Understanding the Signs that follow Believers!
(Mark Chapter 16:17-18)
by Tony Warren
A couple of passages from the book of Mark chapter 16 have been the source of some controversy over the years. Some theologians have suggested that these verses were valid for Christians at one time, but are no longer valid today. Others say that they are to be understood metaphorically, but still taken literally in this spiritual sense. And then there are those who reject them as authentic, or that reject the text from which they were taken (Textus Receptus) claiming that it's not the oldest and best copy and thus these verses (which are missing from some other copies) are probably a non-inspired addendum to the gospel. While the validity of manuscripts from which this is taken is not the scope of this study, let me say that I have very carefully studied this issue and the issue of the 'Received Text' regarding Mark chapter 16 and there is no doubt in my mind that these texts are valid. Moreover, the verses in question contain no teachings that are not taught elsewhere in the Scriptures, and the truths presented in these passages are both historically correct and authentic (which most if not all scholars would agree). But we'll leave that for another day and another study. It is however very unfortunate that this theory of 'non-canonical inclusion' has been introduced, because even a sundry study of these verses in the light of the rest of the Bible, would reveal the truth about them. By the study of the word through the Spirit of God the truth is revealed, and in comparing Scripture with Scripture, the spiritual with spiritual, we see that these verses are in total agreement with all of scripture concerning believers. Our understanding of what God has inspired to be written here starts to become clear with education, comparison and a sound hermeneutic.
On the other hand, there are some theologians who have their own agenda, biases and traditions working within them that they desire that these verses of Mark be taken literally. This bias has nothing to do with knowledge of the word, a sound hermeneutics or the careful exegesis of the Bible. There are many today that are so seduced by the tongues movement, or already enamoured with signs and wonders, that their desire is take this very literally in order to give their doctrines of physical healings, and speaking in miraculous tongues credibility. Likewise there are others who don't want it to be taken literally for fear that it will be used in support of Charismatics, Pentecostals and other cult-like movements. Those within this camp generally claim that Mark 16 was to be understood literally at one time, but that it is no longer valid for today. Let me say up front that I don't mean to impugn the motives of these people, but the whole idea of rightly dividing scripture (2nd Timothy 2:15) is to go to the Bible seeking its truth, not to go looking for justification of doctrines that we already hold. Without going to the scriptures with all readiness of mind (an open mind to scripture) as the Bereans of Acts 17:11-12 did, then our belief is vain and we will never come to God's truth. The reason being, without this readiness of mind, we cannot be open or looking for the truth. We're only looking for justification of our personal views, or to find whatever we already believe, and therefore we will find it whether it's actually there or not. That is the wrong frame of mind with which to approach the Holy Scriptures.
Another point we need to accept is that no one can privately interpret the Scriptures, as Scripture is not subject to private interpretations. It is its own interpreter. Through our trust in comparing the word of God with itself, it actually explains itself. How could man dare to think that he of himself could figure out or define what the mind of God actually intended or what a passage truly means, without yielding to what God had divinely incorporated in the Bible precisely for that purpose. Man can't even understand the common cold, so without God's inspired text, how could he understand the mind of God? It is only by being spiritual, being led by 'the Spirit of God' through the careful reading and receiving what He Himself has inspired written, do we find the mind of Christ (1st Corinthians 2:15-16) to understand. Through His Spirit is the truth revealed that the Bible is its own dictionary, its own interpreter, and its own witness to its truth. It defines itself, it interprets itself, and by the Holy Spirit it witnesses to its own agreement, validity and meaning. In plain language, only what came out of God's mouth can define what God's word means. And it does that by the Spirit working within us as we search through His word. Seeking the truth is in 'receiving' all of what scripture says in the light of itself. It is in comparing scripture with scripture and finding what is in harmony, and thus reconciling all that might appear in opposition. For the most basic rule of sound Biblical hermeneutics is that, 'no scripture contradicts itself, nor can it be privately interpreted.' The scriptures can only be our 'authority' if we allow it to define itself and interpret itself. If we attempt to define or interpret it ourselves, we will inevitably come to our own personal and erroneous conclusions.
There is more in the Bible than can be learned in one lifetime, but it is not as complicated or as hard to discern as some would have you believe. God didn't inspire the Bible written simply for Rhodes scholar, He inspired it written for all of us. So then, as we look at the words in the 16th chapter of Mark, let us remember that the Bible alone is the ultimate 'authority' in interpretation. Thus let us allow it to tell us what God is really teaching, and how we are to understand it as signs to all those who believe--and may the Lord who is Gracious above all, guide us all into His marvelous and glorious truths.
These Signs Shall Follow Them That Believe
In order to correctly digest the flow of these verses, we need to pick up the context. Note carefully that in verse 15 Jesus commissioned them to go into all the world and be a witness to the gospel of Christ to every creature. This mirrors others scriptures such as Acts 1:8 where the Lord tells His apostles that they would be witnesses to Him in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and in all parts of the earth. We should also take notice that Mark continues in Verse 16 saying that the witness is to those who unto salvation and to those who do not believe unto damnation. He told them to go into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature, and those who hear your witness and are baptized into belief shall be saved, while those who hear the witness and do not believe will be damned. Here we see the two diverse aspects of the word of God. In one sense the word of the word is as saving bread (i.e., that which nourishes the body) unto life to those who hunger after righteousness, and in another sense it is as a two edged sword (i.e., it cuts both coming and going) unto death to those who will not believe. The witness of the word brings one or the other, depending upon the spirit by which one lives. It is in this context that Christ says in the next verse that 'and these signs shall follow them that believe.' In other words, these are the things which are expected to be seen in believers when they preach the gospel:
- "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
- He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
- And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
- They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Christ tells us that this is what we all should expect to see as a result of one believing and baptized (in the Holy Spirit) as we go into the world with the gospel. These are the signs or 'evidences' of Spiritual regeneration that will be seen through the Christ authored great commission of witnessing. The Greek word translated sign is [semeion], meaning something that is a token, or something that is an 'indicator' or that signifies whatever is in view. When the believers go into the world with the gospel, these are the "indications" that will be present as evidence of conversion. In Christ's name those who believe will do all these things that Christ lists. So if these signs or indicators are to be taken literally, then all of the greatest Christians that ever lived were not believers, because these signs did not 'literally follow them in that sense. By contrast, all these signs did and do follow them 'if' we understand this Biblically. For example, the bite and thus poison of a serpent cannot ham them. If we understand the serpent Biblically, rather than literally.
- Those who believe will cast out devils in In Christ's name
- They will speak with new languages
- They shall take up serpents
- There will be no deadly drink that can hurt them
- They will lay hands on the sick and the sick will recover
The key is comparing Scripture with Scripture that we understand God's word in the light of God's word. Let's consider first what this chapter of Mark doesn't say. It doesn't say maybe these signs will follow those that believe. It doesn't say if the Spirit is just right, then these signs will follow them that believe. It doesn't say that some of these signs will follow them that believe, nor does it say that these signs will follow some of them that believe. Likewise it doesn't say that if believers have enough strength or faith, these signs will follow them that believe. To be honest and truthful, what it actually says is, 'go preach the gospel to the world baptizing them, and these signs shall follow them that believe.' In other words, these evidences are the tokens of salvation that will be an indication that a person is a true Believer.
- "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies./li>
- Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;"
I must ask pointedly, what believer do you know who can pick up a deadly poisonous serpent (e.g. a black Momba) in the name of Christ, and the serpent won't hurt him? Better yet, do you know any believers that are going around picking up these snakes? Yet that is exactly what the text says there--that the 'sign' of a believer is that in Christ's name they shall pick up serpents and not be hurt. I don't take up serpents (snakes) in Christ's name, do you? Yet clearly that is what it says we will do. So the question is not one of 'is it true' (all scripture is), the question is one of how are we to understand this in the light of other Scriptures that will interpret this symbolism of serpents. In that vein we also note that Verse 18 of Mark picks right up on this same theme of the safety of believers among the harmful saying, 'and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.' Not just that if they might drink something poisonous, but if they drank something deadly [thanasimos] poisonous, it would never hurt them. That Greek word literally means "to bring death!" God is telling us that if we should drink something which would bring us death, we would not die. Thus we must ask again pointedly, 'what believer do you know who can drink a 'deadly' poison and not be hurt?' If someone were to slip some highly toxic nerve poison (one drop will kill) into your drink, do you really think you would physically survive? The truth of course is that if you or I, Christian or non-Christian, strong or weak, were to drink that deadly poison, we'll not only be hurt--we'll be Dead! It has nothing to do with faith, it has to do with our God given mortality. So is this an enigma or a mystery? Well yes, but only to those who have not studied the scriptures carefully, or those without eyes to see and ears to hear what God is saying. Appropriately, I'm not talking about literal eyes or literal ears--and neither is this passage talking about literal serpents or literal deadly poisonous drinks. We're talking in the exact same spiritual, cryptic, symbolic language of the Holy Bible. It's not a language I dreamed up to support my own views, but it is the exact same language God Himself uses all throughout the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New. These two verses of Mark are giving us a marvelous spiritual portrait of the gospel going forth to the world, and how as a result of this, in Christ's name the believer's will show forth the fruits of that gospel. God will keep them in safe from harm from the serpent and the deadly poisons with which he brings about the death of others. There are five signs spoken of in Mark that Christ says will follow those who believe. We will go over each one a give a brief synopsis, and let the Spirit of God reveal (uncover) His secrets concerning them.
The first sign or signification of a believer:
"In my name they shall cast out devils,"Literally this reads, 'they will expel demons.' Does this sign follow those who are believers? Indeed it does! Yet not in the sense of Roman Catholic exorcisms, or of evicting supernatural beings from people or houses, or of having power to command aberrations. This declaration speaks to something infinitely more serious than bad Hollywood movies. It addresses the power of the gospel as believers carry it to the ends of the earth. The gospel that believers possess sets free those who are in spiritual captivity to the devil. When we are baptized in the Spirit to become believers, the power of God rests upon us to spread the gospel, which casts out devils. We are the vessels that God uses to accomplish His marvelous work of salvation. This is expounding the commission given by Christ to go forth with the word of God that the evil spirit that dwells within all the unsaved, might be expelled from them. If we truly have the 'faith of Christ,' then we have Christ's Spirit to come with His power to set God's elect free from bondage. This is the faith that is lacking in unbelief, but that is seen in those who believe. Christ illustrated this very same principle in Matthew chapter seventeen when He cast out demons and His disciples wondered why they couldn't.
Christ did many miracles to illustrate the "deeper spiritual truths" that they are meant to convey, not to teach us that we could literally raise people from the dead, turn water to wine or cast our demons. These miracles were signs or significations that we would do something far more important than multiply physical bread. That we would multiply spiritual bread. Likewise, the dead being raised is a portrait of spiritual resurrection to new life. The turning water to wine the spiritual ablutions that is to be found by drinking His blood at our wedding. Likewise, the casting out of demons pointed to setting people free from control of the evil one. In unbelief, the devil Satan is ruler of our lives. In belief, he is cast out and the Spirit of Christ comes to rule there. By our own faith it is impossible to be saved. By our own faith it is impossible to do the good works that please God. In true baptismal regeneration belief, we have power of the 'faith of Christ' wherein all things are possible, and people are set free from bondage (the Devil cast out). Faith as a grain of mustard seed is the faithfulness of Christ which as a seed starts out small, and yet grows into a great and mighty tree. So the kingdom of God through believers preaching the gospel grows into a mighty tree.
- "And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
- Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
- And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
We can't literally make a physical mountain cast itself into the sea by 'our faith,' but we can make kingdoms (mountains = kingdoms) be cast into the sea by 'the faith of Christ.' Just as the Lord's Holy Mountain is a portrait of the Kingdom of God, the mountain in Matthew 17 is symbolic of the kingdom of Satan being cast into the sea. Just as in another demonstration demons were cast out into a herd of swine and ran into the sea (Matthew 8:12), these are pictures where we might see their true deeper spiritual meaning. The Demon or Devil is symbolic of the spirit of Satan dwelling within man. He who has a devil, has the spirit of Satan in him. By the preaching of the gospel today, we cast him out through the Spirit and testimony of Christ which we bring. It was for this purpose that we were given power (Acts 1:8) and sent by Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth, to all nations. It is this Baptismal regeneration, this power to be witnesses that was given us, by which we cast out demons. Just as we were once ruled over and held in bondage by this evil spirit, it was the gospel of Christ that cast him out and set us free from bondage to sin.
In time past we were walking according to the evil spirit that was within us, now that spirit having been cast out, we are no longer the children of the devil under the warth of God. Jesus told the apostles in John 20:21, 'As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.' The works that He did, we will also do, but in the way that His miracles were a picture of, not as literally raising the dead or casting out demons who we will see run into a heard of swine. The same commission that Mark 16:16 gives is what is addressed here by Christ. As His Father had sent Him, even so He sends us. We are the messengers of the church, "those sent" to baptize and preach the gospel that many may no longer have Satan as ruler in their lives. When the Devil is cast out by the word we testify, the elect are being set free from the bondage whereby he held them. They will no longer have his spirit abide in them unto wrath, but the Spirit of God will come to dwell there with them. Satan has vacated your person, and God has filled that void that we spiritually become a Holy Temple of the Lord. i.e., we are delivered from Satan dwelling within us, to being blessed by Christ dwelling within us. Delivered from the power of one Kingdom to another. From the rule in the kingdom of darkness to the power and rule of Light.
- "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
- Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
It was by this deliverance that the Devil was cast out of us. We go from being one type of servant to being another type servant. What agreement has the Temple of God with the Temple of Idols? We know that there is none. Therefore we are made a Temple of God and Satan is cast out. Even as Christ told the people that (John 8:35-36) that if He were to make them free, they shall be free indeed. The freedom He was talking about is not earthly freedom from any earthly slave master as these people surmised. It wasn't from physical captivity, or prison, or rule, but of spiritual freedom from bondage to Satan and the sin which he held them in. When we preach the gospel and someone becomes saved, we are loosing of the bonds that the devil held them in. When we come with the gospel of the Kingdom, We come to loose the bonds of servitude in the Devil's house (Luke 4:17-18). The same principle of the commission Jesus illustrated in Matthew chapter 16:
- "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son."
In your 'translation' this may read, '..shall be bound' but in the actual Greek text this literally reads, "having been" bound in heaven, and "having been" loosed in heaven. It is Not shall be, as a future tense, but shall 'having been,' as a past tense. In other words, it's telling us that whatever we Christians do in loosing or binding for the Kingdom of God here on earth, has already been done in heaven. We are merely the tools or vessels that God uses to get His predetermined will done on earth. When we become believers, we are given power (signified here by the symbol of keys) of the kingdom. This is spiritual or symbolic language which means that by our bringing the gospel, through the Spirit of Christ we open the kingdom to those whom He has already chosen. We loose the bonds of Satan with that Gospel message we bring. The gospel truth brings about a dramatic change in the lives of some who hear, whereby Satan is cast out. This is what the declaration of Mark chapter 16 illustrates in saying the sign of casting out Devils in Christ's name will follow those who are baptized and believe. This sign follows believers because they're the ones (the church) coming with the power and Spirit of the word that does this. This is what all the literal miracles that Christ did were a type or portrait of. They 'pointed' to the fact that we (as the spirit cleansed bearers of the gospel) bring the word which has power to cast out devils. Not by our own faith, but by the faith of Christ bestowed upon them by God. The faith which only those in Him (true believers) can have, and which will move mountains (kingdoms). The miracle of Matthew 17:18-20 is to illustrate that it is only the 'faith of Christ' as the beginning, as a grain of mustard seed, that can cast out the Devil and deliver us from his kingdom. It is only 'His' faith which could possibly justify that Satan be cast out of us. The power is His work on the cross, not our ability to choose who shall be bound or who will be loosed of Satan.
- "And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall have been loosed in heaven."
No amount of man's own faith can cast out the devil, only Christ's faith can. For that (casting out Satan) is the loosing of men through justification in the work of Christ. This is the work of the gospel, and this is what Christ meant (Luke 4:17-18) in saying He came to set us free from that prison. We were those oppressed of Satan, held in captivity, a slave to sin.
- "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
These are synonyms for bringing the gospel to those in need. To loose them from the clutches of Satan, to feed them with the bread of the word, to bring them into the house of the Lord, and to clothe their nakedness of sin with the righteousness of Christ. This is the cryptic language that God uses all throughout His Word. The miracles that Jesus and the early Apostles performed were for proofs and illustrations of these Spiritual truths. They weren't to prove that we can also do miracles if we have enough faith (as many suppose), they shows that it is only by 'the faith of Christ' that we will understand the spiritual nature and significance in them. In this instance it signifies we go to the whole world with power as witnesses (Acts 1:8) in the Word of Christ's faith, that many people come to Salvation and have Satan cast out of their lives.
- "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
- Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?"
Thus we see that this first sign indeed does follows those who believe. Because every believer comes with the power of the gospel of salvation whereby men are justified by the faith of Christ, wherein the Devil is cast out. Wherever you find true believers, you will find the sign of Devils being cast out in Christ's name, because you'll find those who are being saved by the power of God that they bring.
The second sign or signification of a believer:
"They shall speak with new tongues."The Greek word tongues [glossa] is a word that simply means languages. Unfortunately there are some theologians who don't seem to care about that 'fact,' even though they know it. In scripture it is used to mean an un-acquired language of another nation. For example one might say, 'I speak in the Hebrew tongue, or I speak in the Egyptian tongue, or I speak in three different tongues.' It is simply a word used in scripture meaning languages. It is implied, because the tongue is what we use to speak with. e.g.:
- "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.."
In other words, you must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations and languages. Therefore, speaking in different tongue is simply speaking in a language that is not your own, in order to minister to someone who does speak "your" language. That is the way the word tongues is used in scripture. Unfortunately in our day, some professing Christians would like it to mean more than it actually does in order to justify their unbiblical babbling utterances. Nevertheless, the only justification of speaking in tongues is for someone to speak in an unknown language--that is to say, unknown to those of one nation or another. Likewise, when we read in Mark chapter 16 the phrase that they shall "speak with new tongues," this simply means that the gospel is going out to those who speak in different languages. In other words, believers will speak in different languages so that the whole world will hear the gospel. Those who believe will not only primarily be Jewish anymore, but believers will speak in many new languages. Because of indoctrination, some Christians think more of the word 'tongues' than what it signifies or more than what is qualified by the scriptures in context. Believers will now speak with all the languages of the earth because in Christ salvation has now gone out to all the Gentile nations into every diverse language. Indeed, what did Christ say at the very beginning of these declarations of Mark?
- "And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
That is right before Christ declaring these are the signs that will follow them that believe. It's in perfect harmony with them speaking wth new languages, because the "fact" is, in order to preach the gospel to every crewature, to every nation, those who believe would "have" to speak with new languges. I believe this prophesy of speaking in new languages is fulfilled in two ways. First and foremost, the gospel message is going into all the world to every people of every language on earth. Therefore those who believe will speak with new languages. Second, in the spiritual sense, those who believe speak with the new language of a new nation (1st Peter 2:9), a chosen nation, a new kingdom with a new ruler, a spiritual language that only those in Christ with ears to hear can understand. In Christ's name those who believe do speak in new languages as the gospel of the Kingdom is preached to every nation in every tongue or language. By the power of Christ, no matter what tongue the people of those nations hear the gospel in, the elect will it and understand it because the gospel message is a language that transcends cultures, people and nations. It is the universal language that 'only' those who believe can receive and understand, while those in unbelief will think it foolishness.
- "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
A language to all the world, but that only as it is mixed with faith, can be understood unto salvation. Clearly salvation before the time of the cross was primarily (but not exclusively) to the people of the nation of Israel. After the cross there was a new dispensation where it is poured out as a refreshing of waters to every tongue, and in every tongue there are those who understand. This is because the gospel message is one that is not based on intelligence, or rank, or learning ability or nationality. It is gone out to all people, and in any new language (tongue) that we preach it, the people can understand. Many readily understand the aspect of preaching in the languages of different nations and peoples, but let's look deeper into the spiritual nature of this prophecy. Before we were saved, we didn't understand the Bible. It was like a closed or sealed book. Very much as a foreign language to us. In other words, it's written in a different language from that of the world even though it uses many of the same words. The hidden or covered things of the scriptures are not really seen by us. But when we have been baptized in the Spirit Christ, this spiritual language of God is revealed to us that we can understand. We discern its truth no matter what tongue we originally speak or heard it in.
- "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
Ears to hear this language or tongue of the learned, that is our praise. We are the Sent, whom God has given the tongue or language of the learned that we speak a word in due season. It is because of this baptismal regeneration, or because we are born from above, that we speak in new languages to those of the world. Our desire is that they also receive salvation and will prophecy again. Before salvation, they could not understand the things of God. After they are in Christ, it's a totally different story. Things that they thought were foolish and never understood before, they now understand. Where once the Bible was as a book of contradictions, it is now one of the the few things in this world that is not hypocritical but consistent, true, and trustworthy. Where once scripture read like an incomprehensible repeating language, it is now revealed as the great wisdom of God with the smoothness of honey, very consistent, flowing and sweet. Believers have become a new creation going forth to the whole world speaking with new languages that others might know things that they could not know before.
- "The Lord God hath given Me the TONGUE of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine EAR to HEAR as the learned"
1st Corinthians 2:11-12
No matter what new tongue or language we speak, we now know these things because we now speak and know the things of God by the Spirit, and not through our own worldly wisdom. God illustrated this speaking in new languages and how all nations would understand when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. There He performed the glorious miracle of a mighty rushing wind (signifying the Spirit), and there appeared to the apostles fire in the shape of cloven tongues, and each one of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.
- "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the Spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God KNOWETH NO MAN, but the Spirit of God.
- Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God."
The fire was like cloven or divided tongues to illustrates that every nation will now feel the fire of God's cleansing upon their language and will be witnesses to Him. God is now sending the gospel message to the languages of the whole world and they all will hear as one. This very literal miracle of God's Spirit as tongues of fire signifies (was a sign or token) that the word was going out to every tongue. This miracle is not one that will follow everyone who believes, but the "sign" which this miracle represents, most assuredly will. The believers shall speak with new tongues, for God will baptize every tongue with fire that they too shall be made clean and acceptable. Notice that when the Spirit of these tongues sat upon them that they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them to, and the people were in turn amazed because these people of different nations all heard the apostles in their own native language. In other words, those of Hebrew origin heard them speak in Hebrew, those who understood Greek heard them speak in Greek, etc., etc. This is not the babbling nonsense that you hear in churches today that claim they are speaking in tongues, it was a miracle that what the Spirit of God inspired these men to say was miraculously heard in the language of the person from that nation. Those who wre present all heard the gospel truth in their own language or tongue no matter what tongue they spoke. That is what this miracle signifies (was a sign of), that believers will speak the gospel with new tongues or languages. The gospel will be universally understood, no matter what language it's translated into. Because both hearing and understanding is of God.
- "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
- And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
- And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
- Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
- And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
- And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?"
- "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
- "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
All languages or tongues now can understand because it's not a matter of understanding Hebrew, it is a gift of God. This miracle in Acts of tongues was not Christians babbling incoherently, or pretending that God was speaking in an unearthly, unknown language. The miracle was that all heard (and understood in their own language) what was said. This bears no resemblance to what some professing Christians today call speaking in tongues. The commission given to us was to go into all the world with the gospel, and this sign would be seen. They would speak with new languages. No more is the God of Israel a foreign idea to the Gentile nations, for they in their own tongue, would be included and spread the word. The gospel is an unknown language to them that 'believe not,' but not to them that believe. In this sense, tongues are for those who don't believe, the gentile nations because the Gospel is gone to them that they might believe. And so here again, this sign indeed also follows those who believe. Not in the way some professing Christians of our day might want, but in the way God always intended it. The believers go to the whole world and to every kindred, and speak with new languages spreading the gospel to all peoples. Even as our Lord instructed us to do in the great commission.
- "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power."
The third sign or signification of a believer:
"They shall take up serpents"The serpent is of course symbolic of Satan. That is no real mystery to most Christians, but the mystery is why some professing Christians have such a hard time accepting this 'fact' when God has illustrated it so prominently throughout scripture. It's not as if this is a man made idea or because it is an ambiguous reference. Perhaps they don't really want to accept God's Biblical definition of the serpent because that would cast doubt on the other signs being taken literally? The serpent is seen throughout God's word to signifying or as a token of Satan. Satan is this serpent that we read believers can take up without being harmed. That is the immunity from harm from the serpent that every soul who believes possesses.
It's not even debatable, God uses the sign of the serpent as a portrait of Satan. Even from the very beginning God used the serpent in the garden of Eden as an illustration of Satan. No faithful Christian would deny that Satan is the serpent in scripture, and yet somehow this escapes them in their understanding of this passage. Moreover, those who are slaves of Satan are also pictured as serpents. There are many illustrations of this symbolism also.
- "and the great dragon was cast out, that Old Serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world..."
Anyone having a problem with serpents 'signifying Satan,' and also those who are of Satan, must argue with God who has put that designation on them. Comparing scripture with scripture we can begin to understand what is being taught in Mark chapter 16 about the serpent. Those who believe, come to rule over the serpent without fear of harm. An analogy might be seen in the middle east today where there are still snake handlers that take up serpents or nakes. They are the ruler of the snake, not the snake ruler over them. That may be an imperfect analogy, but it is precisely the message Christ is putting forth in Mark chapter 16. For the unbeliever, the serpent (Satan) has rule over them. He is the great deceiver who will bite him, harm him because he is the adversary. Unbelievers are like slaves to Satan where he holds sin (transgression of the law) as the power of death over them. But to the believer, the serpent Satan is a conquered foe whom Christ has freed us from bondage to. For us this serpent has no power to hurt us as he is like a defanged serpent. Christ illustrates this in passages such as Hebrews.
- "ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell."
Before we were saved, we were in bondage to Satan and had death hanging over our heads, but now we don't have that fear of that old serpent, because we have been delivered from him, and he no longer holds the 'power of death' over us. By Christ's death we have conquered that fear of the serpent because we know that he can not harm us. Luke chapter 10 verses 19 and 20 gives us an illustration of this same principle that is concise and pointed. The Lord sends the 'seventy' disciples out with the gospel to witness two by two (signifying truthful witness) and He instructs them:
- "..that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil,
- and deliver them who through FEAR of death were all their lifetime subject unto BONDAGE."
Is this the Lord giving His servants a commission and power to go around the countryside over an enemy which is literal snakes and scorpions? Not at all. If you walk through the desert, will literal snakes and scorpions clear a path for you because you are a servant of God? How many Christians will even see a snake or scorpion? Is that what the Lord is really concerned about, securing them so that they might not get bitten by a snake in the grass? Again, not at all! For that is not the power of the enemy Christ gave them power over. The power of the enemy Jesus speaks about is the power of Satan. Serpents and Scorpions in scripture "signify" Satan. Those who are spiritually serpents and scorpions (those of satan) are those who God is concerned that His servants not be harmed by. God is illustrating something far more important than mere safety from snakes and scorpions, but safety from the spirit Satan who desires to deceive and seduce us. And this is the same way that we are to understand Mark chapter 16. The serpent that the believers can take up and not be harmed, is Satan. This is the same principle as demonstrated in verses such as 1st Peter chapter 3:
- "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
1st Peter 3:12-13
The answer of course is there is no one who can harm you when you are a follower of Christ. So when we ask does this sign of an ability to take up serpents and not be harmed follow those who believe, the answer is an unequivocal yes! This sign indeed also follows them that believe. In Christ's Name they take up Serpents without fear because that serpent Satan has no power to harm them.
- "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
- And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?"
The fourth sign or signification of a believer:
"If they shall drink any DEADLY thing it shall not hurt them."Deadly drink is poison in scripture is often illustrative of the poisoned tongue or false witness of the wicked who come speaking against God. It is this type poison that is spiritually deadly, but also which cannot harm the true believer. This is not literal or rather physical poison, biut the spiritual poison of words. If you give anyone (believer or non-believer) a cup of deadly poison, he'll be hurt. If the poison is strong or deadly enough, he'll be dead. God is not telling believers that if we drink a cup of literal Arsenic, Cyanide, Strychnine or Ricin our body will not die. He is telling us that the deadliest poisons in the world are the words of deception by evil men, and that they cannot harm us. That is what this rerence to deadly drink signifies. As Bible believing Christians, we should get our definitions of God's words from the scriptures, rather than Webster's dictionary--for the Bible is its own interpreter. And God looks upon the speech of the wicked as deadly poison. For example:
This is not man equating the tongue or the speech of men as an unruly evil full of deadly poison, God did. It is He that equates the words of evil men as deadly poison, and it is He who tells us that these poisons cannot harm the true believer. Language is an unruly evil in teachings of lawlessness or sin. This poison is just as substantive as any physical poison but it's twice as deadly because it leads to the second death. Believers will never see the second death because this deadly poison cannot hurt those who believe. In Christ Jesus they are immune to the evil words of men. The teachings of wickedness, no matter how deceiving, blasphemous, slanderous, or seductive, cannot harm those who are regenerated to believe, for we are secured by the oath of the Holy Spirit.
- "but the tongue can no man tame; it is an Unruly Evil, full of Deadly Poison!"
That Greek word translated sealed is [sphragizo], meaning a sign or stamp of security. For example, a seal on a letter is a sign that establishes its security. That is exactly what those who believe have when the Spirit seals (secures) them. We are secure from the deadly poison of false teachers or gospels as we are those who keep God's word faithfully.
- "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,"
This poison of dragons is again illustrative of the deception of Satan and those who come in the spirit of Satan. Poison there signifies their evil beliefs and doctrines. This passage also confirms again what we learned about taking up serpents, calling this deception and lies the venom of serpents or snakes. Again, the poison of our adversary Satan. God has always used this 'symbolic' or illustrative language throughout the scriptures, both in old and new Testaments. This interpretation of serpents and poisons are not new or novel. It is not a new way of interpreting, it is the same old way of interpreting or understanding symbolism that God has always used. It is the way of sound Biblical hermeneutics. For example, in Revelation chapter 17 we read of the Harlot (unfaithful woman, the church) with the wine of her fornication that makes men spiritually drunken. As opposed to the wine of faithful communion with God through the blood of Christ, this woman offers the wine of her unfaithfulness unto the damnation of men. Amos 5:7 speaks of God's people turning sound judgment into wormwood, which is a bitter and sometimes deadly poison. This refers to the same poisonous doctrines. Doctrines that cause the people who drink thereof to die.
- "for their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter,
- Their Wine is the Poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps."
In the New Testament the word wormwood is found only here in Revelation, but it appears numerous times in the Old Testament and always refers to bitterness, poison and death. All false doctrines are as wormwood and as poison that brings death. Just as the true gospel is pictured as the living waters that bring life. These are two exact opposites, two 180 degree opposing illustrations of what goes into a person that brings life and what brings death. These significations are certainly not coincidence, they're God breathed. Those who are regenerated to believe may drink the deadly poisons of the wicked and will not be hurt because they already have everlasting life. If they were resurrected to new life, they can never die. Not of this deadly poison or anything else.
- "And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."
Once you have baptismal regeneration, you can never die no matter what snake, poison or devil you may come upon. When Mark chapter 16 says if they drink any deadly thing, they'll not be harmed, and tells us that this is one of the signs of a believer, it is illustrating how we have power not to be harmed by false gospels or teachers who come with words of death, because we can never die. When Jesus met the woman of Samaria at the well and asked her for a drink, the outcome was alredy ordained:
- "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
- And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
This is the drink of living waters, the opposite of the deadly drink He says can't hurt us in Mark. If you drink physical water, you'll be thirsty again because we're human beings with a God given mortality. That mortality is why if we drink physical deadly poison we'll be dead. God doesn't promise us everlasting "earthly life," nor immunity from physical poisons, He promises us spiritual waters of Spiritual life. In verse 14 Christ continues saying, "but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." Illustrating once again He was not talking about a physical drink, but the spiritual water of salvation. Blessed are those who thirst after 'this water.' When we (believers) bring the gospel, it is like we are bringing cool waters to a dry and thirsty soul.
- "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water."
This again is the spiritual drink given to the child of God. By the same token, when a false prophet or teacher brings false gospels, he is bringing deadly poison to drink. It is the drink which brings not life but death. But the believers need not fear, for the sign that follows them is that this type deadly drink cannot harm them. They will not (by the faith of Christ through the Spirit of truth) follow after false doctrines because they know truth from deception. They follow only the voice of the good shepherd!
- "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
In other words, those who believe by the Spirit receive God's word of truth that they do not turn aside after substitute doctrines not found in Scripture, so that by this Spirit they are safe and secure in the true gospel of Christ. Nothing can separate them from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). While others may be deceived and duped by false gospels, the sign following the true believer is that they shall not be hurt by this deadly drink. For they are the FAITHFUL witness. So once again, this sign indeed also follows them that believe. Having drank from the living waters, they can thus never die of these poisons, and so are safe from the wicked tongues of men. For they are sealed or secured) by the Holy Spirit.
- "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God."
The fifth sign or signification of a believer:
"They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover."Assuming we're all rational people here, do you 'honestly' know anyone who can lay hands on the 'physically' sick and they will recover? Of course we know there are those who claim that they can, and there are those who blindly believe every story that they hear concerning it, but truthfully speaking, who has such power? The claims of being able to speak in tongues and of an ability to physically heal by laying on hands, are generally trademarks of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. But if these were really the "signs" that should follow those who believe, then we would have to say that the gospel is a MISERABLE failure, because these signs are non existent today. Where are these signs and where are the believers doing them. Are they all in those cult-like movements? No, because God has not promised that those who believe will show the sign of being able to physically heal by laying on hands.
2nd Timothy 4:20
Why didn't this Spirit filled believer lay hands on Trophimus and miraculously heal him if he could? Why isn't this 'sign' of laying hands on the sick that they recover following him? The answer is simple--this believer knows something that Charismatics and Pentecostals do not know. Namely, that God has not given the church power to lay hands on physically sick individuals and have them miraculosly healed. Many today are puzzled because God says that this is also a 'signification' of a believer. In other words, when you see believers, you should see this 'sign' (signification) following them. We know the Bible is true, so what gives concerning this passage? The pertinent question is, are these promises to be taken in a strictly physical fashion today, or were the miracles of healings recorded in the Bible before its completion a confirmation for the early Church signifying something spiritual? If this was to be taken literally as a sign of a believer, then it's one which is untrue. Because as this Christian in 2nd Timothy, few of us even make the claim to be able to lay hands on anyone and heal them from a physical sickness. Real sickness like Cancer, Aids, or any other terminal physical illnesses cannot be healed in our day by the touch of our hands. The truth is that this promise by God in Mark was that those who believe will go forth healing people in an 'infinitely more important' way than physically, which is spiritually. Lets look at this issue carefully in light of scripture. We know conclusively that those who are unsaved are pictured in the Bible as those who are sick, and in need of a doctor. For example; the Pharisees wanted to know why Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. Jesus answered,
- "Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick."
Jesus said, 'Go learn what that meaneth,' and YET there are many today who still haven't learned what that means? It means He's not talking about a doctor, or about physical health or sickness. Jesus is talking about something far more important than physical health or physical healing. If we would go learn what Jesus means (as He said), then Christians wouldn't be thinking they can heal physically with the touch of a hand. They are deceiving themselves in egotistical vanity, and power hungry pride.
- "..they that be whole need not a Physician, but they that are Sick."
- But go ye and Learn what that meaneth, I will have Mercy and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the RIGHTEOUS, but Sinners to repentance".
Carefully consider, Jesus has clearly equated the publicans and sinners with those being 'sick.' Check it out carefully to see if that is true. They are the ones in need of a Saviour. They are the ones who need the 'true' physician. Jesus Christ is that physician that heals. These sinners were not physically sick, but they were sick spiritually. That's why Jesus ate with them. That's why the prophesies were of Messiah coming with healing in His wings. The sinners were the ones who needed the Physician Christ. They are the ones who needed their sin sick souls healed. Of course Jesus did many 'literal' miracles of healing the sick, but those miracles were to 'illustrate' something far more important, just as the Resurrection of Lazarus was illustrative of a far more important resurrection. Does the fact that Jesus and the Apostles did miracles mean that we can by miracle heal the sick? No more than the fact that Jesus raised lazarus from the dead means we can raise up a corpse that is rotting and stinking from decay, as Christ did. No more than Jesus and Peter walking on water illustrates that we also can walk on water, or that we can spit in someone's eye and make them see. That is not the lesson God is putting forth by these miracles. When we read in scripture of the people being healed, we are getting a spiritual 'picture' of the healing nature of Salvation. This is just as when we read in the scripture of the Lamb being slain. It is a picture of Christ. Or when we read of the fish and loaves feeding five thousand. It is a spiritual picture of the feeding of the Lords people with the bread of the gospel, and how it will be multiplied from a small start. i.e., a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, or a tiny grain of mustard seed growing into a great tree. Its not there to illustrate that we can send thousands of swine running into the sea, or feed five thousand with a few fish, or cast a mountain into the sea, or walk on water, etc. It's there as a spiritual picture of Salvation, Security, and judgment. And that's the picture in Mark chapter 16 of believers laying on hands and healing.
We go forth with the healing gospel of Salvation and the sick (as Christ defines the sick) recover from the sickness of sin. The phrase, 'lay hands on the sick' is illustrating that it is by our hands these sick are made well. In other words, we are the ones who are bringing this healing gospel to the sick.
2nd Timothy 1:6
God has sent us as his vessels or the tools He uses to get the job done. We come with the word of God in our hand to heal the sick. When they become Saved, they have been healed. They have been made whole. Do we think that Paul would have wrote Timothy to use some wine for medicinal purposes if a miraculous healing was in order?
- "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands."
1st Timothy 5:23
Why didn't Paul say, we have the power to heal, have them lay hands on you to heal your stomach, and heal those often infirmities so you won't have them anymore? ..it is because Paul knew something that many today do not. We can pray for healing of our infirmities, we can take medicine for healing, but the only hand that can heal 'physically' is God's. And if He will not heal in answer to our by prayers, or our medication, then 'His Grace is sufficient for us." God has not such awesome power of physical healing in our hands. If that were true, we'd never die. For every time we got sick, we'd heal ourselves. The doctrine of being able to lay on hands physically sick and heal them is an ego trip cloaked in platitudes about having faith.
- "drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities".
It is often said by those who profess supernatural healing that, 'Christ went to the cross to heal us,' and this is indeed true. But He didn't go to the cross to heal us 'physically' as they surmise, else the cross would have been a total failure. For we all get sick, and we all die from some sickness. That is 'NOT' what Christ went to the cross to heal us from.
1st Peter 2:24-25
This isn't talking about any Physical healing, it's talking about healing us from our sin sickness. His stripes were for our Healing, but not physical healing. He was beaten because of our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquity. That's the Healing (our sin) that came by His stripes (punishment). Not that He healed me or you from catching a cold, or gave us some power to cure aids, grow short legs longer, or cure cancer, but that He healed us from the sickness of sin which kept us from being whole. That is what 1st Peter is delineating.
- "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes YE WERE HEALED,
- for ye were as Sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your Souls".
This was confirmation of fulfillment of the scripture in Isaiah 53:5 which spoke of our healing from sin, as expounded in,
This is a reference to that verse in Isaiah, this is what 1st Peter is talking about. The miracles of healing were for confirmation that this was indeed the fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah and the New Covenant. The Miracles confirmed this, it was not an indication that this is the normal power of believers.
- "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
- That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses".
These were a witness that this was the Christ, the sun with 'healing' in His wings (Malachi 4:2), and a token that the prophesied time had come. The Healings were spiritual confirmations. But with the completion of New Testament scripture the Word is sealed and not to be added to, nor taken away from. There is no more confirmation of additional Word of God! For there 'is no' additional Word. The New Covenant canon is Complete, not incomplete. He who adds to the Word now, by alleged divine revelation, is subject to the plagues of God written therein. It's not an insignificant matter as some suppose, it's a very serious matter.
- "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
- God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? "
The prayer of a righteous man availeth much in physical healings, but we have no power to lay hands on the physically sick and they will recover. The hospitals are full of people who could stand a healing very nicely, so why aren't these people who claim such power not there healing them instead of in contrived revival tents? Why aren't they healing the Aids patients, the Cancer patients, the terminally ill patients, the amputated patients, etc. Cure someone with an amputated leg, and all would say you've done a miracle, so why cannot they do this? The answer is quite obvious when we look at it honestly. Because to try and do so would show them for what they are. i.e., not able to heal or do the type miracles which the Apostles and Jesus did by the laying on of hands, or any other way.
Whenever this practice is challenged, we hear the same old excuses. 'Someone had no faith, and that's why it didn't work.' It's much more lucrative to feign healing in a evangelist's tent or at a so called revival where people go expecting to see a healing and so will see one whether there really is one or not. But the healing that God has in view is the job the believer does in bringing spiritual healing. To make one whole by being reconciled with God.
What good is it if you heal a man physically, and he is still sick spiritually where he is destined for Hell? The physical healing then profited Nothing! On the other hand, if a person is laying on their death bed physically, and you bring the gospel providing a spiritual healing, that person is INFINITELY better off than from any physical healing. The prayer of faith hath Saved him. Healed Him! by your hand! If he should still die physically, it's the best thing that could ever happen to him, for 'to live is Christ, but to die is gain' -Phil. 1:21. This is the healing that is important for the believer to bestow, and this is the sign that will follow those who believe. People become spiritually well because they come with the gospel.
When Jesus would heal, often times he would say, 'go and sin no more!' Was He saying they were physically sick because they sinned? No, rather He was 'equating' sins with a sickness. He was giving us a spiritual 'picture' of the sin sickness, and also of how that sickness could be healed. He bore our infirmities on the cross and healed us. It is He and only He who can do the real miracle which is the miracle of Salvation. In the spiritual language, He is the Physician that we are in need of, who will heal us. The Righteous need not this Physician, but we sinners do.
So, does this sign follow them that believe? Indeed it does. They lay hands on the sick, and they do recover because in their hands is the gospel which alone can heal the sick. They come with the power of the healing Word.
And so when examined carefully we see that all of these verses of Mark chapter 16, as understood in the light of God's Word are not a statement that believers will be able to do literal miracles, rather they are a statement that the miracles that accompany Salvation are infinitely more important than a lust for powers which belong to God alone! An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after signs (matthew 12:39). And the only sign that shall be given us is the sign of Jonah in the resurrection of Christ. i.e., the sign of Salvation. The Signs which shall follow those who believe are spiritually discerned. By the Holy Spirit of truth do we discern that these things are true.
We indeed (by the power of the gospel) in Christ's Name cast out devils, for Satan is evicted from He who is baptized in the Holy Spirit. We have been given the 'spiritual' keys of the Kingdom to loose on earth what 'has been' loosed in heaven. We are the vessels God uses to get that job done.
We indeed in Christ's name speak in new tongues or languages, for the gospel has gone out to every language in all the earth, and every people understands what was before a mystery. Our Commission to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel is faithfully being fulfilled in He who believes.
We Indeed In Christ's Name have the power to take up Serpents and not be harmed. For we have no fear of that old serpent Satan, nor his minions, for they have no power to harm us.
If we should drink any deadly thing it will not harm us. Because doctrines are like deadly poison, but we are sealed or secured by the Holy Spirit, wherein we are safe from being poisoned (deceived) by the false prophets and teachers of this world. We are those who by power of God keep the Word faithfully, that falsehoods not harm us.
And indeed, in Christ's name, through His Spirit and by our laying hands on the spiritually sick, they recover. By coming with the word of God in our hands those sinners (sick) are healed by the stripes of Christ, who died specifically for that purpose.
Yes, all these verses unquestionably belong in the Bible, for the Bible 'itself' testifies of their faithfulness. Every word of this is true. These signs do follow them that believe. And if you are of these who speak with the new languages of Christ, you should understand this, because you have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within you that these things are Spiritually discerned.
These verses are a marvelous promise to the believers that where they are baptizing and preaching the gospel, there will signs or evidence of those who are being Saved. Where they are, there will be the gospel of Salvation preached. Where they are, Satan is being cast out and has no power to deceive them, as he does over the unbelievers. Either these verses are all literal, or they all are all speaking in spiritual terms. Either you can literally drink a cup of deadly poison and not be harmed, or that is simply not what God had in view. One or the other.
2nd Timothy 2:15
I don't think any better words could be spoken here. Its not the way things seem that count, it's the way things really are. I've found that seeking the truth in God's Word is much better than leaning unto our own understanding, or going by what seems right in our own eyes, or in depending on what other mortal men claim is truth. Find out for yourself. Isn't that what 2nd Timothy 2:15 is really exhorting us to do? Do not be misled, do not take man's word, do not privately interpret, but study to shew yourself approved unto God "RIGHTLY" discerning the Word of truth. That tells us we can find the right answer, and that there is a right way to do it. ..by carefully studying the scriptures.
- "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
I hope that we have given you some food for thought in this brief study. May the Lord who is Gracious above all, guide you into the truth of His most holy Word.
Copyright ©1991 Tony WarrenFeel free to duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone who would like a copy, as long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. The above publication can be distributed only in its original form, unedited, and without cost.
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