For a long time I have been burdened by the knowledge
that the church is full of false teachers and prophets. Their
teaching has damaged, even destroyed many in the church. Many, although not all, of these teachers lead very large
congregations and have huge organizations and thousands of followers. Each week the prayer group of my church
prays against false teaching and specifically that false
teachers and prophets be identified, exposed and
discredited. This post is my extension of that prayer and to my readers to help you identify, expose and discredit the
false teaching that is running rampant throughout the
Body of Christ.
There have always been false prophets and teachers
2 Peter 2:1 (HCSB) But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.
In the Old Testament, we find prophets in Israel who claimed to speak for God, but who were clearly false prophets.
1 Kings 22:5-6, 23 (HCSB)5 But Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “First, please ask what the LORD’s will is.”6 So the king of Israel gathered the prophets, about 400 men, and asked them, “Should I go against Ramoth-gilead for war or should I refrain?” They replied, “March up, and the Lord will hand it over to the king.”23 “You see, the LORD has put a lying spirit into the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has pronounced disaster against you.”
Ezekiel 13:2 (HCSB) “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: Hear the word of the LORD!
Jesus warned us about false prophets
Matthew 24:24-27 (HCSB)24 False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.25 Take note: I have told you in advance.26 So if they tell you, ‘Look, He’s in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; ‘Look, He’s in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
There were also other warnings.
2 Peter 3:3 (HCSB) First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires,
Jude 1:17-19 (HCSB)17 But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;18 they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.”19 These people create divisions and are unbelievers, not having the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (HCSB)12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as our equals in what they boast about.13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.
The Dangers of False Teaching
Paul described this false teaching as another gospel.
2 Corinthians 11:4 (HCSB) For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!
Galatians 1:11-12 (HCSB)11 Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not based on human thought.12 For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ.
The danger of false teaching is that it ruins the people who listen; it shames the people who teach; it increases ungodliness; and it spreads like gangrene. It leads many Christians astray and causes them to become disillusioned with the church. False teaching causes confusion, disagreements, and disorder rather than love.
2 Timothy 2:14 (HCSB) Remind them of these things, charging them before God not to fight about words; this is in no way profitable and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
This gospel is not from God but from Satan.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (HCSB)12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as our equals in what they boast about.13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.
Galatians 1:6-9 (HCSB)6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ ⌊and are turning⌋ to a different gospel--7 not that there is another ⌊gospel⌋, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah.8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
The best way to guard yourself against false teachers and teaching is to know the truth. Careful study of the Word of God will help you identify a counterfeit because once you know the genuine article you will be able to quickly identify a fake.
2 Timothy 2:15 (HCSB) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
Paul describes false teachers as people who teach that you had to obey the Mosaic law and all the trappings that go along with it including the genealogies and then the myths that they dreamed up. He said that they didn’t understand what they were saying and insisting on.
1 Timothy 1:7-9 (HCSB)7 They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.8 But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately.9 We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers
These people were teaching that the way to salvation was through strict obedience to the Mosaic law, in other words works, not through the grace of God.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift--9 not from works, so that no one can boast.10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
How to Identify False Teachers
You can identify false teachers by their teachings. If there is an uneasy feeling that it doesn’t square up with Scripture, then study the Word to see if it either lines up with biblical doctrine or it doesn’t.
Titus 1:16 (HCSB) They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.
Matthew 12:33 (HCSB) “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.
Here are some tests to determine whether the teaching is true or false.
1) What does this teacher say about Jesus?
Any person who challenges Jesus Christ's work of redemption is suspect. If they deny that Jesus is equal with God, or downplay His sacrificial death, or reject His humanity, refusing to teach that He is at once fully God and fully man, then they are false teachers.
Matthew 16:15-16 (HCSB)15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
2 John 1:9 (HCSB) Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.
1 John 2:22 (HCSB) Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son.
2) Does this teacher preach the gospel?
The gospel is the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (HCSB)1 Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it.2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose.3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Things like “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” sound wonderful, and are wonderful, but they are not the complete message of the gospel. Current events and the injustices of this fallen world are of great importance to the Church and to Christians, but they are not the gospel. No matter how great the orator or preacher if their primary message is not the gospel of Christ...... beware.
3) Does this teacher exhibit character that glorifies the Lord?
Jude11 (HCSB) Woe to them! For they have traveled in the way of Cain, have abandoned themselves to the error of Balaam for profit, and have perished in Korah’s rebellion.
Cain was unrighteous;
Genesis 4:4-8 (HCSB)4 And Abel also presented ⌊an offering⌋—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,5 but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he looked despondent.6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent?7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Balaam was greedy and prophesied for money;
Numbers 22:7-8 (HCSB)7 The elders of Moab and Midian departed with fees for divination in hand. They came to Balaam and reported Balak’s words to him.8 He said to them, “Spend the night here, and I will give you the answer the LORD tells me.” So the officials of Moab stayed with Balaam.
Korah was rebellious and defied authority;
Numbers 16:1-3 (HCSB)1 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took2 250 prominent Israelite men who were leaders of the community and representatives in the assembly, and they rebelled against Moses.3 They came together against Moses and Aaron and told them, “You have gone too far! Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?”
Jesus said we would know these false teachers by their fruits;
Matthew 7:15-20 (HCSB)15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves.16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.
A prophet speaks divinely inspired messages to others. God tells the prophet what to say and the prophet tells others what God said. I want to emphasize that prophecy is forth telling not fortune telling. Prophecy is speaking the word of God that He gives to individuals for edification, not fortune telling.
How to Identify a False Prophet
What about somebody who prophesies something and it comes true?
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (HCSB)1 “If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you,2 and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let us follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us worship them,’3 do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. For the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul.
What do you do after you Identify false teaching, teachers, or prophets
The sad and most dangerous thing is that these are people who are professing Christians and who want to be considered holy.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (HCSB)1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days.2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good,4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!
They have, however, only a form of godliness, only the external appearance of following Gospel doctrine and practice; the power is lacking. Only the Holy Spirit makes profession a reality; the faith without the works and fruit of the Spirit is dead. Denying, a strong word, implies knowing and yet decisively rejecting the truth. From such turn away. The expression may mean "repel them from you" as a good soldier repels a foe. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Expose and Avoid Them
Ephesians 5:11 (HCSB) Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Do not have fellowship. Again, literally, stop having fellowship. But rather rebuke. If a Christian is in fellowship with his Lord, his very life will be a reproof to the world. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary -
2 John 1:7-11 (HCSB)7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.8 Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward.9 Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t say, “Welcome,” to him;11 for the one who says, “Welcome,” to him shares in his evil works.
The if assumes the case, not merely expresses the possibility. In other words, such people were coming into Christians' homes under a friendly guise (cf. Didache 11).. The injunction is to refuse such ones Christian hospitality. This is a severe measure, particularly when one remembers that hospitality is generally enjoined in the NT. Do not say a greeting of sympathy. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Titus 3:10 (NLT) If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them.
In other words identify, expose, and then avoid all false teaching, teachers, and prophets. Do what Paul advises the Corinthians...follow those that follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (HCSB) Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.
But even more than that study the Word of God for yourself. As I said before if you know the real article you can easily identify the counterfeit.
Psalm 119:11 (HCSB) I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.
Psalm 119:105 (HCSB) Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Joshua 1:8 (HCSB) This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.
Matthew 4:4 (HCSB) But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Romans 15:4 (HCSB) For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.
Let's work together to rid the Body of Christ of the false teaching that casts a shadow over the love of God for mankind, the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin, and the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us.
Have you ever asked any of these questions?
I've asked all of them. That's why I decided to write this post. I know that we all go through trials and tribulations. In fact Jesus, before His arrest, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension said to His disciples;
John 16:33 (HCSB) I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the
The Difference Between Trials, Tests, and Temptation
There is a difference between a trial and a temptation, although both come from the same Greek word—peirasmos. They are often used interchangeably, though. After all, temptation is a trial (of faith), and every trial is a temptation (to grumble). When the word appears in the New Testament the context helps us to see which interpretation is meant. There are therefore differences and similarities between trials and temptations. Although we must not push the distinctions too far, here are examples of the differences:
1. In their ultimate origin. Temptations come from the flesh; trials are sent from God. He allowed Satan to test Job (Job 1:6-12). Therefore when we speak of "trial" we see God's fingerprints; when we see temptation, we see our own—or the devil's.
2. In their immediate origin. Temptation comes from within; trials usually come from outside us. Job suffered physically, but inwardly—at least at first—there was no apparent struggle.
3. In their moral relevance. Temptation, when it is sexual in nature, has considerable moral relevance, but a trial may be what I would want to call morally neutral, such as illness or losing one's keys.
4. With reference to what is tested. Temptation will usually attack a weak spot; trials test our strength as well as exposing a weakness we may have been unaware of—as with Job, who turned out to be so self-righteous. - EXEGESIS ON JAMES 1 - TRIALS, TESTS & TEMPTATION Written by Christlikeminds Publications
The Greek word for testing used in James 1:3 is dokimos and it means to pass scrutiny, validated, verified, confirmed as being genuine
James 1:3 (HCSB) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
Does God Really Test, Tempt or Try Us?
This Bible says that God doesn’t tempt or test us. He doesn’t tempt us to sin, He doesn’t test us to try our faith, or to become discouraged, depressed, or angry. According to James those temptations come from us.
James 1:13 (HCSB) No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.
James 1:14-15 (HCSB)14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
The Bible does say this about things that come from God.
James 1:17 (HCSB) Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.
There are however, instances in scripture where God allows Satan to test or try us. The one we think of most Satan's attack of Job. The test is administered by Satan not God and nowhere is it said that God allowed it in order for Him to test Job. In fact God limited what He allowed Satan to do to Job.
Job 1:9-12 (HCSB)9 Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?10 Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.11 But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”12 “Very well,” the LORD told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job ⌊himself⌋.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence.
Job 2:4-7 (HCSB)4 “Skin for skin!” Satan answered the LORD. “A man will give up everything he owns in exchange for his life.5 But stretch out Your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”6 “Very well,” the LORD told Satan, “he is in your power; only spare his life.”7 So Satan left the LORD’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head.
God doesn't test us He enables us to deal with the tests, trials, and tribulations that we cause ourselves or that come by way of Satan.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB)13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (HCSB)9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
The Results of Tests, Trials, and Temptations
Although God doesn't test us through trials and tribulations He does use them for our benefit.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Perseverance in testing results in spiritual maturity and completeness
James 1:2-4 (HCSB)2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
1 Peter 1:3-7 (HCSB)3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (HCSB)6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.
Trials develop character
Romans 5:3-5 (HCSB)3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance,4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.5 This hope will not disappoint ⌊us⌋, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Philippians 4:13 (HCSB) I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
James 1:12 (HCSB) A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
No Excuses Everything is Not a Test
We sometimes make excuses for living unwisely by calling them tests, trials, and tribulations. Our foolishness and sins have consequences but those consequences are on us.
Romans 6:23 (HCSB) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Galatians 6:7-10 (HCSB)7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap,8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.
This is a modification to the original blog post
ENDURANCE I AM FAITHFUL: I WILL NOT LET YOU BE TEMPTED BEYOND WHAT YOU CAN BEAR.
Find comfort and hope in this powerful promise. I know you sometimes feel as if you’re at the outer limits of your endurance. Nonetheless, I am present in the midst of your struggles—available to help you. Every trial that comes into your life can either strengthen you (if you keep on trusting in My care) or become a temptation to sin (if you choose instead to doubt Me and go your own way). Thus, any difficulty you face becomes a test of your faith. This faith of yours is much more precious than gold, and it grows deeper through the testing process. So your trials contain meaning and purpose. When you feel as if your faith is being stretched to the breaking point, it’s helpful to remember that what you’re experiencing is common to man. You have not been uniquely singled out to endure adversity; suffering is inevitable in a fallen world. The most important thing to remember is that I am faithful —totally worthy of your trust in all situations. I know exactly how much you can bear, and I set limits to your suffering. Do not multiply your trouble by projecting it into the future as if it were endless, for I can relieve or remove it at any moment. Your job is to continue trusting Me in the present, waiting for Me to provide a way out—in My way and timing! As you wait in My Presence, be of good courage. I will strengthen your heart.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 . . . that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 PETER 1:7 NKJV Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord! PSALM 27:14 NKJV
You Can Pass Any Test, Persevere During Any Trial and Overcome Any Tribulation
No matter the test, trial, or tribulation you can win, but only if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you haven’t you are guaranteed to lose. Here’s how you change the loss into victory.
Romans 10:9 (NLT) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Pray this prayer in all sincerity. It doesn’t matter where you are. You may be at your desk on your computer, or somewhere on your laptop, you may be reading this on your smartphone, or your tablet. It doesn’t matter just pray in all sincerity. Don’t just say it if you don’t really mean it, because if you do you will just be speaking words. But if you are tired of trying to change things in your own power, and are ready to turn your life over to the One who can make you a new creature with a renewed heart and mind pray;
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”
If you truly understand and believe what you just prayed then these promises of eternal life apply to you. So do all the other promises that God has made to believers. To find out what they are and how they apply to you find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God my brother or sister.
John 14:12 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father".
What did Jesus mean when He told his apostles, and by extension us, because we believe in Him, that they would not only do the works that He did but would do greater works? Many in the Body of Christ take this statement and apply it to believers doing greater miracles than Jesus did. Think about it...that would mean. We could at a minimum calm the winds and the sea, raise the dead, restore limbs, give sight to the blind, or feed more than 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. And that’s at a minimum. Let me be perfectly clear that I believe that God can do these things through believers, but it is God doing the miracle using the believer as a vessel.
The book of Acts includes many miracles being performed by the apostles but none of them were superior to those performed by Jesus. The people to whom Jesus was speaking directly to, in John 14, never duplicated walking on water or had another group of people walk on water. No apostle ever relocated themselves from one place to another. No apostle resurrected himself. No apostle healed a person from a far away distance, they had to be there. Not even the apostles who were personally trained by Jesus were able to exhibit power over nature as Jesus did. Like Jesus, the apostles healed those brought to them. However, the Apostles’ miracles were limited in variety, mostly to casting out demons and healing diseases and raising the dead. No prophet or apostle was ever able to duplicate or exceed all the miracles that Jesus did in quality or quantity. Jesus says His works were unique and He did works nobody else did.
John 15:24 (NLT) If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father.
They did not duplicate everything Jesus did. I would think that if they performed miracles superior to Jesus that it would be recorded somewhere in the Bible and I have not found any.
Here’s what Paul said;
1 Corinthians 12:29-30 (NLT)29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles?30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!
Jesus is not saying that our works will be greater than His in terms of power or majesty. After all we know that Jesus is a member of the Trinity so He’s God and, by definition, humans cannot surpass God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.
So What Did Jesus Mean?
First Jesus said greater works not greater miracles;
John 14:12 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.
The Greek word translated greater is meizōn which in short means greater degree: more (irregular comparative of megas; larger literal or figurative, specially in age:- elder, greater-est, more.)
The Greek word translated works is ergon, which means to work; toil as an effort or occupation; an act of labor. Jesus did not say meizōn dunamis (greater miracles). So the statement means that they will labor greater in degree. Jesus saying “greater works than these” meant a more extensive ministry.
The following is from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
Greater works. Not to be restricted to the signs such as Jesus wrought in the days of his flesh. The works could not be greater in quality than his, but greater in extent. Because I go unto my Father. This is the reason for the greater works. The restrictions imposed on Jesus by incarnation would be removed. His position with the Father would be related to the greater works in two ways: answering the prayers of his own, and sending the Paraclete as the unfailing source of wisdom and strength. The works, then, would not be done in independence of Christ. He would answer prayer; he would send the Spirit.13, 14. Whatsoever. The scope of prayer. Ask. The condition of prayer. In my name. The ground of prayer. This involves at least two things: praying in the authority Christ gives (cf. Mt 28:19; Acts 3:6) and praying in union with him, so that one does not pray outside His will. That will I do. The certainty of prayer. That the Father may be glorified in the Son. The purpose of prayer. If ye shall ask. The if is on the side of the one who prays, not on the side of Christ.
What Are These Works?
Works that point to Jesus which help people believe in him, works that lead people to faith. That’s what his works do, and what our works as believers, do, bear witness of Jesus.
John 10:25 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.
Jesus means that all believers are so united, as the Church, to Him by belief that we will carry on his work by his power and do the kinds of things that will “bear witness” to Him. Works that will point people to Jesus, and through Jesus to the Father.
John 17:1-4 (NLT) 1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Every believer is to do these works.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
How is it Possible for Us to Do Greater Works?
The answer is the last part of John 14:12
John 14:12 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. (emphasis mine).
When Jesus went to be with the Father He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all believers . The greater works are the direct result of the Spirit's working in and through the believer.
John 14:16-17, 26 (NLT)16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
John 15:26 (NLT) “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.
Romans 8:9-11 (NLT)9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Acts 1:8 (NLT) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
D. A. Carson (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 496) argues that the greater works are those done on the basis of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and exaltation. The greater works point to the power of the gospel to transform lives as it spread through the apostolic witness. Through Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 were born again, probably more than Jesus saw converted during His entire ministry! The Book of Acts tells how the message kept spreading, first around Jerusalem, and eventually to the Gentiles around the Roman Empire. J. C. Ryle succinctly observes (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], on John 14:12, p. 67), “There is no greater work possible than the conversion of a soul.”
When Jesus said that we would do greater works He was referring to the extent of the spiritual miracle of salvation. Jesus never preached outside of Palestine, yet His followers would spread the gospel throughout the world. Jesus had only a limited outreach to Gentiles, but the disciples (particularly Peter and later Paul) would reach the Gentile world with the gospel. The number of believers in Christ would also grow far beyond the hundreds of followers during His lifetime, becoming the Church.
Acts 1:15 (NLT) During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them.
1 Corinthians 15:6 (NLT) After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
Acts 2:41 (NLT) Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
When Jesus said we would do greater works He was referring to us, the believers, spreading the good news of His death and resurrection which brought ushered in the new covenant that was better;
Hebrews 8:6 (NLT) But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 (NLT)31 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD.33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Romans 7:6 (NLT) But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.
Fulfilling the Great Commission is the responsibility of the Church and is greater work Jesus spoke of.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Is Christian faith blind faith? I say no. I say that Christian faith is based on evidence.
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines evidence as;
something which shows that something else exists or is true: a visible sign of something: material that is presented to a court of law to help find the truth about something
The Christian’s faith is not a blind acceptance of opinions that can’t be proven; it’s not based on feeling, emotion, or a “blind leap.” Christian faith is conviction supported by evidence. That my friend is not blind faith. By faith we accept that the invisible things of God are behind the visible universe.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (NLT) 1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
So What Is the Evidence?
The evidence that supports the Christian’s faith is divine in origin. Because God is so much more trustworthy than man, we should expect this evidence to be far superior to human testimony.
Romans 3:3-4 (NLT) 3 True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? 4 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.”
An honest study of the evidence for God, His Son, and His Word will confirm that Christian faint is not blind faith.
The Universe (Nature) is Evidence
The very existence of the universe, its power, its order, and its complexity demand that an Intelligent Designer did it and that Intelligent Designer is God.
Romans 1:20 (NLT) For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
From nature we can only that there is a God, that He has unlimited power and intelligence, and that He possesses will. What nature doesn’t tell us however is, what He’s like? Is He good or bad, loving or hating, kind or cruel. What does He want from me? How can I enjoy His fellowship?
The Word Is Evidence
To know these things, I must turn to the second piece of evidence, the Word (Bible).
Romans 10:17 (NLT) So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.
The word not only tells me about God, it gives evidence to demonstrate that there is a God, that the Bible is the Word of God, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Some of these powerful proofs are the harmony of the Scriptures, fulfilled prophecies both about ancient nations and about Christ, and the evidence that Christ was raised from the dead.
These two pieces of evidence, the universe and the word, give ample reason for a firm, reasonable conviction that there is a God in heaven, that the Bible is His word, and that Jesus Christ is His Son.
Want More Evidence
For more evidence read these book by Josh McDowell, a Christian apologist, evangelist, and writer. He the author or co-author of some 115 books. You can find most of his books on Amazon but here are a few that you might want to check out.
We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. Psalms 39:6 NLT
I just completed a series, “Simplify Your Life”, on how to simplify your life by seeking first the kingdom of God. I felt led by the Holy Spirit to do this follow up because too many of us are overwhelmed with the busyness of our lives. That includes doing “kingdom work”. Here’s a quote I’ve used in a number of my posts from the book “Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry” by Pastor Perry Nobel; “We are always in a hurry working for God. When somebody criticizes us or pulls our coat tail about our pace we get angry and say, “The devil never takes a day off”. I’m not sure the devil is supposed to be your example.”
Sometimes We Think That Our Being Busy Somehow Pleases God
We think that when our calendars are full with lots of stuff--deadlines to meet, commitments to keep, and responsibilities-- we are indispensable and others should be impressed. We are proud to say, “I’m super busy”, when our friends ask “How are you doing?" On the other hand we may be looking for the sympathy we think we deserve because of all the chaos we’ve created.
But what’s the point of it all?
Read my opening scripture again.
Psalm 39:6 (NLT) We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.
All of this busyness is just moving shadows and ends in nothing. Look what Solomon, the world’s wisest man said;
Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 (NLT)18 I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned.19 And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless!20 So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world.21 Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.22 So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety?23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.
We are always rushing from one thing to another, deadline after another, with a big to-do list, and everything has to get done today. When we are operating at an unrealistic pace we have no intimacy in our relationship with God, because we are not spending time alone with Him.
If we really desire to know what God has done for us, what He wants for us and from us, we must slow down. The more things on our schedule, the more time we need to be in His Presence, spending time conversing with Him through prayer and His Word.
Being busy by itself isn't wrong, however we need to pray that God will guard you from pointless busyness and that if you are busy, you’ll be busy with a purpose.
There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day.....
I’ve said that a lot and I bet you have too. Sometimes life feels like you’re running on a treadmill and somebody keeps increasing the speed. We keep saying, "I just need a little more time". If it’s left up to us we will never have enough time. We can wish for more time but we’re not going to get it.
It was God who came up with the 24 hour day, the 28, 29, 30, or 31 day month, and the 365 and 356 day year. That’s all the time there is, and if God thinks it’s enough, then it is enough. God knows what He’s doing. All we can do is all we can do. Then we need to put it in God’s hands. His hands are much bigger than ours. The truth is that God will accomplish through you what he needs to accomplish in the time available.
I Don’t Have Time to Rest
The Bible calls those who will not work lazy;
Proverbs 6:6-11 (NLT)6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work,8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up?10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
Proverbs 13:4 (NLT) Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.
But it calls those who will not rest disobedient;
Leviticus 23:1-8 (NLT)1 The LORD said to Moses,2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly.3 “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the LORD’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.4 “In addition to the Sabbath, these are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year.5 “The LORD’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month.6 On the next day, the fifteenth day of the month, you must begin celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This festival to the LORD continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast.7 On the first day of the festival, all the people must stop their ordinary work and observe an official day for holy assembly.8 For seven days you must present special gifts to the LORD. On the seventh day the people must again stop all their ordinary work to observe an official day for holy assembly.”
Rest was important enough to God that He commanded us to do it. In fact in the Ten Commandments the one that God spent the most time addressing was the one on rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 (HCSB)8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
The Hebrew root word for Sabbath is shābat. It’s definition from the Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary is “ a primitive root; to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; used in many implication relations (causative, figurative or specific) :- (cause to, let, make to) cease, celebrate, cause (make) to fail, keep (sabbath), suffer to be lacking, leave, put away (down), (make to) rest, rid, still, take away.”
Jesus said that God created the Sabbath for our good.
Mark 2:27 (NLT) Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.
Many books and articles point out the need for consistent, weekly rest. It seems to me that maybe God actually designed our bodies to need a day off each week. The scientific evidence seems to indicate that mental and physical rest for one day a week actually causes people to get more done in six days than in seven days without rest.
We need to be refreshed.
We need to stop and pause and spend time with God. It doesn’t have to be on Sunday, and although a full day is best it doesn’t even need to be a full day. In order to be used by God to the fullest we can’t be too busy for Him. Making time to rest in the Lord can be really challenging, but the benefits of that rest are worth the effort.
Work and Ambition Aren’t Wrong
You may be getting the idea that I think that work and ambition are wrong. I don’t. My goal isn’t to make you feel guilty because you're busy. My goal is to make you aware that with all your busyness you may be too busy for God...too busy to spend intimate time with Him.
Work is a God-given function.
Genesis 1:26 (NKJV) Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Genesis 2:15 (NLT) The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.
We praise God through hard work. God has given man the the intellect and energy to preach, teach, build companies, raise families, etc.
The Bible urges a strong work ethic.
Proverbs 14:23 (NLT) Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!
Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NLT) Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.
Colossians 3:23 (NLT) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Work or ambition isn’t the problem. The problem is priority, motivation, and what’s in the heart. If our motivation is to serve God with our work but also make time with him our #1 priority, we’re on the right track. There’s a time to be still and to be in God's presence, and there’s also a time to work and get stuff done.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT) 1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
Listen to what Jesus told Martha when she complained that Mary wasn’t helping her when she was working preparing a meal for Jesus and His disciples.
Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
You Can’t Fix It On Your Own
If after reading this post and my “Simplify Your Life” series you feel that there are some areas in your life that need changing, I’ve done my job. You may think that the solution is to find better ways of doing what you’re doing now--to set goals to spend your time more wisely, changes in the way you think, a change in your priorities, or your motivation. Trying to figure out how to do all this may seem like a daunting task and may feel overwhelming to the point of stressing you, but believe me, I know how you feel. I’ve been there many times.
Don’t underestimate God’s role in changes you want to make. You can do a lot of reading on strategic prioritization and time-management but you are still going to need God’s help. God tells us over and over, in His Word, to come to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
Philippians 4:6 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Ask Him for His guidance as to how to make the changes that will allow you to be able to spend more time in His presence. You don’t have to be perfect.
Listen To God
You may think that you are too busy to wait and listen for God’s guidance, but no amount of busyness will satisfy you if you don’t take the time to listen to God. Here's something that I read in "Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry", “If I were the devil, I would invent a device you could hold in your hands that would ensure you’d always have your schedule in front of you and give people access to you anytime they wanted”.
To think that you're too busy to spend time with God is an absolute lie and trick of the enemy of your soul. He knows you are powerless alone...and he knows you are a force to be reckoned with when you are totally dependent on God! Stop, slow down and listen to God. He's always speaking to you.
Let me close with this devotion written by Pastor Rick Warren.
A lot of us think we’re too busy to listen for God’s response. But we have to take the time to tune in and listen, because God is speaking. Job 33:14 says, “God does speak — sometimes one way and sometimes another — even though people may not understand it” (NCV).
The question is, “How do I understand it? How do I tune in so that I can hear God’s voice?”
Here are four of the channels that God uses:
1. God speaks to us through the Bible. It’s your guidebook for life. It shows you the right step to take. That is why you need to read God’s Word every day. If you’re not having a daily quiet time and reading the Bible, God is getting a busy signal when he wants to speak to you. You have to keep a constant connection, because God’s will is found in God’s Word.
2. God speaks to us through teachers. Have you ever been in a church service and felt like what the teacher was saying was a direct message from God to you? There’s no way I or any other teacher could figure out exactly what to say to meet every need. But God knows. So before every service I pray, “God, you know the people and the needs out there. Give me the right things to say.” Somehow, in the way only he can, God uses my teaching and the teaching of other pastors to meet the needs of people who are listening.
3. God speaks to us through impressions. There are two extremes to this. One extreme is the rationalist who believes no impression can be from God; it all has to be logical. At the other extreme is the mystical belief that every impression is from God. You need to get in the middle and realize that every impression has to match God’s Word.
4. God speaks to us through our circumstances. If we’re going to live a life of significance, God’s got to make constant course corrections, and one of the things he uses to do that is the circumstances that come into our lives. When you start to listen to God through circumstances, impressions, teachers, or the Bible, sometimes he’s going to lead you in ways that you don’t understand. Hang in there! Following God is not always easy, but it will reap more blessing in your life than you can imagine.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.