Jesus has called us to works that are “greater things than these” in John 14:12. In his sermon last weekend, Pastor Aries Zulkarnain encouraged the congregation that every believer, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will be able to rise up to engage in effective ministry.
“When the Holy Spirit lives inside you, and when you make Jesus the Ruler inside your heart, then you can remain effective in good times or in bad times,” declared Aries Zulkernain, executive pastor of City Harvest Church, last weekend (Jun 5 and 6). In his message, he reminded the congregation that the Holy Spirit is the One who guides Christians to become effective in the Kingdom of God.
Pastor Aries began by encouraging the congregation with a story from Luke 7:1-9. A centurion’s servant was sick and he asked Jesus to heal his servant. To Jesus’ surprise, the centurion told Jesus that He did not have to go to his house, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Lk 7:7)
“When we cannot feel God’s presence because we are stuck at home and not here in church, I want to encourage you through this story, that God’s word is not an inferior substitute for His Presence,” the pastor said. “If you can catch the same faith as this centurion, transformation, miracle and growth can happen to you at home.”
WHAT “GREATER WORKS” ACTUALLY MEANS
The pastor went on to read John 14:11-16, where Jesus was preparing the twelve disciples for His imminent departure. The disciples were understandably anxious as they would have found it difficult to imagine continuing an effective ministry without Jesus.
“Their situation is pretty similar to what you and I are going through right now,” Pastor Aries said, referring to the global pandemic. “We may be feeling a little bit uncertain about our future.”
Jesus allayed His disciples’ concerns by explaining to them the purpose for His departure (Jn 14:11-16), assuring them that His ascension to Heaven should not be seen as an act of abandonment. Rather, He promised them a helper—the Holy Spirit—who would live within them, to guide and navigate them through their ministry.
“The reason the Holy Spirit is called ‘the Helper’ is precisely because He wants to help us get through our problems, not just to get rid of our problems,” the pastor said.
He also noted Jesus’ affirmation to His disciples that they would remain effective in ministry even after His departure, saying, “most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do. He will do also and greater works than these.” (Jn 14:12)
“This verse is not just a promise to the disciples—it is also a promise to all of us,” Pastor Aries stated, “that we will continue to do Jesus’ work and we can do greater works than these by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Acknowledging that many may grapple with the magnitude implied by in this verse, Pastor Aries addressed their concern. “In our minds, those ‘works’ are categorised (only) as mighty signs and wonders, or the great supernatural works of God,” he acknowledged, explaining that while the church holds firmly to the core belief that miracles are still relevant today, it would be erroneous to limit the works that Jesus is referring to solely to miracles, signs and wonders.
FUNCTION OF THE WORKS
“We need to understand the function of these works and the type of works that Jesus is referring to,” Pastor Aries explained. Firstly, Jesus reminded the disciples of His identity, cautioning them never to doubt or waver in their conviction that He is the Saviour (Jn14:11). Yet, if there was any doubt, He urged them to remember the works that He performed while on earth, which bear witness to who He is.
Hence, the function of the works performed by Jesus was to engender faith in His believers and to empower them to continue doing “greater works than these” so as to bear witness to Jesus and turning people’s hearts towards Christ.
“That means that it is not just confined to the works that the disciples had been doing like preaching, healing the sick, casting out demons,” Pastor Aries explained. The same phrase “the works that I do” in John 14:12 also occurred in John 10:25, confirming that these “works” refer to works that bear witness to the being of Jesus.
WHAT TYPE OF WORKS?
The word “works” in Greek is ergon which also refers to “business, employment, which anyone is occupied to do, that is our occupation,” Pastor Aries explained. “If ‘works’ only applied to miracles, signs and wonders, only a certain group of people could do it. And you may think, ‘That it is not for me, it is only for the pastors and the full-time workers.’”
He continued, “However, here, Jesus is also telling us that with the power of the Holy Spirit, all kinds of works we do can also bear witness for Him.”
The work that Christians do in the marketplace carry equal weight to the works done in ministry, Pastor Aries pointed out. “They are equally important and relevant and has the power to bear witness to Jesus Christ!” he declared. Whether it’s simple tasks like arranging chairs and ushering or preaching and counselling, or teachers teaching a physics concept or even something as routine as delivering food, “as long as it is done unto God, with the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us, it has the power to bear witness and point others to Jesus Christ,” he taught.
Pastor Aries told of such a witness one time when he was in the mission field. The pastor of the host church where the City Harvest Church team had gone to serve was not only blessed by the sermon by the visiting pastors, he was also greatly moved by the mission team’s commitment and wholeheartedness in serving. These were ordinary CHC members who displayed a great attitude and who were always ready to serve.
“The simplest task—if we do it unto the Lord, and do it well—with the Holy Spirit living inside us will bear witness of Jesus and point others to Jesus Christ.”
THE EARLY CHURCH
This means that every person can be an effective witness of Jesus. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Pastor Aries reminded the church, “The ends of the earth refer not just to a geographical location, but every stratum of society.” He encouraged them to stay positive and believe that, with the right attitude, they can remain effective in ministering to the people around them even when they are limited in the current pandemic.
The early church continued to grow despite heavy persecution because they knew that the church was not confined to a building nor a large gathering of people. In Acts 4: 29-31, the believers came together to pray in one accord in the midst of being persecuted and criticised, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
The individuals in the early church united themselves as one, sharing all their possessions. Instead of self-preservation, the church became selfless, continuing in ministry.
Pastor Aries exhorted the congregation to continue doing ministry in the midst of the limitations they currently face. He encouraged individual members to continue being a blessing in their own capacities.
In closing, he prayed for the Holy Spirit to do a work within the congregation: to empower, to come upon them and to renew in believers a burning hope and purpose for effective ministry.