Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do. (John 14:12)
Christ revealed the secret of His and of all Divine service- man yielding himself for God to dwell and to work in him.
When Christ now promises, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also” (John 14:12), the law of Divine inworking remains unchanged. In us, as much as in Him- one might even say a thousand times more with Him- it must still ever be: “The Father in me doeth the works.” With Christ and with us, it is “the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:6).
How this is to be, is taught us in the words, “He that believeth on me.” That does not only mean, for salvation, as a Savior from sin. But much more. Christ had just said, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me…..The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10-11). We need to believe in Christ as the One in and through whom the Father unceasingly works. To believe Christ is to receive Him into the heart. When we see the Father’s working inseparably connected with Christ, we know that to believe in Christ, and receive Him into the heart, is to receive the Father dwelling in Him and working through Him.
The works His disciples are to do cannot possibly be done in any other way than His own are done.
The law of the Divine working is unchangeable: God’s work can be done only by God Himself. It is as we see this in Christ, and receive Him in this capacity, as the One in and through whom God works all, and so yield ourselves wholly to the Father working in Him and in us, that we shall do greater works than He did.
One of the great questions of the church is, “What is the work of Christ and how can we as mere humans do such divine work?” The disciples on several occasions would ask Christ about this very subject. Once they understood the He was the Messiah, they begin to think that His purpose was to restore the kingdom of Israel. In their minds this was the ultimate act that Christ could perform.
“So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
In this conversation Christ defined His work and the work of the church for every generation. That work is the telling about Christ to the whole world; to everyone without exception. We might say it is the grandest of work that a human can participate with God in doing.
On another occasion when asked about His work, Christ gave this response:
“So Zaccheus hurried and came down, and welcomed Jesus with joy. When the people saw it, they all began muttering [in discontent], “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a [notorious] sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “See, Lord, I am [now] giving half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will give back four times as much.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household, because he, too, is a [ spiritual] son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
When the Seventy were sent out, they were sent with instruction and when they returned rejoicing in their success, Jesus said this to them:
“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. Whenever you go into a city and they welcome you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick [authenticating your message], and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you. Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
Notice the emphasis Jesus placed on the importance of having one’s name written in the lambs book of life even over having power over Satan. The Seventy returned rejoicing because they had seen the miraculous power of God working through them in the healing and deliverance from demons to those they had been sent to. May I say it is an awe inspiring thing to see God working His miraculous power and I’m sure I would have been like the Seventy. But I think that in God’s view there is nothing more wonderful than when a sinner repents and is born again into a child of God. You and I may never experience a “miracle” but if we have been born again we have tasted the best gift God has to offer.
“So He told them this parable: 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost, [searching] until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he gets home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7 I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
We know that during His earthly ministry Christ healed the sick, delivered the oppressed and bound, cast out devils, fed the multitudes and raised the dead. While these are exciting and incredible things they all pale in comparison to His most important work; the work of bringing salvation to humanity. We too may engage in good works. It’s a good thing to do good deeds, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and assist those who are in need but again all this pales in comparison to the great need that every human has: the need to know the Savior and to become born again. We might say that the great work of Christ and the church is the giving of the gospel. Christ places the order and perspective of how all that we do works toward the most important work- the work of salvation.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who has not believed will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.”
Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Listen carefully: I am sending the Promise of My Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you; but you are to remain in the city [of Jerusalem] until you are clothed (fully equipped) with power from on high.”
Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].”
Since all four of the Gospels and the book of Acts emphasize the taking the gospel to the whole world, I think it would be a valid conclusion that this is the work and mission of every believer and the church’s focused mission. When Christ worked miracles, He did so with the eternal goal of salvation in mind and it was the same with the apostles. There is no concept that miracles or good deeds stand alone and are done simply for the sake of being done. Every miracle and every good has as its purpose the making known of Christ as Savior. We must ask ourselves if we are engaged in the work of Christ as our priority.
Dr. John Thompson