Nov 15, 2015
Someone asked if living by faith should include doing the same miracles the disciples did, like healing the sick and raising the dead.
One reason he was asking was because Jesus does call us to teach people to observe all his commands (Matthew 28:20).
So since Jesus commanded his disciples to heal and sick and raise the dead (Matthew 10:8, Luke 9:2, and Luke 10:9), shouldn’t we expect every believer to do the same?
I think the answer is No.
Let me explain. I do believe God still works in supernatural ways, and that we should earnestly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1) and pray for the sick (James 5:16).
But I do not think we should expect every believer to heal the sick and raise the dead. Here are my reasons why —
Carry No Moneybag
When Jesus commanded his disciples to heal the sick and raise the dead, he also commanded them to “carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and [to] greet no one in the road” (Luke 10:4).
Do we expect every believer to carry no money bag or knapsack? No, because we understand that these commands had to do with the unique mission Jesus gave his disciples.
But that raises the question of whether Jesus’ commands to heal the sick and raise the dead were also part of the disciples’ unique mission, and so are not commands given to every believer.
Power and Authority
Also, before commanding his disciples to heal the sick and raise the dead, Jesus gave them power and authority to work these miracles (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1).
But Paul says that all believers do not have the gift of miracles or healing (1 Corinthians 12:9-10, 29-30), which means not all believers have this power and authority.
So if some believers do not have the power and authority to heal the sick and raise the dead, then it would be wrong to expect all believers to work these miracles.
Another reason this person asked his question is because Jesus promises that every believer will do greater works than he did (John 14:12).
So doesn’t that mean every believer should expect to heal the sick and raise the dead?
My answer is No. One reason I’ve already mentioned — since not every believer has gifts of healing and miracles (1 Corinthians 12:9-10; 12:29-30) it follows that not every believer will heal the sick and raise the dead.
But if that’s true, then why the promise that we will do greater works than Jesus did?
This is not an easy verse to understand. But here are my thoughts.
What Are Works?
The word “works” in John’s Gospel refers not just to miracles (as it does in John 7:21), but also to evangelism (John 4:34), to bringing lost people to life spiritually (John 5:20-21), and to all of Jesus’ ministry (John 17:4).
Therefore, since the word “works” is not limited to miracles, it would be a mistake to conclude from John 14:12 that every believer should work miracles.
How Will They Be Greater?
But even if works include more than just miracles, how will our works be greater than Jesus’ works?
Maybe it’s because the body of Christ through the centuries will do a greater number of works than Jesus did.
Or maybe it’s because our ministry will reveal Christ more clearly than he was revealed when he was on earth. That’s D. A. Carson’s explanation (The Gospel According to John, 1991, p.496).
He notes that the reason our works will be greater is because our works take place after Jesus has gone to the Father (see John 14:12), which means they will happen after the Cross and the Resurrection.
This is crucial, because before the Cross and the Resurrection Jesus had not been revealed in his full glory as Crucified and Risen Savior.
But we are now living in the time after Jesus died, rose, and went to the Father.
So now Christ’s glory can be seen more fully than while he was still on earth — because now people can see his sacrificial death on the Cross, and his victorious rising from the dead.
So maybe the way our works are greater than those of Christ, is because now Jesus’ glory can be revealed more powerfully than it was before the Cross and the Resurrection.
If we expect every believer to heal the sick and raise the dead we are giving them an unbiblical burden which could discourage and oppress them.
So instead, let’s encourage each other to earnestly desire all the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1). And let’s pray for the sick as we have opportunity (James 5:16), trusting that God will give gifts and work miracles as he sees best.
This will free us from unbiblical burdens.
And it will open the door for God’s miraculous power to heal others and glorify Christ.
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