Post by the Husband
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 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.”
These are fairly heavy words for a guy like me living in a first-world country.
These “signs” are supposed to accompany those who “believe”.
What does it mean to “believe”?
To believe simply means to know that Jesus Christ died on the cross to atone for our sins, and now is seated in the heavenly realms next to the Father and that every other religion or pathway supposedly to heaven is rejected.
It must mean that the one who believes then follows His Master, no matter where He leads.
Jesus says, those who believe will cast out demons, speak in new tongues, pick up serpents, lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Okay, I’m not sure about you, but as far as I’ve experienced so far in my Christian life – speaking in new tongues is about as close as I get to that list on a yearly basis.
I can’t remember the last time I cast out a demon, picked up a serpent, or healed someone. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my Christianity?
Even if I were to take the picking up serpent bit and the drinking deadly poison as some sort of generic description of facing potentially life threatening situations for the sake of the Gospel – well, in all honesty, I don’t tend to risk my life regularly for the gospel. Not even rarely. Perhaps if you could count going on a fairly laid back “mission trip” to Cambodia, there may have been some risk of getting hit by cars whilst riding those little motorbikes.
Come on, let me be brutally honest.
If this is a description of a “believer’s life, according to Jesus, I don’t come even close.
And I pray:
“Father – I’m speechless. As much as I can try to justify the lack of miraculous power in my life, I know that somehow, somewhere, I’m falling way short of the calling you have for me. Do you really only keep this sort of power for more dynamic people like missionaries in the third world? Or do you expect me to be more obedient, preaching the gospel with more desperation. Like that little girl who we met at the pool. Who attended a Catholic school and said she had heard the gospel before. I told her to read her bible and pray each day. But there was no conviction in my voice. She probably knew it. I was sharing like a man who doesn’t really know what to say. Forgive me Lord. This world deserves better. Maybe the miracles come only when a man like me ignores what people may think and preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ like a man with nothing to lose. Like the martyrs who laid down their lives for the gospel. Like the missionaries who give it all to go to unreached people groups. Father, help me preach the gospel clearly to those around me. I need to have your power.”
And then I realise that the reason for all these signs was in the context of world evangelism. It is not in the context of Christian Fellowship.
I’ve heard it said before but it rings true in this passage. The context of poisoning and serpents is on the field as you go OUT. The healings are signs to the unbeliever. Not to the believer. We already believe, why would we need a “sign”? The supernatural tongues, the casting out of demons, is to deliver the unsaved from demonic possession.
What we need is then to pray to the Father to make us a more ready labourer.
To be the worker. His worker. The harvest IS plentiful, but the workers are few, may we then labour the souls He loves so much.
We can start here where we are. With our family. With our closest friends. With our colleagues. To preach the gospel, regardless how inadequate we may feel, and to experience the Father who will bring signs and wonders to accompany the work that we do.
May your day be blessed today!