Tag Archives: Jesus

Video Teaching – Jesus, the Apostle

by Scott

One thing this blog is definitely devoted to is presenting a positive case for the continuation of all gifts of the Spirit from Pentecost to the present (and beyond). While that might usually seem wrapped up in a defense of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, for me personally, I also believe in the continuation of all 5 ministry gifts in Ephesians 4:11-13 (or 4 giftings if one would like to argue such).

So, yes, though Marv (my partner in crime) and I would probably disagree on this subject, I do believe the ministry gift of apostle is still active and needed even today. I’ll post a rather detailed series in the near future on why I hold to such. But I at least wanted to share 2 teaching videos as a kind of taster.

The first video below is entitled Jesus, the Apostle and the teaching comes from a close friend and ministry partner of mine, Alan Scotland. He specifically looks at what it means to be an apostle and does this by considering specific aspects in the life of Jesus. Christ is the great apostle, so it’s best to look at His life and apostolic ministry.

Though the video is about 10 years old, the teaching remains extremely relevant to the topic at hand. I hope the video stirs you.

Healing and the Atonement

by Scott

One of the big questions centred around the discussion on healing is whether or not healing is based in the atonement. Those who affirm that the atonement provides for our healing will usually refer to three passages of Scripture:

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed. (Isa 53:4-5)

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matt 8:14-17)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Pet 2:24)

There are really two questions to answer here:

  1. Is Christ’s suffering on the cross the provision for physical healing, spiritual healing, or both?
  2. Is it the cross, and the cross alone, that provides this healing?

In regards to the first question, the Isaiah context looks as if it speaks of ‘spiritual’ healing, i.e., we read about transgressions and iniquities (vs5). It might also be argued that the passage in 1 Peter is probably more in reference to ‘spiritual’ healing, since it speaks of Christ bearing our sins in his body on the tree (cross).

Yet, when we turn to Matthew’s passage, which actually quotes Isaiah 53:4, we see that Matthew uses these words in reference to physical healing. But, interesting to consider is that Matthew quotes these words in regards to Jesus’ earthly ministry rather than in reference to the atonement. Still, before we conclude anything, let’s move on to the second question.

In regards to the second question proposed, Isaiah’s context seems to be referring to Christ’s suffering for us, in the sense of His suffering on the cross – ‘with his stripes we are healed’ (vs5). Peter is definitely referring to the cross as well.

But, when we turn to Matthew’s words, he quotes the words of Isaiah before the cross-event ever took place. Also, when we read the pages of the Old Testament, as well as the Gospels, there are no doubt many healings that take place prior to Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

Therefore, I believe a balanced conclusion would be this: The cross is not the sole provision of God’s healing. As mentioned, God had been healing people well before the cross. But, what I would suggest is that the cross-event (along with Christ’s resurrection, ascension and seating next to the Father) stands as the great and foundational redemptive act of God on behalf of humanity and the cosmos. Not only that, but, as the great provision of God’s redemption, the purpose of the cross-event was to make available in Christ the fullness of salvation. Though more dualistic thinking tends to separate the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘physical’, this is not truly grounded in biblical theology. So we must note that salvation is not solely about having our sins forgiven and going to heaven. God’s redemptive salvation is for the whole self, including the body.

Thus, I believe that this holistic salvation provided for and centred in the cross-event would definitely include not only our ‘spiritual’ healing and forgiveness, but also our physical healing. And, just as with our spiritual healing, it is in this age that we are able to receive tastes of physical healing. But it is in the age to come that we shall receive the full benefits of our salvation, both spiritual and physical.

The Spirit of Jesus and the Works of Jesus

by Scott

I believe that one of the most essential things to grasp in regards to our understanding of the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

What do I mean?

Well, for many, especially specific groups that might be identified as sects or cults, they only recognise the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father. And, because of this, they de-personalise Him simply recognising that He is a kind of extension of God the Father, His power-force at work in the earth.

Such theology might remain in tact if we only had the Old Testament on which to build our theology. But one important pneumatological aspect the New Testament shows us is that the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. I believe this has bearings on two major theological areas: 1) the personal nature of the Holy Spirit and 2) the divine nature of Jesus.

The Spirit is no longer simply identified as the Spirit of the the Father, but also of Christ. And I believe this comes against the notion that He is simply a force (though there are points to consider with regards to the Spirit’s personality). And this also indicates what kind of nature Christ has, the divine nature just like the Father, since the Holy Spirit is His Spirit as well.

But where does Scripture identify the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus?

And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:7)

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. (Philippians 1:19)

And it is important to also look at Jesus’ discourse on the Spirit in the whole of John 14-16. Though the Father would be sending the Spirit (i.e. John 14:26) we also see that Jesus taught that He would, likewise, be the sender of the Spirit from the Father:

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (John 15:26)

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

There is a differentiation from the Father, though not a complete disconnect, and a distinct connection of the Spirit with the Son. This is crucial within the Trinitarian framework.

But why such an emphasis on Jesus’ sending of the Spirit and the Spirit being identified as the Spirit of Jesus? Because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, would continue the exact same work that Jesus initiated upon His arrival. This is why Jesus could say: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you (John 14:18). And Luke could start out his second volume, Acts, with these words: In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.

The Spirit Himself, who was both the Spirit of the Father and Son, would be sent to continue the work that Jesus was sent to originally do. But whereas the work of the Son was limited in His incarnation, the Spirit would now indwell and empower the entire company of God’s people to accomplish the same ministry and works of Jesus. Going back to John:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

Now, I am aware of what I might term as the ‘selective group’ argument and the ‘time limit’ argument. What do I mean by these two terms?

Well, the ‘selective group’ argument states that these words of John 14:12 were only expected of the original twelve. But I’m not sure that is a very defendable position and we could simply start by pointing out that the verse utilises these words: whoever believes in me. But, maybe for some, it’s not as simple as that. So let’s move on.

Here is where the fallacy lies for some with regards to John 14:12. When we think of the ‘works of Jesus’ from this passage, at least for many, they jump to think specifically of healings and miracles. Of course, this passage does teach that those who believe will do greater works. But I don’t believe this is a qualitative statement, but rather a quantitative statement, since you can’t get much greater than the Son of God Himself in all His varied works.

Thus, some make that ‘jump’ that identifies the ‘works of Jesus’, at least in the context of John, as healings and miracles. Now, the works of Jesus do include healings and miracles, but they also include proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom, mercy on the poor in spirit, compassion for the hurting, washing feet of our sisters and brothers, loving our enemies, words of knowledge, lovingly touching the outcasts, and so much more.

So, here is the point. There really is no ‘selective group’ in regards to the varied works of Jesus. We have got to stop identifying this statement as only referring to the ‘sign gifts’ or whatever we want to term them. This statement is much broader than that. It goes across the board with the works of Jesus.

But, if we want to reduce this statement to such specific acts of healings, miracles, signs, wonders, etc, then we have to recognise that quite a few others were used in just these such things beyond the twelve. Such examples are:

  • The 120 believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:4)
  • Stephen (Acts 6:8)
  • Philip (Acts 8:4-7)
  • Ananias (Acts 9:17-18)
  • Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:46)
  • Agabus (Acts 11:37-38; 21:10-11)
  • The Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:6)
  • The Corinthians believers (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; ch.14)
  • The Galatian beleivers (Galatians 3:5)

And by no means is that a complete list, nor if we listed every single biblical instance of these following Christ’s ascension does that mean that we have then identified every such act. Even Jesus did a lot more than was recorded in Scripture (John 20:30-31). I expect the same was true of His followers.

But one final note connecting back to the original passage quoted from John 14:12. Read the rest of John 14-16, since that is the fuller context. For those who want to argue that Jesus was only speaking to the twelve, notice how many times the language is much larger than the twelve, referring to the whole company of believers to come. Do we not see even these words below as relevant to us today?

13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:13-17)

Now I am quite fine to identify that Jesus was initially speaking to the twelve. But did Jesus expect all of these words to stop there? Can we really invest in the belief that this was for twelve and the twelve alone?

Ah, but what about the ‘time limit’ argument. Many will easily recognise that others in the ‘New Testament times’ were being used in such gifts of the Spirit. But sometime at the turn of the second century, possibly following John, the apostle’s, death, some of these Spirit-gifts came to an end. They had exhausted their purpose, at least their purpose for being normative in the life of the church.

But again, this thinking is very reductionistic. Why would we expect some portion of Jesus’ ministry to continue, say two-thirds or three-fourths or even 95%, but not all of it? Oh, I know the many arguments from varying passages and theological perspectives. And I guess I cannot address every twist and turn of the cessationist perspective here in this short post. But do we really expect any part of Jesus’ ministry to have ended? Or do we really expect any part of Jesus’ ministry to have become ‘non-normative’? Mercy and teaching and gentleness are for the regular life of the body. Prophecy and healings and words of wisdom are not. Huh?

Remember, Luke started off his volume two by saying his volume one recorded all that Jesus began to do (Acts 1:1). So Acts kicks off with an expectation for things to continue and you have a church launching out into the works, all the works, of Jesus. They stepped out with mercy, compassion, serving, prayer, praise, teaching, evangelism, prophecy, healings, miracles, and even something Jesus probably never participated in, tongues and interpretation.

Remember, the Spirit who is activating these very works, again, all of these works, is the very Spirit of Jesus. You could expect nothing less, absolutely nothing less than the exact things Jesus walked in. Why? Because this is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. It’s really as simple as that.

Jesus comes doing the things of the Father (John 5:19). He even announces that if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father (John 14:9). And so the Spirit comes initiating in Christ’s people the exact same things that Jesus started out with. And so the church, empowered by the Spirit, should be able to state, ‘We only do the things that Jesus did. If you have seen us, you have seen Jesus.’ If only that were our testimony more regularly.

And this is across the board. Not just with the fruits of the Spirit, but also with gifts of the Spirit. Not just with ‘signs and wonders’, but also with serving and washing feet.

The Father and Son sent the Spirit for a purpose. To help empower the entire body of Christ to accomplish the entire work of Christ across the entire planet. At times, it will involve laying our hands on the sick and seeing them restored. I remember a friend of mine who laid his hands on another young man’s hands that were filled with warts. He asked in Jesus’ name for the hands to be cleared, and when he removed his hands following the prayer, there was not a trace of warts. It softened that young man’s heart. But at times, it will involve serving a bowl of hot soup to a hurting and homeless refugee with a word of kindness. Both communicate the heart of Jesus. Both are wrapped up in the works of Jesus.

So let us look to see the Spirit of Jesus Christ Himself empower us to serve with the works of Jesus, however that may look today and tomorrow. We have a mission to accomplish and we will not complete it effectively apart from the Spirit’s work. We will not walk in the works of Jesus, in all their varied aspects, without the Spirit of Jesus Himself.

The Prophetic Body of Christ

by Scott

The gift of prophecy is not some arbitrary gift given to the church so that we can sound super-spiritual and have goose-bump experiences. The gift of prophecy is given for a reason, for a purpose.

There is one major practical reason that prophecy is given to the church, which is stated this way by Paul:

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. (1 Corinthians 14:3)

Prophecy will bear fruit when it is spoken – fruit that will bring edification, encouragement-exhortation, and comfort. It might also challenge, but that challenge, if heeded as God’s word, will still stir these three characteristics in the life of the believer. It can cause a fog to clear, despair turn to hope, deep worry resolve to peace, and much more.

But, while this is a major outcome of Spirit-directed prophecies, there is still yet a greater reason as to why prophecy is still given to the church today. This might sound over simplified, but it breaks down into these 3 points:

  • As the very Word of God, Jesus was and is the great prophet of human history.
  • The Holy Spirit was sent in His stead to continue the work of Jesus, including His prophetic work.
  • The Holy Spirit is given to the church so that they may be all of Christ in the world today, even the prophetic Christ.

In a simplified manner, that is how it plays out. Jesus >> Holy Spirit >> Body of Christ.

Jesus is the proto-type of every ministry within the body of Christ, from prophecy to mercy to teaching to shepherding to giving to healings to whatever ministry might come forth. Though it might sound somewhat cheesy, we really are called to start with Jesus as to the great example of every ministry made possible to God’s people.

And this is the key to making sure His ministry would continue: Jesus promised to send another Parakletos in His name, even the Spirit of God. That was the plan way back when.

I have always loved these words of Jesus:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

It was to our advantage that Jesus went back to the Father? Huh?

Yes, for in doing so He could send the Spirit that could now indwell and empower the whole body of Christ, not just a few select individuals. This was the cry of Moses centuries before Christ stepped onto the scene and promised His Spirit:

Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them! (Numbers 11:29)

And, so, when the Spirit was poured out on all flesh – male and female, young and old – this was what the ‘special’ prophets had been longing for and what THE prophet had promised. Peter has a revelation himself at Pentecost that what they were viewing and hearing was a fulfilment of the words of the great prophet, Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18; from Joel 2:28-29)

The very Word-of-God-become-flesh promised to the give the very Spirit of God to His people. What a fantastic idea! For how could the body of Christ actually be Christ without His Spirit? How could we be Christ to one another and a hurting world if we did not have His indwelling and empowering Spirit? Well, we simply could not.

And, if the very Spirit of God was given by Christ to His church, would He expect anything less than for us to continue in all the varying ministries He Himself walked in? I cannot imagine such. The very Spirit of God who empowered the incarnate, fully human Son was also given to empower the current incarnate Christ in His fully human body, if you will. The hundreds of millions that make up Christ’s body today are Christ incarnate today. That’s exactly how He meant it. And Jesus knew that the best way to help us be Him in the world is to give us the same Spirit that empowered Him as a human man.

It truly is a marvellous plan.

So, in a much bigger sense, the gift of prophecy, while it is a blessing to us and we are strengthened by it, is given that we might continue the full work of Christ. And, again, every single ministry gift given has been given so that we might continue in the full work of Christ.

Thus, we find in this one of the main purposes of the Spirit of God being given to His church. It would not just be fine and dandy for Christ to charge us to continue His work without supplying and equipping us with His Spirit. We would have failed pretty miserably (though sometimes we do in the midst of such a provision). So, as the Father sent the Son, the Son now sends the Spirit. Quite a team.

This was to our advantage because, as a human-incarnate man, Jesus was only able to do so much by Himself. He touched many lives, but it was still limited as a human. But He knew that, as the exalted Christ, He could send His Spirit to empower literally billions down through the centuries to finish what He started.

This stirs me even now to complete His work, to catch the prophetic heart of Christ as I gather with the saints, have conversation with friends, and meet with the varying peoples that God brings into contact in my life. To have an ear attuned to what He might say, to speak it forth, and see it come as a kind of two-edge sword into the lives of people. This is a privilege.

But more than that one moment, we start to the get the sense that we are participating in something far larger than our tiny selves. We are walking out the very ministry of the Lord of heaven and earth. And, in doing so, we can be certain that we will see and taste the fruit of edification, encouragement, exhortation and comfort in the midst of prophecy. And that fruit will taste very sweet.

So, let us keep in mind that Christ has and always will desire that His body be a prophetic people. No gender barriers, no age barriers allowed, a true reality of the age of the Spirit. And we can, by the Spirit of God, speak forth the words of God that call people to be drawn in to the bigger purposes of God, the redemptive purposes of the kingdom of God. This stirs me deeply.

John 14: Doing the Works of Jesus

 By Marv

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

This is an astounding statement.   If overfamiliarity with it has dulled its impact, mull it over a while and let it sink in.  Jesus spoke these words as part of the farewell instructions he gave to the eleven (after the departure of Judas) during supper the night before He died.  Prefixing it by “Truly, truly, I say to you…,” He intended this statement to be taken seriously, and we would do well to pay careful attention to it.

We have ways, though, of mitigating its force.  One is by focusing on the second part, the “greater works” Jesus says we will do.  “That just means we will evangelize far more people than Jesus ever did” is the comeback.  The way this works is that “greater works” can be “greater” in some way—without being the same works that Jesus did.  Yet “the works that I do” allow for no dodge from Jesus’ clear intent.

Nor can we take His words as being for the apostles alone.  Apart from the fact that He told them to teach us to do everything He had commanded them (Matt. 28:20), Jesus opens the door wide: “whoever believes in me…”  Where have we seen this phrase before?

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38-39)

Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:25-26)

Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.  I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:44-46)

Now, what are the “works” Jesus is referring to?  He makes this clear in the immediately preceding verses:

The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. (John 14:10-11)

The works were the works of God, which Jesus did under the Father’s authority, and they were such that even if one was not convinced by Jesus’ words, His works were reason enough to believe.  These were acts through which the Father manifested Himself on the earth, glorified Himself.  As the John 12:44-46 citation above shows Jesus’ works led ultimately to belief in the Father by making visible the invisible: “whoever sees me sees him who sent me.”  And Jesus repeats this very point in this chapter: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (v. 9)

Why?  Because, as Jesus said “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (v. 10) With His farewell instructions He is extending the chain:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. (John 13:20)

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (John 14:20)

The works are those through which God makes visible His character and His nature, to which the world is blind.  If this is not clear enough, Jesus explains:

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (vv. 13-14)

This is all quite astounding, if we will dare to believe it.  It is difficult not to qualify this promise, to discount it somehow, because we’ve tried it and have come to the conclusion that there must be some fine print somewhere.  There is no fine print, but we have to pay attention to His words.  He says it twice; “in my name.”

This is not a tag phrase for our prayers.  It means acting under His authority, as He acted under His Father’s authority.  Recall what He has just said: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (v. 10).  Jesus was sent and acted in the Father’s name (John 5:43).  We are sent and are to act in Jesus’ name, and it is only by virtue of the ongoing dynamic connection with Him that we do His works, that His promise of “anything” has force.  It involves acting under His orders, and if we do not understand that this involves an open channel of communication with Him, through the Spirit, then this promise of prayer, and indeed, any ministry “in His name” ceases to have power. 

And all this, Jesus says, “because I am going to the Father.”  How is that?  His departure brings an end to one phase of His ministry, and His departure begins another, and that will happen at Pentecost: “if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.” (John 16:7).  “Because I am going to the Father” means then “because the Holy Spirit will come as the Helper.” 

Some of the works that he did, such as prophecy, which we examined in a previous post in this series (John 13: Jesus and Prophecy), are what we would label as “miraculous.”  But there is no dividing line here between these and works of compassion or preaching the word, which Jesus also did.  He did all that He was sent by the Father to do, including living out God’s love and displaying His character, as well as “mighty works.”

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)

Since Pentecost, each believer has been anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and we are sent as well, with specific works to do:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

And these manifest God’s light to the world to bring Him glory:

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  (Matt. 5:16)

The best of us carries out our assigned works so imperfectly, so fallibly, it truly is a wonder that God has ordained to use believers in this way to bring glory to Himself.  Yet he has.  The power is there, in the indwelling Holy Spirit, but we must grow in our willingness and in our ability to manifest this power, whether it is living a godly life, speaking words of prophecy, or effectively praying healing for the sick. 

So from this passage I conclude:

  • The second phase of Christ’s ministry is for believers to carry on the works that He did.
  • This is true for every believer, not just the apostles.
  • This involves an ongoing vital and dynamic connection and communication with Christ through the Holy Spirit.
  • This is true beginning with the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost and while He remains until Christ’s return.
  • This is Christ’s express will and His Father’s plan.
  • This brings glory to God and is part of God’s means to effect faith in the world.
  • Christ’s Word promises the power, but we still have a learning curve in doing these works.