round because it’s always drinking in that living water. And you’re so right; if we want to have that kind of life, we just have to constantly be listening to and meditating on the promises of God.

WILLIE: It’s literally like the body. Many people are sick and they start to realize I’m going to the doctor because of the food that I eat, right? So there are certain things that are put in our food. There are certain toxins in our meat, and so people are realizing they are consuming so many calories per day. This is why their body is having these reactions; you know, their vision, their eyesight, their blood pressure. And so one of the first things, when somebody gets sick, is they say, “You gotta change your diet. You gotta change what enters in.” Somebody says, “My computer’s not working right. It’s starting to slow down.” They say, “Hey, listen, you got too many files. You got things that are lagging on ‑‑ it’s not able to run like it should because of the stuff that it’s being fed. You’re gonna have to clear your hard drive. You’re gonna have to remove some weight.” 

So you can imagine, when people wake up in the morning, the first thing they grab is their phone. They spend an hour on social media. I was telling some members, I said, hey, an hour of preaching can never compete with three hours of Netflix, two hours of Instagram, three hours of TikTok, and an hour on Facebook. Like, you know, we may have Bible class and you may preach your heart out doing Bible class and lay out all of the points. It’s only intellectual. It is the meditative part. So I can read the chapter. I tell some people sometimes ‑‑ they say, “Hey, what are some suggestions that you have in studying the Bible?” I say, “Don’t read for completion. Read to swim. Read to wallow in it.” They say, “Well, what does that look like?” And I have a scripture that I wanted to read. We were talking about just living in that abundance, living in that victory of God. One of the scriptures that I enjoy is Mark 9. In Mark 9:23, “Jesus said unto him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.'” What if, for the rest of the day, I read no other verses and I just ‑‑ I went swimming in that one verse? Jesus says if you would believe, things will now become possible to you. 

One of the issues that we have ‑‑ we don’t have a resource problem in the church. We don’t have a communication problem. We may have, you know, on a small level. I think one of the biggest problems that we have in achieving great things for God is that we got discouraged along the way. So the reason why you quit school or the reason why you quit on your family, the reason why you walked away from your children, the reason why you quit on church, the reason why you quit on God, the reason why you quit your job are you just literally ‑‑ you know, there are some shows ‑‑ they call it The 600‑Pound Life ‑‑ and at the beginning of that show, everybody has a story that they told where they became ‑‑ it was a point where things were maybe okay, but it was at a point where they gave up. I believe one of the biggest tools of Satan that he has consistently used, especially to ministers, “I want to discourage you. I want to discourage you. I want you to feel so bad that you walk away, that you let go. I want you to quit on the ministry. I don’t care what your degree is; you know they’re never gonna listen to you. You know you’re gonna always be fighting. You know this church is never gonna grow. You know sin will always be here. You know you’re not appreciated. You know stuff keeps happening. Hey, what’s the point? It’s always gonna be like this. Hey, you know this is all a facade. You know nobody’s life is really being changed. You know there’s been sin the whole time. You know you’ve been getting up preaching every Sunday; you know they’ve been sinning the whole time. You know you really wasn’t effective.” And those messages get in our head and we start feeling unworthy. We start feeling like God can’t use us. We start retreating. And, you know, the apostle Paul says we need to come boldly to the throne. We were supposed to come up, but then what happens is we got discouraged and we started to retreat. 

And so imagine if we fed our spirit. Imagine ‑‑ for those who will be listening, imagine you waking up every morning, and you don’t miss a day and you read Mark 9:23, and Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” The person that doesn’t believe, it won’t be possible. There will be doors that are closed. You will face some difficulties. But the Bible says for the one that does believe ‑‑ because if you can believe, you can endure the conflict. If you can believe, things can turn around. If you can believe ‑‑ you may think nobody ‑‑ none of your family members are coming to Christ. You’ve been trying for years, but if you keep believing ‑‑ the thing is, you just can’t quit. Faith doesn’t allow you to quit because love ‑‑ faith will bring you to love, and then love bears all things. If you don’t have faith, you will never get to love, and God is love, but in order to please God, you must have faith. So if you have faith, you can begin your relationship with love, and once you have a relationship with love, love can bear all things. It will endure all things. Love can get you to the end. But if you don’t have enough faith, you’ll never get to love, and if you can never get to love, you can never get to God because that’s who God is. And if you can’t get to God, we’re most miserable. We’ll never make it. 

So I love the idea of ‑‑ I think sometimes if we are in a state where you’re feeling stuck, you gotta go back to those first principles, and I believe one of those first principles is where is my faith right now? Where is my faith? You know, how do I see God? Am I limiting God? And the reason why I shortened my prayer last night is because, actually, my faith was getting low. The reason why, after I finished my sermon, I ran to the car is because my faith is getting low. And the reason why I’m avoiding people and I keep saying I’m tired is maybe because my faith is getting low and I just don’t feel like I have ‑‑ I need to go replenish. I need to go find an assembly and sit with God and refuel my tank. Because all things are possible if you believe. Everything is possible.

WES: Well, to go back to what you were saying earlier about our tendency to scroll on social media, our tendency maybe to binge‑watch a TV show or to maybe even get on cable news and watch cable news nonstop ‑‑ I was thinking about the way that you’re framing those ideas of faith and encouragement, this boldness, this confidence in God and what God can do on one side, and on the other side, you keep using the word “discouragement,” and I can’t help but think about something that’s common, and we just read it in Psalm 1. But in Psalm 1 he says that this blessed man is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, and we’re pretty good about watching out for those. As Christians, we watch out for the wicked, we watch out for sinners. But the next one says, “nor sits in the seat of scoffers,” and that’s the one I think that we are ‑‑ we’re just oblivious to the impact and the influence of scoffers in our life, and social media is filled with scoffers, cable news is filled with scoffers, our own mind and heart is filled with scoffing. It’s cynicism. It’s this ‑‑ I was trying to think of how to make the sound, but this idea that ‑‑ “Come on.  Come on, you know better than that.” It takes an idealistic view, a hopeful view, a confident view, a faithful view, and it says, “You know better than that. It’ll never work out. God will never do that.” And we surround ourselves by scoffers who discourage us, and we’re listening to them 90% of the day or 90% of the week, and maybe 10% we’re trying to make up for that with a little bit of scripture or a little bit of preaching, and you’re right; there’s a deficit of promises of God and the word of God in our life. There’s a deficit of listening to God and, instead, we’re listening to the scoffers.

WILLIE: What we call being realistic is really a shot at faith. And so some people hide under the umbrella that “I’m just being realistic,” and I don’t want to be realistic; I want to be faithful, because you can be realistic and then God will let you reside on that level, right? But if you’re willing to raise your faith, if you’re willing to feed your faith, what is not possible for you can be possible for me. 

But I like what you said, that sitting in the seat and exposing ourselves to ‑‑ you know, it’s amazing. You can be surrounded around people who say that they believe in God, but nobody speaks the wonderful works of God. I know you’ve probably experienced it as well as I have. Have you ever stood up in front of a church or a congregation and you’re about to get ready to preach, but you pause for a second because everybody looks sad? And you try to kind of look around as like, is everybody okay? You almost have to look, like, where’s the sadness coming from? And you realize they’re carrying the world into worship. And have you ever noticed, like sometimes halfway through worship, people start waking up? Like people ‑‑ you know, you have to kind of get it off. And what they don’t realize, just even in the role of ministers, our job is to feed people’s faith. It’s to take the word of God and feed their spirit and feed their soul. We’ve just got to make sure that we don’t neglect ourselves after feeding ‑‑ you know, feeding everybody. 

But we also know, with the weight and the burden, that if you don’t have a steady regimen on your own, our preaching is not enough. You’re not necessarily ‑‑ you know, we may record something and that may be a blessing, but they’ve got to have their own regimen. They’ve got to have their own system of ‑‑ you have to feed your faith. You have to feed your faith, and the altitude in which you fly and the intimacy in which you have with God, and the resources of God are not available at certain levels of faith. 

I have this ‑‑ as we were talking, I had this imagery I want to show. And so I can ‑‑ God has given me this much capacity [illustrating]. He’s given me this much capacity, but I was so busy this week because I was running errands and I was taking care of business and I was helping people, I didn’t feed my faith. So I only have ‑‑ even though I have a lot more room for faith ‑‑ 

WES: For those that can’t see Willie, he’s got ‑‑ for those that are listening and not watching, he’s got a water bottle that’s 90% empty, or only 10% full, depending on how you want to phrase that.

WILLIE: And so with this little water, I’m over here trying to obey God, and I may have another storm in my life that’s coming, and the next storm requires at least a half. I don’t even have enough faith for my next storm, and I’m a Christian. I don’t have enough faith to deal with the next attack because I’ve been consuming my faith. And I think what a lot of people don’t realize about faith is that you use faith every day, which means it has to be replenished. So I think if we can start looking at faith like we look at our gas tank ‑‑ I need enough gas to make it from A to B. And if I make it to B, I’m gonna come back home, which means, at the end of the day, I’ve used up so much gas. We automatically know, in the next day or two, I’m gonna need to find a gas station. 

If we look at our faith the same way, you have to feed your faith every day because you use it every day. Now, if you decide not to read your Bible on Monday, you probably won’t notice it. And if you don’t read it on Tuesday, you’ll probably, you know, start to slip. By Thursday or Friday, you’ll start to be a little bit more carnal. It’ll be harder to control your thoughts. Certain emotions will get out of hand. Little things that you were able to just kind of move off your shoulder, all of a sudden, it’s harder to deal with, and then you won’t know what’s going on. You’ll say that you’re being stressed or, you know, somebody asks you, “Hey, how are you doing?” And you say, “Well, I’m just kind of ‑‑ you know, I’m okay,” but, really, you’re not okay. Your tank is getting low. It’s time for an oil change and you don’t realize it because you’ve gone 3,000 miles and you need to pull over, but you won’t, you know, or you’re resistant for some reason. 

WES: I’m glad you’re bringing up all of these struggles. And like you said, when people come to worship and they gather in the assembly, sometimes you can see it all over their face that they’ve been dealing with all kinds of things through the week and they’re struggling to see the realities that God is bringing to them through the gospel. And I think that’s the way that the Hebrew writer frames faith, is that faith is this ability to see the unseen, to see things ‑‑ to see the world to come, to see the age to come, to see the kingdom of God even while it’s still invisible to our physical eyes, to our mortal eyes. 

And so faith is this ability to see what is really real. Death is real, sin is real, injustice is real, debt is real, financial struggle is real, but the promises of God are more real. They are more true. And so, like you said, our job as preachers, as evangelists, as those bringing the gospel, we’re trying to help people to see the things that are more real than the things they can see with their eyes, more true than the things they can put their hands on and so that they can get through those things that are hard, those things that they’re struggling with. And like you said, the best we can do sometimes is whet their appetite for those things, but we have to constantly be feeding ourselves with the gospel. We have to be listening to the gospel, hearing the promises of God so that we can set our minds on ‑‑ as Paul says in Colossians 3 and 4, set our minds on things above, not the things on the earth, because these things ‑‑ they are real, and I don’t want to diminish those things. I don’t want to make it seem like the struggles that people deal with aren’t real. Of course they are. But the promises of God are more real. They’re more solid, they’re more lasting. These things are just temporary and they’re gonna fade away, but if we’re not feeding ourselves on the truth of the gospel, then we’ll be overwhelmed and distracted by and discouraged by the struggles that we’re dealing with.

WILLIE: I think when you said those things are real ‑‑ those things are real, but when he says if you would just believe ‑‑ I can see something that’s real, but I can see the power of God that is also real. So whatever I’m facing, right, if it’s within God’s reach ‑‑ there’s no sickness, there’s no trouble, there’s nothing that Christians, or the body of Christ, that we’re facing today that God can’t blow our mind. We have settled back on trying. Our prayers have shifted from “God, do a mighty work” to “Lord, help us to make it through this week.” This week? “Lord, you know, we’re just kind of holding on.” Holding on? He told us we had the victory, and the victory is in him. 

We have to get around enough believers because ‑‑ there’s a book ‑‑ when I first started ministry ‑‑ I’m gonna tell you that when I first started ministry, I was so excited. You know our story. It started in my living room, and I didn’t know how it was gonna grow or whatever. This is my first church plant. And we raised up enough money to get out of my home and we got into a rented building, and we did the demolition because we couldn’t afford contractors. So we did the demolition, sledgehammers, we did the painting. And then the little money that we had set aside, they were able to come in and put the roof ‑‑ the ceiling in and put some walls up. We were so excited. And so there was a preacher ‑‑ he’s passed away now, but there was a preacher that I had invited to come ‑‑ after we finished opening, to come do a gospel meeting, and I think, after the second night, I said, “Hey, I kind of just want to get some feedback.” He said, “Well, let’s go across the street,” and across the street was like a McDonald’s. He said, “Well, let’s just go across the street. We’ll talk.” So we just walked across the street, and I’m sitting in the booth and he’s just sitting there, and I’m sharing the vision. I’m saying, “Hey, I think we can really do some ‑‑ and this is the vision for this place.” And he’s just kind of looking at me, and I’m thinking like, hey, I just came from the living room. We came from a living room; now we’re in a building.  Like, we’re a real church now. We got chairs. You know, listen, we got chairs. We ain’t sitting on my couch no more. Like we got chairs. I’m excited. 

And he looks at me, after I shared the vision, and he said, “Is that it?” I said, “Yeah, that’s kind of it.” I said, “But it took a lot of work.” He said, “Please don’t get me wrong.” He said, “It took a lot of work for you to do ‑‑ for y’all to get here, and I commend you for that.” And then he said something I never forgot, and I pray that people who are listening, they hear this, too. He said, “But God is much bigger than how you’re talking.” He said, “There’s nothing wrong.” He says, “Y’all can accomplish everything that you just laid out.” He said, “But what I want to encourage you is, God is bigger than that. He can do greater work than this.” He told me to get a book. It’s called To Dream Again. I forget the author’s name, but it’s called To Dream Again, and it details a preacher or a church who got discouraged or whatever, and the church was just existing. They were just kind of puttering along, and they basically got to a point where they needed to dream again. 

I think some of us, we’ve stopped dreaming. We feel like we’re too old. We feel like we have made too many mistakes. We feel like too much stuff has happened. Some of us, we feel like our window has closed on us and we’re just trying to wait for Jesus to return. And we’re not realizing, if the Lord woke you up today, there is an assignment that he wants you to accomplish. If you still have breath in your lungs, there is still a mighty work that God can still do through you. And some of us, we have ‑‑ I don’t know if you’ve ever heard some Christians say, “Well, we’re gonna let the young people do that now. I’m retired.” And I had to tell them, you don’t retire from Christianity. You may shift your role; you may make an adjustment, but you don’t retire. You don’t give God a good 30 years and say, “All right. Okay, Lord, I’m ready for you to come get me.” No, no, no. If he wakes you up the next day, there’s still something that he wants you to accomplish, and it can be a mighty, wonderful, beautiful work in the Lord. 

But to dream again, I had to take that vision and ball it up and throw it away. And he was right; God was bigger. You know, I look back on that now. That was over 10 years ago, and he was right. God was so much bigger than I could have imagined. Matter of fact, to just do that would have been limiting God. There’s a scripture ‑‑ there’s another scripture that comes to my mind, which is Mark 11. Mark 11:22 and 24.  “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God.'” Have faith in God. Verse 24 says, “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you will receive them and you shall have them.” 

What if, in the body of Christ today, we said, hey, it’s time for a revolution. We believe that before the year is out, we can bring a thousand souls to Christ collectively. Hey, we believe that we can get this gospel ‑‑ they are spewing ungodliness through the radio waves and through the television, and you see everything of filth under the sun that’s coming through the tube. Hey, what if we could start a revolution and get this gospel out to all four corners of the world? What if we can transform our city? And as they said, these men have turned the world upside down. [Acts 17:6] They entered into the city and they said we will never be the same because of a few individuals who really believed in God and they really saw the potential of God. They spoke it because they believed it, and when God saw that they believed, he gave them those things that they asked for. 

Jesus said it like this in Luke 18:8, “Shall I find faith? I wonder, when I come back, is anybody gonna believe? Shall I find faith on earth?” And I think we’re worshiping God ‑‑ we’re worshiping discouraged. We’re worshiping God, but we’re worshiping him with limitations and restrictions, and we need to believe again. As Christians, we need to believe again. We need to dream again. For everybody who’s listening, hey, go back to the word of God and dream a bigger dream for your family. Dream a bigger dream for your children. Dream a bigger dream for your health. You don’t have to stay sick. You don’t have to stay on those pills. God is a healer. God is a way‑maker. You don’t always ‑‑ you don’t have to be in that financial debt. God can deliver you from that. That can be paid off. Hey, listen, you don’t have to fight with those addictions or those temptations. Do you know that God can deliver you from temptation? There are some people who sit in our congregations week in and week out, thinking, “I’m always gonna have to struggle with this sin.” No. God can deliver us from darkness, but we gotta believe again. We don’t have to remix Christianity to incorporate our weaknesses. “I love God, but I’m gonna have to deal with this. I love God, but I don’t think he’s gonna deliver me from this sadness.” 

I want to let people know, if you believe in God, you don’t have to live in depression. And I know there are some cognitive and medical things that are going on, and I’m not here to speak on any of those things, and you may have things that may have been prescribed, but don’t stop praying. Don’t stop praying. Don’t let a doctor, don’t let a friend, don’t let anybody come to you and tell you that your marriage can’t be restored, your health can’t be restored. Don’t let anybody tell you ‑‑ matter of fact, there are too many testimonies from individuals who literally heard messages that it was over, and then things got turned around. God is a way‑maker.

WES: See, this is what I think is so powerful about believing the promises of the gospel, is that we hold in both hands sort of the current age, the realization of sin and death and disease and heartbreak and all of those sort of negative things, but we also hold, in the other hand, this hope ‑‑ not this wishful thinking, but hope, as in confident expectation that we know that all of those things will be healed. All of those things will be taken care of. We don’t know when. They could be in this moment, they could be today, they could be when Jesus comes again, but all of those things are gonna be taken care of. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. And we’re not gonna stop praying for them to happen right now. We’re not gonna stop praying for them and believing that God can do them right now. I think you’re so right that we ‑‑ so many Christians have adopted sort of this defeatist attitude and this cynicism about the current realities, and those things have become more real to them, bigger to them than the realities of the gospel. 

One of those things that you and I have talked about recently is the unity of the church. The divisions that exist and the reason that they exist is real, and we’re all aware of those things. We’re aware of the divisions that exist because of differences of opinion, but also because of ethnicity, because of a history of racism, because of whatever has caused the divisions that exist, but we can’t adopt a defeatist, cynical attitude that says, “Well, that’s always the way it’s gonna be. We’re never going to be unified. We’ll never get together.”

WILLIE: I would say stop; don’t even feed that to me. Yeah, don’t even feed that to me.

WES: Right. And we’ve got to believe what you’re saying, that Jesus wants his church to be one. He prayed for his church to be one. The Spirit can make us one, so we’ve got to live into that. Our scoffing and skepticism and defeatism is standing in the way of the work of the Holy Spirit.

WILLIE: What if we all started repeating ‑‑ because there are words of faith. There are wonderful words of faith, and you have to repeat that daily. You have to speak the words of faith. What if we started saying, “I love the church of Christ”? When was the last time we heard that? People don’t talk like that. It’s kind of like a ‑‑ we should ‑‑ “Hey, I love the church of Christ and I love what the church of Christ is doing, and God is doing a mighty work through the body of Christ today. Hey, thousands of souls are about to be saved.” I want to let you know, just even where we are, there’s a mighty movement that is happening right now, and I want to let you know people are getting excited about coming together. People are excited about the unity that is in the church. Don’t let anybody tell you that the church is forever broken or we are so divided that we can’t do something. That’s a lie because we’ve just seen evidence, not once, not just twice, but we are seeing it on small levels and on grand levels, that, hey, we were putting limits on God. God could have always done this. We had to believe that this is possible and we have to make sure that we don’t entertain messages. You don’t put oil and water in the same ‑‑ it doesn’t mix. So when negative speech starts being spewed, we have to mark it, identify it, and say we don’t talk like that in this place. This is a place of faith. So the things that’s going on in the body of Christ today, really ‑‑ all of these obstacles of unity that we’ve been trying to achieve for years, it’s really going to come down to a group of individuals who believe that, actually, it can happen. 

Now, if I’m in the room and I don’t really think it can happen, I may go along, but I’m slowing the train down, because I’ve realized, through my studies, that God moves by faith, not by evidence. Thomas wanted evidence, but Jesus told him, yeah, you believe because you saw. You believe because you touched, but blessed ‑‑ the blessing is in the faith, not in the evidence. So there are some people who say, well, I’ll believe it when I see it. God doesn’t move that way. God moves by those groups who say, “Hey, I believe God is moving and I’m going to quiet the noise so that I can hear.” 

When we was talking in the beginning about how faith comes by hearing, how many of us are really hearing what God is saying in this season? How many of us are really in tune for what he desires for us to do? Look, as men ‑‑ for the men, for their families, how many husbands or head of households are hearing the voice of God? How many of our women, who are doing great things in the body of Christ ‑‑ how many of them are really ‑‑ instead of just completing projects and activities, what if we all, as brothers and sisters, as men and women, as the children of God ‑‑ how many of us are really hearing and building up our faith for the next great move of God, which I believe is in this season? 

But I also realize this. Just because Joshua was ready to go over ‑‑ God looked and seen that he didn’t have enough believers to go over with Joshua, so you know what he did? He preserved Joshua and he built up a new generation of believers, and when that new generation grew and became strong enough, then God said, “It’s time. Now it’s time to go over and take what I’ve been promising you.” Here’s the sad thing. God’s promises have been available for us. They’ve been available. God is a wonderful father and he wants to bless his children. He doesn’t withhold his gifts and he doesn’t take pleasure in seeing us lacking. The church is the light of the world. The church is the body of Christ. We are the light of the world. God’s not trying to hide that light. He wants that light to shine bright, but he moves on faith.  

WES: And so much of it is just believing that that’s true, that the church is one. The Lord our God, he is one, the church is one, the church is the light of the world, the church is the salt of the earth. If we believe that that’s true, we don’t have to make it true. Jesus has already made it true. The Holy Spirit has already made it true. We just have to live into it. We have to believe that it’s true. 

WILLIE: Say that again.  I love that. 

WES: Yeah. We don’t have to make this true. This isn’t by works. It’s not by our own efforts. We simply believe that the promises of God are already true and we live into them and we live them out even when it seems ridiculous, even when it looks like people are looking at us, thinking, “What in the world are you people thinking? You’re foolish; you don’t understand what you’re doing.” That’s what faith has always looked like to the scoffer. That’s what it’s always looked like to the unbeliever. It always looks like we’ve lost our minds, but we simply believe that the promises of God have been true, are true, and will forever be true.

WILLIE: Look at what you just said. Me and you are already unified by the gospel of Jesus. 

WES: That’s right. That’s right. Amen.

WILLIE: We don’t have to do anything this evening. This conversation is not for us to get together. That’s what the world is trying to do. But if you’ve obeyed the gospel, we’re already unified. The problem is we have not recognized what has already been given to us, which is unity. Scripture tells us we need to fight to preserve it, but it has already been given to us. So then our conversation is not what can we do to come together, because we’re already together in Christ. Then our question is, how do we want God to use us? Lord, I want to remove everything in my heart ‑‑ Lord, I want to remove everything in my spirit that’s hindering you from using us. So we’re only coming together to pray, to empty ourselves so that the Lord can be filled in us to do his wonderful ‑‑ and he says, “and greater works will they do.” He said, “You think I’ve done something? Greater works that they will do to those who will believe.” We have to be ‑‑ are we really believers? And when a person is really a believer, then it’s literally ‑‑ when the church believes, it is like a man that sets himself on fire. The world will watch and come to see him burn. When somebody’s on fire, you can’t help but look and stare. You don’t even want to stare, but you can’t help but look and stare and say, “What is that fire?” 

I had a gentleman one time posted a lesson or sermon. He said, “Hey, I appreciate the passion.” It’s more than just passion; it’s faith. Passion dwindles. I can get excited about God, and then I get some bad news. Somebody may pass away. My faith doesn’t disappear because of tragedy. Actually, tragedy intensifies it. If I go through trouble ‑‑ you see stars at night. If I’m going through a dark season in my life, you’re gonna see the stars because stars shine brighter in the night. So I tell people, I say, hey, I believe in God not just because of what I read. Everybody has a testimony. I have a testimony. I have seen some dark moments. It was God that brought me through. Now, if he can bring me through that, you can’t tell me about nothing else. If I have seen the darkness and if I have seen evil, and God delivered me when I was at a place where I thought I had no more hope and he gave me hope, he set me back on my feet, he put me in places that I don’t deserve to be in ‑‑ I have no business representing him, and he allowed me ‑‑ as the apostle Paul said, I was the chief of sinners. I shouldn’t even be doing this. And for God to have enough grace and mercy to extend to me, how ‑‑ if God gave me that much grace, how am I not gonna be forgiving to somebody, show grace and mercy to somebody? How will I withhold the goodness of God? Why won’t I speak it on every corner? If he brought me out of that lion’s den ‑‑ anybody who’s ever been in a place where you thought it was over and God let you see another day, you should come out of that lion’s den saying, “For the rest of my life, I’m going to tell people about Jesus Christ. I’m going to tell people about the wonderful works of God. I want to tell people about how he makes a way in deserts and how he brings rain in a drought, how God can make a bridge over troubled waters, how God can remove the storm and allow you to see the sun again.” 

There are so many people who lived in depression for so long, and God came through and let them see the sun. Some people thought they were never gonna laugh again. Some people thought they were never gonna feel joy again, and now they’re sitting in a season of their lives and they’re laughing and they’re giggling, saying, “I never thought I would have these emotions.” I mean, God is so awesome, and he’s doing his work through the church. And I love what you just said. We’re not working to be unified; we are unified. We just need to identify the voices of Satan that’s trying to convince us that the hurdle is too high. The hurdle is not too high. Literally, whatever we want to accomplish in the body of Christ, if we submit to the will of God, that thing is already done. 

That’s what faith ‑‑ that’s how faith talks. Faith has a language. That thing is already done. Souls will already be saved. I’m excited. Matter of fact, I’m excited even now. There’s a study I’m supposed to have. Somebody’s gonna get saved this week. Like God is moving and we got to talk like that. We got to talk like that more. That’s why I love conversations like this because it makes me want to even get back to work, and iron does sharpen iron. We’ve got to have irons in the room.

WES: Amen. Well, Brother, thank you for this conversation. You have lit me on fire. You have encouraged me, and, Brother, I thank you for your faith. I thank you for the work you’re doing in the kingdom. 

WILLIE: Bless you, as well.

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