A friend and council member (Northeast Region) of TXAPN sent the following:
by RaJean Vawter
Most assuredly, 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 My Father (John 14:12).
In this passage of scripture Jesus is not giving the disciples a suggestion or even a command. He is stating a fact. He is making it very clear that if we truly believe in Him, we will not only do the same works that He did, but we’ll do greater works. It’s like He is saying it’s a done deal. This will happen. Period!!! But do we see it today?
Many have said; don’t be concerned about the “greater works.” Just focus on doing what Jesus did. And what were the “works” that Jesus did? What comes to my mind, in no particular order includes
- Healing the sick both in person and from afar
- Opening blind eyes
- Enabling the mute to speak
- Casting out demons
- Raising the dead
History as well as scripture tells us that indeed, such “works” have taken place at the hands of believers for 2,000 years. You probably know the stories from scripture and from revival history. St. Patrick performed all of these “works” including his forte of raising the dead. So did his followers. These works took place during all of the world’s great revivals. This includes both the first and second Great Awakening, the Azuza Street Revival and the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 70s.
Today, many are praying earnestly for such signs and wonders because they know that in all the cases listed above, such miracles draw people to Jesus. When the supernatural takes place, a loving God who cares about individuals is revealed. The result is always revival of the church, awakening of unbelievers, radically-changed people with devout, obedient lives of service.
Because we have not seen many such “signs and wonders” in the last 50 years, most of those I’ve talked to, and heard speak, seem to be satisfied with being able to see and do the works of Jesus. That’s enough for them. I want to present another perspective.
I believe in aiming high. And I do mean high. I’ve been told in the past that I expect too much out of myself. But when I look in scripture, I find that impossible. How could I possibly aim higher than God’s goal for my life? How could you? To name just a few of His goals for us, He tells us we are to. . . .
- Hear His voice – John 10:3, 4, 27
- Forgive everyone – Matthew 6:12
- Receive the Holy Spirit – John 20:22
- Watch and pray continually – Luke 21:36
- Be witnesses – Acts 1:8
- Be perfect – Matthew 5:48
Is all of this high enough for you? Have you attained any of these things? If not, are you aiming for any of them? Are you praying and continually walking in obedience to the best of your ability so you can achieve any of these goals? I know I am. For example, back in the late 60s I read – one more time – the story of Enoch in Genesis 5. When I came to verse 24 – And Enoch walked with God, and then he was not, for God took him – I made this verse one of my life goals. I wanted to walk with God so closely that He’d just end up taking me. That was the beginning of a very active, involved, disciplined and persistent life of prayer. Obviously, I haven’t achieved my goal but I’m at least moving toward it.
At various points in my life, I’ve made each of the other bullet points listed above a life goal and have taken steps to achieve them. Have I reached the highest point of any of them? Of course not. But I continue to climb. Are you with me? Or have you settled for less than the best? So many believers I’ve known have stopped along the way because they are tired, don’t want to put forth the effort to learn and grow, stretch and change. That’s nothing but lazy Christianity. Many others have literally told me they can’t continue to climb because, after all, they are “only human.” The funny thing though is that I have yet to find any scripture that tells me that I am to settle for just being “human.”
All human beings are a fallen race. Why would you or I want to stay in that condition? Adam and Eve were what today would be called “super-human.” They had abilities that we can only dream of. They had the ability to rule with “dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) Wow! That’s authority! That’s ability! Unfortunately, since Adam sinned, mankind has achieved this ability only in bits and pieces for short periods of time. The greatest ability Adam had was to walk and talk with God with incredible intimacy. Enoch and Elijah achieved the same goal. Then Jesus went to the cross to reverse the curse and set us free to not only be forgiven but to be like the first Adam. That’s my goal too. How about you? Are you setting your sights high enough?
So what does all of this have to do with the greater works we’re supposed to be able to do? It’s all part and parcel of the same thing. What are we aiming for? Ramiro Pena stretched my thinking when I heard him give a short talk recently. He pointed out that signs, wonders and miracles in scripture often came in sequential progression. Take a look at the following progression that took place in chronological order:
- Mark 5:27-28 – This is the story of the woman with the issue of blood who believed that if she could only touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she’d be healed. And she was.
- Mark 6:56 – Word must have gotten around because days later, He went to the land of Gennesaret. As soon as He got there, no matter what village, city or countryside He went to, the people “begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.”
- Acts 4:33 – Great grace was upon all the disciples such that the apostles were given great power to give witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
- Acts 5:15-16 – People brought the sick into the street so that just Peter’s shadow would fall on them bringing healing.
- Acts 8:39 – Philip was “caught away” (translated) from the desert near Gaza to Azotus quite a few miles north.
- Acts 19:11-12 – “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.”
James 4:6 says, “But He gives more grace.” Some translations say, “greater grace.” If great grace was given to the disciples in Acts 4 for the purpose of miracles and evangelism, could we consider points #4-6 to be the “greater grace?”
If Jesus healed by His spoken word and by physical contact, would miracles through a person’s shadow, by handkerchiefs and aprons be a “greater work because He didn’t heal that way?” We have no record of Jesus being translated before His resurrection as Philip was. Is Philip’s experience an example of a “greater work?”
Though I strongly suspect that the answer to these questions is, “yes,” I can’t say definitively that it is. But I can see clearly the progression of the power of God moving through those who believed. This inspires me to take the next step, pay the price and move upward and onward into all that God has said in His Word that He wants for me. I encourage you to join me in this journey.
As we take this road together, there is a huge warning sign that we must heed. It has to do with the focus of our journey. If signs, wonders and miracles are our goal, we will either be sorely disappointed or we will fall into the company of Simon the sorcerer who wanted the power of the Holy Spirit with impure motives (Acts 8:18-24). We are told to seek the spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 14:1, but we must always remember that when it comes to signs, wonders, miracles and the “greater works,” Jesus explicitly said that they would FOLLOW those who believe.
Our goal is not to look back at what is following us. It is an Enoch-type prayer life. Our goal is to “seek first the kingdom of heaven.” Our goal is to seek the Face of God rather than the Hand of God. As we do this, each new challenge we face will ultimately become a “glory” until we are transformed (2 Corinthians 3:18). At some point in the transformation process, if we trust the accounts of those who have walked this journey before us, we will find the works of Jesus following us. And even find ourselves experiencing “greater works.”
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30