Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj discusses this during family prayer time during the Corona Pandemic Lockdown (April 2020).
The Bible is clear about God’s ability to heal. Healing is a child play for him! But there are reasons why he chooses not to heal instantly. I thank Dr. Jack Deere for pointing these reasons to me in one of his books.
The first reason is perhaps backsliding. Read Psalm 74:9,10,11. “We have not been given any miraculous signs and no one knows how long it will be before the healing takes place. There are no more prophets remaining. How long will our God take to act? Has God withdrawn His right hand?” – that is how that passage goes. God is a spirit but his right hand is referred to anthropomorphically (how the Bible attributes human traits to God so that we can understand him better). How long will God take to act? This is the question of atheists, agnostics, infidels.
God took the Israelites from Judah located in Southern part of the Promised Land of Israel, as captives to Babylon because of their idolatry, adultery, and stubborn back-sliding. During their exile of seventy years, there were no signs of miracles and God disciplined them. So, why won’t God take away this pandemic, here and now? This could be one possible reason: this is a period of divine discipline for us.
The second reason is Loss of First love or Legalism. Read Isaiah 29:8,13. “God has closed the eyes of the prophets and visionaries through whom God’s miraculous powers were displayed.” If you read the entire chapter, you will find out that the prophets became ineffective. Nothing is happening now and matters are getting worse. We are looking at a situation where 1 out of 4 or 5 approximately have got the Corona virus in New York, one of the most advanced cities in the World (April 2020). When people honor God with the mouth and not the heart, it is legalism. During this time of lockdown, we should reflect on how genuine our relationship with God is. How deep is our love of God?
Dr. Jack Deere, an American theologian, says that when Martha made a request to Jesus, He did not oblige. But when Mary asked Him, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Martha liked to work for Jesus and prepare food for Jesus but Mary enjoyed Jesus’ very presence and wanted to stay close to him and latch onto every word that Jesus spoke. When we analyze our lives, we find that we too are more like Martha than we are like Mary. We like to work for Jesus (preach for Jesus, travel for Jesus, etc) but we do not spend adequate time with Jesus. And what is more, when we work for Jesus, what we do, does not come from the heart. It is all mechanical. It is just part of a routine. We do it to get a salary. God’s heart will not be moved when he sees such legalistic work. Let us repent of our legalism. Let us love Jesus with an ever-increasing love. Then, who knows, the miracle for the we are long waiting for (say the complete stopping of this terrible pandemic or any other miracle), may happen without delay (again, needless to say, as per the Divine Will)!
The third reason why God does not instantly heal is that He wants to give us added grace during this time of distress. Read 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. Paul is using the proverbial phrase “thorn in the flesh.” Apostle Paul prayed for healing (as seen in this passage). Some say that Paul had poor eyesight and therefore his writing ministry suffered. And still others say that Apostle Paul was married and his wife was a thorn in the flesh (humorously). Paul is asking for healing from this mysterious ‘thorn’.
This pandemic is like a thorn. Look at what it did to the world economy! See how many people lost their jobs!
But His grace is sufficient for us. God is giving us a supply of spiritual power which is grace, and it comes to us specially during a period of suffering and pain like this. Apostle Paul mentions this in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. Hyper-supernatural cult preachers say that after Jesus’ death for us on the Cross, we should not go through sickness or death. They should pay heed to this Scripture passage and change their wrong teaching which is leading people to hell. Notice that Apostle Paul says here: “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake” (2 Cor. 12:10). If God’s plan was that we must not suffer post the Cross of Christ, there is no way Paul would write like this!
The fourth reason why God has perhaps allowed this pandemic and did not take it away in hurry is this reason which will come out as we read John 5:1-15. The scene is the pool of Bethesda. How many paralytics were around the pool? There were many sick people waiting for an angel to come and stir the water just like we stir the coffee in the morning. Just when the paralytic tries to reach the pool at that time, someone else gets in ahead of him. (verse 7) The paralytic was sick for 38 years (verse 5). But Jesus healed him. God healed the paralytic at a particular time, hour, day. Jesus healed one among the many sick folks near that pool. From a pool of sick people near the pool, Jesus chose to heal one person. God has a time to stop the pandemic. The miracle depends on God’s sovereign will (Heb. 2:4). Miracles do not depend on what we say or command. God is the potter and we are the clay. It seems that God wants to give this pandemic more time before he may chose to miraculously intervene and stop this. Or he can even choose to keep this pandemic on till his soon-to-come return! Some false teachers say that the miracle is in our mouth. No, only foul odor, is in our mouth!
So what should we do now? Luke 18:1 says that “men ought always to pray and not faint.”
Let us pray right now!
“Lord, Help us to pray without giving up. Let there be no fresh infection of corona virus anywhere in the world for the believer or the non-believer. You are able to do that and we believe it, Lord. We pray for those who have symptoms right now like coughing or those who feel something has gone wrong with their body. Heal us by your stripes. Right now, Lord! Please Lord! You died on the cross and shed your blood. Healing virtue flows still from the cross of Calvary. We receive that. I pray you will perform a miracle. Lord! Please give wisdom to our government authorities and law enforcement officers across the globe to enforce the lock-down and curtail the spread of the virus. During this time, we pray that we will spread the gospel exponentially – much like how the virus is spreading – through online medias. Via Zoom let us zoom with the Gospel and the Word of God! Lord, we want to be involved in discipling others. Let 1 disciple of Jesus become 2. And 2 disciples of Jesus – may they become 4. Let 4 become 16! And so on and so forth. Let there be exponential multiplication of disciples of Jesus. Bless us as we spend family time together – talking, painting and doing other planned activities. Bless each one who is watching. We give you honor, glory, and praise. We ask all this with thanksgiving in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this article, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. This article is a product of Mrs. Malini Prabakar’s transcription of one of Duke’s Youtube Messages shared during the Corona Lockdown which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQFVpB72IFA&t=27s).
SEPTEMBER 2, 2009. 5 A.M. YSR REDDY IS READY… It was 5 A.M. in the morning on September 2, 2009. While others slept and snored, this medical doctor-turned-Chief Minister (of one of India’s most progressive states), Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy, planned. Planned for a surprise visit to Anupally in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, India, to launch a mass contact program with the people. Dr. YSR (as he was fondly called) was ready to leave Hyderabad for Chittoor. “I am planning surprise visits to villages to check on the implementation of drought relief measures,” he told the media minutes before he took off. Little did we know then, that those would be his last words to the press.
At 8:35 A.M., this man who believed in wasting no time had already taken off in the 11-year old, 4,218 kg heavy, Bell 430 Helicopter. Nobody knows what happened after that. But circumstantial evidence gives reason to believe that this could have happened: The weather turned bad; Pilot Group Captain S.K. Bhatia could not see the ground below (in Kurnool District) that well; it was then that he veered the chopper to the right. He deviated from the normal route at least by 18 kms; he was desperately trying to see the ground below, in the process letting the Helicopter drop altitude; What he did not perhaps realize was that the thickly forested Nallamala hills lay below; the highest peak of this closely located mountain range was 339 meters above sea level.
When finally the Pilot saw the Nallamala hills through the rumbling, dark monsoon clouds above them, he may have misjudged their height; the helicopter was already flying dangerously low at 300-400 m at one point – low enough for an SMS to be delivered by a mobile tower to the phone of A.S.C. Wesley, the Chief Security Officer of the Chief Minister who was also in helicopter; and before long, in split seconds, the Bell Chopper crashed onto one side of those hills after having journeyed just 55 minutes, with much of the fuel in its 935 litre capacity fuel tank, still left unused. And as it crashed, it exploded- the fuel it carried propelling a blazing fireball.
There was a faint possibility that Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy could have survived the crash like Palestine Leader Yasser Arafat did after his Russian-built-Antonov-24 transport plane crash-landed in April 1992 even though help arrived for him only after five long hours.
Unfortunately, that did not happen – the greatest search operation in Indian history driven by 11 helicopters and satellite images could locate the crash site only 24 hours later; the nearest human beings who could have helped him and the other four occupants (from the Chenchu Tribal Hamlet) upon hearing their heart-rending, blood-curdling cries, were at least 15 to 20 kms away; that none of those in that ill-fated Copter carried a BSNL mobile, the mobile that stood the best chance of working in such an interior area, snuffed out any possibility of an SOS call. Dr. Y. S. Raja Sekhar Reddy was suddenly gone. He abruptly lost his life. (Story reconstructed following the reading of reports found in The Week, September 13, 2009 and Frontline, September 25, 2009).
Was Dr. Reddy, ready for such a sudden exit? Was YSR ready to die? Here is a personal question: Are YOU, Sir, ready to die? What about you, Madam?
Death, let’s talk about it. Let’s be brave and talk about the grave without beating about the bush! It may not be pleasant to do that. But we must do it, nevertheless, for our good. And the Bible, I discovered, uncovers some facts about death – facts which we cannot just ignore. Let me share them with you:
1. DEATH IS SURE
SHERAWAT OR SHEKHAWAT – DEATH IS CERTAIN Death, the Bible teaches is SURE. We read in the Bible, “Man is destined to die once and after that face judgment” (Heb 9:27). Death, according to the Bible, is each man’s destiny. You could sleep in an oxygen chamber, like Michael Jackson. But you still will have to die one day, like he did. You may be a Mallika Sherawat. You may be a Bharion Singh Shekawat. You will have to die one day.
WHETHER IN INDIA OR INDIANA – DEATH IS SURE TO VISIT YOU Death, as Joshua, put it, “was the way of all the earth” (Josh 23:14). People, rich and poor, male and female, young and old, die. Death is a universal leveller of people. You may live in India or Indiana (in the United States). But you will have to die one day. You could try and avoid death like King Ahab did. He went to a battle in disguise, fully armoured, head to foot. But an enemy’s arrow, an arrow which was not really shot at him, hit him in the joints between his armour and he was gone (I Kings 22)! The man who boasted that he would return safely from the battle was dead.
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT YOUR OWN DEATH? Does the thought that you will have to die one day, ever occur to you? Are you far too busy with your life, that you haven’t given a single thought at all about death – your death? You may be a Life Insurance Company agent. You may have spoken several times over about the possible death of your potential clients. But what about your own death – have you pondered purposefully about it?! You may be a medical doctor. You may have saved several patients from death and warned some about it. But what about your own death? Have you stopped to think deeply about it?!
2. DEATH CAN BE SUDDEN
STONE BENCHES IN MY COLLEGE IN ALLAHABAD Death, the Bible also teaches, can be SUDDEN. When I was a B. Tech. Student in Allahabad Agricultural Institute, I came across several stone benches in that sprawling campus. Many of those benches were dedicated to students who died while they were still in the Campus! Yes, death can come to us, without any notice whatsoever.
It came that way for Y. S. Rajashekar Reddy. It also came that way for Osama Bin Laden.
WHEN NAVY SEALS HELICOPTERS HOVERED OVER BIN LADEN’S HOUSE… After the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, he was the most wanted terrorist in the world. We are talking about Osama Bin Laden here. For over 10 years, he eluded capture by hiding brilliantly. He probably believed that he would never ever be caught. Otherwise, he would not dared to stay in a huge $1 million house, eight times the size of a normal house with walls 12 feet to 18 feet high, within 40 kms from the Pakistan captital, in an affluent suburb called Abbottabad. They were led to this house, which had no internet connection, by following one of the trusted couriers that Osama used. That particular night, 1 May, 2011, he went to sleep with his youngest wife. “I have escaped capture by the United States all these days, months, years. Tonight will be like every other night. I will sleep soundly with my youngest wife and wake up next morning so that I can continue to lead my organization in its struggle against the US!” Once the raiders reached their target, things started to go awry almost immediately, officials briefed on the operation said. Officials described just how the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right outside bin Laden’s door, ruining the plan for a surprise assault. That forced them to abandon plans to run a “squeeze play” on bin Laden — simultaneously entering the house stealthily from the roof and the ground floor. Instead, they stormed into the ground floor and began a floor-by-floor search of the house, blowing up doors, working up to the top level where they had assumed bin Laden — if he was in the house — would be. They were right. The raiders came face-to-face with bin Laden in a hallway outside his bedroom, and three of the Americans stormed in after him after having killed two occupants of the compound enroute. Going by certain reports, Osama tried to use one woman there as a human shield to escape the gun shots fired by US Navy SEALS. In the intense fire-fight that followed, the 54-year-old Osama was killed. The operation lasted for 38 minutes. President Obama watched the entire operation real time (though it must be said that there was a black out of about 20 minutes). [News gathered from multiple reports of this event found in online articles] THE RICH MAN JESUS REFERRED TO & YOU! The rich man that Jesus spoke about also thought that he could go to sleep and wake up like he normally would every morning whistling, taking it cool. This Rich Man told himself one day, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ (Luke 12:19). His focus was on goods, when it should have been God. And God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ (Luke 12:20). (If the finite US Navy SEALS could search out and capture Osama, there is no hiding that is effectively possible from an all-knowing and all-powerful God!) The rich man was talking about “many years” when God’s plan was to allow the taking away of his life that same night! Jesus also pointed out that the Rich man was not rich in his relationship with God (who was in the flesh in the person of Jesus – Luke 12:21) and therefore this Rich Man was unprepared for eternity if sudden death had come knocking. After a person’s death, there will no more opportunities given him to be saved – this is what the Bible teaches (See Hebrews 9:27). Do you still foolishly tell yourself, “I could take many more years before I finally decide to come to Christ. In the meantime, I choose to enjoy the pleasures of the world, soak-in the short-term pleasures of sin. Later on, when it’s convenient, I will repent and trust Jesus as my Savior!”? Why fool yourself? Come to Christ, now! Come in repentance! The rich man was called a ‘fool’ by Jesus for not preparing for the countless years he would spend in eternity, while he was too concerned about his few years on earth (60 or 70). On the other hand, there were five virgins who were prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom (as evidenced by their filling their lamps with oil) were called “wise” by the same Jesus (Mt 25:4)! Are you foolish and unprepared? For eternity? Or wise and prepared? For eternity?
BIBLE CHARACTER WHO GOT KILLED IN A CAR CRASH! David’s son, the handsome and winsome Absalom would tell you that that death can come suddenly. He was Bible’s answer to John Abraham, this Absalom. He “unexpectedly” met his father’s men (II Sam 18:9 NLT). He raced away from them on his “car” and consequently died in a crash – you can see it that way, because the mule he rode on was the car of those days! His long locks got locked onto a low-lying branch even as he sped away and was found by Joab who brutally killed him! He died when he was thinking of unseating his father from the throne. Death was the last thing on his mind! He was dreaming of life as the king when he was killed suddenly! He was perhaps dreaming of sitting on the throne of his dad, just minutes before he was found hanging as a dead body suspended between heaven and earth without a seat!
WHAT SORT OF CD WILL BE IN YOUR IN YOUR DVD PLAYER If you were to die suddenly, would you be ready to face death? What will people catch you doing busily, if you were to die, suddenly? Would it be something that pleases Jesus? There were some young folk who had meat that they sinfully desired, in between their teeth when they died suddenly (Psa 78:30-31). What CD would be left in your DVD player, if you were to die suddenly, without being able to pull it out? What websites would you have left open, if you were to die suddenly, without being able to close them? Would envy, bitterness, pride, remain in your heart, if it were to stop beating, suddenly? Would you be left with the regret of missed evangelism opportunities, if you were to die, instantly and suddenly?!
4. DEATH IS JUST A STEP
Death, the Bible goes on to further teach, is just a STEP. Death may mean a “stop” for your heart-beat. But it is certainly not a stop for your life. Even after you die, you will go on living – either in eternal heaven or eternal hell – according to the Only Person who died and rose again from the dead, Jesus. Yes, Jesus, saw death as just a STEP into eternity. You will come to this conclusion when you read Mathew 25:46. Jesus agreed with the Old Testament teaching that God has placed eternity in every person’s hearts (Eccl 3:11). When we die, our relatives may carry our dead bodies. But there is someone else who carries us too, when we die, Jesus taught. He talked about a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores: after he died, “angels” carried him. By mentioning this, Jesus was teaching that after you die, you continue to exist. The real you, which is your soul goes on living forever (Luke 16:22). If you were to die, now, where would you go – eternal heaven or ever-burning hell? The Bible talks about a day of accounting after we die – are you ready for that (Heb 9:27)? We must give a personal account of our lives to the God who made us, after we die; the Bible declares (Rom 14:12).
5. DEATH IS A STOP (IN A SENSE)
WHY WEEPING & GNASHING OF TEETH IN HELL After you die, all your chances for salvation would be stopped. This is the teaching of the Bible. There would be no second chances what so ever. After death, there would be judgment (Heb 9:27). No more chances to sit in gospel meetings would be offered. No more chances to repent would be given. In fact, after one goes to hell, there is no way, one could crossover from hell to heaven. This is what Abraham tells the rich man who went to hell (Luke 16:26). Once a person reaches hell, he would stay put there, forever (Psa 49:11). Jesus often spoke about “weeping” and “gnashing of teeth” in Hell. If you went to well, you would weep. Why? You would weep for the many chances you blew away to repent and believe on Jesus – the only way to escape hell. If you went to hell, you will gnash your teeth. Why? You would be angry with yourself for having deliberately missed golden opportunities to believe in Jesus as your Savior. So, we must not forget, in that sense, death means an absolute stoppage of all chances for salvation.
WHEN SUREST RAINA DROPPED YOUSUF PATHAN Yousuf Pathan, was dropped twice in the final, on his way to his match-winning fifty in the first ever Indian Premier League tourney (2008). When Suresh Raina dropped him (he was only on 13), it could be said that he dropped the IPL Cup! Later it was the same Suresh Raina who ran him out with a superb direct hit when he attempted to steal a run. But that dismissal came far too late. Yousuf had already made 56 runs and the Rajasthan Royals were sniffing victory by then. When you reject the offer that Jesus gives you of salvation, peace, joy, purpose in life, you are dropping something far more costly than what Suresh Raina dropped in the IPL Cup Final! You are perhaps saying that you would come to Christ when you are old. You want to enjoy the pleasures of the planet now. It may be too late to do that – just how it became too late for Suresh Raina to have run out Yousuf Pathan. The reason? You could die at any moment, and after death, no one would get an opportunity to trust in Jesus and be saved, according to the Bible (Heb 9:27). In that sense, death is a stop.
5. AFTER DEATH WE CAN SMILE
DEATH, AS GAIN! Death, the Bible tells us, can be an occasion to SMILE. Yes, death can be an occasion for a beaming smile for some folks. It is quite true that for folks without a daily living relationship with Jesus, death can become an unbearably hopeless and a super sad event (I Thess 4:13). But it is also true that death can be an occasion to look forward to with a smile, for folks who love Jesus and are ready to face Jesus when He returns to this planet the second time as the Judge of all the earth. I am talking about folks like Paul who saw death as a ‘gain’ and an experience ‘better’ than the present life (Phil 1:21-23). Life with Christ is an endless hope while life without Christ is a hopeless end. All our diseases will be fully would be fully gone then – the Bible teaches (Rom. 8:21).
ELIZABETH TAYLOR’S FEAR You may have a gnawing fear of death, deep down within – a fear that never goes away. Elizabeth Taylor, the American actress had guards search under her bed night after night, because she was so very scared of being killed while sleeping. You may not be Liz Taylor. You may not be a rich and famous person like her. But nevertheless, if there is one thing you fear on this earth, it is death! But I have good news for you: Jesus Christ came to this world to free those who struggle, all their lives, with the nagging fear of death, the Bible records (Heb. 2:14-15).
The price Jesus had to pay to earn that freedom for us was His death (Heb 2:14-15). After He rose again from the dead, He taunted death, by asking the question, “Where O Death is your victory? Where O Death is your sting?” (I Cor 15:55).
WHEN SECOND DEATH’S POWER IS MADE NULL Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years – this is what we read in the Bible in Revelation 20:6. If I were to put that verse in my words, keeping the whole message of the Bible, I would do it this way: “If you have a living daily relationship with Jesus, the first one to raise from the death and get into a glorified body, then, hell (called ‘second death’ in the Bible) has no power over you! You will rule with Jesus forever and forever (thousand is symbolic way of saying ‘forever’ or ‘eternal’ – See Daniel 7:14 and II Peter 1:11)!”
If Jesus is in your life, you too can smile at death, when or whenever it comes knocking, however suddenly or crudely. And what is more – your life on this earth, till the second you die, becomes full of meaning and joy (John 10:10; I Peter 1:8). And after you die, eternity with God will bacon you.
(This article is part of Duke Jeyaraj’s book, Goodnews for the Google Generation. This book has similar Gospel presentations of Duke – wrapped around Cricket, around Football, and other gripping events. This book is currently out of print. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission, a ministry that’s supported by those blessed by his messages and articles – all Indians. Find out more at www.dukev.org).
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)]