“Prove there is a god, that’s all we ask!” Now, this may seem like a common question we hear today from non-Christians everywhere. But this question is nothing new. In fact, we find this same statement in the Bible. In John 14:8, Philip asks Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Philip was looking for what many people today seek; a vision of God, a spiritual experience, a display of glory, a sign of power. What he got was a man (Jesus) talking to him saying, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” God is revealed in the Person of Jesus. He goes on to say, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” God works through the words Jesus speaks…
People today want a vision of the divine or some tangible proof that God exists or to know the meaning of life or to have a purpose. Some want spiritual experiences or acts of power. Many Christians think using apologetics, rational arguments, are the way to persuade people. Others think signs and wonders need to happen. But the best way people will know God is through “the words I say to you.”
Jesus said in John 14:10, “The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” Know Jesus could have said, “God is speaking through what I am saying,” but He goes further by saying God is working through His words.
And we see this today through the missionaries, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and everyday Christians. God is at work through all those who proclaim His gospel message. The works of Jesus can be done by every Christian, not just the “special” or “chosen” few. In verse 12, Jesus says, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” As we are obedient proclaiming the gospel, sharing the words of Jesus, God will do His work.
Now one of the great “controversies” or misunderstandings of this passage is when Jesus says we will do “greater things (works)”. Now some have interpreted this to mean greater or more miracles. Well, Jesus raised the dead so I’m not sure that can be beaten? What is Jesus meaning here?
The greater things Jesus speaks about here can be found in John 5 where after speaking about the authority of the Son, Jesus says, “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” The greatest work is to bring people to eternal life through our proclamation of the gospel.
I have worked with youth for the better part of three decades. Teaching them from the Bible can be challenging at best. You work hard organizing events to draw kids in; playing fun games, offering great snacks and creating a safe place for them to be, but when it comes to sharing the faith, most seem to be off in a different world when you begin teaching. The temptation (which all youth workers have succumbed to at one point or another) is to make things more entertaining, more exciting or more relevant. But it is in moments like these where we need to stop and go back to what really matters, that our purpose is to make God known and to allow Him to work through the words of Jesus. Christian ministry must be gospel-centred.
One of the “excuses” we use in not sharing the words of Jesus is, we think saving people is solely on us. But as we go about fulfilling the task of proclaiming the gospel, we remember the promise Jesus gives to us. In John 14:13, He says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The basic formula is God is glorified as the Son gives eternal life and the greater work Jesus promises comes to fruition as we share His words. When we pray, Jesus promises to do the greater work of giving life in His name – the name we proclaim in the gospel.
I think most of us know the words of Isaiah 40:8 where the prophet says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Christianity is word-centred because God speaks through and works through His word.
Think back to Creation when God called out, “Let there be light…” The result of those words? Light! In Jeremiah 4:23, we read, “I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty”. In Hebrew, this is exactly the same as the Creation narrative when there was chaos and darkness before God spoke. God spoke and chaos and darkness were dispelled.
We also see in the Scriptures the consequence of not adhering to the words of God. Adam and Eve were to express their commitment to God’s reign by submitting to His word of command not to eat of the fruit. That rejection of God’s rule began by a rejection of God’s word.
On a more positive note, we go on to the call of Abram when God plans to restore to Himself a people, a “new” humanity. He speaks to Abram and promises things that are beyond his sight and imagination, but in obedience to God’s words, He obeys and the world is blessed through God’s chosen people.
But what about today? The church today seems to think the “institution” is only fit for those who are planted in its pews. In essence, we have developed a ghetto mentality, an “us” and “them” view. This may be “true” on Sundays, but during the week, God has placed each of us “in the world,” dispersed in key places to make an impact for the kingdom of God.
We are already infiltrating the kingdom of Satan. Day by day, Christians are working with, studying with, having coffee with unbelievers in their workplaces, schools and in coffee shops. We are the yeast in the dough. One study concluded that for one particular nation that they would “never be reached until we create open, authentic, learning and praying communities that are focused on making whole-life disciples who live and share the Gospel wherever they relate to people in their daily lives.” I believe this to be true for all nations.
So how do we do this? The challenge begins in our own hearts. We need to make the gospel the center of our lives. The gospel isn’t just a Sunday morning thing, a Tuesday small group thing or a Wednesday prayer meeting thing, it has no start nor end, rather it is who we are. You see, we need to end compartmentalizing our lives or living “part-time” Christian lives and leaving the “full-time” Christian lives to the “professionals.
The kingdom of God needs people who can model whole-life, gospel-centred, missional living. It means thinking of our workplaces, homes, schools, neighborhoods as the location of mission. We need to plan and pray for gospel relationships. It may mean demolishing sacred programs or structures, but if this means creating church cultures in which we see normal, celebrating day-to-day gospel living in the world and discussions on how we can use our daily routines for the gospel, it is worth it.
God through His word brought the universe into being and as we are faithful in sharing His words with others, He is faithful to show His power through them, turning those we share with to Himself. May we be a people who share His words to a world in chaos and darkness and in need of salvation.