Greater Works Shall You Do

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.

-The Gospel of John 14:12, NKJV

What are these “greater works” which those who believe in Jesus Christ will do?  What can be greater than calming the wind and the waves of a raging storm by rebuking [Mark 4:35-41; Matt 8:18, 23-27; Luke 8:22-25]?  Halting a hurricane perhaps?  Or, how does one do greater than raising Lazarus from the dead after four days [John 11:38-44]?  Raising the dead after five days? Six days?  Thirty days?  A year?

Craig Blomberg notes Jesus’ emphatic “double-‘Amen’” [“Verily, Verily” in the KJV or “Truly, truly” in the NASB, rendered “Most assuredly” above, which literally translates as “Amen, amen”] yet, “it is not likely that the later church would invent a saying ascribed to Jesus susceptible to the interpretation that the disciples were greater than their master.”1  So, what does this verse mean?  What are these “greater works” we will do?

Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, teaches that Jesus is referring to greater signs and wonders.  This is based, in part, on Johnson’s claim that Jesus Christ performed the miraculous merely as “a man in right relationship to God…not as God”2 who was “completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him”3 because He had “laid his divinity aside”4 in His “self-imposed restriction to live as a man”5 therefore possessing “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever”.6  In Johnson’s theology, if Jesus Christ could do all He did as a Spirit-moved man, then Holy Spirit indwelt Christians should be able to exceed the greatness, the quality, of Jesus’ miracle workings:

Jesus’ prophecy of us doing greater works than He did has stirred the Church to look for some abstract meaning to this very simple statement.  Many theologians seek to honor the works of Jesus as unattainable, which is religion, fathered by unbelief.  It does not impress God to ignore what He promised under the guise of honoring the work of Jesus on the earth.  Jesus’ statement is not that hard to understand.  Greater means ‘greater.’  And, the works He referred to are signs and wonders.  It will not be a disservice to Him to have a generation obey Him, and go beyond His own high-water mark.  He showed us what one person could do who has the Spirit without measure.  What could millions do?  That was His point, and it became His prophecy.

This verse is often explained away by saying it refers to quantity of works, not quality.  As you can see, millions of people should be able to surpass the sheer number of works that Jesus did simply because we are so many.  But that waters down the intent of His statement.  The word greater is mizon [sic] in the Greek.  It is found 45 times in the New Testament.  It is always used to describe ‘quality,’ not quantity.7

Johnson is correct in that the Greek word meizon (not mizon)8 refers to greater in quality rather than quantity.  But are the ‘greater works’ referring to “signs and wonders” as in calming storms and raising the dead?  Gary Burge asserts, “The promise can hardly mean that the efforts of disciples will exceed those of Jesus who, for instance, provided the stupendous miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead.”9  Andreas Kostenberger reflects:

Do greater things than Jesus did?  This claim seems daring.  The difficulty evaporates when one realizes that these ‘greater works’ are still works of Jesus, now carried out from his exalted position with the Father through his commissioned, faithful followers.   Because Jesus is now with the Father, we can expect to do greater works than even Jesus did: on the basis of his once-for-all death on the cross, and in answer to believing prayer for all that is necessary to accomplish the mission Jesus never relinquished.10

And what was Jesus’ mission?

“Because I Go to My Father”

J. Louis Martyn refers to the “highly paradoxical”11 nature of this verse.  However, the key to interpreting and understanding this verse, as in any Scripture, is to keep it in its proper context as “he clearly says in the promise that all this will take place because he is going to the Father.”12  What occurs after His Ascension?  Two things: 1) Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father providing intercession for us as our Mediator through prayers in His name; and, 2) after Pentecost, all true Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  For more complete context, here are verses 12 through 17a in the NIV (1984):

12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.

15If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — 17the Spirit of truth. [NIV 1984]

Kostenberger: “For once Jesus is exalted in his Father’s presence, believers will be able to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, and Jesus himself will answer these prayers.”13  Burge states, “What is ‘greater’ is that these works will be done by regular people in whom the power of Christ has taken up residence following his glorification.”14  However, Kostenberger adds, “understanding the impact of Jesus’ words to his original audience requires historical imagination.  For what was a novel vision for Jesus’ first followers has become an everyday reality for us today: to be indwelt by the Spirit and to pray – in Jesus’ name”.15  (Kostenberger also clarifies, “Praying in Jesus’ name does not involve magical incantation but rather expresses alignment of one’s desires and purposes with God [1 John 5:14-15]”,16 i.e. obedience to the written Word [v 15].) While both of these should remain awe-inspiring to the child of God, these privileges are, shamefully, very easy to take for granted.

Partnering with God Rather Than Exceeding His Greatness

Martyn sees in John 14:12 a continuation of partnering with Jesus which Jesus Himself had told His disciples back in John 9:4 (and first mentioned in 3:11): “We must work the works of him who sent me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” [NASB].17  This will progress until the culmination of all things:

The work of Jesus appears not to be terminated in the time of his earthly life.  On the contrary, his going to the Father inaugurates a time in which his followers do his works.  Indeed, 9:4a leads us to see this continuation of Jesus’ works as an activity of the Risen Lord in the deeds of Christian witnesses.18

After Jesus’ glorification, the Father sent “another Counselor” [Helper, Advocate, Comforter], another parakletos (Paraclete) [v 15], the “Spirit of truth” [v 17; 15:26; 16:13].  This other Paraclete is invisible to the world as the world does not know Him [14:17].  Yet, He will teach believers all things [14:26].  He will bear witness of Jesus [15:26]; He will glorify Jesus [16:14] not speaking of His own authority, only what He hears [16:13].  He will judge the world and convict of sin [16:8-11].19

Observing some obvious parallels between Jesus and the Paraclete (parakletos), Martyn illustrates how the Gospel writer compares these to believers.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world [17:18 (NIV) compared to Jesus in 8:42 and the Holy Spirit in 15:26/14:26, also 12:49/14:24 and 16:13].  The reason that the world does not know us [believers] is that it did not know him [1 John 3:1 (NIV), also John 17:25, compared to 8:19/17:25 and 14:17].  And you [believers] will bear witness also… [15:27 (NASB) compared to 8:14 and 15:26].  Noting the current application of the narrative of John 9, Martyn states of 9:39, “Jesus [in the person of the Christian Witness] said, ‘For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind’” [compared to 3:18-19 and 16:13].  And, lastly, Martyn sees Jesus’ work extending into the present through believers specifically in the “greater works” verse: Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father [14:12 (NASB) compared to 14:25 and 14:26/16:13].20

So, while Jesus literally healed the blind man by giving him the eyesight he never had [9:1-11], there is also a figurative/spiritual application in this teaching narrative/discourse as spiritual sight in contrast to spiritual blindness [9:35-41].  Jesus tells the unbelieving Pharisees [‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath’ – 9:16 NIV], “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” [9:41 NIV].  These Pharisees were now guilty because they remained in their sins despite seeing the Son of God:

39And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and those who see may become blind.’ [John 9:39 NASB]

Yet the man formerly blind from birth passed from eternal death to eternal life as he gained his spiritual sight [9:38-39] – something much more important than merely receiving physical sight!

As J. Louis Martyn rephrases, “this [miraculous works to include healing] is not terminated in Jesus’ earthly lifetime…but rather…the Risen Lord continues his earthly ministry in the work of his servant, the Christian preacher…”21  This is the privilege of all children of God as we preach the true Gospel – that we are hopeless sinners in need of a Savior who has already paid the price for our sin debt – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth [14:17; 15:26; 16:13] works through us, His children, convicting of sin [16:8-11] leading to repentance.  While there will be those in the world who wish to hold on to their sin and thus hate God and His disciples [15:18-25], it is still our distinct privilege to preach the Gospel to the lost.

To reiterate, the Holy Spirit does not speak on His own, only what He hears [16:13], which means He does not glorify Himself or even bring any attention to Himself whatsoever as He will bear witness to and glorify Jesus Christ [15:26; 16:14] instead.  And by extension, we, as Holy Spirit indwelt Christians, do the same: we do not glorify or magnify ourselves but rather we bear witness [15:27] to and glorify Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior by the power of the Spirit working through us.

Eternal Life – The Greatest of Miracles

F. F. Bruce finds precedence of the “greater works” motif of John 14:12 in 5:20:

When, after the healing at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus affirmed that the works he did were those which the Father showed him, he added, ‘he will show him greater works than these, to give you cause for marvel’ (John 5:20).  Now [in 14:12] he tells his disciples that they in turn would do the works that he did.  That must have been surprising enough.  But what were they to think when he went on to say that, because he was going to the Father, they would do even greater works than they had seen him do?22

Likewise, so does D. A. Carson see 5:20’s “greater works” in 14:12.  As per Kostenberger’s BECNT commentary, “[Carson] correctly locates the clues to a proper understanding of 14:12 in the parallel in 5:20 and in the final clause ‘because I am going to the Father,’ and points to the disciples’ greater understanding after the resurrection in the ‘new eschatological age that will have dawned.’”23  For a better understanding of how 5:20 relates to 14:12 we need to take a closer look into the pool of Bethesda.

The pool of Bethesda is the place where individuals of various afflictions would congregate waiting for someone to stir the pool assuming this stirring would provide curative powers in its waters [5:7].  Jesus met the paralytic man waiting beside the pool, told him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” [5:8], and the man was cured, then he picked up his mat and walked away [5:9].  Since this miracle was performed on the Sabbath [5:9], the Jews informed the now healed man that it was unlawful to work (carry his mat) on the Sabbath [5:10] according to their extra-biblical oral tradition. Jesus later found the former paralytic and said, “See, you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” [5:14].  This prefigures the healing of the blind man [9:1-7] who subsequently received his spiritual sight [9:39] by believing Jesus to be the Son of Man [9:35; cf. Daniel 7:13], the Messiah (Anointed One) [Daniel 9:26], then believing in and worshiping Him.

The Jews were angry that Jesus not only healed on the Sabbath, but that He instructed the man to ‘sin’ by ‘working’ on the Sabbath [5:16].   Once Jesus equated Himself with God as God’s Son working on the Sabbath along with His Father [5:17], the Jews desired all the more to kill him [5:18].  Jesus responds by reiterating His relationship with the Father as both His Son [5:19] and His equal [5:20-21], and, further, by claiming that Jesus Himself will judge rather than the Father [5:22; cf. 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”].  Blomberg expounds, “Verses 21-22 refer to two major ‘works’ that Jews recognized God continued to perform on the Sabbath – giving life (as children were born) and exercising judgment (as people died).”24

20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.
22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,
23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
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.
25 Truly, Truly I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live.
26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;
27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. [John 5:20-27, NASB; emphasis added]

The “greater works” [5:20] referred to in this passage – greater than healing a paralytic on the Sabbath – is the fact that Jesus “gives life to whom He wishes” [5:21], which means providing “eternal life” [5:24] in the then present [5:25] continuing till the eschaton (end of all things).  In addition, Jesus has been given authority to judge all [5:22] in the then present [5:24] and at the eschaton [5:27-29].  He provides eternal life to those who honor Him [5:23a] while judging those who refuse [5:23b].  The thief on the Cross is an example of how Jesus ‘gave life to whom He wished’ [Luke 23:43] during His earthly ministry.  Conversely, after witnessing the blind man who could subsequently see, the Pharisees met Jesus’ judgment [9:39-41] for their unbelief in Jesus as the Christ/Messiah.

Craig Keener also recognizes the “parallel language” of 14:12 and 5:20 [and 1:50].25   He comments, “The claim that God delegates the judgment to Jesus would have unnerved his opponents.”26  Keener adds

Like the Father, Jesus could give life (5:21; cf. 17:2); this made him act in a divine mannerThe resurrection of the dead was a divine work, specifically attributed to God…God was widely viewed as the giver of life, hence the only one who life was not contingent  on a giver of life…In the context, the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda prefigures in a small way the resurrection; Jesus will raise the dead, just as he told the lame man to ‘rise’…That he gives life to ‘whomever he wills’ (5:21) reinforces the image of divinity in this Gospel; God made alive (cf. 6:57, 63) and drew to life those whom he willed (6:37, 44, 65; cf. 3:8).

The discourse reports a number of divine activities the Father has ‘given’ the Son: judgment (5:22, 27), life in himself (5:26), and divine works (5:36; cf. 5:20)…27

For those who insist, like Bill Johnson, that Jesus performed all His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, the above Scripture [5:20-27 and the others Keener cites] irrefutably proves otherwise.  To assert the Holy Spirit was the vehicle used in Jesus’ ‘giving life to whom He wishes’ and ‘executing judgment’ is to defy logic.  How could Jesus ‘give life to whom He wishes’ (and its converse – execute judgment) if He was dependent upon the Holy Spirit instead?  Or, did Jesus command the Holy Spirit to give life to whom He willed?  Of course not; if Jesus was functioning strictly as a man dependent on God, as Johnson asserts, then He certainly could not command God the Holy Spirit to obey Him.

Furthermore, if we were to assume (incorrectly, of course) that Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit both to “give life” [5:21, 24-25] and “execute judgment” [5:22, 24, 27], then Holy Spirit indwelt Christians should be able to ‘give life to whom we choose’ and judge those whom we wish to judge.  Of course we can neither grant eternal life/judgment to anyone in and of ourselves nor can we command the Holy Spirit to do so [however, Christians do have a role in judgment after the eschaton, cf. Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3].  Instead, we play an integral role in effecting eternal life (or judgment) as the privileged vehicle through which the Holy Spirit works in and through as we preach the true Gospel and as we humbly pray for others in Jesus’ name.

The greatest miracle of all is the changed hearts of individuals as they transition from eternal death to eternal life by the acceptance of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ: by believing and confessing that Christ died on the Cross in propitiation for the collective sins of mankind, was raised from the dead, and by acknowledging individual inherent sinfulness and subsequently repenting, one is spared God’s eternal wrath, passing from death to everlasting life.

Nineteenth century expositor J. C. Ryle puts it succinctly:

In short, ‘greater works’ mean more conversions.  There is no greater work possible than the conversion of a soul.28

Keener, commenting on 14:12, asserts “The promise of ‘greater works’ calls John’s audience to look not only backward but also to the present, where Christ continues to remain active through his presence by the Paraclete and his proclaimed word.”29  The “greater works” then refers to Christians, mere mortals, whom the Holy Spirit works in and through to effect salvation to those who believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and are saved, in contrast to exacting judgment on those who refuse Him and His sacrifice.  This is “greater” than Jesus who did these things as God – not a Spirit-moved man – during His earthly ministry.

see also:
Kenosis, Christology and Bill Johnson, part I
Kenosis, Christology and Bill Johnson, part II
Kris Vallotton and the Mantle of Jesus Christ/Bill Johnson on Corporate Anointing

Endnotes:

1 Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel. 2001, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL; p 199
2 Johnson, Bill. When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 29.  Ellipse in original.
3 Johnson; p 29
4 Johnson; p 79.  In original text a footnote follows this phrase referring to Philippians 2:5-7, a proof-text used for those propounding the unorthodox/heterodox kenosis doctrine.
5 Johnson; p 29
6 Johnson; p 29
7 Johnson; p 185.  Underscore from emphasis (italics) in original; bolding added for emphasis.
8 Strong, James; J. R. Kohlenberger, III and J. A. Swanson, eds. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 440, 1514.  Meizon is Strong’s # 3187.
9 Burge, Gary M. “John’s Gospel” in Evans, Craig A., ed. The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: John, Hebrews – Revelation.  2005, Victor/Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO; p 127
10 Kostenberger, Andreas J. “John” in Arnold, Clinton E., gen. ed. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Volume 2: John, Acts. 2002, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 139.  Emphasis added.
11 Martyn, J. Louis History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel. 2003 (3rd ed. rev. (1968)), Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY; p 135
12 Martyn; p 136.  Italics in original.
13 Kostenberger, Andreas J. Encountering John (Encountering Biblical Series). July 2009 (8th prtg (paperback), (1999)), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 156.  Italics in original.
14 Burge; p 127
15 Kostenberger, Encountering John; p 156
16 Kostenberger, Andreas J. John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. July 2009 (4th prtg (2004)), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 433-434
17 Martyn; p 38 including important footnote 20.  Pronoun emphasis in original: We (Jesus and His disciples and, by extension, all subsequent believers) are to partner with the Father (the one “who sent me”).  This was begun in 3:11: “I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” [NIV 1984]
18 Martyn; pp 38-39.  Emphasis added.
19 This section somewhat roughly follows the outline of Martyn; pp 137-138
20 This is adapted from a chart in and quoted from Martyn; pp 141-142.
21 Martyn; pp 39-40
22 Bruce, F. F. The Gospel & Epistles of John. 1983, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 300.  Bruce notes in the Preface, “The biblical text which is printed at the head of each section of the exposition is my translation from the Greek of the Nestle-Aland edition of 1979.”  This explains why the translation of 5:20 is not exactly like any other.
23 Kostenberger, John: Baker Exegetical Commentary; p 433 (footnote) citing Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John: Pillar New Testament Commentary. 1999, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 495-496
24 Blomberg; p 114
25 Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume Two. 2010 (1st softcover ed, (2003)), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 947
26 Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One. 2010 (1st softcover ed, (2003)), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 651
27 Keener, Gospel of John: Vol. One; pp 650-651.  Emphasis added.
28 Ryle, J. C. “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 13:1-21:25Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume Four (John 10:31-21:35). 2007 (1878), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 67.  Originally part of a seven volume series with one each of Matthew and Mark, two of Luke (1-10 & 11-24), and three of John (1-6:70; 7-12:50; 13:1-21:35) beginning in 1856 and completed in 1878.
29 Keener, Gospel of John: Vol. Two; p 947. In the larger context of Keener’s thoughts here, it seems he is promoting the idea of ‘greater works’ as signs and wonders. However, he also notes that the various contexts of ‘works’ in John’s Gospel “indicates that these may include miraculous signs (5:20, 36; 7:3; 9:3-4; 10:25, 32-33, 37-38; 15:24) but also his mission as a whole”; and “…’works’ in this Gospel includes doing God’s will” (p 946; emphasis mine). Yet, Keener also contends that ‘greater’ would “imply “greater magnitude” (p 947), with no further comment indicating what that could be. Jesus’ “mission as a whole” was salvific, and that seems to be the main point of the Upper Room discourse. Miracles, in the sense of signs and wonders, may or may not attend the proclamation of the Gospel, but it’s the conversion that it is the ‘greater work’.

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53 Responses to Greater Works Shall You Do

  1. Craig says:

    Here’s a similar article by Bob DeWaay published back in 2001 in his Critical Issues Commentary:

    http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue65.htm

    Dewaay goes into more detail on ‘asking in His name.’

  2. MrsMJW says:

    I am concerned about a (seemingly) new or renewed interested in Torah observance. I am watching friends around me delve into Torah observance and am concerned as I pray Christ does not become useless to them.

    Do you have any experience with this yourself?

  3. Craig says:

    Sorry, I do not have any experience in this. I’ve heard there are those who think we need to ‘go back to our Jewish roots’ which makes no sense especially in view of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and the myriad of Scriptures warning about the Judaizers.

  4. Julie says:

    Mrs. MJW,

    This is a very good website that discusses the Hebrew Roots movement:

    http://joyfullygrowingingrace.wordpress.com/

  5. A. Brother says:

    Thank you for your article on “Greater Works”. The deceptions of Satan generally revolve around men who start movements based on one or two verses of Scripture. Of course, Bill Johnson is a good example of that. Nothing new under the sun–fifty years ago preachers came through our churches declaring that Scripture as evidence for the “signs and wonders” they were supposed to perform daily in revival meetings.

    We are in Christ, and He is in us, if we are in the Way. We will be about Christ’s business as He is about His Father’s business and reveals it to us. It is all about bearing fruit, and that fruit is spelled out many places in Scripture. It is love, and joy and peace and hope, kindness and gentleness and humility. It is Christ’s character in us, and that is a far greater miracle than any physical thing God would do to impress anyone. Jesus said, “It is an evil generation that seeks a sign” and by that He meant that those who must be impressed first by a miracle before they will believe are seeking Him for the wrong reasons. Blessed are those who believe without seeing, as was illustrated by Thomas. We live by faith, not by sight. And those who seek to see before they believe are treading in very dangerous territory.

    Keep up the good declaration of God’s Word, brother. Visit me anytime as I share the same Truth. The Narrow Gate has many straightforward teachings for those who really want the meat of Christ, not the milk and baby food of religious Christianity….

  6. Craig says:

    A. Brother,

    Thanks for the kind words. Quite frankly, I’ve wanted to write an article to refute the prevalent “greater works” teaching in hyper-charismaticism exemplified by Bill Johnson here for quite some time; however, while I knew this was not correct, I couldn’t explain its full true meaning until I really dug into some good commentaries. To think we can truly do greater miracles than Jesus is not just illogical but extremely arrogant.

    What a privilege we have to partner with God in proclaiming Jesus. So often I myself forget this.

  7. Kim says:

    Great article Craig, I saw it on fb posted by Apostasy Watch.

  8. Craig says:

    Thanks Kim.

    Merry Christmas!

  9. Janie says:

    As the Lord has graciously granted me the baptism of the Holy Spirit, followed by his wisdom and teaching,that I hungrily sought after and prayed for, it seems rather simple to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Greater works shall ye do because I go to the Father”. It’s simply this…there are now multitudes of believers filled with the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit. Filled with the indwelling presence of Jesus himself as he promised would occur at Pentecost, after “He went to the Father”. In other words, Jesus has replicated & mulitplied himself in his believers and so therefore, now can do “greater works” outworking in multitudes of believers in many places even at the same time. Please forgive my poor grammar. I am not a wordsmith, but merely a servant. But I think you can gather the meaning of what I said, and judge whether it is correct or not. May Jesus bless you all

  10. Craig says:

    Janie,

    Your grammar is just fine and your statement is logical. However, the Greek word used for “greater” means greater in quality or magnitude rather than quantity. Those quoted in the article all have Ph.D.s (save for Bill Johnson). Their comments are the result of years of study, which, of course, does not preclude these individuals being led of the Lord; and, presumably, they were in fact led of the Lord.

    The Gospel writers were not merely writing bland chronological historical accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Each put forth Truth but each one also put their unique signature led by the Holy Spirit. The “greater works” motif begins in John 1:50 and culminates in 14:12. After researching and putting this material together, I am quite confident that the explanation given is quite likely what the Gospel writer and, more importantly, what the Holy Spirit intended.

  11. Janie says:

    Thank you for your response Craig. So then to sum up, you’re agreeing with JC Ryle’s conclusion?

    “Nineteenth century expositor J. C. Ryle puts it succinctly:

    In short, ‘greater works’ mean more conversions. There is no greater work possible than the conversion of a soul.28.”

  12. Craig says:

    Janie,

    My conclusion is the last two sentences:

    The “greater works” then refers to Christians, mere mortals, whom the Holy Spirit works in and through to effect salvation to those who believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and are saved in contrast to exacting judgment on those who refuse Him and His sacrifice. This is “greater” than Jesus who did these things as God – not a Spirit-moved man – during His earthly ministry.

    I agree that, “There is no greater work possible than the conversion of a soul.”

    You wrote, “…Filled with the indwelling presence of Jesus himself as he promised would occur at Pentecost, after “He went to the Father”. In other words, Jesus has replicated & mulitplied himself in his believers and so therefore, now can do “greater works” outworking in multitudes of believers in many places even at the same time…

    Jesus promised the “other paraclete (parakletos)” which is the person of the Holy Spirit rather than Jesus ‘replicating Himself’ as you put it. I’m curious: where did you get the understanding that Jesus replicated Himself?

  13. mbaker says:

    I am quite convinced that ‘greater works’ do not consist of us surpassing Christ’s works, as the Son of God, because how could any of us surpass His death on the cross in payment for all our sins?

    We should simply, and humbly, realize that He left us a great legacy to spread the gospel in His name.

  14. Janie says:

    Craig, You’ve brought up a rather puzzling passage that I’m fairly sure many of us have pondered, wondering just what Jesus meant. I personally don’t believe we should, in an attempt to be humble, make light of what Jesus said in regard to the believer doing “greater things” because He went to the Father. We all know, in any case, that without Him, we can do nothing. Nevertheless, Jesus said what He said, and meant what He said. He was never one to mince or waste words.

    In the context of the topic we’re discussing here, “the greater works” scripture, and how I came to the personal understanding of how Jesus “replicated” himself……it was primarily through scriptures such as the one by Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20-“I have been crucified with Christ. IT IS NO LONGER I WHO LIVE, BUT CHRIST WHO LIVES IN ME” and others echoing the same theme, “Christ in me, the hope of glory”. Including some by Christ Himself, (which follow your comment below)

    You wrote,
    “Jesus promised the “other paraclete (parakletos)” which is the person of the Holy Spirit rather than Jesus ‘replicating Himself’ as you put it.”

    But lets look at what Jesus said;
    “I WILL ASK THE FATHER, AND HE WILL GIVE YOU ANOTHER HELPER, that He may be with you forever; 17that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, BUT YOU WILL KNOW HIM BECAUSE HE ABIDES WITH YOU AND WILL BE IN YOU.

    18“I will not leave you as orphans; I WILL COME TO YOU.

    19“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20“IN THAT DAY YOU WILL KNOW THAT I AM IN MY FATHER, AND YOU IN ME, AND I IN YOU.

    21“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”

    23Jesus answered and said to him, “IF ANYONE LOVES ME, HE WILL KEEP MY WORD, AND MY FATHER WILL LOVE HIM, AND WE WILL COME TO HIM AND MAKE OUR ABODE WITH HIM. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

    25“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26, BUT 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 that I said to you. 27“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28“YOU HEARD THAT I SAID TO YOU, I GO AWAY, AND I WILL COME TO YOU.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than

    Here the 14th chapter of the gospel of John, there are very subtle references and nuances in the words of Jesus of an interaction or play, if you will, between the activity of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Yahweh, the Father in the indwelling of the believer. So, who is it that has delegated the sending of the Holy Spirit……… Jesus, or the Father? And who takes up ther abode with the believer? Jesus words seem to indicate that all THREE do. And, if we can imagine it…thousands and 10 thousands of the LORD’s chosen manifesting His power and glory in the ministry of the TWO WITNESSES could very well be the GREATER THING that JESUS said His elect would do because he went to the FATHER, the TWO WITNESSES being a corporate MULTITUDE. So, there you would have both quality as well as quantity.

    4 “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit[a] will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically[b] is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Rev. 11.

    This was longer that I intended. Apoligies for that, but sometimes it seems necessary to flesh out ones thoughts to (try) make a point. .

    May Yahshua richly bless you all and I pray that He will open the eyes of all of our understanding to make difficult things easier.

  15. Craig says:

    Janie,

    We worship one monotheistic God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit — all one God. Yet, we also know Jesus didn’t literally send Himself since He referred to the Holy Spirit as the “other paraclete”. While Paul did write “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, he also said that it’s the Holy Spirit who seals us [2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14].

    In any case, my main point was your phraseology of Jesus “replicating Himself”. I’ve learned not to be presumptuous when reading a comment which is why I ask questions. I’m now going to assume you did not intend to state that Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) actually replicates Himself as would an amoeba.

    I’m not sure why you insist about going on with your own individual interpretation of the “greater works” meaning. First you say the Holy Spirit told you what it meant (your comment at 12:23 on 12/24) which makes it sound as though all those cited in the article either 1) don’t have the Holy Spirit or, 2) have a different spirit than you. Now you continue in this same vein moving over to Revelation to further support your claim going beyond the immediate context of this verse in the Gospel of John and its larger context. Nowhere does John the Revelator (assumed to be the same writer as the Gospel of John) refer to the miracle workings in Revelation 11 as “greater works”.

    In fact, if you look closely at John 14:12 you’ll see that Jesus is contrasting “works” with “greater works”. The “works” are referring to miracles which means the “greater works” must be something, well, greater, and likely something else [See Bob DeWaay's article referenced in the first comment on this thread.]. Orthodox scholarship agrees that the “greater works” (the Greek meizon) is qualitative rather than quantitative referring to conversions [going back to the context of John 5:20]. Of course, a necessary consequence of more Holy Spirit indwelt individuals preaching the Gospel is a greater quantity of conversions. If I owned a factory and had one employee making widgets and subsequently changed the product to one of higher importance, we’ll call it a gadget, now this employee is producing something greater than the widget. If I employ 10 more individuals each to manufacture gadgets, now I have eleven employees making a thing (gadget) greater than a widget. These eleven will make more quantity of the higher quality product than if I merely continued with the first employee making this new gadget.

    It’s certainly your prerogative to interpret this Scripture in any way you want – in opposition to orthodox scholarship. It just doesn’t make it correct.

  16. Arwen4CJ says:

    (I e-mailed this information to Craig, but I went everyone to see it.)

    I finally found an explanation of what the gospel is, according to Bill Johnson :(

    http://www.ibethel.org/podcast/2011/12/19/the-gospel

    The thing, though, is this time there is no doubt that he considers those teachings to be the gospel message. That was obviously the “gospel” that he wanted to be spread, otherwise why title the sermon “The Gospel?” This is as close as I have come to finding his idea of what the gospel is.

    For him, it does seem to be all about signs and wonders. And yes, I did see the title of his sermon [the one previous to the 12/19] called ‘the necessity of miracles.’ Sigh.

    Now, there is absolutely no doubt that he is preaching a signs and wonders gospel, and not really preaching the real gospel. No one should be able to argue that he’s preaching a false gospel since he entitled his sermon “The Gospel.” We could see it implied in his writings, but that sermon spelled it out. He thinks the gospel is all about signs and wonders.

    The repentance talk, line in the sand talk, the mercy talk, and the substitutionary atonement talk were such minor parts of his sermon that I think most people probably missed this. He didn’t even bother to explain any of it. It would have been a lot clearer had he defined what mercy was, if he had talked about how and why were are separated from God, if he had discussed sin, if he talked about why we needed to repent, and if he had fleshed out what he was saying about the line in the sand and substitutionary atonement. This should have been the focus of his sermon rather than an aside comment. I think he did mention the term forgiveness, but again, he didn’t really define it or explain it.

    I wonder — does Bill Johnson even know the significance of these concepts himself? Or was he just repeating Christian lingo that he’s heard before so that he could get to the real reason he was preaching — miracles, signs, and wonders?

    Instead, it was as if he used those concepts to make way for the miracles, signs, and wonders — “his version of bringing heaven to earth” like you said below [in the email]. It seems that Bill Johnson’s entire point is to get people to perform signs and wonders and miracles rather than to make followers of Jesus.

  17. Arwen4CJ says:

    Janie,

    You wrote:
    “Here the 14th chapter of the gospel of John, there are very subtle references and nuances in the words of Jesus of an interaction or play, if you will, between the activity of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Yahweh, the Father in the indwelling of the believer.”

    My response:
    Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father, are all Yahweh. Yahweh isn’t just the Father.

  18. Craig says:

    Here’s some additional information I found interesting regarding the parakletos, or paraclete which I left out of the article. There are a number of different translations given for the term and certainly context should play a part. Here are the term’s various translations just from John 14:16:

    Counselor [NIV 1984]
    Advocate [NIV 2010]
    Comforter [KJV, Young's Literal Translation, ASV]
    Helper [NKJV, NASB, NCV (NCV also lists Counselor and Comforter in footnote), ESV (also lists Advocate and Counselor)]
    Companion [CEB]

    Most commentaries mention that there is a law (lawsuit) motif in some contexts. In Andrew T. Lincoln’s book Truth on Trial: the Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel he comments:

    In the consolation that begins in 16:4b-11, our attention will be on the advantages that are said to accrue for the disciples because of Jesus’ departure and the coming of the Paraclete whom Jesus will send: “And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about [or 'convict the world of'] sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned” (vv. 8-11). Here the Paraclete clearly has a prosecuting role in the trial between God and the world. He is the defending counsel for the disciples but the prosecutor or accuser in regard to the world.*

    In this case, the Paraclete acts as an attorney, either for the defense (disciples/believers) or for the prosecution (the world). Recall that Jesus uses the words “another Paraclete” in 14:16 implying He Himself was the first Paraclete. This is borne out in John 5:21-22, 24-25, 27-30.

    The asterisk (*) above denotes a footnote in which Lincoln quotes from 19th century (very liberal) scholar Rudolf Bultmann, “The image that comes before the eyes is that of a lawsuit of cosmic dimensions, taking place before the court of God. The world is accused, and the Paraclete is the prosecutor.”

    Important note: Bultmann is known for demythologizing Christ turning Him into merely a historical figure. Orthodox scholarship cites him not only because he was influential on very liberal theologians and therefore must be refuted, but also because some of his thoughts were influential in a positive way on orthodox scholarship.

  19. Janie says:

    Arwen, I am very aware of this. I was referring- specifically- to the words Jesus used in this passage, (John 14). In fact, how beautifully and subtly he said the same thing you just did…they ARE all Yahweh. He was referring to Himself, describing himself…Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Father…they are all Yahweh. Yet..all Jesus.

    However, it’s obvious that Jesus could not and did not send himself as the same paraclete, but would have to come to the believers in a different form…another comforter, paraclete, etc. (being a little facetious here, but wouldn’t it become a little crowded with yet “another paraclete”?

    But seriously, pondering the following passage….just who is “coming” to indwell the believer? The Holy Spirit, (paraclete, comforter, another paraclete), Jesus, the Father? Or all of the above? I say all of the above, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father…just as Jesus stated in the following passage:

    16″ And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

    17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

    18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

    19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

    20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

    21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

    22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

    23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

    24He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

    25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

    26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

    28Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you.

  20. Janie says:

    Craig, I’m quoting you here,

    “In any case, my main point was your phraseology of Jesus “replicating Himself”. I’ve learned not to be presumptuous when reading a comment which is why I ask questions. I’m now going to assume you did not intend to state that Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) actually replicates Himself as would an amoeba.”

    That would be correct. I did not intend to state, or imply that. Since we are dealing with spirit here, I meant that Jesus replicated himself -spiritually- in the believer….how else could he, if he were going to come to the believer as he promised? That is my understanding of what Jesus said in John 14.

    Craig, you continued;

    “I’m not sure why you insist about going on with your own individual interpretation of the “greater works” meaning. First you say the Holy Spirit told you what it meant (your comment at 12:23 on 12/24) which makes it sound as though all those cited in the article either 1) don’t have the Holy Spirit or, 2) have a different spirit than you. Now you continue in this same vein moving over to Revelation to further support your claim going beyond the immediate context of this verse in the Gospel of John and its larger context. Nowhere does John the Revelator (assumed to be the same writer as the Gospel of John) refer to the miracle workings in Revelation 11 as “greater works”.

    Craig, let’s be clear about what I said, which was not, “that the Holy Spirit told me what it meant”.

    The following is a copy of what I actually said. I fail to see how that “makes it sound as though those in the article either don’t have the Holy Spirit, or a different spirit than me…(now that’s getting a little scary sounding to infer that I implied such a thing). “Wisdom and teaching” comes by the Holy Spirit as he imparts truths to the believer via scripture.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    Janie says:

    December 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    “As the Lord has graciously granted me the baptism of the Holy Spirit, followed by his wisdom and teaching,that I hungrily sought after and prayed for, it seems rather simple to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Greater works shall ye do because I go to the Father”. It’s simply this…there are now multitudes of believers filled with the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit. Filled with the indwelling presence of Jesus himself as he promised would occur at Pentecost, after “He went to the Father”. In other words, Jesus has replicated & mulitplied himself in his believers and so therefore, now can do “greater works” outworking in multitudes of believers in many places even at the same time. Please forgive my poor grammar. I am not a wordsmith, but merely a servant. But I think you can gather the meaning of what I said, and judge whether it is correct or not. May Jesus bless you.”

    Following on…the discussion was….. what Jesus meant when he said, “Greater things shall you do because I go to the Father.” Everyone here and in the article has offered an opinion of what Jesus meant. Opinions aren’t always based on “Orthodox scholarship”…they are just that, opinions, or…quite possibly even impartation. Saying that a believer may have an impartation from the Holy Spirit is not deviating from the scripture is it? My opinion was that Jesus could very well have been referring to the work of the Two Witnesses in Revelation, since indeed this was a corporate ministry, as well as what would appear to be a much “greater works”…Calling fire down from heaven is certainly something Jesus never did, even though he obviously could have, because even in his human state as the Son of Man, he told Pilate that he could call a legion of angels down to fight for Him. In any case, my opinion may not be correct or Orthodox enough for some, but it seems at least as good a proferring as some I’ve heard.

    That said…I think I will now leave this little gathering to the Orthodox think tank here and go talk to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father, and see what They/He has to say about it.

    May Yahweh strengthen you in body, soul and spirit to do His will always~

  21. Craig says:

    Janie,

    Yes, with your reply to me and your subsequent reply to Arwen4CJ (at 2:42) you were being a bit facetious. That was obvious – and unnecessary. It seems you just wish to argue. Let’s drop this aspect of the discussion and stick with the article/post itself.

  22. Craig says:

    Janie,

    If we take a sampling of, say, 100 true Christians we would have one Holy Spirit – not 100 replicated Holy Spirits individually in each one. I really don’t believe this is what you think, but this is what is logically implied in your statement.

    You came on here with the typical false humility of others within hyper-charismaticism. Your revelation/gnosis (secret knowledge) via your ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ [something presumably those cited in the article (save for Johnson) and myself lack] as you “hungrily sought after and prayed for” trumps the information in the article.

    You wrote, “Everyone here and in the article has offered an opinion of what Jesus meant. Opinions aren’t always based on “Orthodox scholarship”…they are just that, opinions, or…quite possibly even impartation.

    Amazingly, the opinions of those in the article are remarkably similar, yet your ‘revelation’ is different. The clear implication coming from you is that these guys didn’t ‘hungrily seek after and pray for’ an answer; they relied on their own human wisdom, their opinion. You, on the other hand, received it from the ‘Holy Spirit’.

    You wrote earlier [12/29, 11:37pm]: I personally don’t believe we should, in an attempt to be humble, make light of what Jesus said in regard to the believer doing “greater things” because He went to the Father. We all know, in any case, that without Him, we can do nothing.

    No, what we don’t need is the arrogance of you, fathered (presumably) by Bill Johnson (or the like), couched in false humility. Let me know when you’ve walked on water, calmed a raging storm by rebuke, raised yourself from the dead [John 2:19/10:17-18], died for the sins of the world, all the while sustaining the cosmos you made with the rest of the Godhead [Col 1:15-17, Heb 1:3].

  23. Arwen4CJ says:

    Janie,

    I apologize if I misunderstood you, but I really think that we should be very clear about the language we use in regard to the Trinity. Otherwise, it can sound like you’re saying something that you’re not — others can misunderstand what you’re saying.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the Trinity in the church, especially in certain circles within Christianity. If we are to discuss the issues in this article, we need to be clear about what the doctrine of the Trinity is — and what it means. If our views about God are not clear, then the road to misunderstandings about other things is much easier.

    It sounded to me like you were saying that only the Father is Yahweh in the post that I replied to. Now, in your response to me, it sounds like you are a Oneness Pentecostal because you wrote “they ARE all Yahweh. He was referring to Himself, describing himself…Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Father…they are all Yahweh. Yet..all Jesus.”

    Trinitarian belief does not state that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all Jesus. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not just the names of roles that Jesus takes on throughout time. Rather, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all distinct Persons within the Godhead.

    The Father is Yahweh, Jesus is Yahweh, the Holy Spirit is Yahweh.

    However:
    The Father is not Jesus
    The Father is not the Holy Spirit
    Jesus is not the Father
    Jesus is not the Holy Spirit
    The Holy Spirit is not the Father
    The Holy Spirit is not Jesus

    No one understands the Trinity perfectly, and how the Godhead exactly works. Yahweh is one, and yet there are three Persons who are Him.

    This seems to be relevant to our discussion here because there appears to be some confusion about the paraclete that is referred to in this article, as well as just exactly what is being referred to in this passage.

    When viewing this concept from a Trinitarian perspective, then it is very clear that Jesus did not send Himself. Although both the Holy Spirit and Jesus are Yahweh, they are not the same Person.

    Yes, I know that Oneness Pentecostals use the passage you quoted as a proof text for saying that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all Jesus. However, if that were true, then it would present several theological issues — one of which would be it would have Jesus sending Himself.

    Some of those who teach that Christians can do everything that Jesus did hold to Oneness Theology. Others don’t really take a stand on this issue, so the theology and practices that they teach are muddied. I’ve noticed that some Pentecostals and charismatics don’t really concern themselves with the specifics of theology, so they end up supporting and promoting all kinds of theological views. I know for a fact that some prominent people in the movement are Oneness Pentecostals.

    That’s why I bring this up.

  24. Arwen4CJ says:

    This explains it a little better

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed

    Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.

    Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.

  25. Craig says:

    For clarification: the term “Catholic” here refers to the universal Church, i.e. the Church catholic rather than just the RCC, as the Athanasian Creed is one of the ecumenical creeds recognized by the Church catholic. To be at odds with any ecumenical creed puts one outside Church orthodoxy.

  26. Arwen4CJ says:

    Thanks Craig — yes — “catholic” in the creeds means universal. Tommy Tenney is one in the NAR crowd who subscribes to Oneness Pentecostalism. There are others.

    To be fair, Bill Johnson does not seem to, as his theology teaches that Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit to do everything, clearly distinguishing that there are at least two Persons.

    However, some of his followers and fellow charismatic/Pentecostal teachers do suggest that Jesus’ human nature was split from His divine nature, claiming that Jesus was all of Yahweh. They might suggest that while Jesus was on Earth, that was only the human nature — which would be consistent with Johnson’s emptying Himself of His divine attributes teaching. Thus, they teach that the Father and the Holy Spirit are Jesus’ divine nature. So — they claim that when Jesus prayed to the Father, it was Jesus’ human nature praying to His divine nature. It’s also called Modalism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modalism

    Although Johnson doesn’t seem to teach Oneness Theology, the theology that he does teach leaves room for those who subscribe to Oneness Theology to be in agreement with him.

  27. Craig says:

    Here’s an unpublished article by Thomas Schreiner which reaches some of the same conclusions as this post:

    http://www.sbts.edu/documents/tschreiner/John14_12.pdf

  28. Craig says:

    I’m continuing to read (among other things) Marianne Meye Thompson’s excellent The God in the Gospel of John [2001, Eerdmans], and I’ve found things relevant to this post:

    Jesus’ response to Philip, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father,” means not that the Father and Jesus are identical but that the Son so fully embodies the Word, glory, and life of the Father that to see the Son is to see the Father. There need be no journeys to heaven, no practice of mystical techniques, in order to gain a vision of the Father, for the Son incarnates the Father’s glory and hence makes the Father known. [p 113-14]

    Just to be clear, earlier Thompson clearly identifies that Jesus Christ is of the same essence as the Father, i.e. equal to him as far as divinity [pp 71-72, 91-92, 97-98]. Thompson also makes clear that those who were and are not alive during Jesus’ Incarnation were/are not short-changed because they did/do not get to “see” Jesus and thereby need mystical experiences to compensate:

    …Precisely because others cannot see the glory of Jesus in the same way as his disciples did, they must be assured of his presence with them in other ways. Jesus thus assures them that their prayers will be heard and answered, a promise of his faithfulness to his own in spite of his absence, the specter of which causes fear and anxiety. Jesus seeks to quell these fears and anxieties throughout the Farewell Discourses [14:7-9, 19-22; 16:10, 16-22]. [p 116]

    We will all see Him according to 1 John 3:1-2, “when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is”. In the meantime we have Jesus Himself as our mediator and the Holy Spirit (Paraclete) as His presence living inside of us.

  29. Craig says:

    Here we go again with Charisma promoting we can do greater works than Jesus. This time it’s Jim Goll:

    http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/15548-prophetic-evangelism-giving-rise-to-prayer-storm#readmore

    BTW, Jim Goll is the one who “prophesied” the Roberts Liardon library ‘inheritance’ AFTER Bill Johnson had already purchased it:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/the-apparent-deception-of-the-roberts-liardon-library-acquisition/

  30. Joseph says:

    You >> “Yet the man formerly blind from birth passed from eternal death to eternal life as he gained his spiritual sight [9:38-39] – something much more important than merely receiving physical sight!”

    Joseph >> You comment above is very insensitive and void of compassion. Had you been born blind, become a beggar and live in a hostile world where you were considered a sinner and cursed by God, you would have never thought that way.

    Jesus’s love came forth shining, and once again He showed us His glory. By the way, the glory of God is His agape, passionate love that is forever doing good. in this instance He chose to liberate a man out of his misery because He loved him.

    Your point above makes zero sense in the real world.

  31. Joseph says:

    I really don’t know what your point is all about. If you have issues with Bill Johnson, why do you feel the need to go out of your way to prove that he is dead wrong? Are you against miracles? Do you believe that healings and miracles are not for us today?

    As for the greater works that Jesus spoke, how do you know that these things have not taken place in other parts of the world? Do you know for sure what the Lord is doing in the jungles of Australia or in the Sierras of Peru? I certainly don’t, nor would I try to prove that the Lord is not the same as He always was. He can do whatever He pleases with whomever He wants, and however He chooses to do it.

    Why are you making such a fuss about the life of Spirit filled believers that at times may in fact do something extraordinary because the Lord wanted to change an impossible situation and reverse its normal course that might lead to death?

    As for me personally, I don’t like Bill Johnson nor do I ascribe to his beliefs in the matter he teaches them. I believe he has gone off course by emphasizing the miraculous way too much. I believe miracles are the exception rather than the norm.

    So, in that area I’m with you, but I’m not against seeing the supernatural take place in real, tangible way that helps the needed and the suffering from continuing in that path of sickness and disease.

  32. Craig says:

    Joseph,

    I nearly did not release your comments because of their tone. So, let’s tone it down a notch. [See Before You Comment tab.]

    You may want to re-read the article slowly. In addition, if you read my Statement of Faith you’ll see that I’m not a cessationist, which means I certainly don’t disregard real miracles as being for today.

    With that out of the way, I’m dumbfounded by your accusation that the selected text is “void of compassion”. The Word of God states, “What does it profit a man to inherit the whole world but lose his own soul”. Joseph, would you rather have eyesight such as the Pharisees (in this example) who were spiritually blind; or, you would you rather have spiritual sight and, hence, eternal life? Also, bear in mind that not all ‘miracles’ are of God – see 2 Thess 2:9-12.

    I’ll ask one of the same questions I posed on the Charisma forum: What is greater than raising a man from the dead or quelling a raging storm by rebuke? The Scripture states, “greater works than these he will do”.

    As re: Bill Johnson and ‘proving him dead wrong’, I believe Bill Johnson is leading others in apostasy. If you read other articles on this site, you may be able to see my concern.

  33. Joseph says:

    To Graig: so you have the authority to delete messages that you don’t like. Fine, don’t think I would be too upset about that. It is your prerogative. However, your point in stating the following, and I quote it again merits explanation,

    “Yet the man formerly blind from birth passed from eternal death to eternal life as he gained his spiritual sight [9:38-39] – something much more important than merely receiving physical… ”

    It insinuates that physical healing is practically irrelevant as long as we are “born again.”

    Perhaps I’m reading it wrong, but as I see it, you are stating or appear to be saying that a man born blind and staying on that condition for 40 years was not that important in comparison in receiving spiritual sight. I believe it is easy to make that kind of statement when one has not suffered the awful state of our man in John 9.

    Have you considered what it would mean to born in that awful condition, never seeing a face, never recognizing colors and the beauty of creation while at the same time having no point of reference to the world you are part of?

    Imagine someone comes along and says, “Rejoice brother, you can see better than those who claim to see.”

    If I was blind, I would say that my friend was out of line since he has failed to understand the pain of being handicapped. I personally would be offended….

    If I’m wrong in my assessment, I apologize, but if you are honest, you would have to admit you were not too clear on this area because the natural is always first, while the spiritual comes second (1 Cor 15:46)

  34. Craig says:

    Joseph,

    While I reserve the right to delete messages which don’t confirm to my standards (it’s my blog, after all), I’ve not deleted (or edited) any of your messages. I’m not sure what you’re referring to – did you think I deleted a message of yours?

    I still don’t see how my statement “insinuates that physical healing is practically irrelevant as long as we are ‘born again’.” However, God is sovereign and it’s His choice who does or who does not receive physical healing. Think about all the Apostles (the real first century ones) who were beaten and then martyred – especially Paul. Or, what about Stephen – why didn’t God raise Him from the dead?

    I stand by my statement that eternal life is much more important than physical healing in this life. I’ve not made a dichotomy of eternal life vs. physical healing as it seems you pretty much believe I have.

    And, what of Corrie Ten Boom who had to witness and endure atrocities at the hands of the Nazis, including witnessing the death of her own sister? Certainly, God could have intervened. And, what of Joni Erickson-Tata? Etc. etc…

    You wrote, “If I’m wrong in my assessment, I apologize, but if you are honest, you would have to admit you were not too clear on this area because the natural is always first, while the spiritual comes second (1 Cor 15:46)

    You’re taking that verse out of context. It merely states that we are all born ‘naturally’ in a physical body with the spiritual body coming when Jesus returns. This verse says nothing about physical healing occurring before spiritual healing, i.e. regeneration.

  35. Joseph says:

    To Graig: OK, I misunderstood. Thank you for clarifying your position…

  36. Carolyn says:

    Joseph you said: “I really don’t know what your point is all about. If you have issues with Bill Johnson, why do you feel the need to go out of your way to prove that he is dead wrong? Are you against miracles? Do you believe that healings and miracles are not for us today?”

    John 18: 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
    Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
    38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

    Think of the Satan’s reason for deception and lies…keeping people from God’s standard of truth. Satan is a master at Gaslighting…keeping them off balance and second guessing their perceptions of who God is, what truth is. Unless you keep the Truth in front of you, you also can become deceived. Hence Christ’s admonition. “Don’t be deceived.”

    There is only one Truth. And Bill Johnson’s isn’t it. There are many antichrists today. I want to know how I can be sure I’m listening to and believing in the real Christ. And there is only one way to know that…and it isn’t by following Sid the Supernatural Science Guy (a combi of Sid the Science Guy and Sid Roth). It’s by following the Word…

    …which is what apologetics is all about…discerning the truth, being aware of deceivers, warning others…

  37. Joe says:

    I personally do not like his style or his excessive emphasis on the miraculous, but aside from that I have no idea why he is being called a deceiver.

  38. joe says:

    Excellent article! I also thoroughly enjoy the comment dialog! Being a fairly simplistic no. Wisconsin farmboy two points i am lead to through in the hat persay.(one slightly touched on.)

    1) if the passage is referring to signs&miracles would not the 1st part of vs.12(whoever believes in me will do…) pretty much mean for 2000yrs noone has believed, including all of us?? As far as i know, not a single person has walked on water&turned water into wine&raised anyone 4 days dead&etc…..it says works-it could be argued that means all of his works or just a couple…

    2)there is one work we could “do” that could be considered greater&not done by Jesus. That being being used by God to bring someone to eternal life in heaven through the finished work of the cross.

    As far as the ask & i will do it(vs. 13 & 14) i would suggest taking all the passages which say “ask… in the NT along with the qualifiers in those passages and i think it would be safe to say noone, most assuredly myself, could come close to thinking that because we ask,declare,decree we will automatically have it/get/receive it. Outside of arrogance or an underlying “i am a little god” belief, we all fall short. Blessings!!! For His Glory!!!

  39. Craig says:

    I was looking for the link from a Biblical scholar which I posted in the comments a while back, and was struck by a few things upon re-reading. First, here’s the link, an article by Thomas Schreiner (I have his excellent BECNT commentary on Romans):

    http://www.sbts.edu/documents/tschreiner/John14_12.pdf

    He’s more succinct in his comments than some of the others I’ve quote in the above CrossWise article, as the following bears out:

    The most significant example is from John 5:20 where Jesus says, “And greater works than these he (the Father) shall show to him (Jesus) that you may marvel.” This verse is very close to John 14:12 because in both verses Jesus speaks of “greater works.” Jesus is contrasting here his healing of the lame man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-16) with the greater works that he would do in the future. The greater works in the context appear to the communication of spiritual life (John 5:21,24-25), the judgment of all (5:22), and the future resurrection from the dead (John 5:29). The point here is not that these works are greater in number, but they are qualitatively superior to the healing of a man who was lame. These works are superior because they will last forever, while the lame man got sick again and died.

    To conclude this second point: the greater works do not mean believers will do more works than Jesus, but that they will do works qualitatively better than those Jesus did in his ministry. These better works are due to the outpouring of the Spirit after Jesus’ ascension.

    …Greater than any healing is the inclusion of one’s name in the book of life….

    One final word: that greater works are done by believers after Jesus’ earthly ministry in no way
    diminishes the ministry of Jesus, nor does it suggest our ministry is somehow better than His! I have argued that the greater works refers to the work of the Spirit through believers in convicting unbelievers of their sin, and mediating forgiveness of sins in the name of the risen Lord. But such work is not our work! It is the work of the risen Lord in us and through us. The Lord Jesus Christ exalted and glorious works in concert with God the Father through the Holy Spirit. He is the one doing the work, and He is worthy of all the glory!

  40. just1ofhis says:

    I really didn’t know where to post this. Maybe you have a better place for it, Craig.

    This story comes out of Bill Johnson’s church:

    http://www.redbluffdailynews.com/business/ci_24822334/rrcopiedthisfromrnb/church-goers-bilked-by-divine-advice

    More than a year ago, M’Kayla posted an article I wrote for her drawing attention to an investment scheme going on in the NAR affiliated church in our area. You can check it out, Craig, and decide whether you want to share the link or not.

    http://mkayla.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/the-iraq-dinar-revalues-as-part-of-kingdom-wealth/#comment-10876

    This is the SEC complaint against Souza:

    http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2009/comp21191.pdf

  41. just1ofhis says:

    I was searching for the Bethel “prosperity” chant, when I came across this:

    http://www.ibethel.org/prosperous-soul-survey

    Deep down, I believe that I am bad.
    (your choices: Strongly Agree Agree
    Disagree
    Strongly Disagree)

    * I regularly imagine good things happening to me.
    (all the following statements had the same 4 choices as above)

    * I tend to make poor decisions with my finances.

    * Deep down, I feel vulnerable with my finances.

    * I like the way I look.

    * On the whole, I am pleased with who I am.

    * I think others are more important than myself.

    * Generally speaking, I like change.

    * Loud or opinionated people are threatening to me.

    * I often feel discouraged.

    * I think creatively. I am creative.

    * Often I feel like an idiot.

    * Others find me interesting or engaging.

    * If someone dishonors me, I want to do the same or worse to them.

    * I often feel enthusiastic.

    * I can forgive myself for mistakes I have made in the past.

    * I admire and feel admired by my friends.

    * I am powerful. I can affect my own life.

    * I should have more respect for myself.

    * At times I think I am no good at all.

    * Generally, people like me.

    * When I go shopping, I often feel afraid that things may be sold out.

    * I feel that good flows through me, but does not reside in me.

    * If I am genuinely honest, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.

    * I strive to achieve greater heights with every step I take in life.

    * My prayer time tends to center on my failures.

    * Others do not see the greatness in me.

    * I feel that I am hidden in crowds. People don’t notice me.

    * I generally feel like God is happy with me.

    * I am extremely beautiful.

    * I am stupid.

    * I am creative.

    * My failures will always haunt me.

    * Good things happen to others. They pass me by.

    * People cannot be trusted.

    * I feel I am a person of worth, on an equal plane with others.

    * Angry outbursts are common for me.

    * I feel useless at times.

    * I never have good ideas.

    * Tears and strong emotions are common for me.

    * I like myself.

    * I feel ugly sometimes.

    * I feel that I have a number of good qualities.

    * I regularly laugh a lot.

  42. just1ofhis says:

    So, I took the survey, selecting all of the most prideful, narcissistic comments I could (save one where I hit “disagree” instead of “strongly disagree” as I was typing quickly). My score along with an “explanation”:

    “Congratulation! You have successfully completed the Prosperity Survey!

    Total Score: 85.19.

    Prosperous Soul Survey
    The scoring is showing in the following categories:
    • 93 to 100 You’re unbelievable! No, really. The highest score possible is 92.
    • 67 to 92 You’re thinking like a prosperous soul. Keep it up.
    • 38 to 66 Good job. You have many good ideas with room to grow.
    • 16 to 37 Good news: Students in this range will experience the widest shift in their thinking.
    • 0 to 15 Try again. The lowest score possible is 16

    Don’t be as concerned with a low score. Rather, be concerned with growing and changing your thinking. Solomon said that as a man thinks within himself, so he is (Proverbs 23:7). The survey is designed to re-present in random order each time it is accessed. You can take it as many times as you wish, as often as you wish. Each time, however, the questions rearrange themselves to assist your genuine search for understanding.

    With prosperity comes power, and with power comes the magnification of the secrets hidden within one’s heart. Poverty thinking is no more substantial than the tissue-thin waves of a radio broadcast. We have the right to tune in or turn off whatever broadcasts we choose. The better we do this, tuning in the truth of God’s word, the sooner we can change.

    Thank you for using this tool. I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to your feedback. See you soon in class, and have A Prosperous Soul!
    Stephen De Silva”

  43. Craig says:

    I’ll have to look at this later this evening.

  44. Craig says:

    just1ofhis,

    The survey is very much Secular Humanism.

  45. Craig says:

    just1ofhis,

    No doubt there are scam artists everywhere, and the hyper-charismatics make a good target, though Christians, in general, can be too trusting. Interesting article on the dinar. I read through some of the comments.

    Souza will most certainly get what he deserves. As far as Bethel, personally, I’d be very surprised if leadership were in on the scheme. Johnson makes enough $$$$$$ that he doesn’t need this sort of thing. However, if leadership turned a blind eye, that’s an entirely different matter.

    But, truly, this sort of thing (Souza) can happen at any church.

  46. just1ofhis says:

    I don’t believe that Bethel leadership was in on the scheme, either.

    The leadership at the NAR church in my area (and the Healing Room ministry) promoting the dinar investment were, themselves, completely deluded and deceived. They really believed this was “of god” and had invested their own $ in the scheme. In my conversations with them, I made zero ground in convincing them that they were being cheated and that the entire thing was completely unbiblical.

    The problem that stood out to me at the time was that the NAR church leaders were claiming to be gifted by “god” with gifts of “prophecy”, “healing” and “discernment”. The head pastor claimed for himself the title of “apostle” and one of the 144,000 in the book of Revelation. The fact that they did not denounce the scheme when it came into their church, but encouraged their flock to invest, is glaring evidence of their lack of discernment.

    The “leadership” at Bethel didn’t do anything to stop this, until one of their members attempted to collect his $200,000 investment back from Souza. Again, this shows a glaring lack of discernment on the part of people who claim for themselves tremendous insight into the things of God. There was also mention that Souza had donated as much as $1 million to Bethel. Again, I don’t believe that Johnson was in on any scheme. I just believe that, as in so many examples we have witnessed, Johnson has proven himself to have absolutely zero discernment into the real things of God.

    I actually don’t believe that this can happen at any church. The claim of “miracle investment returns from God” is only going to be entertained in a church where the Word of God has been trampled underfoot for the stuff of men. In other words, you have to be lusting after cash yourself on some level to get drawn into a get rich quick scheme.

    Hence, snake oil salesmen abound….

  47. Craig says:

    The “leadership” at Bethel didn’t do anything to stop this, until one of their members attempted to collect his $200,000 investment back from Souza. Again, this shows a glaring lack of discernment on the part of people who claim for themselves tremendous insight into the things of God…

    Oh, but you see, Johnson is an Apostle, not a Prophet. Where’s Bob Jones when ya need ‘im?

    I actually don’t believe that this can happen at any church. The claim of “miracle investment returns from God” is only going to be entertained in a church where the Word of God has been trampled underfoot for the stuff of men. In other words, you have to be lusting after cash yourself on some level to get drawn into a get rich quick scheme.

    I should have paid more attention to the article, as “miracle investment returns from God” is only something a hyper-charismatic, or extremely gullible individual would fall for.

  48. just1ofhis says:

    Where is Bob Jones? Elevating man, degrading the role of Jesus Christ, proving himself an enemy of the cross, being deceived and deceiving others as usual:

    Jones: “The peacemakers that are coming forth in this next season are those who can make peace between the human soul and the Father. As they reveal the Father’s love to the human soul, it will bring stability to the Body in every way. Through the administration of these peacemakers, first and foremost, they will bring man’s soul into the place where it can enter into the peace of God. And this peace is beyond all human understanding. They will also enter into the love of God, which will create the fruit that He wants produced in the Body now. This is literally the beginning of the fruit that’s needed for harvest.”

    http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=12987

    But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isa 53:5)

    For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. (1 Tim 2:5-6)

    “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

  49. Craig says:

    just1ofhis,

    I’m rather tied up at the moment, so comment will be delayed; but, in the mean time, have you seen this post?

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/new-tab-for-miscellaneous-comments-or-questions/

    …which references this tab/page?:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/miscellany/

  50. Craig says:

    just1ofhis,

    I agree with your assessment of Bob Jones.

  51. Pingback: Bill Johnson - Page 34 - Christian Forums

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