Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is based on a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, The Process of Faith (part 3), by clicking here.
The Process of Faith (a review)
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. When we know the promises of God AND our position in Him, faith rises up naturally within us. In other Words, His Promises + Our Position in Him = Faith. It is the love of God is what prevents faith from turning into a “work.”
When you have faith rising up within you, what do you do? First, you aim your faith (i.e., clarify the faith target). Secondly, you speak. Jesus told his disciples to “increase their faith” by speaking! In other words, they didn’t need to increase their faith, they simply needed to release their faith – and Jesus taught that we release our faith by speaking! Faith’s trigger is our tongue.
We have powerful faith by knowing the promises of God and that the promises of God are for us because of His love . . . and by releasing it in a purposeful way with our words.
This is all simple enough, but it is important to realize that not every faith target falls immediately when we speak. Sometimes we have to continue to contend. And that is where Hebrews 6:12 comes in . . . we inherit the promises by mixing patience with our faith! Faith + Patience = Inheriting the Promises. During seasons of transition, often our measurements of progress are inaccurate to the change that is actually occurring in our lives! In other words, sometimes the Lord changes the wineskin before he adds new wine! God transforms you while you are bringing forth His promises. Luke 8:15 says that hearts that are good soil “bear fruit with patience.” There are certain promises of God that are not immediate. You have received them by faith but you may not have experienced the manifestation of it – yet.
Testimony – Simply.
When I was young, I always heard about college. Both of my parents had graduated from college and between them they earned nearly 4 degrees. And all from the Ohio State University. Therefore, I naturally grew up watching Ohio State football. I grew up visiting campus – sitting on the oval, feeding the squirrels – and sometimes running away from them when they seemed like they wanted to feed on me :) And I grew up with a strong, abiding sense that I too would one day go to college, graduate with one or more degrees, and have a nice job as a result of that.
This is a simple example of the power of testimony. And what I mean by testimony is that my parents were intentionally and unintentionally constantly telling me stories – stories about college, stories about career, etc. The result was I just KNEW that I TOO would do what they had done. There was NO QUESTION about it and I was never too concerned or thrown off by any obstacles in my education – I never doubted that I was going to college because of the stories I grew up around.
In its most simple and basic sense, a testimony is a story. Testimonies recount memorable events that have happened before. Testimonies are a witness to what has been experienced or seen. While the form of a testimony is simplistic, the power of a testimony is so significant that, according to Revelation chapter 6:9, the enemy actually seeks to kill those who carry a testimony. And here’s why . . . a testimony, a witness, a recounting of events, etc . . . turns a moment into momentum! Testimonies can turbo charge your faith – causing momentum to build in your faith walk and tipping the balance of your life towards the miraculous!
Momentum is established movement in a certain direction. Momentum allows us to take some blows and keep going. Momentum is additive. Momentum is a sequence of events that builds on each other – intend of counteracting each other. Momentum facilities increase and protects against decrease.
For an illustration of momentum, look at its effect in sports. During a recent national championship game, OSU’s running back, Ezekiel Elliot, was running with noticeable momentum towards the end of their big win. Seeming to never go down the first time he was hit, OSU’s running back was even motioning to his coaches on the sideline to “keep feeding him the ball!” Interestingly, Mr. Elliot’s first few runs of the game were all together different than that – he was stopped close to the line of scrimmage each time. The television broadcast announcers noticed the contrast between his early game and late game running as well – speaking about how something seemed to have “switched on” during the middle of the first quarter. Had OSU’s running back become superhuman somewhere half-way through the first quarter? Had he gone to do a workout in the locker room between OSU’s offensive possessions and come back faster or more powerful than ever before? Had his physical abilities somehow changed in the middle of first quarter? Not exactly. He was just “in the zone” – as they say. He had begun to run with momentum!
Pastor Brad has talked before about how we already have the full measure of faith as believers in Christ! It came to us when Christ entered our hearts. We live by the faith of Christ. When his disciples asked how to increase their faith, Jesus did not tell his disciples to “work on their swing” so-to-speak; He told them to speak to the mountain! Faith is not the issue – unbelief is! We are not trying to work our faith up; we are trying to work any unbelief out! That powerful truth will change your whole view of faith! You are never trying to work your faith up. You have THE faith of Jesus Christ on the inside of you. You do not need any more faith . . . you just need less unbelief! Think about it – the disciples deliberately asked Jesus to show them how to “increase our faith.” Notice that Jesus responded by not answering their question! It was a wrong question! When Jesus didn’t answer people’s questions it is because they were wrong questions . . . so he would give them the answer to the question they should have asked.
You see, unbelief has such a persistent and pervasive effect on our momentum in life that we hardly notice its pull. Unbelief is like gravity. It is always weighing us down. The limiting effects of unbelief are so consistent, that we don’t really even notice that it’s there. Like top athletes, the limiting factor in the production of our faith (in how productive our faith is) is not necessarily the “mechanics of our swing,” but the mindset we are swinging with.
What Stops Momentum?
In Physics, objects stay in motion once they are in motion unless something acts upon them with a force. Momentum from previous breakthroughs does not fade on its own – it actually fades because of opposition. An opposing force is the only thing that can stop a freight train and it is the only thing that can stop your momentum in faith! Objects in motion stay in motion unless a force acts upon them! Momentum is established motion. If you get a little momentum with a breakthrough in faith, there is only one thing that will cause that momentum to go away – an opposing force.
There are two primary types of momentum-stopping opposing forces: friction and applied forces.
- Friction is that slow and steady resistance that we often experience in life. It is the little things. It is the slightly trying day, it is the slightly strained relationship that is still on the mend, it is the rough TV show that sows unbelief and fear into your heart – ever so slightly, so much so that you don’t even notice that the show you’re watching is doing that to you. Friction is like gravity, we often experience it, but we rarely feel it. But friction can stop momentum.
- An applied force is more noticeable and potentially even traumatic. An applied force can accomplish in a moment what would take friction months or maybe even years to accomplish – in terms of halting momentum. Examples could be the death of a loved one, losing a job, maybe even seeing a calendar year come to an end without even an inkling of the breakthrough you had believed God for that year. Applied forces are noticeable events that you could put words to and recount to others. With friction you may say things like “I just don’t quite know what it is exactly.” With friction, you can feel that your momentum in faith has dissipated, but you ju applied forces These events are far less frequent than the consistent friction we experience, but they are far more noticeable and often require a different, more intentional approach to deal with them.
Our Momentum is Powerful and Opposed
Now, all this opposition is against your momentum in faith. Faith should not be only momentary in our lives – we should move from glory to glory – our faith should creating increasing momentum in our lives.
So how does the enemy resist our momentum in faith? How does he work to make sure we only have momentary breakthroughs not life-changing momentum? He resists our TESTIMONY! Remember that testimony turns a moment into momentum! Your Testimony is POWERFUL!!!! Revelation 12:11 says “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Notice one of the three factors that OVERCAME the enemy: “the word of their testimony.” It makes sense that the enemy will oppose that which will overcome him. Powerlessness is rarely opposed but the enemy. Life-changing truths, on the other hand, are opposed by the enemy.
Look at the first factor in Rev. 12:11 that overcomes the enemy – it’s the BLOOD OF THE LAMB! So, for instance, the word of grace – of the new covenant, of the Blood of Christ is consistently opposed by the enemy by working the law back into grace message. This sort of opposition to life-changing, faith-releasing truths is not new to 21st century Chrisitians. Paul wrote to the Galatians about the same thing:
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3)
Notice that Paul refers to this confusion about the gospel message as a BEWITCHING. Wow! Confusion about the gospel of Grace is always demonic in origin. And satan bothers to oppose it because “THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB”, if properly understood, causes satan to be OVERCOME! Testimonies, likewise, are opposed by hell. It’s right there in the same verse from Rev. 12: “the blood of the Lamb” and “the word of their testimony.” Both overcome the enemy! You may think to yourself “well, I know satan opposes the preaching of the gospel,” but you might be surprised to find out that he is equally opposed to YOUR TESTIMONY! Satan wants to keep your testimony underground! First off, he doesn’t want you to have a testimony, but, if you have a revelation of the blood of the Lamb (you know God’s love), His promises are going to stir in your heart and you are going to have a testimony – guaranteed! So, if you are going to have testimonies from God, the enemy only has one thing left to do – to cut off your testimony. Cut off your witness.
Look at another verse from Revelation: “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” (Rev. 6:9) The enemy seems to be taking the testimony seriously. Powerlessness is rarely opposed.
The word “testimony” comes from the Latin word which means “a witness.” A testimony is your account of something you have seen with your own eyes! A witness in court testifies of what they’ve seen! Ps. 18:30 says “the Word of the Lord proves true.” A testimony is what you share when “the Word of the Lord has PROVED true” for you! John 3:33 says “He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.” When you receive a testimony you are actually confirming that what God has said is true. There is a power in testimony! When you hear of someone else taking God at His Word and seeing His promises come to pass, it stirs the very same faith of Christ in you! Your “amen!” to their testimony is akin to affirmatively declaring “God’s Word is true!” It stirs up faith in you!
If you think about how criminal gangs often operate, you will see that they often try to either kill or silence the testimony of another. The enemy is wanting to cut off your testimony. That is not a circumstantial word. I can guarantee it – Revelation 6:9 is showing that. The enemy is wanting to cut off your testimony and thereby derail your momentum in faith and prevent others around you from gaining the momentum you could be imparting to them! Yes your testimonies are for you, but they are not just for you! Some of us need to draft off of some people running in front of us. You may be thinking “I don’t have any momentum.” Well, get behind someone who does! The first step of leadership is being led by someone else. If you don’t have momentum in an area, get behind someone who does! Even the strongest bicyclists in the Tour de France know that they need other cyclists to set the pace for them sometimes. You can’t always be in the front. Humility knows that and willingly tags along behind the momentum of others at times!
The enemy is opposed to our testimony because he wants to derail our momentum, but our faith is made to glory to glory. And testimonies are what will take it there! Like an “in the zone” running back, we should be calling for God to “feed us the ball” – giving us opportunities to exercise our faith – to bring His Kingdom to bear on this earth. Lives are ready to be changed all around us if we will learn to walk with momentum in our faith – going from positive occuance to positive occurrence. So much of our Chrisitian lives can tend to be a flip-flopping experience between the positive and negative side of the number line. But we are supposed to be going from positive to positive – from glory to glory. And the testimony, the story, the recounting of faith is exactly what releases more faith to come forth – and more testimonies to take form!
. . . For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev. 19:10)