The following is a summary and commentary of a sermon that I presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church in 2005. It features a review of the blind man who was healed by Jesus Christ as narrated in the book of John, Chapter 9.
As our church is embarking upon a revival this coming week, is participating in an extended book study in Sunday school on The Purpose-Driven® Life, and has adopted the “Growing a Healthy Church” motto, it only makes sense that each of us who attends our church on a regular basis who is concerned with the scope and direction of our church will have a natural concern with where he or she is in their own relationship with Jesus Christ.
It also makes sense for the person to look at their own relationship with Christ as a natural way to measure your progress in your faith in Christ, and in your relationships and daily interactions as a believer in Jesus Christ. Have you recently reflected as to where you are right now in your relationship with Christ? Scripture strongly implies that it is a natural progression if you are growing in your relationship with Christ according to Hebrews 5:12-14:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
Here are questions that you should honestly ask yourself…
- Can you honestly say to yourself that you are making progress in your relationship with Jesus Christ?
- If others were to observe your behavior, or even comment on it, would they see a progression in your relationship with Christ?
If you have not reflected on either of these questions, then how do you know where you are? As a member of the body of Christ and Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, there is a natural hindrance to getting anything meaningful out of bible studies, or being an effective part of a fellowship if you are having a prolonged personal struggle with who you are in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
As our church is moving forward, our ministry is taking shape in different areas, and as change occurs, you must prepare yourself for what your defining role is as a member of the body of Christ. In determining your defining role, it is not enough to ask yourself if you are merely a participant. Some believers may go their entire lives trying to determine what their role is, and even what their spiritual gifts are. If you do not know what your role is and what your gifts are, then how can you possibly know who you are in your relationship with a church, with other members in the body of Christ, and as to how much you have progressed as a believer?
It is time to start asking ourselves the questions that maybe we have avoided until now. Fear of the unknown will sometimes keep us in a paralysis of not looking at where we are and how we can improve ourselves. Perhaps we are fearful of what others will say about us…who knows? I do know that Satan would prefer that each of us never reach our full potential as believers. I also know that Satan is the greatest liar of all time (John 8:44). Is it easier for us to believe Satan’s lies, or to trust in the Lord?
If we are to accurately assess where we are in our fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, we need to be able to measure our progress in the quality of our Christian life. It is not a difficult process to measure where we are, as there are basic tenets that we must use in determining where we are in this area. You may add some points within these basic doctrines, but I have examined three particular areas that should be at the forefront of any measurement of our assessment.
1. Your level of obedience to God through His Word
2. Growing with the knowledge of God through His Word
3. Peaking with understanding of God and His Word
Notice that all of these points refer very specifically to God’s Word in your life. How do we know about God, and how did we learn about God in the first place? We had to have some sort of exposure to God’s Word. How did we come to know Jesus Christ as personal savior? We learned about the Good News through exposure and reflection upon God’s Word. How do we learn more about what God’s Word has to say to us? By reading and studying God’s Word on a regular basis. This is how God communicates with us…through His Word. We reciprocate to God by communicating with Him in prayer.
2 Chronicles 7:14
…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
How does this correlate with the quality of your Christian life, or as some would say, the abundant life? The answer may seem overly simple to you, but think about this regarding point number 1…all that God wants from us is our obedience to His Word. The only way that we can love God is to be obedient to His Word (Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 5:10, Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 25:10, Psalm 112:1).
If you are regularly practicing obedience to God’s Word, it stands to reason that God will respond to you with blessings as a result of your obedience. The bottom line is that your obedience to His Word assures you that you are in fellowship with Him. Your prayers are likely to be heard by him and answered by Him. The residual effect of this obedience and the resulting ongoing fellowship with God is that God’s love for you, which has already been declared in his creation of you and His love for you in Jesus Christ in His plan of salvation for you will become more and more visible in your daily walk in faith. You will, as a result of His love, love Him in return and have a greater desire to want to be obedient to Him. It is a love relationship that can grow, as long as we do not inhibit it with sin or other forms of disobedience, beyond any sort of words or description that we can possibly come up with.
God’s desire for us is to be obedient to His Word. That is where the process of beginning to measure progress in the quality of your Christian life begins. Let’s examine the process take place in Scripture by looking at the man who was born blind. The points mentioned before are demonstrated in Scripture in John 9:1-41.
As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Please note that God uses situations involving His people specifically for His glory and fulfillment of his purpose; a matter of His sovereignty.
After He said these things He spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes. “Go,” He told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he left, washed, and came back seeing.
Here is a demonstration of an act of obedience…a simple act and yet here is how God began the process of using the situation for His glory. It starts with our obedience to His Word, and our growth in fellowship with Him cannot help but grow accordingly.
His neighbors and those who formerly had seen him as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the man who sat begging?” Some said, “He’s the one.” “No,” others were saying, “but he looks like him.” He kept saying, “I’m the one!” Therefore they asked him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So when I went and washed I received my sight.” “Where is He?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he said.
Note from this text – here are the man’s neighbors asking questions about what really happened, and it appears that some of them were ready to report the matter to the Pharisees because of Jesus’ performing the healing on a Sabbath.
They brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees. The day that Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes was a Sabbath. So again the Pharisees asked him how he received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” he told them. “I washed and I can see.” Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for He doesn’t keep the Sabbath!” But others were saying, “How can a sinful man perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.
This leads to our second point – Growing with knowledge (2 Peter 1:5-11 — contrast with Hosea 4:6, Romans 1:28-32).
Note the number of questions about Jesus’ legitimacy after the man described again what had happened. Where is the confusion and division coming from here? Satan wants to distract us from being obedient to God and getting us off track when others around us start shouting loud and long about the legitimacy of Jesus Christ. A word to the wise – do not listen to those voices and stay focused, just as the man does in this text. Only by staying focused can you continue on in the next step, growing with knowledge.
So a second time they summoned the man who had been blind and told him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner!” He answered, “Whether or not He’s a sinner, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I can see!” Then they asked him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” “I already told you,” he said, “and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don’t want to become His disciples too, do you?” They ridiculed him: “You’re that man’s disciple, but we’re Moses’ disciples. We know that God has spoken to Moses. But this man—we don’t know where He’s from!” “This is an amazing thing,” the man told them. “You don’t know where He is from, yet He opened my eyes! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He listens to him. Throughout history no one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He wouldn’t be able to do anything.” “You were born entirely in sin,” they replied, “and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.
The man was now speaking based upon his own experience and the knowledge and logic that he has about who Jesus is, and how he stood his ground in the face of the Pharisees, even though his parents were fearful (refer to verses 17-23). God will give us the ability to stand our ground if we remain confident in Him and in the knowledge that he gives to us when we speak the truth about Him. How confident are you in speaking up about Christ when you have the opportunity?
…proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.
But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.
With knowledge comes power.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out, He found him and asked, “Do you believe in the • Son of Man?” “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” he asked. Jesus answered, “You have seen Him; in fact, He is the One speaking with you.” “I believe, Lord!” he said, and he worshiped Him.
Notice how Jesus finds the man and reaffirms him by asking him if he believes in Him. This is much the same as how Jesus proclaims that he will never leave us nor forsake us.
Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The man now worships Jesus once he realizes who he is speaking to and who he is. He now has greater understanding after being obedient and growing in knowledge through the experience.
Now comes point number 3 – Progress is made through greater understanding of who He is. As you read God’s Word, you become stronger in your faith, and you begin to see God’s glory in all things. The greater understanding now leads to growth and progress in your spiritual walk. It is a natural progression of your faith if you will only act with obedience and gain knowledge. With this progression in faith comes a peace and feeling of joy that is indescribable.
The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace.
You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.
And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This gradual progression in measuring progress can be hindered if points 1 through 3 are not followed. You cannot effectively get to the 3rd point if you are struggling with the 2nd point, and so forth. Ask yourself about this three step process and determine if the quality of your Christian life can be improved.