What Are the “Greater Works”?

 

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What Are the “Greater Works”?

James R. Aist

“Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me will do the works that I do also. And he will do greater works than these, because I am going to My Father.” (John 14:12)

During His ministry, Jesus performed many “miracles” that were evidence that He was a man sent from God. These miracles were works that were outside the realm of naturally occurring events, such as  healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead, and casting out demons. These were all works done in the realm of created things, and they were amazing to see. Nevertheless, these were not the greatest works that Jesus was doing.

In Luke 17-20, seventy of Jesus’ disciples had just returned from an evangelistic campaign. They returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your name.” He said to them, “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Let me unpack this passage in Luke, and I will show you what Jesus was referring to when He said in John 14:12 that His disciples “…will do greater works than these.” The seventy disciples returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your name.” They were amazed that this man, Jesus, was able to give them power to do miracles in the realm of created things. Upon hearing this, Jesus proceeded to explain to them that He was no ordinary man, but the very Son of God, and, as such, has innate power over all created things, saying “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” In other words, why were you surprised that I was able to give you power to perform miracles in the created realm, as I have been doing? There is an even greater miracle that you will have a role in: that is, the miracle of salvation. This miracle occurs in the spiritual realm and is a “greater thing” than the power I gave you over created things.

The take-home message is that miracles that manipulate the natural world, while impressive, are of lesser importance than the spiritual miracle of salvation. Remember, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Those are the “greater works.”

Salvation: Who Is Inviting Whom?

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Salvation: Who Is Inviting Whom?

James R. Aist

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37)

Different Christian “traditions” have developed their own “catch phrases” to represent biblical truths with simplicity, and, as such, they can be useful tools of communication in the Christian “world.” But some catch phrases do not accurately convey sound doctrine or theology, however well-intended. This article addresses an important example of a popular, yet misleading, catch phrase.

The catch phrase I have in mind occurs at the end of a “salvation message”, when the evangelist encourages the congregation to “ask Jesus into your life”, or something equivalent in different words.  As I was meditating briefly on this particular invitation – which I have heard on several occasions – a red flag went up. So, I paused to meditate further to try and identify the reason for the red flag.

Then it dawned on me: Do we really want to ask Jesus to join us in our sinful, worldly lives? Is that what it means to be born again? Of course not! When salvation comes, it is not us inviting Jesus to join our lives; rather, it is Jesus who is inviting us to join Him in His life, that is, eternal life.

And, these two kinds of life are of a fundamentally different nature. The life we are born into is a temporary, physical, biological life in which we are separated from God. The life that Jesus invites us to enter into is a spiritual life in which we are connected to God forever, just as He originally intended when He created mankind. Being “born again” produces a truly “new life” in our experience, and it can be ours only when we stop resisting God and let Him save us.

That said, there are surely very important ways in which Jesus does want to bless and change us during the remainder of our biological life. For example, He insists that we let Him become our Lord by being obedient to His teachings and to all of the other moral laws contained in the written word of God, the Bible. This means that the true born-again experience will result in a life that is characterized by the forsaking of evil works and the practice of good works. If these signs of a true believer are absent, then we have not yet received the gift of “saving faith”, but instead, we have received “dead faith” (James 2:14-17). Such faith is worse than worthless, because it leaves us believing that our sin problem has been taken care of, when it has not!

Revelation 22:7 says, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let him who hears say, “Come.” Let him who is thirsty come. Let him who desires take the water of life freely.” This is an invitation from God for you to become connected to Him, sharing His life forever. The “Spirit” is God’s Holy Spirit, the “bride” and “him who hears” is the company of born-again, true believers in Jesus Christ. All of these are inviting you to enter into God’s eternal life. Those who desire to accept this invitation may take the water of life freely. So, if this is you, I strongly urge you to say “yes” to this invitation now, because everlasting life with God in heaven depends on it! There is no other way (John 14:6).

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

With the Peace of God Comes Joy Unspeakable!

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With the Peace of God Comes Joy Unspeakable!

James R. Aist

“…in whom, though you do not see Him now, you believe and you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…” (1 Peter1:8)

In an earlier article (click HERE), I wrote about how the peace of God surpasses all understanding. One huge benefit of the peace of God is that we have an anchor for the soul that enables us to be at peace deep inside while storms of tragedy and tribulation rage all around us. The present article will focus on another benefit of the peace of God; namely, “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is my conviction that without this peace of God deep within us, we will never be able to fully experience this kind of joy.

The journey to “joy unspeakable” begins with the love of God, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Once God has saved us, we have “peace with God”, because our sins are forgiven. At that point, we are in a position to experience the “peace of God”, but that experience will not be fully realized until we settle with God several key issues of biblical doctrine, as delineated in the earlier article. When we agree with God about these things, without reservation and with the help of the Holy Spirit in us, then we are able to “rejoice with joy unspeakable.” And so, we have a progression of steps in our journey to this kind of joy: the love of God, peace with God, the peace of God and, then, joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of God, to which also you are called in one body, rule in your hearts…” This verse tells me that we are called, not only to be free from the law of sin and death, but also to have the peace of God ruling in our hearts. And, this is why, without this peace of God deep within us, we will never be able to fully experience joy unspeakable. When the peace of God actually rules in our heart, then the joy we have cannot be diminished, or even threatened, by storms of tragedy, tribulation or any other external circumstance; the God whose peace rules in our hearts will not allow it. The result is joy that is so glorious as to defy description!

Psalm 103:2 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…” So, let’s not forget one added benefit: that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). That’s exactly what we need to weather the storms of life victoriously!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

Jesus Is My Co-pilot…Or Is He?

Jesus Is My Co-pilot…Or Is He?

James R. Aist

Its not as common as it used to be, but do you remember when lots of Christians proudly displayed this message on the rear bumper of their car: “Jesus Is My Co-pilot”? That’s a catchy phrase alright, but is it good theology? Let’s look more closely and find out.

One need not think very deeply to realize the theological implications of this bumper sticker. If Jesus is my co-pilot, then who is my pilot? That would be me, of course. In this scenario, I would be in charge of my life, and Jesus would, in effect, function as my assistant. I would want Him right there by my side to steer my life away from trouble and into prosperity. But, heaven forbid that He would ever even think that He’s in charge! After all, its my life, isn’t it?

Or, is it? The Bible says that our life is not our own now, because we have been redeemed; that is, we have been bought by a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). It goes on to say that, as Christians, it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Before God saved us, we were living as “pilots of our own planes.” God did not even appear in the equation of our lives at that time. We were without God and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12). But God the Father drew us all the way to Jesus (John 6:44) and gave us the gift of saving faith so that, from that moment on, God had a rightful claim on our lives, to the point that He has a right to do anything with our lives that He wants to; we now belong to Him (Mark 9:41), not ourselves.

It can be a long, hard struggle for us to get to the point in our Christian walk that we are really and unequivocally surrendered to God’s will for our lives, no matter what that may look like. But when we get there, it will begin to show. Our friends and family will begin to see outward signs that we are no longer living for ourselves, but for Christ. At that point, we will be fulfilling the chief end of man, the main reason that God created us in the first place; that is, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE)