Question: In Mark 16, did not Jesus say that everyone who believes in Him will do wonderful signs?
Well, let’s see that passage together, and let’s see how the Bible interprets that passage.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;
they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.””
As you can see, this passage is about Jesus sending His Apostles to the whole world to preach the Gospel. These Apostles would come to people and tell them the Good News authoritatively, and there was no New Testament written yet. So imagine you are in the first century; you have the Old Testament that talks about ceremonies and different ordinances; and you suddenly see a man telling you he’s the Apostle of Christ, and he tells you that you can’t be saved by keeping those ceremonies and ordinances of the Old Testament, but you need to put your trust on Jesus Christ alone. The first thing that will come to your mind is to tell him: “Well, how can I know that Jesus sent you?”
After all, with every new revelation from God, a certain kind of signs is needed. Look what happened with Moses:
“Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.'”
The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”
Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”–so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand–
“that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
The LORD furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow.
Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.
“If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.
“But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”” (Exodus 4:1-9)
So God gave Moses some signs by which people would know that God sent him.
The same happened in this context of Mark 16. Jesus gave the Apostles some signs by which people would know that they are sent by Him. These signs would happen by the hands of the Apostles and of their co-workers, and these signs would be the sign that God has rejected the unbelieving Israel to choose the believing Israel and the believing nations as His holy people. All this means the institution of the New Covenant.
How did I know that these are apostolic signs? Let’s read together:
“The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.” (2 Corinthians 12:12)
How did I know that people would expect such signs from someone who claims to be sent from God? Well, I already told you about what happened with Moses. Now, I give you a New Testament passage about that:
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,
how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,
God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (Hebrews 2:1-4)
So you see how God was testifying with them.
Jesus says that “These signs will accompany those who have believed”. He didn’t say that each believer will have all those signs. His words were clear: that those signs will ACCOMPANY. Accompany WHOM? They will accompany THOSE who have believed. So you will expect to see these signs of an Apostle in each Christian local church that had that apostolic institution in the first century. Do we see this? Of course:
“And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?” (1 Corinthians 12:28-30)
So although not ALL Christians have all those gifts that Christ mentioned, but ALL those signs that Jesus mentioned accompanied the true Church (those who believed) in the first century, just as Jesus said. We don’t need signs today, as we already have the whole New Testament and we don’t see Apostles today who come and tell us that they are sent by Jesus. If anyone claims to be sent by Jesus, he should meet the standards of the Scripture, so no signs are needed as the New Testament Canon is complete and is closed. As for the other gifts that are not signs they are still present in the whole true Church today.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ
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