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"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father." (John 14:12) We who believe will do great works through Christ. Believers, are you living lives that bring glory to your Savior? Are you living faithfully for Him, and are you surrounded by stories of God moving people from darkness to light? If not, you need to ask yourself if you are an irregular believer or if you believe at all. Follow Him!
How to Live with Joy in the "Little While"
The Spirit's Coming as the Son Heads Home: Where He is Going and Who He is Sending.
Brace Yourself Lambs: Final Words on Their Final Walk
Love: Our Sign and its Source
It's All About Abiding
Living Proof He is the King of Peace
The Lifeless Lunacy of Love Without Labor
The Holy Spirit is With Those Who Believe
The Greater Works of Those Who Believe
Take Heart: The Difference Between Jesus' Trouble and Ours
Welcome. We are in the middle of a little section of John that we are naming the whole thing Take Heart because it's a phrase that we'll hear numerous times throughout this little section of Scripture where Christ is addressing the men who are going to lay the foundation for the future of the church, the means through which he intended to continue to extend his grace that he most fully revealed through Jesus.
If you are here this morning, you are going to be really glad that the men who he gave this message to initially listened, because we are the fruit of this message. We are the fruit of those men abiding with him. There are people who are praying that you will get in line and be the next generation of fruitful, faithful ones so that they too can know what we know so that we can have peace, not as the world gives, but a peace that passes understanding. That's what we're right here in the middle of. Let me pray for you, and then let's dive in.
Lord, I thank you for this morning and a chance to be with my friends. I just ask, Lord, that you would accomplish in our hearts what you did in the hearts of the 11 men who were in this upper room with you the night before you were crucified. You strengthened their hearts, you encouraged them, and you fulfilled the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit that they would be vessels through which the kindness of God might continue to be revealed, renowned, and known.
I thank you now that generations later I stand on their shoulders. I jump on their foundation of your work and the preaching and proclamation of those faithful disciples. Lord, we pray that today we would join in line with them, that you would quicken our hearts and strengthen us so that we too would be a means of grace to others.
I pray for folks who are here because we have loved them already, that they would come to understand more about our Jesus and that we would look more like your bride so they would want to know more about our bridegroom. So teach us this morning, Lord, and encourage our hearts. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, I don't know if you were with us or not last week, but I hope you were encouraged. That little section of Scripture, the 11 verses that we covered there in John 14:1-11, there was not a single command. It was all about God telling you, "I have this covered. I'm going to wash your feet. I'm going to go before you and do what you can't do. I'm going to go and prepare a place for you. I'm going to come back and get you. All you have to do is chill.
Let not your heart be troubled. You stay here. You be ready for me. You be as beautiful as you can, but you need to know something. I don't love you because you're beautiful. I love you because I am the beautiful one. I am everything you ever dreamed for in a lover. I am everything you ever dreamed for in a provider. I am everything you ever dreamed for in a king. I will do what good kings and good lovers do. I will rescue you. I will care for you. I will deliver you."
That was last week. That was John 14:1-11. It just blessed our hearts as we sat in here and we heard about the love of God and all that he was going to do for us. Today now he is going to move forward a little bit. What he is going to tell you to do is to jump on with him, follow the King, find your Lover, and be the man, be the woman who he intended you to be and have the privilege of offering yourself to God's purposes and enjoying God the same way that Christ offered himself for God's purposes and enjoyed God.
So let's take a look right here. Let me read to you all that we're going to cover today from the gospel of John. It's just a few short verses. We'll pick it up right here in verse 12. He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
He's going to say, "I'm going to go to the Father. I'm not going to leave you alone. I'm going to send you a Helper, who is the Holy Spirit." I'm going to teach some more on that next week. Let me just tell you, this is some great stuff. There are two little verses right here in John that cause a lot of confusion. I hope to clarify them for you this morning. What are they? First…What does it mean that greater works than Jesus did, we will do? Secondly…What does it mean thatif we ask for anything in his name he will do it?
If I can get that through to you this morning, then I will have unpacked this text in a way that I think will be helpful to you. Then I'm going to give you a major application. That is that you ought to be doing these greater works and you ought to be asking him to make sure it gets done. So here we go.
Let's start by just remembering what Jesus said because it's really helpful when you see terms that are confusing to use other places that he talked about this stuff that we might really understand what he meant. So in John 14:11, remember he said, "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me…" He said, "… [If you don't believe me] believe because of the works themselves." That's verse 11.
In other words, "You should believe because of the things that I have done." Now right after that, he is going to come back and say this. "You, if you believe, the works that you do will also be a part of other people believing in my Father." I want to just walk you through. Watch this. "Truly, truly…" That is his way of saying, "This is absolute certainty. This is revelation from God. Don't miss it." "…I say to you, he who…" as in all of you, whoever "…believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also…"
Today, in fact, in the Connecting Point class, I'm going to talk a lot about our core values. One of our core values is that full devotion for Christ is normative for the believer. In other words, what's normal is that you would be sharing your faith, reading God's Word, being informed by Scripture, loving people who are your enemies, forgiving those who have harmed you, giving generously, living sacrificially, teaching the Word of God, making disciples, reconciling with those who are far from God, caring for those who the world has forgotten, and speaking for those who are oppressed and have no voice.
That is normal for a believer. That is not for pastors. That is not for authors. That is not for seminary students and super-saints. That is normative for the believer. If you are not doing those things, it should cause you pause this morning and it should make you wonder if you are a believer. I hope you catch the full import of that sentence.
If those things are not a regular part of your life, then at the very least you are an irregular believer and there is a tremendous possibility that you are deluded and you are simply a professor of Christ who has never possessed an intimate, abiding relationship with him. Now we are saved by grace through faith alone, but the Bible is very clear that the faith which saves is never alone.
Jesus said, "If you don't believe what I'm saying, look at what I'm doing. What I'm doing is evidence that what I'm saying is real." Anybody can say, "This is what I think about Jesus." You might look at somebody and you go, "I don't know if you really do." You can say this, "Look, if you don't believe what I'm saying, look at my life. Everything in my life suggests that I believe in Jesus, that he is my Lord.
The way I conduct myself sexually, emotionally, relationally, and financially. The way I steward my time. The way I speak. The way when I speak poorly or act sexually inappropriately or whenever I live according to the ways of the world, watch me repent and watch me confess and watch me state that's contrary to God. I was disobedient at that moment. He is still my Lord and King. I want to repent, make amends, and begin to walk with him again."
If that is not a normal part of your life, then you might be a church attendee, you might be a regular attendee, but you are an irregular believer or something far worse. What this verse is telling you is that for everybody, full devotion is normal. Everybody who believes the works that Jesus did, even greater works will he do.
Now look, there are a couple things I have to do here. First of all, I have to say this. If by greater works, we mean more miracles, all of us are in trouble, every single one of us. Because I've never turned water into wine. I have never healed a dying political official's son. I have never walked into Scottish Rite and had lame people begin to walk because of me. I've never fed 5,000. I've never walked on water. I've never healed a man born blind. I've never raised anybody from the dead.
That's called 0-7 just in John alone, and I don't know anybody who has. Benny Hinn? No! People have offered Benny Hinn, who seems to like money, tens of thousands of dollars if he can substantiate even one miracle that he has done medically that can be authenticated. It hasn't been collected yet. Let me tell you something. If you misunderstand this text, you're going to be given off to all kinds of crazy things.
You're either going to become an individual who is prone to emotional experiences and counterfeit evidences that God is at work in your midst. You're going to give yourself over to intellectualism. You're going to give yourself over to what I would call deadness and ritual. You're going to be bored to death. The church is not going to look like God's work on earth. It's going to be craziness or it's going to be comatose. That's two things you see most often in the church.
Because people misunderstand what the works are. If by greater works, we mean more miracles, we are deeply in trouble. Can I just tell you something? There was this thing for centuries… The church has always believed the greater works were not directly associated with signs and wonders. Then really the 70s and 80s there was this whole signs and wonders movement that really rose up. It just resurfaces in little blurbs here and there all along the way.
I got involved with some folks who were trying to help deliver and rescue people who were caught up in the signs and wonders movement. We did some investigative work on them. We saw the chicanery, old carnival tricks, the deception that was being used the epicenter of them right here in Dallas, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I could tell you stories that would just make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and just go, "These are false teachers who are exploiting men who mingle some truth with great deception in order to make people think that they are prophets and apostles of God." I'm going to tell you, I am not the kind of guy…
I had a long talk this week with somebody who a lot of people want to spend time with, a person of renown, a professional, an athlete. Somebody who people are always looking to improve their game, if you will. As we were talking a lot, there are people who are telling him, "Look, if you just do this, if you'll go through these seven steps, if you'll come to me, if you'll let me be your counselor, if you'll just believe these things, it's going to deliver you forever from these things. You're going to actualize to another place."
My message is never that popular. I say, "No, I'm not going to ever tell you you're going to be delivered from anxiety. I'm never going to tell you you're ever going to be delivered from love of self. I'm not going to tell you you're ever going to be delivered from fear of failure, because you're on earth.
What I will tell you is that you can live a victorious life if you trust and obey, but your struggle until the day you die is going to be to abide with Christ in a way that will allow you not to be a slave to those things. But if you think there's a counselor you can go to, a conference you can attend, or some sort of prayer that you can pray, formula that you can do that's going to forever CLEP you out, you might have fleeting moments of success, but you're going to know better and eventually what you're going to do is you're going to abandon all counselors and especially people abandon the Great Counselor, God, because they think they've tried him."
Jesus doesn't want you to "try him." He wants you to abide with him. There is a significant difference. He doesn't work up some incantation. Again and again when you see Christ interacting with people, even when he miraculously delivers them… And he does these things for a reason.
When he miraculously intervenes in the course of natural events in a unique or unusual way, he always then comes back and says, "But listen, that wasn't your biggest problem. Don't keep running from God or it's going to get far worse than the problem you just had." Because any momentary affliction here on earth is nothing compared to not having a right, abiding relationship with God, because it will cost you everything.
Let me say this to you again. If you are not regularly involved in greater works than Christ accomplished in terms of establishing and furthering the kingdom, which is how the church has always understood this text for centuries, not in more miracles than Jesus, but in further establishing his work in greater ways than even the Son of God did while he was here, then it ought to cause you pause about who you believe in and what it is that you believe.
Let me show you throughout the gospel of John how seriously you take the promise of what belief is supposed to produce. Let me just walk you through. In John, chapter 1, verse 12, it says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…"
In other words, everybody who believes in his name has the right to become a child of God. Does anybody disagree with that here? No! You go, "If I believe, I am a child of God." How about this one? John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever…"
Now is it talking about pastors? Is it talking about super-saints here? Or is it talking about whoever? All people who, "…believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Which one do you want to think about? You go, "Yeah, John 3:16 is talking about me." How about this? Let's grab a few more.
John 3:18: "He who…" In other words, all. "…believes in Him is not judged…" John 3:36: "He who…" Anybody, all. "…believes in [him] has eternal life…" John 5:24: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."
John 6:35: "…I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." Who is that promise for? John 6:47: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." John 7:38: "He who believes…' [Out of him] will flow rivers of living water.'" John 11:25: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will [never die] …" John 12:46: "… [he] who believes in Me will not remain in darkness."
Now all these different times I'm showing you this that every time this is used, "He who believes," "Whoever believes," has eternal life, is a child of God, is not going to come into judgment, will never hunger and thirst for righteousness again, provision and peace with God again, even if he dies, he will live. Everybody reads those verses and go, "Yep, that's for everybody."
Then we get to John 14:12. It says, "… [whoever] believes…" Every believer. "…greater works than [I do] he will do…" You go for a second, "All right. Well, am I involved in greater works? Am I doing the kinds of things that evidence that I have a relationship with God?" If you don't, you are going to be victim to somebody who is going to come alongside of you and tell you that there's an anointing, that there's a power, that the Spirit of God is at work and you can come watch it.
If you'll just ask maybe to be baptized in the Holy Spirit or if you'll just appropriate this other thing in your life that all of a sudden you'll get to participate in miraculous wonders and works and it will give you a great rush because you think something really spectacular is going on. Let me just show you how we know that this is not miracles. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 7 through 10, this is what it says.
"But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." That's why you're given some expression of the Spirit in your life. "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues."
First Corinthians 12:29-30: "All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?" In other words what he is saying is you're all not going to do many miracles, but you're going to participate in a greater work if you're his believer.
I'm going to say a few things right here. People always ask when they hear stuff like this, and we have not talked about it a lot here on Sunday morning, especially lately…What does it mean to speak in tongues? When most people talk about speaking in tongues, they talk about something called a prayer language, which is never what speaking in tongues is in Scripture.
If you're curious about this, I did a message back in 1994 called The Gift of Tongues: What It Always Is, What It Never Has Been, and Is It for Today? We did an hour session talking about signs, wonders, and speaking in tongues at a little thing called Counterpoint that you can get on our website as well so you can hear what we think about that.
We also will tell you that we are people who believe that God can do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it. Let me just say that again. I believe that God can do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it. To not believe that will sometimes get you a label (and you always have to ask people what they mean by labels) of a cessationist. I have never been a cessationist. I don't know anybody at our church who has ever been a cessationist.
We believe that God is still doing great works. We believe that God still heals people. We believe that God is still miraculously delivering people from darkness. We believe he is even using us to do it, but we don't think miracles are normative. That's why they're called miracles. That's what they're not called "normacles."
So what I would offer to you is that whatever is going on in John 14:12 is not many miracles. I will also tell you this. The reason that Jesus could say, "If you don't believe what I'm saying, look what I'm doing," is because everybody else wasn't doing it. It was unique. Now look. In the Scripture, there are really four times when miracles happened. Then they always taper off. God is always able.
They come a lot at the beginning of Moses when God is authenticating his messenger. They are works of God by a messenger of God to authenticate the message of God. Moses early in his ministry does a lot of miracles. Then you find they taper off. Elijah and Elisha and the prophets early on, a lot of miracles and then they taper off. They go to a different kind of ministry once they've authenticated, "This is the way God is working and revealing who he is."
When Jesus was on the scene, you'll see Jesus early on did many miracles, and then he said, "There's not going to be any more miracles. That's it. No more miracles, because I've already done enough to authenticate that I am who I said I am," and then they're gone. The early church at the beginning when 1 Corinthians was written, "Hey look, some of these things are going on. You're not all supposed to do them."
He even comes back later and says that at some point they will cease, if you're talking about the kind of signs that John holds up as evidence that Jesus is who he says he was. He says there's going to be an enduring sign that goes forward and that's the one that you and I are supposed to always be a part of. Is God capable of doing whatever he wants? Yes, whatever he wants.
My theology and doctrine would never tell him what he can or can't do, but you need to know something. There are all kinds of people who misunderstand this text and hold up false evidences for God and have even created excuses for how, "This is an expression of that thing," and it's not even the thing that the Bible was originally talking about when it described it.
What I do want to talk about this morning is, "Are you involved in the thing that God said you will be involved in if you are his believer?" I'll say it to you this way. Miracles are like the thrusts of a rocket. Whenever a satellite is put in orbit or the space shuttle was shot in orbit or if you're a little older like me I can remember we had school assemblies and we watched the Apollo rockets go off.
Our teachers would have us watch on TV the initial thrust, the spectacular display of power that got the rocket up in the air and into orbit. We never stood at a screen and watched some image on a radar of a little blip that went around and orbited around the earth. It wasn't the thrust, the explosion that really ultimately aided us in our movement toward space.
In other words, anybody can go make a big explosion in the backyard, but very few people can get a satellite up in space and have it orbit and do things that you just expect to be done. Miracles are like that. It's the thrust of a rocket launch that just says, "Look, this is something going on," but it's the ongoing work of the authenticated messenger of God that really makes a difference. We love to go watch the launch, don't we? Launches don't change the world. Enduring truth changes the world.
Let me just show you a few things. This is the purpose of Jesus' works: that you can believe him. The purpose of our works is that we would be authenticated as believers and that people can therefore believe in the One who we say has sent us. The ongoing miraculous work of a New Testament believer is ultimately love.
It is the way that we relate to one another, which is why if our marriages are failing, if our marriages that are not publicly filing for divorce are not places of intimacy and a pursuit of oneness, people have a right to go, "I don't know who you think your God is, but he must not be who you think he is or your relationships would look different because everything that he says, says that he will reconcile you one to another, that you will relate differently to one another.
Frankly, I don't see you relating differently to one another. I see you walking in insecurity and pettiness and selfishness and gossip and slandering and sexually abusing each other just like the rest of us. The only difference between us and you is you do it behind closed doors." We just celebrate and invite others in. You know what? I had a guy ask me this in a radio interview last week.
He said, "Todd, many people say that the church is making all this big deal about the redefinition of marriage and yet they say we haven't done marriage very much differently and that marriage has not been upheld very highly in the church. What do you say to that?" I go, "I agree with them. I tell them they're right. I don't lie to them. That's exactly what I see. I see the divorce rate being the exact same in the church as out. I see us being afraid to teach on it because we don't want to offend anybody."
Let me just tell you something. God died for sinners. He dies for people who move into relationships and wreck them because of selfishness, but that doesn't mean that if we are his people who walk according to his ways that our relationships should be wrecked and defined by selfishness and failure.
If they are, we repent, we own it, we confess it, and we take responsibility for it. We don't say, "You should know how awful my other spouse was." We remain faithful to them and pursue them and look for reconciliation with them. People go, "That's not normal. That is unique amongst you believers." I would say, "It ought to be."
What's really interesting here; remember how I told you in John 14:1-11 it was all about what Jesus had done for you? I want you to catch a little play on words right here. Because he says that, "I'm going to go to the Father. These things I'm going to do I'm going to do for you. I'm going to go for the Father and then I'm going to do these things through you. You're going to ask me and I will do it."
It's a play on words with Jesus saying, "It's still going to be me doing the work. I'm just now going to do it through you. You're going to want me to do the work still, and I will do it for you." I'm going to explain to you how the work is done. It's not done by us saying, "I love you God and now I'm going to go serve you well." It is done by abiding with Jesus.
What was the means of the early church's power? Do you remember what was said of them? These are uneducated men, but we know and recognize them as men who have been with Jesus. Because they've been with Jesus, there's something else going on with them. Jesus is going to say here in just a few verses, "Apart from me, you can do nothing."
He is leaving, but he said, "I'm not going to leave you as orphans." We're going to find out just a few verses now, "I'm going to send you the Spirit. Abide with me. Walk with me. Continue about my purposes and the Father will do great things." Jesus is still the one doing it. He is now going to do it through us. We're still the ones who are going to look for him to do it through our prayers.
It is going to be the proclamation of Christ by his believers who rely on prayer and living according to his purposes. Our enduring sign will be love and the deliverance of others from the dead. Watch this. Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8 and 9. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship…"
"You are my work that I have created through my death, burial, and resurrection, through my unleashing of intimacy with God, through my provision for you that you can come near to God, that my Spirit will indwell you. You were created for good works. You should walk in them, the ones that I have prepared for you. If you do that, greater things than I have done to advance God's kingdom reign on earth in terms of having people who respond, greater things than this you will do."
Peter fulfills this in just a matter of weeks when the very first time he stood up to talk about Jesus, 3,000 people joined in kingdom work. I don't know if you've read the Gospels lately, but there were not thousands of people following around with Christ.
Now listen, Jesus didn't have his resurrection to point to that was renowned throughout all the land, and that's exactly why he is saying, "This is better for you that I go, because it prepares a place for you, it will allow you to become reunited with God so his Spirit can be poured out on you, and you will have the opportunity to declare to others what I have done. It will change the world. The gates of hell will not stand against you."
What I want to tell you is that there are many of us who believe that's true, but we just haven't been about the work. Jesus says, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me…" In fact, at the very end of this little section in John it says, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. …and greater works than these he will do…"
Watch this. Your works are going to be evidence that you have a relationship with God. Your works are going to be so unusual and unique that people are going to demand an explanation. "Who is your God?" First Peter 3:15: "…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts…" In other words, get to know Jesus. Walk with Jesus. Then, "…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…"
In other words, people are going to see the outworking of your life, they're going to see the sanctity of your life, they're going to see the way you live and relate and love, and they're going to go, "You have to explain that to me. How in the world in the midst of all the trouble that's in this world…the cancer, the betrayal, the death, the wickedness…why are you still people who sing?"
It's just the overflow of our work. Because we have a sovereign God who has told us that this world is going to keep spinning out of control until that day when he comes and makes it all right. The reason that he hasn't made it all right yet is because he wants other people to get on the ark before the flood comes. He says, "…and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame."
In other words, "We may not like what you say, we may not like how you convict us, but the other day we cannot complain about what you do. You heal the lame. You give sight to the blind. You care for the widow and the orphan. Your families are intact. Your children are a blessing. You use your finances for the common good. We hate your dogma, but I have to be honest. If more people did your doing, this would be a better place."
Is that being said of you? That's what the renown of the church was supposed to be. We're supposed to be living… Watch this one. Matthew 5:16. I just want to show you how the Bible collapses. It always comes together. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
In other words, your works will be evidence that you are related to the Father, that you're his people called by his name. You know, a lot of times here people get really a little pithy and annoyed in the way that they talk about how we talk about Watermark or how other people give testimonies about what Watermark has done in their life.
Can I just suggest to you that that is normal and expected and exactly what should happen. If you are God's man, if you are God's woman, if we are God's community, the world ought to go, "Watermark, Watermark, Watermark, Watermark, Watermark, Watermark. Todd." Do you know Todd should do and Watermark should do? Exactly what Peter and John did when the world said, "Peter and John. It's like we have a miraculous provision from God here in our midst." And they begin to worship you and celebrate you.
Then we say what we always say, "Hey listen. It's not me. It's not Watermark who is doing the work. We are servants of the King. We are Jesus' body. You love the head, not the body. We can't do anything without our head. I'm just his servant. If you want to regard me, regard me "…as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." I know that you're thankful for me, but what you're really thankful for is the Father, for Jesus. I'm just a bag of rocks. We're just a bunch of broken people."
So yes, if we're broken people rightly united to God, then miraculous things ought to be happening in our midst. In other words, love, reconciliation, hope, forgiveness, renewal, deliverance ought to all be happening here in our midst. People have said, "Well, I want to talk to you about the body of Jesus. I want to talk to you about the servant of Jesus."
It's the job of the body of Jesus and the servant of Jesus to go, "Okay thank you, but let's really celebrate Jesus, because this is about Jesus." But I hope you never get tired of hearing people say, "Hey, church. You're doing exactly what Jesus said. Greater things than Jesus did you're doing." We can go, "That's right, but it's really Jesus doing it through us for him. Anything we do is by his name."
Do you all get that? I think one of the reasons that a lot people don't like how much folks are talking about Watermark is because people aren't talking about where they go to church the same way. Because they don't see people with lame lives, they don't see broken people radically being changed consistently in their midst.
I want to say, "How can I help you?" Because I want people to fall in love with the bride of Christ that you're a part of. It's normal for these things to be happening." For what things to be happening? Let me just explain this to you. This is amazing. This week I just said to the staff… In fact, I'll tell you what we did. A week ago Tuesday, I got our staff together. "I want you to read to me your favorite story in the Gospels about Jesus."
So one guy read from John 9 where Jesus heals the blind man. Another guy reads from Mark 5 where there is what is called the Gerasene demoniac who was breaking free of chains, was naked and living among the dead, was a terror to himself and to his people. Then he interacted with Jesus, and all of a sudden he was clothed and in his right mind.
Somebody else talked about a story from John 21. Somebody else talked about a story from Luke. Somebody else talked about another story from the gospel of Mark. I go, "Okay, now here's what I want you to do. I want you to tell me a story that we have witnessed in the last couple of weeks that lines up exactly with what Jesus did in John 9.
In case you're curious, I'm not talking about somebody who is physically blind all of a sudden being able to see. Because it's very clear that's not what he is talking about in John 14 when we get there." We went around and we had to cut it off. We started sharing stories. I want to tell you something, this church is filled with Gerasene demoniacs.
What I mean is we are filled with people who were constantly being chained by society because they were a nuisance and a menace to themselves and to others, they were living among the dead, who are all of a sudden now clothed and in their right minds and walking with Jesus. This church is filled with uneducated men.
People go, "Do you know something? All I know is that these guys look like they've been with Jesus." I go, "That's exactly what the Scripture says should happen if you abide with him." I have this single-spaced… I'll be honest with you. I didn't even have time to read all the stories the staff ended up sharing with me. Let me just read you a few of the adjectives that I pulled out that we just went back and looked at.
People who have found a relationship with Christ, people who were overstressed, insomniacs, bar-crawlers. We talked about how Luke 5 when the tax collectors came to know Jesus it says that they went out, they got all their other lost and corrupt friends, and they threw a party and invited Jesus to it so their friends could interact with Jesus.
We have a group of four guys who recently got saved off Lower Greenville who on Fridays are gathering about 30 other guys that they go, "These guys are destructive to women in Dallas and their own lives. These men are living among the dead on Friday nights, but we have invited them to come and hang out here on Fridays to talk with us about Jesus." That's Luke 5.
Watch this. Insomniacs, bar-crawlers. Verbally, emotionally, sexually abusive husbands. Here, no longer like that. Guys, an owner of a party planning company for nightclubs encouraging the raucous destruction of countless lives in Dallas. Not anymore. Drug addicts, sex addicts, thieves, alcoholics, pornographers, liars, drunk drivers, dead professors. People who claim they know God but by their actions they deny him are no longer denying him by their actions. They've been radically saved with a true encounter with Jesus Christ.
Anorexics, slave to men and body image. Materialists, depressed people, folks ridden by anxiety disorders, prisoners of fear, prisoners, homosexuals, lesbians, female and male prostitutes, johns, victims of extreme sadness, Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus. These are just the stories of the last six months that right here at Watermark through Jesus working in you, have been radically transformed. I'm not done.
Atheists, drug dealers, promiscuous women, predatory men, victims of childhood sexual abuse, perpetrators of sexual abuse, liars, manipulators of people, victims of greed and massive debt, co-habitators, divorcees, passive husbands, angry wives, adulterous men and women, homeless men, homeless women, alienated people from society, incarcerated folks, Pharisees, fallen leaders, fake Christians, parents who have lost children, prodigals, pill poppers, suicide-attempt survivors.
That's just the last few months of ministry here, but I want to ask you. Is that the last few months of your ministry? Because if it's not, you're just watching Jesus. You're the multitude who is following around and you want to see something else miraculous happen, but God is not working in you and through you like he would if you were a believer.
If you don't have stories of folks who are radically far from God or who are numb in their faith being thought out and transformed in the image of Christ because of you, I'm going to tell you something. It ought to concern you. If you claim that you are a believer who is, therefore, a child of God, given eternal life, passed out of judgment, removed from darkness because every time it says, "Whoever believes, Todd, that's true," I'm going to say, "Keep reading your Bible."
Whoever believes, greater works than Jesus was doing, you will do. If you're not sharing your faith, loving your wife, reconciling with your children, giving generously and radically, if you're not teaching the Bible and making disciples, if you're not increasing on earth the things that are in heaven, quit calling yourself a believer. Because you might be significantly deluded or you are a scourge to the cause of Christ.
What he would say is that people are going to look at you and go, "If you can't say… If you don't believe what I say about Jesus, believe what Jesus has done and is doing in my life." People would go, "Well, I never really thought about it like that. I might have to reconsider Jesus because you're right, man. I do see a wake of good in your path. Huh." Because that's what Jesus said you should say. Now how are you going to do it? You're going to do it by asking. Look what it says right here in verse 13.
"Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." Okay? Watch this. In his name. Such a confusing thing. How many of us, "in his name," is something we throw on the end of our prayers like magicians start with "Abracadabra?" It doesn't do anything to put "in his name" at the end of your prayers except maybe before you ended your prayer and go, "I really can't say 'in his name' can I?"
This is another reason why when you're sick you may not want me to pray for you. Because I don't know if God wants to heal you. He might want you to continue to suffer and still sing his praises and show people that though in this life you might have troubles, you're not going to be defined by troubles because this world is not your home.
When Jesus prayed, he said , "Father, I don't want to go to this cross, but not my will, your will be done." When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego looked at the king and the king said, "If you don't bow down and worship the way I want you to worship, you're going to be thrown into that fire."
They said, "Let me just tell you something. You can throw me in that fire because our King can deliver us through the fire, but even if he does not, he'll figure it out for us in a way that I'm not even sure I could articulate as an Old Testament saint of God held by you in captivity in Babylon. I just know he is good, he is God, he is rocking, and I am not bowing."
False teachers will say, "No, he'll always deliver you through the fire." He says he will, but sometimes, it won't be in a way that you can see. I'm wearing this little shirt. My buddy Brandon… Five years ago this raucous, rambunctious, beautiful athletic little boy gets strep. He gets some virus from post-traumatic strep syndrome. It attacks his brain. His speech is slurred. His right arm is completely corrupted. He walks with a severe limp. For five years, we've done nothing but pray for him.
This last week, we were over at Cook Children's in Fort Worth watching Brandon get drilled into his brain and some radical new procedure that has had some good effect for people with Parkinson's. They're trying it on this little 13-year-old boy. I don't know. I told Brandon here last week, "I don't know what God is up to. I don't know if you're going to wake up to some foggy awareness that God is still good and limp through the rest of your life or if you're going to move on to unspeakable glory. I just know that God is good.
I can tell you something. Every time I see you, you remind me of the greatness of God because you smile, you laugh, you talk about the goodness of Jesus Christ despite the fact that when you were 10, 11, 12, and 13, you couldn't run. Your speech is slurred, and people must think you're dumb because your speech is slurred. I know you're not dumb. I think you're beautiful and the most intelligent person on the earth because you love Jesus in a way that I don't know, man.
Very few people would in your situation. Some false teacher is going to tell you if you had more faith, you'd be healed. They ought to read their Bible. This is a great work that you have going on." All right? So you go ahead and pray for Brandon with me, but here's what you want to pray. I told Brandon, I said, "Brandon, look, I'm an idiot. I always want people to get well, but God always wants himself to be glorified. So I'm going to pray that you will continue to glorify the Father.
If he will glorify himself by healing you, I pray he heals you. If he is going to glorify himself by you limping the rest of your life and talking out of the side of your mouth, I'm going to pray you're going to be faithful. Not Todd's will or Brandon's will or his mom or dad's will or the church's will be done, but your will, Father." Some people go, "I'm out on that God. If he won't do things that I can see and explain all the time, I'm out." I'm going to tell you, "That's okay. Just quit saying you're praying in his name."
Let me show you what the Bible says about praying in his name. In his name right here in John 15. A little bit later he said, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit…" That's my appointment for you. "…and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."
What he'll give to you is fruitfulness. John 16:23-24: "…if you ask…for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive…" In other words, now you know the fullness and revelation of God. Now you know the radical love of God that he would let his Son suffer so that other people might be brought near him.
"Guess what? I'm leaving you here. It's going to be nasty, but don't worry. Just endure in faithfulness. Let not your heart be troubled, Brandon. Let not your heart be troubled, Watermark. My church, I have it covered." Lord, heal Brandon, but even if you do not, Lord, heal my constant trickling away from you and deliver me from my pet sins. Even if you do not, I will abide with you and cling to you every day.
Watch this. You have to go all the way to 1 John, the same guy who wrote John. In 1 John, later so the church would understand, he writes this in chapters 5:14-15. "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." That's what it means to pray in his name. "And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." He'll do it.
In other words, John 15:7-8, just a few verses later. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." What does God want? He wants sin to be eradicated. He wants the Father to be exalted. He wants the Son's name to be lifted up. We should be a part of him doing that.
When you pray in his name, what you're saying is, "Hey, Father, what I'm really doing is I'm coming to you on behalf of Jesus. I know Jesus is good and sovereign. I know you're loving and good. So whatever you want done, do it. This is what I wouldn't mind, but look. If this thing can't be removed, not my will, but thy will be done. I'm just going to follow you because you are good, and even though this looks like a cross, I know that there is a resurrection and I'm waiting.
While I'm waiting, there are greater works still to be done right here in this city. I'm going to be a part of it. I'm not going to do it on my own. I'm going to do it by your provision, through prayer, by the proclamation of the Word of God and the power of Jesus Christ." If that's not your story, then I'd choke a little bit on the word believer. Let me pray for you.
Father, there are greater works still to be done in this city. You have left us here, some of us, to struggle with post-traumatic strep disorders that hurt our children. Some of us are here on this earth with fathers who abuse us and forget us. Some of us are individuals who are going to endure different sicknesses and some of us different betrayals, but we thank you that you love people and you have left us here to complete what is lacking in Christ's sufferings.
We thank you that the work of deliverance is finished and now just the work of declaration continues. I thank you that there are more miracles in Watermark in the last six months than I could find in the Gospels. Wow. I thank you that you've used me as a broken vessel to be a means of some of them.
I pray for my friends who are on the sidelines who have never had the joy of participating with you alone in delivering people from the kingdom of darkness that they would come up here this morning and go, "I don't know Jesus because none of those things have ever happened to me. I use prostitutes. I don't convert them. I am a pornographer, not somebody who stomps on its head. I have never told anybody about Jesus, much less prayed with them."
Lord, help me to be a believer. I pray that the works that you have left for us here to do that we would walk in them. I pray that when other men see them, they would believe in our King and glory would come to him. Use this song to bury into our hearts why you've left us here, why the rapture hasn't happened, why the second coming has not commenced because there are greater things still to be done right here in this city. Amen.
I'm inviting you in as a servant of Christ, as a vessel of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is inviting you in to be a great work that he has done and to then participate with him to do greater works still. If you are not a part of the story, if you are dragging people into the water with us on May 5, folks who point to you as the servant of Christ who lead them out of darkness, then you are missing out on the life and you are squandering it on movies and entertainment and sports and beauty.
God wants you to be a part of something eternally beautiful. Go preach the Word. Abide in the Word. Ask that the power of Christ would be made evident in you and through you. There are greater works for you than building some fleeting monolith to self that will be passed on and forgotten in the next generation.
God wants you to effect people's eternities and to be a source of grace in our world and to live for the common good that people may not like what you say, but they go, "I sure like what he is doing. I like the way he loves." We just will continue to extend grace to each other and spur each other on, help each other, disciple each other, but come on church. Come on.
If you don't have stories, then I would be careful that you're in the "whoever believes" camp. How about this? If you're not at least doing the things that Jesus said you should do that will create stories, I would be really careful to say you love him if you're not doing what he commands. Today is your day to repent. Come. Don't leave before you do business with God.
You might go, "Todd, I don't know how to share my faith." Great, write down, "Equip me, help me, disciple me." Some of you might go, "I'm lost." Write down on there, "I want to know more about how to have a relationship with Christ." We don't leave here every week. There are 10 of us who stand up here waiting for you to come.
I'm not going to put you through some little prayer here that you can be deluded because you said it. You're good. No, believe. With faith, trust and commit to him. That's the Scripture's command. What I'd love you to do is… Some guys set this up this week. You can go to our Facebook page if you want. There's a little box right there that you can click on. It just says "John 14:12". If you're a Twitter person, go #John1412.
We're just going to share a bunch of stories that we're watching. I'm going to tell you, I know the stories. You can click right there on that little link and then enter in your story. There are already some stories that are down there a little bit talking about what God has done. Read them. Be encouraged. Add your own.
When people go, "Tell me about your church," you go, "I'll tell you what. Go to our Facebook page and just read the stories about Gerasene demoniacs, prostitutes, Pharisees, and every other kind of lame, blind person you can imagine being saved and their life radically being changed. Then let me tell you the source of that. His name is Jesus. Watermark is nothing. Todd is nothing. Christ is everything and we know him. We're doing his work." Amen? Fill it up. Glorify your Father. Worship him. We'll see you. Have a great week.