~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Moving the Needle (part 1), by clicking here.
Jn 10:10 tells us that the thief comes to steal, kill, and to destroy, but Jesus came that we might have life and have that life more abundantly. So why did Jesus come? To give you life! Jesus came to give you eternal life – and then once you have that life He wants to give you that life more abundantly! Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You can only come to the Father through Jesus. (Jn. 14:6)
Jesus’ came to give you life and once you have that life, He wants you to experience that eternal life more abundantly! But the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. Notice that “killing” is the opposite of giving life. The Bible tells us that we were dead in our trespasses before Jesus. One of the primary ways that the devil tries to “keep you killed” spiritually is by trying to keep you from hearing about the life that is in Christ! Before you are born again, the enemy tries to steal the word of Christ from you in order to keep you spiritually blinded. Before you are born again, the enemy tries to keep you from understanding who Jesus is and what He did on the Cross.
Now, if you hear the message of Christ and receive His eternal life on the inside of you, next the enemy wants to steal the abundance of that eternal life from you. That’s his purpose in the lives of believers; the enemy works to keep you from having the abundance of that eternal life operating in your life. Satan does not want God’s purposes for your life to come about.
Jesus on the other hand wants you to have eternal life so abundantly that it flows from your heart like rivers of living water! Have you ever felt the rivers of living water flowing out of you? When I feel it, I know that if anyone talks to me in that minute, they are going to get the overflow of that abundant life that is in me and it is going to bless their socks off! When you minister with the overflow of abundant life, when you are a faucet for rivers of living water, people will exclaim “that is so good!” upon hearing your words. Proverbs 25:25 says “as cold water for a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far away country.” We have the very real opportunity to be so overflowing that we are sharing good news from a far away country (Heaven) all throughout our day!
The enemy came to steal that life, but Jesus came that you would have it more abundantly. Now watch this … Jesus did not come to give you abundant life in theory. Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not (yet) seen. Faith is the assurance – it is a contractual assurance. Faith is like a contract with God. God has put a proposal out. His proposal to you is in His Word. He says “if you call on the Name of My Son, you will be saved.” His proposal is in His Word. He says you are “above only, and not beneath. The head and not the tail.” His proposal is in His Word. When you latch onto His proposal, onto His Word, with faith, you have just made a contract with God! Faith is the contractual assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not (yet) seen.
But imagine that you had a contractor come to your house to do work on your house. He asked you what you would like done and then talked with you about what it would cost and how he could do it. After your consultation you tell him “yes, that is all agreeable so go ahead and write up a contract for me and I will sign it and you can get started on the job!” To your surprise, the contractor says “no, let’s just make an agreement in theory.” Would you make an agreement with a contractor in theory? Of course not! And why would you not make an agreement with a contractor in theory? Because you are going to get hosed! You are going to get stolen from!
One of the primary ways that the enemy is stealing from you today is by lulling you into walking with God in theory only. A contract is not a contract if it is in theory only. The enemy wants to reduce your faith to simple belief by taking all observable evidence out of your faith. (James 2) Faith without works is dead – it is not faith! One of the primary ways that enemy is working to steal from you is by trying to get you to walk with God, to believe God, in theory only. A contractor would steal from you if you had an agreement in theory only; likewise the enemy is trying to get you to walk with God in theory only.
Listen to Jesus in Jn. 10:37 “If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe Me.” That’s our Lord! He said to not believe Him about how to go to Heaven if He does not do the works of His Father! Don’t believe John 3:16 if I don’t do the works of my Father. Jesus had ZERO TOLERANCE for words without works. This should affect us! Likewise, James (chapter 2) had zero tolerance for faith without action! Did they have zero tolerance for that because they were being harsh? No! It is because wherever you are fine with walking with God in theory only, it is in that exact spot that the devil will steal from you in reality. In whatever part of your walk with God that you are fine with walking with Him in theory only … that’s the exact part of your walk with God that the devil will steal from you.
As I was prepping this message, I heard the Lord say “it’s time to move the needle.” Have you ever seen a pressure valve? On the pressure valve there is a pressure gauge. 60PSI to 80PSI to 100PSI. Similarly on a speedometer there are demarkations at 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120mph. Both gauges generally have a needle. It’s time to move the needle!
“It’s time to move the needle” tells me two things: First, it’s time for more. It’s time for the needle to go up. It’s time for more. It’s time for growth. The second thing the phrase tells me is that it is time for “a measurable more”! It’s not just “more pressure”; it is 60psi to 80psi. It’s not just “more speed”; it’s 40mph to 60mph. A measurable more. It’s time to move the needle! It’s time.
You might wonder “are you talking about me personally or the church? Both!
But listen! You can’t have more in theory! Someone may tell you “In theory we are doing better financially …” What!?! Here’s an even funnier one: “In theory my car is going faster …” What !?! You can’t have more in theory! James said that if you cannot observe your faith in action (and really if others cannot observe your faith in action), it’s not faith! In other words, you cannot move the needle in theory. You cannot move the needle in secret only. Your faith with God starts in the secret place, but it doesn’t finish there!
Let’s look at Luke 18:35-43 “ Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”
The blind man cried out! He was ready for something new. He was ready to be healed! He wanted more! He wanted a measurable, quantifiable, noticeable more! So, he cried out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” So what do his friends do? They tell the blind man to shut up and be quiet. That’s a moment right there. A decision point. What did the man do in response to the rebuke of his friends and neighbors? He cried out all the more!!!
When you first try to move the needle … when you first try to move the needle (not in theory only), you are going to have some people around you tell you to “shut up.” They’re going to tell you to “calm down.” They are going to tell you “don’t get your hopes up.” They are going to tell you “keep it to yourself” … especially in today’s PC culture. “I don’t want to hear about your faith; it might make me feel uncomfortable.” We need to reclaim our backbone and start lovingly having discourse again!
The blind man first cried out for the Lord. Then, under the scrutiny of his peers, He cried out all the more. Finally, when Jesus ask him what he could do for him, the blind man had an answer! He had a request prepared for a “measurable more.” He asked for his sight! He had a “faith not in theory only” answer.
Jesus came to give you abundant life, but He did not come to give you abundant life in theory! One of the primary ways the enemy is stealing from you today is that you have areas in your walk with God where you are walking with Him in theory only. But it’s time to move the needle – in a measurable way!
What do you want Jesus to do for you today? He doesn’t want to do for you in theory! In fact that’s the hotbed of the religious spirit. If you are fine with God in theory and not in reality, you will become a Pharisee. God works! His Word and His promises work!
What is a physical or relational need that you have that you want met? Swing big! What’s one thing in your walk with God that you want more of? Father, we pray that these things would no longer be in theory only. That we would have a hunger to seek you until we would see these things in reality!