A biblical response to hyper-supernaturalism by Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
There is an increasing craze to attend meetings where forensic prophecy and “miracle money” is the order of the day in the meeting. For those of you who do not know, forensic prophecy involves supposed “Holy Spirit” bizarre revelations about details unknown to the preacher like phone numbers, date of birth, month of birth, bank account details, bank balance details, etc., of those in the audience/or those known to the audience. When these are mentioned by the so-called “prophet”, the audience is stunned and they tell themselves, “How come this prophet knows all this! He is certainly guided by God! He is really a man of God and I must follow his teachings and support his ministry with my time, talents and treasures!” There are popular preachers who are into forensic prophecy from India, from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom and many other countries of the World. The focus of meetings these preachers organize and minister in, are forensic prophecies. They can be called hyper-supernatural preachers (preachers who excessively focus on the supernatural and go beyond what the Bible teaches when it comes to the operation of miracles/healings/etc).
A popular worship leader who encourages a lot of so-called healing pastors/evangelists by touring along-side them said this in a rebuttal video clip which I saw as telecasted by a TV News Channel: “First raise 10 people from the dead and then come and lecture me from the Bible what true worship is!” (he says this to this critics). From the tone of this argument we can conclude he is hyper-supernatural. For him, the Bible does not seem to be final court of appeal. The final court of appeal for him, is miracles. If miracles happen, he feels, then that ministry is genuine. This is the typical assertion of the person who is swayed by the hyper-supernatural false teaching. We will refute this teaching later on in this article.
In response to the question, “Why are you busy chasing forensic prophetic miracles and miracle money miracles?” the usual response given by such proponents is this: “Jesus said we who believe in him will do greater works than him as John 14:12 says. So, we do this!”
Such a response does not hold water. It is not adequate. It is not convincing. Let me explain:
Can this miracle-money/forensic-prophecy group say, “Jesus claimed to be the only way of Salvation. He also said that we his followers would do greater works than him. So, we Jesus’ miracle-working followers, are even more a greater way of Salvation than even Jesus himself!”? They cannot say that. Why? The Bible remains the final court of appeal for all matters of belief and behaviour. We cannot have a Bible interpretation for any Bible verse that violates the Bible itself.
First of all, we must seek to find out what the word “works” (NKJV/NASB) Jesus referred to in John 14:12 mean. Do they mean “signs and wonders” as this Forensic Prophecy/Miracle Money group confidently says it means?
BELOW THE PASSAGE
First, we must read BELOW that verse. We must read the next two verses – that is John 14:13 & 14 – to understand the meaning of the word that Jesus used means. They go this way: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14 NASB). The “greater works” – works greater than Jesus’ works, that is – that believers will do must bring God’s glory (see John 14:13) and must be worthy enough to be asked for in Jesus’ name (see John 14:14). For example, No one should be saying, “Jesus never slept with any woman. But He said, “I will do greater works than him!” So I am going to sleep with many women!” Why? That request does not bring glory to the father’s name or can be asked in Jesus’ name (because it goes against the teachings of Jesus and what is clearly written elsewhere in the Bible!)
We are trying to find out the meaning of the phrase, “works” when Jesus said, “you who believe in me will do greater works than me” in John 14:12. Scroll further down and we read this, the words of Jesus: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). So the greater works we believers do, should be in line with the commands of Jesus or the Word of God which is the final court of appeal for all matters of belief and behaviour.
Let us scroll down even further to get to the root of the meaning of “greater works” which Jesus spoke about in John 14:12. From John 14:16 onwards Jesus starts to introduce the Holy Spirit. So this is what he is saying: “To do the greater works, you need the fullness of the Holy Spirit whom I will soon send!”
In the book of Acts the Holy Spirit came down. The disciples of Jesus and ordinary believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. They went about doing the “greater works” that Jesus spoke about in John 14:12. Of course they did many miracles enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. But at the same time, we must not fail to notice that miracles they sought did not always happen. For example, apostle James was imprisoned and killed (Acts 12:2) while Peter was imprisoned and miraculously escaped (Acts 12:7 following). While it was God’s will to have Peter miraculously released it was not his will that James should be released. We must conclude that James, like David, served the purposes of God in his generation and then died (we read this in the same book – the book of Acts in 13:36!). The hyper-supernatural preachers believe “you can force God to answer your prayers every-time”, the way you want him to and this belief is plain unscriptural! [What I have put with-in inverted commas is the subtitle of one of the books of a popular hyper-supernatural black preacher].
Here is another account of “greater things” that the disciples did in the book of Acts: “They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So, they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:40-42). Yes, they were flogged by the enemies of the Gospel, the Jewish leaders. As they were bleeding, they were bubbling. Bubbling with joy that they were counted “worthy” to suffer for the name of Jesus! But despite the “battering” (the flogging) they kept at their “broadcasting” (of the name of Jesus)! Wow! So, I conclude that suffering for the name of Jesus is part and parcel of the “greater works” that Jesus spoke about in John 14:12!
Respected Bible Scholars interpret John 14:12 where Jesus mentions about those who believe in him doing greater works than him this way: “Jesus had accomplished the greatest works possible, including raising the dead. How could He say believers would do greater works? The answer is seen in the extent of what the apostles did. Jesus’ work on the earth was confined to Palestine; the apostles would preach everywhere and see the conversion of thousands. Peter’s message at Pentecost brought more followers to Jesus than did Jesus’ entire ministry. The disciples were able to do this work because Christ would go to the Father and send the Holy Spirit to empower them” (The Nelson Study Bible, 1997 Edition, page 1793). “These works are ‘greater’ not because they are more amazing miracles but because they will be greater in their worldwide scope…” (The ESV Study Bible, 2008 edition, page 2053). “Jesus was alluding here to ministerial labour in the power of the Holy Spirit (by believers), which would be “greater” than Jesus’ in its geographical and numeric extension!” (The Spirit of Reformation Study Bible, 2003 edition, page 1732). So, while it is clear the “greater works” that Jesus referred to was in terms of an unprecedented Jerusalem-Samaria-Ends-of-the-World Acts 1:8 evangelism explosion unseen in the days of Jesus (who never left the boundaries of Israel as an adult), these modern day false teachers who are into forensic prophecy and miracle-money twist those words to sway a generation that does not know the Bible adequately.
ABOVE THE PASSAGE
To understand the correct meaning of what Jesus meant when he said that those who believe in him would do greater works than him (in John 14:12), we must read ABOVE as well. This is what we read in the verse above John 14:12, which is 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.” Here Jesus claimed to be God and said that he offered his miracles as one of the proofs – though not the most important proof – that he indeed was God. The Jewish audience that Jesus spoke to, instantly understood that Jesus was making himself “equal” to God the Father (whom he called ‘the Father’ here). A few verses above, in John 14:6 Jesus claimed to be the only way to God – the only way to the Father! So, in the verses above John 14:12, Jesus basically gave the Gospel and an apologia for it, a defence for it. So, from the context above John 14:12 we can say this: those who believe in Jesus will do his work of presenting the unique Gospel and an apologia for the same, in far wider scale (to more people in more locations). By doing that they would do “greater” works than Jesus himself!
Also please note that there is a big difference between the miracles that Jesus did to prove his divinity than the miracles believers can do here and now. Jesus never faced any healing failure because he perfectly knew God the Father’s mind about any miracle request. For example, he knew that God’s time for John the Baptist was over, that’s why he never went to raise John the Baptist from the dead even when he heard that he was unfairly murdered. But that is not the case with us. We can pray for miracles. These miracles will happen subject to the will of God. By his exemplary prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus taught us, his followers, to sign out of every prayer – including prayers for miracles – using this phrase, ‘not my will but your will be done’.
God heard my prayer when I prayed for my daughter who was dead in her mom’s womb (in 2007). He raised her up. Now she is a normal child, 11 years on. But God did not hear my prayer that my US Visa should be stamped when I faced the Visa Officer in 2010. There are so many occasions when I have prayed for a miracle and that miracle did not happen. If my fellow ministers of the Gospel speak honestly, they would say that this is their story as well.
ALL THE BIBLE IN THE LIGHT OF THIS PASSAGE
We must not only see above and below any Bible passage to understand its right meaning – we must also see what the entire Bible says about what that passage seems to teach. Before we conclude what that Bible passage teaches, we must consider what the all of the Bible says about the topic/issues which that particular passage throws light upon. For example, we cannot dogmatically conclude that the length of the millennium is 1000 literal years based on just one passage found in Revelation 20. We must check what the whole Bible teaches about the length of the Kingdom of Jesus/the Son of David.
What about miracle money multiplication? I watched a social media video of a popular miracle money preacher from Kerala. He was preaching in Chennai in a meeting where a popular worship leader joined him on stage to interpret his Malayalam message into Tamil. The man who was called “Papa”/”Prophet” by the popular worship leader – claiming revelation from the Holy Spirit when he was praying – talked about a credit of 68 lakhs into the Andhra Bank account of someone in the audience before a specified date (a few month down the line). The audience was stunned. And he prophesied that the man in the audience this prophecy was targeted at (whom we shall call “Dorai” for convenience), carried an Andhra Bank Visa Debit Card in predominantly blue colour. Promptly, Mr. Dorai fished out an Andhra Bank Visa Debit Card with the specifications as mentioned by the “papa Prophet”. The audience burst into raptures. The interpreter-worship leader threw his mike in the air and caught it again, exuding the excitement of a cricket fielder who had taken a World Cup winning catch! Some time back, in a Chennai church meeting the visiting “prophet” preacher accurately “revealed” (what the Holy Spirit supposedly revealed to him) the phone number of a person related to the man he pulled up from the audience much to excitement of the hosting pastor. Meetings of this type, where these kinds of “forensic prophecies” are the main attraction are organized in different locations and hosted by different churches. Was Jesus envisioning meetings like these when he said by in John 14:12 that those who believe in him would do greater miracles than him?
Absolutely not. We have no record of such a focus in miracle-doing in the book of Acts. In the book of Acts, the apostles prayed for the sick. They looked to God when they were in a crisis (like when they were about to drown). They looked to God when they were imprisoned. And God responded as per his will (as we saw above). The miracles did not always happen. And when they did not, they did not frown. But they felt “fantastic” – their joy-level did not drop – and kept at doing what God had called them to do.
WHAT THE APOSTLE DID WHEN THEY NEEDED MONEY…
When there was need for money, they did not pray for the multiplication of the money they had. They sold properties they had and brought the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:37). They picked up jobs that paid them like tent-making (Acts 18:1-3). They encouraged believers to give to the Lord instead of just receiving from Him (Acts 20:35). Not once, did they pray for the money they had to multiply! We must copy the apostles who followed Jesus because of Paul’s repeated call to follow Christ as he and other apostles followed Christ (I Cor. 11:1; 4:16; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; I Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:9). So, we must follow the apostles way of doing greater things than Jesus and that does not include miracles like miracle money multiplication or forensic prophecy.
FORENSIC PREDICTIONS HAPPEN EVEN IN SECULAR TV SHOWS…
In fact, forensic predictions routinely happen in secular, non-Christian TV shows like America’s Got Talent (Just Google Colin Cloud). Magicians who are not Christ followers do them with regularity. That is not something to be surprised about. Don’t we see Pharaoh’s magicians do miracles in the book of Exodus (7:11,22; 8:7)? Did not even the Lord Jesus himself predict that “False messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect!” (Mark 13:22)? Does not Jesus himself warn about those who would prophecy, drive out demons, and even do many miracles in his name who won’t enter his Kingdom – make it to heaven but would rather go to hell – in the Gospels (Matt. 7:21-23)? Don’t we see a demon-possessed young girl doing the same in the book of Acts before the apostles sent the demon packing from her (Acts 16:16-18)? Doesn’t Apostle Paul predict that the Anti-Christ (called “the Lawless one”) will do “signs and wonders” that “serve the lie” and “deceive those who are perishing” in the last days (2 Thess. 2:9-10)? In the book of Revelation, don’t we read of “demonic spirits which work miracles” (Rev.16:14 NLT)? Don’t we see the Ultimate False Prophet part of the False Trinity who shows up in Revelation doing miraculous signs to delude those who receive the mark of the Beast (the Antichrist), only to land in eternal hell (Rev. 19:20)?
Doing miracles is not a proof that God approves what you do, for even Satan and his team can do the same (as seen above). Doing miracles will not even guarantee someone a place in heaven (as seen above). So do not believe and go after this group of so-called ministers of God who do these kinds of miracles. Stay rooted in the Word of God! Such ministers of the Gospel who flout the written Word of God and obvious biblical pattern are dangerous because they can really take you to hell with them! So, be wary of them!
Also have you not wondered why there is a registration fee for these meetings where there is supposed abundance of “miracle money” miracles? Why don’t the organizers pray over their own bank accounts/ministry bank accounts so that there would be a dramatic money-multiplication which would be enough to meet the expenses of these meetings? You see, when believers are ready to be fooled, there would be no dearth of preachers who will be ready to fool them! This is the repeated, sad story when one goes through Church History.
[Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Write to Duke via +91-8886040605 (WhatsApp)]