Evangelicals believe in the authority of Scripture, and that every verse in the Bible is divinely inspired. After all, we stake our very life on the absolute truth of John 14:6 where Jesus claimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Yet just six verses later in John 14:12 we come upon a solemn promise made by our Lord Jesus that we are unable to accept wholeheartedly.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the WORKS I have been doing…”
In order to understand what works Jesus promised believers would be doing, let’s look at the previous verse John 14:11.
“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.”
In the gospels Jesus performed miraculous WORKS as irrefutable evidence that he was in the Father and the Father in him. He performed miracles that only the One True God could perform, thus proving he was the Son of God sent by the Father to save us. The blind saw, the deaf heard, the lame walked, and the demon-possessed were set free. If we cannot believe what Jesus told us about himself and his identity, then at least we must believe on the evidence of the extraordinary miracles themselves.
Then in the very next verse Jesus solemnly promised that whoever believes in him will do those very miraculous works. For what purpose will believers do those works? As irrefutable evidence that Jesus is one with the Father and the only way to Him.
The traditional reaction to such a promise is typically mixed with unbelief. Who are we to perform the miracles that Jesus did? We’re just sinners saved by grace. We’re not Jesus or God. Only God can perform miracles!
And so—consciously or not, deliberately or not—we find ways to invalidate the solemn (“Very truly I tell you”) promise Jesus made in John 14:12.
The most prevalent one is the teaching of cessationism which holds that in the current dispensation God no longer does miracles through the disciples of Jesus Christ. There is also a variation of cessationism which teaches that the miracles performed through the disciples as recorded in Acts are mere description of what took place back then, and not prescription for what disciples should be doing today.
Charismatic believers, however, do not subscribe to cessationism. They generally believe that the promise of John 14:12 is still valid today. However, they do not see the promise fulfilled as they minister healing to the sick in the name of Jesus. Very rarely if at all do they personally witness the miracles recorded in the gospels and Acts. And so charismatic believers sweep the whole matter under the rug. It’s too painful to address. We believe John 14:12 with all of our hearts, but we don’t see it fulfilled. To avoid conflict in our hearts, we simply ignore the fact that believers don’t see the miracles today.
Some will say they don’t have the gift of healing and miracles as do contemporary superstar preachers who (before the pandemic) used to preach to vast crowds on mission trips. But when Jesus made his promise in John 14:12, the gift of healing was not yet available to any believer at all since it appeared only with the coming of the Holy Spirit later at Pentecost. And “whoever believes in Jesus” should do the works that he did, not only those who have the special gift of healing. So using lack of gifting as cover for failing to do the works that Jesus did cannot explain why we don’t.
Charismatic believers therefore have no choice but meekly to accept the reality of our failure to fulfill John 14:12. When we go on a mission trip to the Third World to share the gospel and there witness no miracles, we just accept it by saying, “well, that’s just how it is.”
There is no concerted effort in the Church to address this very important issue. It is important because we are in the very Last Days when the remaining time is very short for us to proclaim the kingdom of God to the many thousands of unreached “nations” (people groups) in order to fulfill the Great Commission. According to Matthew 24:14, only then the end will come.
Sadly, however, churches in our market-driven economy today are primarily focused on keeping their people happy and coming every Sunday with their tithes and offerings. They are not focused on preparing their people to meet the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And so we will be with the LORD forever.
There are at least two explanations for why we do not see John 14:12 fulfilled in the Church today.
The immediate context of the promise is verse 11: providing evidence that Jesus is in the Father and the Father in him.
“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.”
The context is clearly evangelistic. The evidence is to be provided for those who do not yet know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those who already believe in Jesus do not need to see such evidence. The clear purpose of the miraculous works therefore is to lead unbelievers to Jesus Christ. The miracles in verse 11 are not so much for the benefit of believers—who are already saved—but rather for the lost. In the Church today, however, the overwhelming focus of supernatural healing is for believers who are sick and need God’s healing touch.
The second explanation can be found in the words “will do the works I have been doing…”
Believers today are not taught to do the works precisely as Jesus did in the gospels. Instead when they minister to the sick, they follow non-biblical traditions instead. It’s therefore not at all surprising that few miracles are witnessed. If we want to do the works that Jesus did, we must do them exactly as Jesus did. And as emphasized above, it is meant primarily for the context of sharing the gospel with the lost.
The Lord has graciously entrusted to The Elijah Challenge the ministry of training believers how to do the miraculous works that Jesus did effectively and consistently when sharing the gospel with those who never heard the gospel. This is in line with the miracles recorded in Acts which were done mostly to lead to Jesus idol-worshipping Gentiles who had never heard of him.
The solemn promise of John 14:12 can now be fulfilled through properly-trained believers as the gospel is preached in the Third World to those who never heard.