Living by Faith


“But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6)

     INTRO.:  A song which talks about the importance of faith in our lives to please God is “Living by Faith” (#286 in Songs of the Church).  The text of stanzas 1-3 was written by James S. Wells (1872-1947).  I have not been able to locate any further information on this author.  The text of stanza 4 was written by Robert Emmett Winsett (1876-1952).  The tune was composed by J. L. Heath.  I have also not been able to locate any further information on this composer.  The song first appeared in His Voice in Song edited by R. E. Winsett for the Winsett Music Co. of Chattanooga, TN, in 1918.  What I have not been able to determine is whether Winsett’s fourth stanza was used with the original song or was added at a later time, perhaps when Winsett renewed it in 1946.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons.  Today it may be found, in addition to Songs of the Church, in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand, as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat, and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr. (and perhaps others too, but the rest of my books are all in storage and I cannot check them; I’m thinking likely Special Sacred Selections, maybe Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and perhaps even Songs of Faith and Praise, but I’m not sure.)

     The song encourages us to walk by faith in regard to a number of situations that we face in this life.

I. Stanza 1 mentions worries

“I care not today what the morrow may bring,

If shadow or sunshine or rain,

The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,

And all of my worries are vain.”

 A. The fact is that we do not know what the morrow may bring: Jas. 4:14

 B. However, we do know that the Lord rules over everything as He now sits at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens: Heb. 8:1

 C. Therefore, all of our worries are vain, and we should simply not worry about tomorrow: Matt. 6:34

II. Stanza 2 mentions tempests

“Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,

Obscuring the brightness of life,

I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—

The Master looks on at the strife.”

 A. Tempests and storms are often used to symbolize the trials and tribulations of this life: Jas. 1:2-3

 B. These trials and tribulations often obscure the brightness of life and bring sorrow: Jn. 16:20

 C. Yet we need never be alarmed because the Master looks on and He is able to still the tempests in our hearts just as He did the tempest on the sea:23-27

III. Stanza 3 mentions evils

“I know that He safely will carry me through,

No matter what evils betide;

Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,

If Jesus walks close to my side.”

 A. Christians trust that Christ will safely carry them through just as a Shepherd carries the sheep: Jn. 10:27-29

 B. The reason we look to Him is because of all the evil in this world: Rom. 12:21

 C. Thus, we must strive to live so that Jesus will walk close to our side as He promises: Heb. 13:5-6

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the future

“Our Lord will return to this earth some sweet day,

Our troubles will then all be o’er;

The Master so gently will lead us away,

Beyond that blest heavenly shore.”

 A. Once when I was in an assembly where we were singing this song, a dear friend and brother in Christ leaned over to me and said as we were beginning this fourth stanza, “That’s not scriptural, is it?”  The statement, “Our Lord will return to this earth some sweet day” could be sung with the understanding that He is coming back to this earth to raise the dead and take the righteous home without any reference to His setting foot on the planet.  However, because premillennialism teaches that Jesus will come back to this earth to rule on it for a thousand years and this statement could be understood to teach that doctrine (which Winsett likely believed), many of our books change it.   Hymns of Praise had “Our Lord will return in the clouds some sweet day.”  Sacred Songs of the Church has “Our Lord will return in His glory some day.”  One source that I found online has, “Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day.”  Praise for the Lord simply omits the stanza.  The important point is that even though we may not know what will happen in the immediate future, we do know that Christ will return some day: Acts 1:11

 B. When Jesus comes and takes His people home, our troubles will then all be over: Rev. 21:1-4

 C. The Master will then lead us away beyond the blest heavenly shore: Rev. 22:1-3

     CONCL.  The chorus reminds us that to have these blessing both now in this life and in eternity, we must live by faith.

“Living by faith in Jesus above,

Trusting, confiding in His great love;

From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,

I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.”

The people of this world may reject the way of Christ and try to “grab all the gusto” they can that Satan has to offer, but Christians know that the only kind of life that has any real meaning both now and forever is “Living by Faith.”

3 thoughts on “Living by Faith

  1. Your friend must have been a very sincere Christian. If we sing something false, we will be judged for teaching each other false doctrine (Matthew 12:37).


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