Friday, April 25, 2014

Signs will follow

"Carry this Gospel to all the world"
by Harold Copping

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 16:9-20

TO CHEW ON: "'And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.'.... And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs." Mark 16:17-18, 20.

Christianity has divided itself roughly into two camps.
- Those who believe that these signs Jesus spoke of, which were promised to "confirm" the word have ceased (Cessasionists).

- Those who believe that signs legitimately continue till this day (Continuationists).

A footnote on this passage in my Bible defends the Continuationist position:

"The signs accredit the gospel message and cannot be limited to the apostolic age, any more than the Lord's commission to carry the gospel throughout the world. The signs, therefore, confirm the ministries of Christ's ambassadors in every generation" - J. Lyle Story, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1380.

This latter is what I believe (in other words, I am a continuationist). But if this promise applies to us, why don't we see more signs accompanying the preaching of the gospel?

Perhaps one reason is that we don't really desire them and so we don't ask (as the disciples did in Acts 4:29-30). John Piper, in an article on this topic, makes this observation (he is referring specifically to the spiritual gift signs referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10):

"I wonder how many of us have said for years that we are open to God's moving in spiritual gifts, but have been disobedient to this command to earnestly desire them... I would ask all of us: are we so sure of our hermeneutical procedure for diminishing the gifts that we would risk walking in disobedience to a plain command of Scripture? "Earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."

I have come to the point of seeing that the risk lies in the other direction. It would be a risk not to seek spiritual gifts for myself and my church. It would be a risk not to pray with the early church, "Grant your servants to speak your word with boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through your holy servant Jesus." Disobedience is always a greater risk than obedience" - John Piper "Signs and Wonders: Then and Now."

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for breaking through natural laws with supernatural acts when You were on earth, and since then throughout history. Help me to be more open to You working in and through my life in supernatural ways. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Mark

Today the church celebrates the Gospel writer Mark in the Feast of St. Mark. The day's liturgy begins with this collect:

Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

More on the two views mentioned above: 


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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