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Signs to Strengthen Faith

Mark 16:17-18
'And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on people who are ill, and they will get well.' (NIVUK)

Signs are not designed to be objects of wonder in their own right: their job is to point out the right way to go.  They are not intended as museum pieces for admiration, but as obvious turning points to enable people to get on track.  As the Gospel message spread, the book of the Acts tells of all sorts of miracles that drew attention to the uniquely powerful Jesus.  In astonishing ways, while some apostles died as martyrs, others were preserved through multiple life-threatening circumstances (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  Such signs were a part of God's commendation of Jesus (Acts 2:22), and of the apostles (Acts 5:12), to a sinful world.

Even those who denied the message could not ignore the miracles. Hebrews 2:2-4 insists that the salvation-message has so many remarkable flags all around it, that missing it is culpable negligence! "For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."

The key phrase in these verses is, "… these signs will accompany those who believe …".  The signs did not create faith or make the gospel call irresistible (John 10:25; John 10:38).  They were confirmatory evidence for those who were responding to the person and words of Jesus through His apostles.  However, although many people saw the signs, only some believed.  The gospel is not a proposition of power for people to connect into; it is a message about the death of Christ for our sins calling people to repentance – so that they may receive mercy and be made children of God.  The signs draw attention to the gospel, but the signs are not the gospel.  They are not power-fixes for people who want to regain control of their lives.  Their true effect is to humble people to realise how much they need God's love and mercy as revealed in the Gospel of Christ.     

The Christian Way is not just a nice comfort for the sad, nor rules for the religious: it is packed with power.  The gospel is the power of God for salvation; and the power to deal with Satan's lies.  Many people do not know that this is true; but all the evidence is in the Bible.  Most will not open it by themselves, so why not invite a friend to read it with you?  Mark's Gospel is a good place to start, and the Word@Work archives will help you with a verse by verse commentary.

Father God. Thank You that You have given us Your Word - to show the world what an amazing person You are, and how much Christ has done for us. Forgive me when I have been lured to present powerful signs rather than Your powerful gospel. Help me to defeat Satan's lies, by taking courage to ask my friends to read the Bible with me ... so that they can see how wonderful You are, and receive Your love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams