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March 2, 2004

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  • Charismatic Signs? Mark 16:17-18 out-of-context

Charismatic Signs? Mark 16:17-18 out-of-context

READER QUESTION:
I have a question for you...now that I've renounced my pentacostal, charismatic spiritual influences, (years ago, actually), how do I explain Mark 16:17-18 to my 8 year old daughter? "And signs will follow to those believing these things...they will cast out demons in My name, they will speak new languages, they will take up snakes, & if they drink anything deadly, it will in no way hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick, & they will be well." {The interlinear Bible} We were listening to the Bible on CD before bed, as always, & when she heard this verse, she wanted to go over it, word for word...I told her we'd go over it tomorrow, but I'm a bit at a loss...she said, "Mama, we're believers, are we going to do all these things? Do you?" Anything you can share would be much appreciated, thanks!

VW ANSWER:
In light of this week's Bible Study Methods lesson on "context", this question is most appropriate. These two verses are likely, quite possibly, two of the most-abused verses in all of Scripture. And all... because they are taken OUT-OF-CONTEXT. While it is true that "tongues" practitioners claim Paul to be saying the exact opposite of what he is actually saying in 1Corinthians ch14 to support their demonic practices; likely the whole pentecostal/charismatic error prooftexts their entire existence on these two verses. These two verses are the very kingpin around which charismania swivels. They might be able to exist on only their misunderstanding of 1Co14, but these verses, along with Joel ch2, which they also take out of context, are the very -key- to their existence.

However: A person cannot read just vs 17-18 by themselves....but they must be read in the -context- with 19-20 included. Notice that that entire passage condenses a very big time-frame within a few short verses, even the verses preceeding vs17.

So, notice what 17-18 say about signs and miracles. Then, Jesus is taken up. (vs19) and then the disciples "went" and "preached" (vs20) PAST TENSE. (Past Tense==it already happened) And indeed, the apostles (historically) -DID- do all those signs and wonders.

Just one example....notice that the "signs and wonders" were done by the hands "OF THE APOSTLES" (Ac5:12)

Thus, Mark was written as a 'history' -after- all these things had taken place. In other words, Jesus 1) commissions the apostles, 2) goes to Heaven, and 3) the apostles -did- what Jesus commanded, and their work was authenticated by the signs Jesus promised. (Heb2:4) As... signs and wonders was God's special authentication to Israel (Is8:18, Num14:11) The miracles were the "signs of an apostle" (2Co12:12)...proof that the person was, truly, an apostle.

That's why such signs are not part of the realm for today, because, by definition, today there are no Scriptural apostles (leading in something "new"), since the faith has already been "once for all delivered to the saints" (Judas1:3) And since it was all delivered, Paul warned against anybody proclaiming a "different gospel" (Ga1:8-9) These that work their false "signs and lying wonders" (2Th2:9) today, do so to try to authenticate and deceive people with their -new- so-called "revelations" and "words of knowledge", etc. They are "accursed".

But God warned Israel about that several millennia ago, about false prophets and "dreamer of dreams" (aren't today's charlatains having all these visions?) who perform signs, and their signs even come to pass (indeed, many of these 'miracles' today are not fake, many of them are real). And God warns that the false prophet then, with the false authentication of the miracles he performs, leads his listeners away to false doctrine, to idolatry, to different teaching...God says, "you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for Jehovah your God is testing you to know whether you love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (De13:1-4)

When these modern false prophets proclaim their visions, proclaiming different new doctrines, they are leading people astray to different gods. "doctrines of demons" (1Ti4:1) They are "departing from the faith"...that which was already "once for all delivered". They are not content with God's Word and "sound doctrine" (2Ti4:3, Tit2:1) but in leading people astray, they proclaim themselves to be little gods....and people follow them like pied pipers. It is idolatry. Thus, today's charismania, when it boils right down to it, is the identical same sin Israel was guilty of...for which reason God dispersed them into exile around the world.

In Israel's day it was called "baal" worship. Today it is "charismania". Effectively, ultimately the outcome is identical!

Related Topic: Charismania: Joel "proof text"?

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