By Femi Aribisala
Some Christians have done far greater works than Jesus.
Jesus says: “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). This statement has confounded many Christians. Very few are bold enough even to imagine doing greater works than Jesus. And yet, Jesus’ words cannot be broken. Some believers have done far greater works than Jesus. But we do not even realize it because we do not know what it means to do the works of God.
Signs and wonders
It is generally assumed doing the works of God entails the working of miracles. But this is not true. Demons also perform miracles. In Revelation, John saw evil spirits coming out of the mouth of the false prophet among others. He observes that: “They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world.” (Revelation 16:14).
Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated some of Moses’ miracles. When Moses and Aaron caused frogs to appear out of nowhere: “The magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 8:7). Indeed, Jesus warns: “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24). Therefore, miracles should not be misconstrued as essentially or exclusively the works of God.
However, only God and his sons can do God’s definitive works. Indeed, God’s children are identifiable by our ability to do the works of God. Thus, Jesus said to the Jews: “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” (John 8:39).
When the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, passers-by marveled at how Galileans could suddenly speak foreign-languages. They said: “We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:11). This provides the clue we need. By divine inspiration, the disciples spoke the works of God. The wonderful works of God are God’s spoken words. At Pentecost, the works of God were manifest in the speech of the disciples who spoke works that only God speaks; the words of eternal life.
The psalmist says: “I believed, therefore I spoke.” (Psalm 116:10). In order to do the works of God, we have to believe in Jesus and speak his works. Indeed, it is the works we speak that identify us as sons of God and disciples of Christ. Jesus says: “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-17). “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:44-45).
In God’s dictionary, good works are not merely synonymous with good deeds. Good deeds can be done by unbelievers. Good deeds are sheep’s clothing sometimes worn by wolves. “Good works” actually imply “good words.” Accordingly, Jesus uses both expressions interchangeably. He says: “The WORDS that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does the WORKS.” (John 14:10). This shows the works are indivisible from the speaking of the words. Jesus speaks God’s words and the Father does the works.
The works of God are his words. God works by his words. He speaks his works. God created all things by his word. But the greatest work of God is in speaking the living-dead back to life. Jesus says: “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25).
Bread of life
John says: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” (John 1:14). Similarly, the word of Jesus must become flesh in us. Jesus says: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56). This means Jesus’ words must be broken down and digested so it enters into our spirit-man and becomes part of us. When this happens, we automatically speak Jesus’ works in atonement with him. We become “at one” with Christ; even as he is “at one” with the Father. (John 17:20-23).
The will of God is that his works should be revealed in his sons. (John 9:3). Jesus says to us: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Our light is the word of Jesus. Jesus’ word is “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalm 119:105). In God’s light, we see light. (Psalm 36:9). Even so should our words provide illumination to this world of gross darkness. Our good works are our edifying words. Our words are “good works” when they glorify the Father.
Jesus says we shall do greater works than him BECAUSE he goes to his Father in heaven. (John 14:12). This is because Jesus spoke God’s words for only thirty-three years. However, some of us will live much longer than Jesus. Therefore, we shall have the opportunity to speak more life-affirming words to others for much longer through various media. Indeed, God has used the mouth of some Christians to raise more dead people back to life than he did through Jesus.
The Holy Spirit enables us to do God’s works by reminding us of the words of Jesus. In sending him to us, Jesus says: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26). The word of God comes to us in our daily walk with God. It not only empowers us, it keeps us from sin. David says to the Lord: “By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.” (Psalm 17:4).
Our words are our works. However, Paul says we are justified by grace: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24). Then he says we are justified by faith: “A man is justified by faith apart from works of law.” (Romans 3:28). And then again he says we are justified by the blood of Jesus: “Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9). This is classic Pauline mumbo-jumbo. Are we justified by grace; or by faith; or by the blood?
Such Pauline confusion is avoided when we listen to Jesus; “the faithful and true witness.” (Revelation 3:14). As usual, Jesus is precise, specific and to the point. He says: “Every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37).