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And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. Mark 16:15-20 (ESV)

These words from Mark represent what is known as the Great Commission? After our relationship with God and our families there is nothing more important. God is on a mission to restore and redeem his creation; but can we be honest for a minute? 

Are folks in the church really proclaiming the gospel? I am talking about our condition as sinners and the hope that is only found in Jesus. The message that speaks about his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection and the need for repentance. Also, where are the signs that are supposed to follow everybody who believe? The following signs are supposed to confirm the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Let’s look at an introductory key word in Mark 16:1-5.  Accompany: This is the Greek word parakolouthéōmeaning “To accompany side by side, to follow closely.”[1] This means that the signs that we are about to discuss should be a normal thing in the life of a believer. These signs are as follow:

  1. Casting out demons: There will be very little change in the life of any person if demons are not addressed. This is the Greek word, daimónion; mening, “an evil spirit subject to Satan. In Luke 8:29 Satan is made equal to an unclean spirit (see Luke 8:30). These spirits have the following characteristics and/or functions: 1) They wandered in desolate places (Sept.: Is. 13:21; 34:14 [cf. Matt. 12:43]) 2)They dwelt in the air or atmosphere (cf. Eph. 2:2). 3) They were thought to have the power of working miracles, but not for good (Rev. 16:14, see John 10:21). 4) They hostile to mankind (John 8:44). 5) They uttered the heathen oracles (cf. Acts 16:16, 17) 6) They lurked in the idols of the heathen (1 Cor. 10:20, 21; Rev. 9:20 [cf. Sept.: Deut. 32:17; Ps. 91:6; 106:37]). 7) They are spoken of as the authors of moral evil to mankind, (1 Tim. 4:1; James 2:19 [cf. Eph. 6:12]), 8) They enter into a person causing that person to be afflicted with various diseases (Luke 8:30, 33), even to the level of possession.[2]
  2. Speaking in new tongues: The word tongue here comes from the Greek word, glṓssa meaning, “speech or language.”[3] I definitely believe in speaking in tongues, but there is no way around this, speaking in tongues is speaking an actual language.
  3. What those picking up serpents means? We must look at this verse in terms of protection from evil. Satan is referred to as an ancient snake (Revelation 12:9). No need for us tempting God by purposely picking up serpents.
  4. What does drink deadly poison means? This is also referring to protection. As believers we are not super humans; but we should not be walking around scare of deceases.
  5. Lay hands on the sick and see them recover: The sick here is twofold, morally and physically. It is the Greek word árrōstos; “…moral weakness or slackness and/or bad state of health.”[4] In Luke 9:1-2 the Bible tells us, “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseasesand he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (ESV) Here we see Cure Diseases and Heal. Cure is where we get the word therapy and Diseases has to do with pain and sorrow. So here Jesus is addressing issues of the soul. When Jesus instructs them to heal, he is addressing bodily health.

These are the signs that MUST follow the preaching of the Gospel and the teaching of God’s Word. It is important to point out that preaching the gospel and teaching God’s Word comes first. We can’t focus on signs and wonders; our focus is on His Word. Nevertheless, these signs should be the normal in our congregations and in an in our lives. 

Do you think for a minute that churches would be so easily labeled as non-essential if these signs were evident amongst us? Let me ask this question a different way, do you think that Christians will be leaving their congregations as easily as some have if they truly have the confidence that these signs were evident among them? I am here to propose to you that the reason many believers are running like scaredy-cats is because they don’t believe God can protect them from Covid-19 (A virus with a 99% recovery rate). It did not take much for them to go from the building to Zoom and from Zoom to no fellowship at all.

Somewhere in church history we decided to do church differently from the biblical modus operandi established in Acts 2:42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (ESV) 

It is in this divine formula that we find the power of God. This is what worked for the original church, this is what worked for the church fathers and, what is working around the world for those who are seeking God, preaching the true Gospel, going deeper into the deep things of God and operating as a family that prays and eat together in authentic fellowship.

This ancient divine system is exciting, effective and never boring. But many are focusing on the buildings, the fancy lights, the sophisticated sound systems, the water down gospel and the absence of sound doctrine. Many are approaching the church as a show, not even a good show, but a bad production of entertainment, attempting to be funny and cool instead of holy and anointed. 

The church as intended by God is meaningful, fulfilling, amazing and exciting; the church as intended by men is boring, that is why it requires so much effort for entertainment. All through church history we have had a fake version of the church; we have our own fake version today, but make no mistake about it, that fake boring church will never… ever overcome the gates of hell. Nevertheless, the body of born-again believers, those who are hungry for Jesus, those who are not afraid and not bound by the glass of denominations to go deeper into the mysteries of God, those who follow His Spirit, who hear and recognize the voice of our Shepherd and dwell under the shadow of the wings of our Father… those will not be deceive by the fancy building, the fancy lights and the slick motivational speakers.  

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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