Sermons from Yesteryear | Paul Cain
I believe that Scripture teaches us that in the last days there will be a victorious church. Viewed historically, the church just prior to Jesus’ return will be unequaled in four distinct ways.
1. Unequaled in power.
I the last days there will be a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in signs and wonders, prophecy, and evangelism. John 14:12 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (KJV).
Some people believe that Jesus was not referring to physical miracles in this text. They point out that the apostles never did greater works than Jesus. For example, they never did a “natural miracle” such as walking on water, commanding stormy seas to be calm, feeding the 5,000.
It is incorrectly assumed that Jesus must have had something else in mind when he referred to “greater works.” But what were they? Could the evangelistic crusades of the twentieth century be what Jesus was referring to?
I think not. The language of the text does not allow for this interpretation. The word translated “works” is used in John for the miraculous ministry of Jesus (see John 5:20).
A better interpretation – and one that is faithful to the meaning of the original language – is that John 14:12 refers to greater miraculous works than those of Jesus. This promise awaits fulfillment.
Is there evidence elsewhere in Scripture that John 14:12 will be fulfilled literally? I believe there is. In another of John’s writings, the Revelation, we see a graphic example of greater miraculous works than those of Jesus. The Spirit permits John to see in a vision the ministry of two end-time witnesses. His vision is recorded in Revelation 11:3-6:
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth… These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will” (KJV).
The two prophetic witnesses will perform miracles that even exceed Jesus’ earthly miracles. And they will have an extraordinary prophetic ministry that is similar to Moses’ and Elijah’s. This indicates the church in the last days will have a powerful prophetic gifting.
In the last days the church will also have a great evangelistic thrust. The gospel will be preached to every living creature (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 14:6), and it will be believed by more people than in the history of revivals (Rev. 7:9, 13-14).
2. Unequaled in purity.
The Lord will uniquely refine and purify the church in the last days (Mal. 3:1-3). The bride of Christ will make herself ready (Rev. 19:7-8); the church will e presented to the Lord “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; …holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).
3. Unequaled in unity.
In his high priestly prayer of John 17, Jesus prays for the unity of his church:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one, I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (KJV).
The Father has not yet answered his Son’s prayer for the unity of the church. The church is not “one” even as the Father and Son are one. But it is unthinkable that the Father will not answer his Son’s prayer.
Further, it is clear that Jesus is praying for the unity of the church while it is on the earth, not when it gets to heaven. Jesus wants the church to be one “that the world may know that thou hast sent me.” For the world to know this they must see the unity of the church on earth.
The apostle Paul teaches this same truth in a different context. He maintains that God has given the ministry of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to perfect the saints for the ministry of the church until the church reaches the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:11-13).
But what is the nature of the “unity of faith” that Paul refers to? The answer is found at the end of verse 13: “unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The church has not yet reached this unity, but it will, or else one of the major purposes of God for his church will have failed.
4. Unequaled in intimacy.
The pouring out of the Spirit in Joel 2:28-32, which results in the revelation of dreams, visions, and prophecies, means that God will grant a new level of intimacy with his church.
The 144,000 servants of Revelation 14:1-5 reveal the intimacy that God will have with the end-time church. His name will be on their foreheads (14:1), signifying that their thoughts will be taken captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). The nature of their intimacy with God will be so personal that only they will be able to learn a new song before the throne of God (14:3). They will follow Jesus wherever he goes (14:4), walking in obedience to his word.
If it is true that God wants a victorious church, then it is imperative that we begin preparing our hearts for this greatest of all revivals. The greater our vision of this glorious future, the dimmer will be our attraction to the world.