John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Jesus made this extraordinary promise which has stymied many among us who hold absolutely to the divine inspiration of Scripture. Some of us would literally choose to die rather than deny the authority of Scripture.
So it’s not surprising to see us scrambling about for a “reasonable” interpretation when it comes to John 14:12. It’s not possible for us to do the miraculous works that Jesus did, let alone greater works. Who are we but helpless sinners saved by grace? We are not God as Jesus was—and is. Taken literally, Jesus’ promise not only stretches credulity, it is absolutely and completely impossible according to mainstream theology.
Ergo, the teaching of cessationism and its various cousins. What Jesus did in terms of the miraculous is only historical description, and not prescription for what believers are to do today. Although many in the Church might be comfortable with these explanations, Scripture (whom we claim is infallible and authoritative) itself does not offer much wiggle room in interpreting John 14:12.
Is it possible that certain presuppositions in our theology are not strongly supported by Scripture? We are taught that in the realm of the supernatural we are helpless and totally dependent on God. We can only pray to God and trust Him for the results. There’s nothing we can do apart from that.
But John 14:12 clearly contradicts that presupposition.
Jesus lives in us and through that we are one with him and the Father, who is in the Son. Indeed apart from them we can do nothing. But we are in them through the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 17:21). We can in fact begin to learn to do the works that Jesus did simply by studying the Scriptures where Jesus performs his miraculous works, and then doing exactly what he did.
And we have already seen “even greater works” done through believers….and for exactly what purpose? The context of the promise reveals it most clearly. In verse 11 preceding his promise Jesus lays out the purpose of the miraculous works: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”
And during these Last Days when the time remaining is short—in order for the Great Commission to be fulfilled and for all nations to be discipled—the nations must witness compelling and irrefutable supernatural evidence that Jesus is in fact the Messiah and the only way to the One True God. We are now witnessing the beginning of the fulfillment of John 14:12 on a consistent basis.