Why Can't More Christians Perform Miracles?

Tim explains what Jesus means by believers doing "greater things" in John 14:12.


00:01 Jesus said that believers would do greater works than the works of Jesus.

00:05 Does that mean that every believer will do signs and wonders? Let's talk.

00:14 In John 14:12,

00:15 Jesus is in the upper room giving His final instructions to His disciples, and

00:20 He tells them, "Truly truly I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the

00:25 works I do, and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the

00:30 Father." Some take this passage to mean that all believers will do greater

00:35 miracles – signs and wonders – than Jesus. I see a number of problems with this

00:40 interpretation. First, this interpretation goes against our experience. If Jesus

00:45 meant that all believers would do greater miracles than Him, why don't we

00:50 see that happening today? In fact, our experience is that most people cannot work

00:55 miracles. Second, this interpretation goes against what was happening in the early

01:01 church. The book of Acts records some miracles performed by some individuals,

01:06 but it was not the case that everyone who believed did miracles. Third, Paul

01:14 tells us that not all will do miracles. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul

01:19 says, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Do all work miracles? Do all possess

01:26 gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?" The clear answer to all

01:31 these rhetorical questions is "no." Do all do miracles? No. Do all possess gifts of

01:37 healing? No. Therefore, if we want to be consistent in our interpretation of

01:42 Scripture, then Jesus cannot be saying that whoever believes will do miracles

01:47 like Him. That would be to put Jesus' words in opposition to Paul's words.

01:53 Fourth, if Jesus is talking about believers doing greater miracles, then

01:58 what do these greater miracles look like? Think about the kinds of miracles that

02:03 Jesus did. John tells us that He turned water into

02:06 wine. He read someone's mind. He heals an official's son. He healed the lame man, fed

02:12 5,000, He walked on water, healed the blind, and even raised people from the dead.

02:18 That's a pretty impressive list. In fact, I don't think there's an individual who

02:24 has a miracle list as impressive as that, let alone more miraculous. This seems to

02:31 be another strike against this interpretation. So if Jesus isn't talking

02:36 about greater miracles, then what's He talking about?

02:39 Well, here's a thought. Jesus says, "and greater miracles than these will he do

02:45 because I go to the Father." I think that last phrase is significant.

02:49 Jesus goes to the Father after He finished His work on the cross. When He

02:55 goes to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come and empower believers for life and

03:00 evangelism. After His resurrection, Jesus tells His disciples, "but you will receive

03:06 power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in

03:10 Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The works

03:16 of believers aren't greater in miraculous quality, they're greater in

03:21 worldwide scope. After three years of ministry, Jesus had a small group of

03:26 disciples contained in a tiny geographic location. However, once the Holy Spirit

03:31 comes at Pentecost, More believers are added in one day then during Jesus' entire earthly

03:36 ministry. And the Gospel continues to spread around the world to hundreds of

03:41 millions of people coming to believe. Jesus' works were always a witness

03:46 intended to lead people to faith in Christ. Because of the Holy Spirit,

03:51 believers are able to do even greater works in leading people to the faith in Christ.

video |
Tim Barnett