“I could never do the things Jesus did. I’m just not good enough.” I’ve heard it a lot. Some people say it outright. Others imply it by their actions or inactions. It seems a little too common among Western Christians to believe that they are just horrible sinners incapable of doing anything good in this life. For many, it’s a debilitating belief, rendering all attempts at doing anything productive in this life null.
I just have one thing to say about this: STOP IT! It’s not biblical. It’s not true. It seems that people tend to use this notion of not being good enough as a cop-out, as a way of justifying not doing the good things we are called to do, or at the very least as a way of justifying the not-so-good things they do. But Jesus didn’t come to affirm that we were horrible sinner and leave it at that. Jesus came to make things right between us and God, and to give us a better way of living.
Do a Google search, or open your Bible up to John14:12. Read it. Reread it. Then read it again. Do you see what it says there? “Anyone who believes in me will do the same things I have done, and even greater things.” ANYONE! Not just the special people. Not just those who have their life together and are good enough to do Jesus-things. Jesus tells us that ANYONE who believes will do those same things He did.
So what did He do? Even a cursory reading of the Gospels will show you a pretty amazing man who did some pretty amazing things in His life. He lived, taught, healed, fed, restored, served, encouraged, counseled, corrected, loved, challenged… He incited the anger of religious leaders and governmental authorities. He had the lowest of the low as His dinner guest and close friends. Scripture tells us that He did things in such a way that crowds of people flocked to Him to listen to Him teach, to be healed by Him, even just to touch the hem of His robe. Jesus lived such an amazing life that other world religions acknowledge Him in their teachings and texts.
Read through the Gospels sometime. You’ll be amazed at the things that went on in Jesus’ life in three short years of ministry. And then when you get to John 14:12, reread it like twenty times. See, we need to get our minds wrapped around the notion that, all that stuff Jesus did, He promised we would do the same. He told us that, if we believe in Him, He would give us the power to do the same and even greater things. That power is the Holy Spirit. When we allow God to work through us, when we discover our gifts, and work to strengthen our gifts, we will begin to do the same things, and even greater than Christ did.
At Pentecost, the Spirit filled the disciples and empowered them to speak in languages they didn’t know. Then Peter, arguably one of the disciples that messed up the worst, got up in from of all the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for the festival and preached to them about Jesus Christ. Read that sermon he gave to them in Acts 2. It’s pretty amazing, especially for a fisherman from Galilee. Then look at verse 41. The results of that one sermon Peter preached were that 3000 people believed and were baptized…in one day! Jesus never did anything that had such a result. When you look at the things that Christians have done since then, there are some pretty amazing things, great things, greater things than you’ll read about in the Gospels.
And Jesus said you would do the same! You. Yes, you right there, reading this sentence right here. When you believe in Jesus, you are empowered by the Spirit and WILL do greater things. Take the spiritual gifts test (links are below in the sermon notes) and begin digging into the ways the Spirit has gifted you to serve and do greater things too!
Sermon Notes for “Spiritual Gifts: Doing Greater Things Than Christ” from Mar 16, 2014
We are beginning a five week series studying Spiritual Gifts.
Before we get into gifts, we need to talk about Jesus because any talk without Jesus is pointless
Who is Jesus:
Jesus existed before the beginning of time. Read the story of the Creation and Fall in Genesis 1-3
Because of sin, humanity was separated from God. God wanted to do something about it.
Redemption came by way of the Incarnation:
God came down to earth in human form: Isaiah 7:14- Immanuel, God with us
Mary was filled with the Spirit: Luke 1:35
Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit: Luke 3:21-22
Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit and tempted by the devil: Luke 4:1-2
Jesus was filled with the power of the Spirit to begin His ministry in Judea: Luke 4:14
What He did during His three years of formal ministry
Lived a real life with all the real stuff every other person deals with
Taught amazing truths about God’s kingdom, Interpreted God’s Word, gave hope, challenged people
Healed physical, emotional, spiritual ills; Fed people, cared for their physical needs
Served people as a lowly servant would
Did amazing, miraculous things, encouraged, counseled, corrected, loved
Suffered and died on the cross, was raised to new life
All in the power of the Holy Spirit
Before He ascended, He gave a promise in John 14:12
All who believe in Him would do the same works, and even greater works than He did
He told us in John 14:16-17a that it is the same Holy Spirit that empowered Him that will empower us
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us to continue to be God with us
This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Spirit and began preaching
The Spirit comes to give us peace and assurance, and empower and enable us to serve God and His people
This is where spiritual gifts come in: 1 Corinthians 12:1-7
Spiritual Gifts are abilities and capacities the Spirit freely gives to people to serve God and the Church
There are several lists throughout the New Testament
Prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, distinguishing spirits, speaking in and interpreting tongues (other languages), administration, evangelism
Generally accepted gifts, but not the totality of the gifts the Spirit gives to people; it’s likely that there are as many gifts as there are needs in the body of Christ
All of us have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit to do greater and greater things
And it’s important to know what those gifts are so we can cultivate them and use them to serve God
To this end, we will be taking a spiritual gifts survey to help figure out what our gifts may be
There are two online versions that are available to be taken (print copies are available in the office)
1) www.spiritualgiftstest.com/tests (Adult or Youth Assessment test)
I encourage everyone to prayerfully take one of these over the next two weeks and bring the results to worship on March 30 as we begin digging into the gifts of the Spirit and how we are called to use them to serve God and His Church
It’s our job to figure out what those gifts may be and do all we can to use them as God desires
And when we do, we will live out the promise Jesus made to us, that we will do the same work, and even greater works then He did, through the power of the Holy Spirit!
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.