Famous Last Words 6- Greater Works than these…

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We saw in part five that Jesus’ claim of exclusivity was not unto the Christian religion as it is so often taught, but unto the right Christology. This means that the “anointed one” or ‘messiah” or “Christ” is a role and not Jesus’ last name and that his role was to bring all people into proximity to and knowledge of God (The Truth). This role of “Christ” was not limited to Jesus’ life, but as the Apostle Paul taught, has a cosmic aspect which has been doing this work throughout all human history, in all religions, and was now most profoundly punctuated in Jesus’ life.

All experiences with God are essentially “anointed” and thus only possible because of the “anointed one.

We also saw how his disciples were largely confused as depicted by Thomas and Philip asking the most basic of questions. Jesus’ replies to Philip in John 14:9: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Within this conversation there is a vital context which this series has endeavored to uphold; namely, that Jesus knows he is going to be killed and that is not his end, and the way in which he will relate to his disciples moving forward will be through another plane of existence (ultimate reality, spiritually, kingdom, etc..), one which Jesus has been pointing to, throughout his entire public ministry. Jesus is trying to help his disciples understand that his role as cosmic Christ is not stopping, but continuing on within them in another way. To help them get there he explains what I call the “nesting dolls” of divine union.

“The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (v.10-11)

He comes back to this idea again in verse 20, only this time he reveals the inclusion of his disciples.

 “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (v.20)

These two passages of “nesting dolls of Divine union” are like bookends which encapsulate a message or word (Logos) so big, so cosmic, that it escapes most of our understanding. This is proven by the fact that even today, there are almost no believers, and very few Christian churches who actually believe what Jesus would say next.

Think about this. The world is full of faithful people who believe the bible and interpret it literally, and yet almost none of them believe this promise applies to them. The promise to which I am referring is this:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (v.12-14)

Jesus healed the sick. He turned water into wine. He raised the dead. He fed thousands of people. He walked on water. He caused the blind to see and the paralytics to walk. Within the context of this conversation Jesus is telling his disciples that if you don’t believe as I told you that I am in (one with) the Father and the Father is in (one with) me, then believe the works I have done, for who but God could do all of these? Then building on this, he makes this promise, that if you believe in me as being one with or in the Father, then you will do all these kinds of works and more.

Church history has interpreted this in the following ways:

  1. Cessationists– This view holds that Jesus was specifically giving this gifting to the disciples for the sole purpose of building up and establishing the Apostolic ministry of the early Church. Then the gifts were diminished as the teaching and preaching of scripture was introduced.
  2. Pentecostals-This view holds that this promise is fully active in the life of the believer and that these works accompany true, sincere belief or faith. Very common in modern TV ministries as the “Name it and claim it” or “prosperity doctrine” but not all Pentecostals are that extreme. Most believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are provided to serve this day and are given to all who have faith.
  3. Fundamentalists– This view holds that God is still capable of doing this work, but may elect to use common channels of modern medicine or other common (fundamental) means. Believe that God can but don’t count on it happening. Or believe you’ll do bigger things which are completely different than these miracles.
  4. Atheism– Let’s face it, one of the greatest causes of atheism is that a person “tries” faith and asks God for a miracle which never comes. This leads a person to conclude that either God is cruel or that God doesn’t exist.

So what are we to believe? Can we take this promise at face value? Can we really ask anything we want in Jesus’ name and it will be given to us? Can we really expect to do greater things than Jesus did? In all of church history the vast majority of believers have never seen a miracle healing. However, there are countless, verifiable examples of miracles and works of God. Some have been debunked. Others not. What are we to make of them? Are we to find some scientific justification for them? If so, what kind of faith is that?

This passage offers us two points of clarification: 1. This promise is conditional not unconditional. 2. This promise is not given to everyone.

  1. The promise is conditional:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (v.15) and Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.(v.21)

Apart from Divine Union, there can be no divine flow. Since it is Christ, exemplified in Jesus, who makes all divine union, by any means possible, then fidelity to the teachings of Jesus are the precondition for operating within the same divine flow as Jesus. This is not the same as moral perfection, nor is this conditional “worthiness.” This is faith, not compliance. “Believe in God, Believe also in me“(v.1) The condition here is that you first believe in this “other dimension” of reality (Truth) and that the power which powers that dimension, is dwelling in and powering you. (nesting dolls of divine union). This is the bare minimal condition for all possibilities. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are  possible.” (Matthew 19:26) We do not need sinless perfection for the flow of God to work in our lives, we need only the belief that such a flow (anointing) is possible due to the work or flow of Christ (anointed one) is within us, connecting us to the power of God.

The light switch doesn’t have the power, it connects the bulb to the power.

2. The promise is not given to everyone.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (v.16-17)

The “World” or Kosmos (world system) cannot receive the Spirit of Truth which comes from God. This has been butchered by Bible teachers and pastors for centuries. This is not saying that only the Christian religion has any Truth. This is saying that Divine Truth or capital “T” Truth comprises both the physical and non-physical dimensions. The world system (institutional powers) insist on only the empirical, measurable, and physical aspects of truth and they reject that anything is possibly beyond them. This is a “faith system” or “belief system” but it is extremely limited because it cuts off all aspects of reality from which Total Truth (God) exists, this is why it “cannot receive” this Truth.

If a person places their faith solely within the physical and empirical frameworks of reality (scientific worldview or religion) they cannot expect to ever see or experience a miracle, for the very definition of miracle is that is exists outside of a “natural explanation” of things.

In our world today this world system is on display as it mocks and ridicules people who say things like “You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” To the kosmos or religion of the world’s institutions, it is insane, foolish, or pure nonsense, to believe that something beyond the empirical world exists and can be accessed to change present reality. To such people, this promise of Jesus is inaccessible.

In conclusion we are all left to discover if the words of Jesus are not only true, but somehow true for us. This means that both believers and unbelievers begin with doubt and skepticism just as Jesus’ disciples did. It does none of us any good to debate if this is functionally true until we resolve whether it is true for us. To do that we each must start with being open to possibility or a seed of faith. From there the promise is not that we will be able to unleash the Genie in the bottle and make Jesus our indentured servant, but from this possibility, we can experience the slightest bit of Divine Union.

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (v.23)

From this divine union, emerges an experience and a flow which subverts the limited framework of the kosmos (world system) into which we are all thrust. If in faith, we follow this flow, this divine experience of union, which is not subscribing to any established world religion, but merely Christ following, the end result is the presence and power of God dwelling in us, leading us, healing us and thus healing our world system, by enabling it to see and know and experience BOTH physical and nonphysical Truth. If the anointing, or Christ, can dwell in us, and we can work together as “one with” God, then as a group or (assembly/ecclesia-church) will become the new, living, physical body of Christ in the world. As such, this body will be the assembly which has the power to heal and perform greater works than Jesus. Thus these words of Jesus are a huge indictment upon the modern, tribal, concept of church.

That in and of itself is a miracle, but it opens the portal of experience through which every conceivable miracle becomes eminently possible.