Monday, October 26, 2015

Greater Works: What Are We to Expect?

You've got a Bible, and now it must look like you represent it.  Anyone reading the Bible will see that Jesus said the following in John 14:12:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Earlier in John 5:20, He had said the following:

For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

These are the two places anywhere in the King James Version of the Bible where you get the terminology, "greater works." A lot of expectation for a person and a church has been woven by teachers from these two English words from the King James.  I know Jack Hyles got much distance out of "greater works," enough that I remember thinking about those two words especially as they related to him.  He got thousands.  Others got thousands.  I mean, we're supposed to experience "greater works."  Should I expect it?  I just googled Hyles and "greater works," and here's something he wrote (dictated to his secretary) in Exploring Prayer with Jack Hyles (you've got to love that title):

I find myself not wanting to do greater works than Jesus, but it is in the Bible, and I must face it. I must confess that I never understood that verse completely until recently when I was on an airplane. I had no commentary; I had no books with me except the Bible/ I was reading this passage. Suddenly it hit me! I shouted, "I know what that means! Praise the Lord!" 
The fellow beside me said, "What did you say?" 
I said, "Praise the Lord! Glory to God! I think I just found the meaning of John 14:12." 
With a puzzled look on his face he scratched his head and went back to his reading. 
Now let us examine the petals of this lovely orchid.

Then he examines the orchid.  It couldn't be a tulip, like the 6 points of the orchid -- actually four points here.  He's a four point orchid man.

Also, if he shouted on an airplane today, authority would likely get the marshal involved and turn the plane around.  Shouting, as you know, is a sign of 'Holy Spirit filling.'  Good exegesis "just finds the meaning" like that earnest pastoral candidate.  No process.  No study.  The Holy Spirit just tells you, you dictate it to your secretary and how could it be wrong when you have 100,000 in Sunday School?  His seat mate just scratched his head after he screamed on a plane (yawn) -- just an everyday occurrence.  Something short of a one year old screaming is annoying, but when a grown man screams, I look for the oxygen mask to fall out and I'm searching for the flotation device.

 I've never been in the Charismatic movement and I haven't ever looked for its theologians, but the "greater works" terminology works like the elastic clause, the necessary and proper clause, of the Constitution to a Charismatic.  You drive through a mack truck load of signs and wonders through "greater works."  Reinhard Bonnke (not in my opinion a very Charismatic name) wrote a book length work, greater than other works on greater works, entitled, Even Greater.  Greater works, of course, to Bonnke are the signs and wonders that he and others are "doing" today.

On the other hand, Hyles couldn't say they were the same thing that Bonnke would say, even though if you read him and others like him, you would find that they claimed miracles too.  Hyles focuses his miracles on numbers, the great number of souls "won," which translates to the size of your Sunday morning crowd.  That's a miracle, like Pentecost to them.  Guys like Hyles throw their numbers at you and when you question, their greater works make them safe from criticism   Many knew he was a fraud then, said it, and were criticized. I understand it.  It still happens today.  It doesn't seem different to me.  Much is out of a false view of unity too, which we've exposed many times here.

So, what are "greater works"?  You'd think the Bible talked about this a lot, the emphasis the Charismatics and revivalists put on it.  When you look at John 5:20 and 14:12 in the original language from which the King James Version was translated, you see that the word "works" isn't even the word.  "Greater" is the Greek word mega, which has a wide range of meaning.  It doesn't have to refer to power.  It doesn't even mainly refer to power.  Then you have toutos, the near demonstrative pronoun, so the literal translation is "greater things."  If you look up the two Greek words, it's not twice those occur, but six of them (Mk 12:31, Jn 1:50, 5:20, 14:12, 15:13, and 3 Jn 1:4), five obviously by John the Apostle.

In Mark 12:31, love God is the greater thing.  In John 1:50, Jesus said Nathaniel would see greater things than seeing him under the fig tree.  In John 5:20, Jesus said that the Father would show greater things through Jesus than that crowd was seeing.  John 14:12 mentions the Apostles doing greater things than the works that Jesus had done.  If you go through John, Jesus refers to His own works, the antecedent of "things" in John 14:12, several times.  Jesus' work in John 4:34 is the Father's will, and after that, that is what Jesus' work is in John 5:36, 9:4, 10:25, 10:32, 37-38, and 17:4,   In John 6:29, Jesus says God's work is believing on Jesus.  As the Father sent Jesus to do His work, so Jesus sent us to do it, which is evangelism or discipleship.  In John 15:13, the greater thing is love.  In 3 John 1:4, the greater thing is God's children walking in the truth.  We can't assume that "greater things" was greater miracles or greater numbers of conversions.

When Jesus said the Apostles and then believers would do greater works, that didn't nor does it assume signs, wonders, or miracles.  It doesn't assume greater numbers.  Hyles doesn't make any clear explanation that it is a gigantic or bigger church.  If we would assume anyone, it would be that there would be a greater extent of obedience, more wide-ranging and more of it.  We shouldn't assume it is miracle.

Early in John, John 4, Jesus said in verse 34:  "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."  In John 10:25, "Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?"  The works for which they were willing to stone Jesus, we know, were not the miracles.  Jesus said they loved those.  They wanted to stone Him for His claims, for His testimony.  He said He was the Messiah.  He preached the message of the kingdom.  The work of God that the Father sent Jesus to do, Jesus passes on to His own in John 20:21, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."  There is so much to say here, but Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:17 writes to that church, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."

The Apostle Paul was sent to preach the gospel.  At the end of Jesus's physical life, He told His followers, preach the gospel to everyone.  Jesus got to Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Perea -- really amazing for three years, very diligent.  He told us to keep going to the uttermost parts of the earth. Paul said that he worshiped God in the gospel (Rom 1;9).  The Great Commission was make disciples, going, baptizing, and teaching.  As far as Jesus got, much more has been done since then, greater works.  Jesus worked Himself out of a job.  He left the work for us to do.  You are doing greater works if you in your 50 year ministry you go further than Jesus in his three years.  Will you do that?  That is something that you can do, and it has been done, we know.

Don't be discouraged.

2 comments:

KJB1611 said...

Thanks for this--I am going to plan to study these texts out for myself. To be clear, you are saying that the "greater works" are greater obedience and greater spread of gospel preaching, correct?

George Calvas said...

Kent,

Spent to much time with "the Greek" to prove nothing. The verse is correct as it stands, works and not things. Greater things? What in the world is that?

Greater works we could be doing. American Christianity is dead while it liveth. Just re-read you article "A Review of Kevin Bauder's Article on 1 Corinthians 12:13", then follow that with reading my comments.

Certainly that truth would lead to the "greater works" for Jesus Christ that he deserves from "his body, the church".