Above is an image of Creflo Dollar, who I am singling out for this post on frequently twisted passages. He like others I have also featured twists the Bible on the regular, and below I am going to analyze one of the verses that he does this to.
While Leaving Adventism one of the things that I studied was Pentecostal Theology. Their teaching on this verse in John though is pervasive these days so I am going to address it plainly. The way this is presented by the Pentacostals and Charismatics is that evidence of the Christian life is greater works.
By that they mean, if you are truly faithful and penitent, then you should be performing miracles. Not just your garden variety miracles mind you, you must be outdoing Christ himself. Not just you either, but the Church at large. And if you don’t see that happening then you should be concerned that you and your fellow believers may not have any faith.
Below is the passage in question:
Does that mean we as Christians should be expected to run on water instead of walk? Should we rise from the dead twice? Should we heal more people miraculously?
Well if that’s what Jesus is teaching then the only proper response is that the Church has failed both now and in the past. Nobody has come close to the miracles that Christ performed. The apostles certainly did perform great signs and wonders through the power of the Holy Spirit, but even then these gifts started to fade out in their own lifetimes. A point that I made in an older post you can find HERE.
Have not miracles occurred in the Church since the apostles? Well of course they have, not through a specific person but people have prayed to God asking for a miracle, and sometimes they have certainly happened. Everyone has their stories and plenty have been written down by the saints who came before us.
Would you call any of these miracles greater works though? I certainly wouldn’t. Even if you count the hoax ridden circus shows claiming to be handing out miracles today by the Charismatics and Pentacostals I wouldn’t call those greater works. Even at best they would be lesser works. What are the greater works then? To really flesh this out I’m going to have to go down a Gospel bunny trail.
Long ago during the exile we see that Ezekiel prophesied of a day when preaching the Word would raise the dead.
We also know that we were dead in trespasses and sins before encountering the Gospel.
It is in this dead state that we are found when we first encounter Grace, in which God gives us Faith miraculously.
The Bible even straight up states that Faith is received through the preaching of the Word. In this act the Christological Prophecy in Ezekiel 37 is fulfilled. When the pastor preaches over the dead bones in his congregation they come to life in receiving faith.
So, by the simple act of preaching the Word the Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith to the one hearing it. This is Grace in action. It’s rather objective really, which is why Lutherans and others call it “Means of Grace”. This act alone is certainly a greater Work. It is nothing at all of course without Christ as it is his act on the Cross which ultimately brings believers the Gospel to begin with.
That said, it is the preacher preaching the cross that applies it to you here and now. In the very first day this was done more souls were brought to faith in Christ than in the whole 3 1/2 years of Christ’s ministry on earth combined.
That is a great work indeed, and by the power of Christ it is a greater work than any the apostles had witnessed up to John 14:12. This continues to be a greater work unto this very day. If you want to see it yourself then I recommend regularly attending a Church where the Gospel is preached.