A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church for Sunday, March 21, 2021:
It’s been a year since we’ve been in a lockdown and we had to reckon with a complete change in our daily routine. With this life-changing experience, there were numerous opportunities to evaluate and re-evaluate our very lives, our careers, straighten out matters in the present and also plan for the future.
We are reminded that God Himself saw all of this coming before it happened. He provided each of us the opportunity, as life got more simplified, to take the time to evaluate where we are in our fellowship with Him. Our church gatherings were drastically altered; as a result, we had more time to sit before Him as we read our Bibles. We had more time with Him in prayer and meditation. We had more time to seek Jesus, and we had more time to assess where we were.
The best products in America are tested regularly for consistency and to see if the quality holds true over time. Anything that you rely upon…working light bulbs, nails used in construction, and even your smartphone must pass muster throughout the manufacturing and construction process.
All of this describes a maintenance of quality standards of manufactured goods. It requires inspections and testing over and over again to ensure quality. 1
It’s time for you to make a quality assessment. A quality assessment of your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Today, instead of an inspection, you will be involved in introspection. Your testing will be consistent with how God refers to His testing of those He loves:
Deuteronomy 8:2 HCSB
Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.
1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
What is the purpose of your ongoing personal quality control? It starts with personal growth:
James 1:2-4 NLT
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
It ends in completion as you are refined with the fire from none other than the Holy Spirit:
Romans 5:3-5 ESV
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Notice that your personal quality control assessment should always take place with the reminder that God loves you more than you can even imagine. We are refined with fire, and His intent is to create a finished product that reflects His sanctifying power. While you assess your quality of faith, the Spirit shows you what you need to do as you go through suffering as He builds your character while not beating you down…He wants you to persevere and endure because He loves you very much.
So with that in mind, where do you stand in your relationship with Jesus Christ? Is it a high quality relationship, or does the quality leave something to be desired?
As you study the Word of God, your growth in your relationship in Jesus is a reflection of your sanctification process in the power of the Holy Spirit.
If there is an inaccurate assessment, or even worse, no assessment, you cannot determine your progress. The evidence will be in the lack of your personal growth. Believers should only be “babes in Christ” for a relatively short period of time. You have to put in the work.
Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good and evil.
Since no one here (present company included) will readily admit publicly of a lack of maturity or being unskilled, the beauty of this exercise is that you can keep all of this information to yourself. Even those who may indeed be mature in the faith will ALWAYS have room for improvement. This is why quality control is necessary. Quality improvement elevates average quality to good quality, and it moves good quality into exceptional quality.
It’s now time for your own quality control assessment.
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?
These are the touch points of your quality assessment.
If you have not reflected on either of these questions, then how do you know where you are? Is there a tendency to struggle with getting anything meaningful out of bible studies? How easy is it to be an effective part of a fellowship if you are having a prolonged personal struggle with who you are in your relationship with Jesus Christ?
All of these things are a personal struggle because you have an enemy who wants to see you flounder.
It is time to start asking yourself the questions that perhaps you have avoided until now. Fear of the unknown will sometimes keep us in a paralysis of not looking at who we really are and how we can improve ourselves. As you ponder this, I 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 you are to accurately assess where you are in your fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, you will need to provide measurables for your progress in the quality of your Christian life. It does not have to be a difficult process to measure where you are, because there are basic tenets that you can use in determining where you are. 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. Your growth in the knowledge of God through His Word
3. Your peak level with understanding of God and His Word
Notice that all of these points refer very specifically to God’s Word in your life. How did we get to 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. The Holy Spirit provides insight as we learn, and we reciprocate to God by communicating with Him in prayer in the power of Jesus Christ.
2 Chronicles 7:14 HCSB
…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 your quality assessment of your Christian life? The answer to this question leads back to our point number 1: Your level of obedience to God through His Word.
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).
The quality assessment of your obedience should move you to a place of living the abundant life in Jesus Christ.
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. He affirms us—both in good times and in our struggles—with a number of blessings. The bottom line is that your obedience to His Word assures you that you are in fellowship with Him. Your prayers will be heard and answered by Him. (Be careful to note, though, that the answers you receive may not be what you expect—so this give-and-take with Jesus will require flexibility on your part.) He will open and expand your heart and mind in this experience. It will be a powerful relational growth in obedience and fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.
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 will grow and continue to 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 you is to be obedient to His Word. Your quality control process begins here. Let’s examine this process by a careful analysis looking at the man who was born blind in his encounter with Jesus in the book of John. The points mentioned before are demonstrated in John 9:1-41.
John 9:1-5 ESV
1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 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–this is a mystery but it is a testament to His divine sovereignty.
John 9:6-7 ESV
6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Here is a demonstration of an act of obedience. The blind man, who has yet to learn who Jesus is, began the process through this simple act of obedience, to allow Jesus to use this incident for His glory. This is a reminder for all of us.
Even as you are learning who Jesus really is, your discovery begins with obedience to His Word, and it is the launch pad for your personal growth. God will always honor those who honor Him.
Jesus said as much in John 12:26:
John 12:26 ESV
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
Let’s get back to John, Chapter 9 and the blind man:
John 9:8-12 ESV
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
Here are the man’s neighbors asking the man 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 this healing on a Sabbath. Never mind that a miracle had taken place. Satan will never waste an opportunity to cause spiritual blindness on those who are unwilling to believe Jesus.
John 9:13-17 ESV
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
This brings us to our second point: Growing with knowledge.
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.
2 Peter 1:5-9 ESV
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Now let’s go back to John 9 and drop down to the blind man’s second go-round with the Jews:
John 9:24-34 ESV
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man (Jesus) is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast 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 John 9:17-23).
God will give you the ability to stand your ground if you remain confident in Him and in the knowledge that he gives to you when we speak the truth about Him.
How confident are you in speaking up about Christ when you have the opportunity?
Acts 28:31 NIV
He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
Hebrews 3:6 NLT
But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.
With knowledge comes power. Power in the Holy Spirit.
Here is the aftermath of the former blind man’s encounter with the Pharisees:
John 9:35-38 ESV
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Notice how Jesus seeks out and finds the man. He asks him if he believes in Him.
Is this not what Jesus can do for you when you seek after Him? No matter where you are or what’s going on in your life, Jesus promises that he will never leave us nor forsake us.
Matthew 28:18-20 CSB
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The former blind man now worships Jesus once he realizes who he is. He now has greater understanding after being obedient and growing in knowledge through the experience.
Now comes point number 3: Progress in your quality assessment continues through greater understanding of who Jesus is. As you read God’s Word, you become stronger in your faith, and you begin to see God’s glory in EVERYTHING you experience. The increase in understanding leads to growth and progress in your spiritual walk. It is a natural progression of your faith if you will continue in obedience and grow in knowledge.
With this progression in faith comes a peace and feeling of joy that is indescribable.
Psalm 29:11 CSB
The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace.
Psalm 32:7 CSB
You are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.
Philippians 4:7 CSB
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
To summarize, again note the three measurables in your personal quality control assessment:
1. Your level of obedience to God through His Word
2. Your growth in the knowledge of God through His Word
3. Your peak level with understanding of God and His Word
This gradual progression in your quality assessment 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. There are no shortcuts. It takes deliberate effort and sometimes very hard work in tough circumstances, but the payoff is more than worth the effort.
You see how the blind man had to go through these three steps to come to a place where all that was left was to worship Jesus Christ. God receives the glory as you look to Him through life’s difficulties.
Are you ready to step it up with your assessment of your faith in Jesus? Ask yourself about this process and determine if the quality of your Christian life can be improved.
It’s time for quality control of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 2005, 2021 Melvin Gaines.
1 Wordnik. (n.d.). Quality control. Wordnik.Com. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.wordnik.com/words/quality%20control