Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 5)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 5)

(This article is part of a continuing series. The previous article can be found here).

As we now turn our attention to the duration of miracles, we must first note some other significant limitations about the miracles recorded in the early days of the church:

Miracles were limited to apostolic ministry.

In the book of Acts – which records the early weeks (chapters 1-7), months (8-9), and years (10-28) of the church’s existence – there are numerous miracles recorded. Without fail, aside from those worked directly by God, these miracles were wrought either by (1) an apostle, or (2) someone on whom an apostle had laid hands. But did those on whom the apostles laid hands confer this gift to others? Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 5)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 4)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 4)

(This article is part of a continuing series. The previous article can be found here).

Are miracles still occurring today? That is not the same question as, “Do people still claim to witness miracles today?” People claim to witness miracles regularly. But a claim must be substantiated.

This is a somewhat touchy subject because if you say, “God is no longer working miracles as He did in the first century,” people might hear that as, “God is not active in people’s lives,” or, “God is no longer capable of performing a miracle,” or, “God does not provide healing at all,” or perhaps worse, “God doesn’t care about us.” Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 4)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 3)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17.) (Part 3)

This article is a continuing series; the preceding article can be found here.

Have you ever seen someone raised from the dead by the word of a prophet?
Have you ever witnessed someone drinking a sufficient amount of poison as would kill them, but with no effect?
Have you ever heard someone instantly speak fluently in a language with which they were previously unfamiliar?
Do you know of a person who goes to cancer clinics and pronounces patient’s cancer to be in full and instantaneous remission? Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 3)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 2)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 2)

In the previous article (here), we gave four reasons why modern snake-handling as a religious act is not what Jesus was referring to in Mark 16:17-20. In this second article, we will continue the exploration of the modern phenomenon of snake-handling, and why it is not the fulfillment of what Jesus prophesied.

Jesus certainly said that miracles would accompany the disciples in their ministry. He listed several examples of the kinds of things they might expect: Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 2)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 1)

“These signs shall follow them that believe…” (Mark 16:17)

Some years back, when I lived in Appalachian Kentucky and conducted a weekly radio program, I aired a program that argued against snake-handling as a biblically-sanctioned religious activity. Some might say that was a more dangerous stunt than the snake-handling itself. During the course of that program (I still have all the manuscripts), I said concerning Mark 16:20:

This passage no more authorizes the use of snakes in worship than it authorizes the drinking of bleach…Yet, if the passage teaches one, it surely teaches the other, does it not? Why snakes and not bleach? Why not snakes and bleach? I’ll tell you why, because you can get away with handling a snake for a long time – especially if you know what you’re doing – but you can’t get away with drinking bleach even once!

Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 1)”

He knew it all along

Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

We often consider the unfair treatment Jesus suffered. He was mocked, beaten, ridiculed, spat upon, struck, blindfolded, stripped, beaten, humiliated (Isaiah 53:1-12; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:19-23). All this, before he was nailed to a cross and hung up to die.

He who created man and placed him in a Garden of paradise and showered him with blessings, found himself in a Garden of sorrow, showered with bloody sweat. Continue reading “He knew it all along”

Free-diving into eternity

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Off the coast of Greece, since the days of Plato, free divers have been plunging to depths of 50-100 meters with no breathing apparatus at all to harvest sea sponges. Others do this kind of diving for sport.

But it is extremely dangerous.

In 2013, Nicholas Mevoli died after performing a dive. He resurfaced, signaled “OK,” then lost consciousness, and died. In 2015, Russian free-diver, Natalia Molchanova, who held 41 world records and earned 23 gold medals, plunged into the Mediterranean darkness off the coast of Spain for a recreational dive, and failed to resurface. After a few days, rescue efforts ceased. Continue reading “Free-diving into eternity”

Are you pulling my leg (off)?

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…” (Matthew 5:29-30; see also: Mark 9:43-47).

Would you be surprised to learn that heaven will cost you an arm and a leg? And maybe even an eye?

I believe the above passage presents a great – indeed, an insurmountable – difficulty for those who believe that we incur no cost in our own salvation. Does our obedience to the gospel turn God’s grace into a payment for services rendered?  Continue reading “Are you pulling my leg (off)?”