I can’t seem to get this…

“greater works than these (you) will do”

John 14:12
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do,
he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

This is such a tough verse to wrap oneself around…
“GREATER WORKS” than Jesus?
Are you kidding me?
Jesus raised the dead…
Jesus multiplied food…
Jesus stopped nature in it’s tracks by talking to it….

So you are telling me greater than that?

I’ve heard this verse in the midst of high octane pentecostal meetings and someone will blurt out in a commissioning service “greater works you will do”….everyone would join in the “amen’s” but I have to say if you cornered any “amen-er” and simply said “what does that mean?”  I’m really not sure any one of them could tell you the answer.

I know I couldn’t.

Thanks for the great Romans expositer and Philadelphia Presbyterian Pastor, Donald Barnhouse.  His Romans commentary was what I cut my teeth on.  While reading him one day, I ran across this in his commentary that dumbed it all down for me.

Sometimes… I just need stuff dumbed down.

Donald Barnhouse explained this verse with this amazing illustration.

“Aboard a US submarine in enemy waters a sailor was stricken with an acute case of appendicitis.  The nearest surgeon was thousands of miles away.  Pharmacist Mate Wheller Lipes watched the seaman’s temperature soar to 106 degrees.  His only hope was an operation or he would die.  Said Lipes, “I have watched doctors do it, I think I could.  What do you say?”   the sailor consented; and in the wardroom, about the size of a train compartment the patient was stretched out  on a table beneath a floodlight.  The mate and assisting officers, dressed in reversed pajamas tops, masked their face with gauze.  The crew stood by  the diving planes to keep the ship steady; the cook boiled water for sterilizing.  A tea strainer served as an antiseptic cone.  A broken handled scalpel was the operating instrument.  Alcohol drained from the torpedoes was the antiseptic.  Bent tablespoons served to keep the muscles open.  After cutting through the layers of muscles the mate took twenty minutes to find the appendix.  Two hours and a half later, the last catgut stitch was sewed, just as the last drop of ether gave out, 13 days later the patient was back to work.  A successful operation.

Admittedly this was a much more magnificent feat than it had been performed by a trained surgeon in a fully equipped operating room of a modern hospital.

(Here goes his amazing explanation)

Study this analogy and you come up with  the real meaning  of Christ’s words “greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my Father….” For Christ to work directly on a soul to quicken and bring out of death into life is great…. but for Him to do the same thing through us is an even greater work.”

Now that makes sense to me.
I can wrap my puny mind around that.
The “greater work” is not that the work is greater (than NT works) but what makes it greater is the rough and unconventional instruments He is using and yet it still happens.
Jesus goes to the Father and He decides to use us to get the job done.
You and I are the unconventional instruments our Master Surgeon uses  and when the operation is all done….you don’t praise the scalpel but the One Who used the scalpel.  We have too much scalpel worship and not enough Physician praise; but that is another topic for another time.

Is It Just Me?


I can’t find a Bible school in the country or a seminary  in our nation that enforces (I know it’s not a great word) their students to spend time reading their Bibles.   Here is what is amazing, they will make them read books about the Bible but not the Bible.  They have lost confidence in the Holy Spirit that He can help interpret but we have given ourselves more to the help of men, commentaries, textbooks on exegesis then on hearing the voice of the Spirit. I wonder what the percentage would be if we were to ask every graduate at the commencement and as we are handing them their diplomas to preach….”have you read the Bible through?”

Is that too crazy?
Would we dare?
Has any gown clad doctor ventured in that territory?

Don’t get me wrong, I have over 6,000 books in my library and am grateful for hearing what God has shown men and women around the world and throughout the centuries.  But let’s be honest….do you know of a seminary that is training young ministers and readying our new credentialed pastors to read the Word an hour a day and pray an hour a day?  They have passed homiletics, church history and Greek but they are leaving our schools without a prayer closet.

Show me and please tell me the name of the Seminary that says unless you are praying you cannot graduate.

Am I foolish to want to see this happen?

Why can’t some Bible college president or some seminary executive wake up to the fact that we have students that know their tools better than the treasure.  It would be like taking a gold digger or a diamond hunter and teaching them so much about their tools and their excavating devices that they fall in love with them and forget about the diamonds.
The real diamond is meeting God on your knees.  The real gold is the Bible itself.  It’s not books on the Bible or books on prayer.

No one at any seminary I went to or from the denomination ever asked me “tell me about your prayer life?”  No one ever questioned me whether I have read the ENTIRE Book that I am committing my life to preach.

What I am afraid of is that we are ASSUMING WAY TOO MUCH!
I ask those questions on the road and the answers are not encouraging. In fact, they are downright terrifying.

I was even told by a young preacher that I need to learn to be a communicator and stop being a preacher because those days are gone.

God help us!

I think if our schools don’t wake up to the fact of prayer and the Word that God will start raising up preachers despite them.  They will be uncredentialed, undiploma-ed and ungraduated powerhouses that will shake nations with no association to any person but God.

Or how about asking the question to our next generation pastors…

“Have you led someone to Christ in the last year and discipled them?”

I can’t even go there.
That will be for another time, another place and another blog.