Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 2)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 2 of 3)

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)?”

God’s “theory of everything”

No saying of Jesus is more perplexing than this: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

I’ve tried most of my life to understand this saying. I’ve heard preaching on it, read books and chapters of books and commentaries about it. It all seems satisfactory in some ways, unfulfilling in others.

Invariably, I will say that it puzzles me, and someone retorts with a statement that sounds as if they figured it out years ago. I’m sorry (not sorry) if I don’t believe you. Continue reading “God’s “theory of everything””

The God who does nothing

“You would have no power over me at all unless it were not given you from above” (John 19:11)

Imagine having power to create a universe with billions of galaxies, and more billions of stars within, planets around those stars, and – at least in essence – the power to duplicate even your own self.

This is the awesome power of God (Exodus 20:11; Psalm 146:6); His strength is unlimited (Job 36:22). Continue reading “The God who does nothing”

Five (unpopular) things Jesus said about divorce

“…from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8)

In 17 years of ministry (part and full-time), I have met with numerous married, and to-be-married couples. One thing I’ve found by this experience is that to-be-married couples generally understand the concept of adultery, and see it as a legitimate – if not the only – reason for divorce. Even if their Bible knowledge is somewhat limited, or they are not Christians, they will often say that this is the only legitimate grounds for a biblical divorce. I have this in writing from almost every couple I’ve married.

Yet, in nearly every troubled marriage that I’ve tried to help, one or both have a completely different, and non-biblical view of divorce and/or adultery. Continue reading “Five (unpopular) things Jesus said about divorce”