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These signs will follow

Mark 16:17-20 "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." So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”

What is mentioned as signs are:

  1. Casting out of demons
  2. Speak in new languages unlearned
  3. Take up of serpents, and be unharmed
  4. Drinking of poison, and be unharmed
  5. As they lay hands on the sick a complete physical healing will take place

First, we need to understand if all believers could do what the apostles did then there would be no reason for the Holy Spirit to distribute the different gifts to each person. Jesus did the miracles in his own name, the apostles did the miracles in Jesus’ name. These Miracles were necessary for the establishment of the church. It does not mean it will follow all believers. No believer today should use this as the requirement to show they are authentic believers, that is error.

Mark 16:17-18 needs to be interpreted by the Acts of the Apostles (which are found in the book of Acts and is its actual name). If we look at the book of the Acts of the Apostles, who was it that took up a serpent? Paul, an apostle! Who laid hands on the sick to recover? The apostles! When Dorcas died the believers who were present that were taught by the apostles did not raise her, but instead sent for the apostle Peter to raise her from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). The Bible is consistent in teaching the majority of “signs and wonders are done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43).

By the examples in the Scripture it tells us it was the apostles that did the miracles. The Lord is speaking directly to the apostles just before He is taken up into Heaven (Mark 16:19). Jesus is speaking to the eleven, and commissions them to preach the Gospel first and then baptize the believers. Afterward, the apostles went out and preached, and it specifically states the Lord was working with them (v.20) confirming His Word through accompanying signs when people heard the gospel and believed (Hebrews 2:4). This is why it is called apostolic miracles.

The apostles were endued with miracles by the working of the Spirit, for the confirmation of the doctrines they preached. This became the evidence that they, the apostles, were sent from God for both Israel and the Gentiles.

These signs were done toward those who by hearing the gospel believed, they accompanied the apostle’s message. Signs and wonders followed their preaching. There is nothing in Scripture to support the idea that signs and wonders will follow all Christians in the same way it did for the apostles. This does not mean we will not see any signs, but that it was promised to them specifically from the Lord.

What we see is the miracles mentioned in the book of Acts were almost always attributed to an apostle or a direct appointee under them. The book of Acts proves this. In Acts 2:43 it records as the church gathered together “many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.” Acts 5:12: “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people.”

Acts 14:3: “Paul and Barnabas -- signs and wonders to be done through their hands.” The Bible is clear that this was specifically done through God’s appointed apostles or those traveling with them

Healing was one of the signs that Jesus said would follow the apostles but this was an extraordinary miracle by an apostles hands. This did not become a normal practice for the Church, or for all the apostles. ” (unusual signs by Paul Acts 19:12 , that even the other apostles did not do).

All Christians can pray for God to heal and do a miracle, but we need to accept the Bible teaching that it was not a promise exercised by all believers. Paul speaks of himself as having “the signs of an apostle” (2 Corinthians 12:12). In other words, the miracles he and other apostles did distinguished them from other believers. The apostolic miracles were through chosen men commissioned to lead and establish the early Church.

For people to claim the same abilities, the working of the Spirit in this manner it means they are claiming to be as an apostle. Again, these signs were fulfilled through certain people in the early church, no one could reasonably argue that all of these signs are expected to accompany every Christian because the Bible clearly does not teach this.

Paul asks the assembly a rhetorical question “Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? The answer is an emphatic NO! Some do and some do not.

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