September 09, 2020 – Wednesday
Mark 16:15-18 NIV
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all 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 drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
18 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 sick people, and they will get well.”
Today we continue from yesterday to the end of Mark 16. However, it should be noted the earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20 in Mark 16.
The first thing we have is a command from Jesus to Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. This is a command still in effect to this day. Charles Spurgeon once related this exchange between the Duke of Wellington and an army chaplain; An army chaplain once said to the Duke of Wellington, ‘Do you think that it is of any use our taking the gospel to the hill tribes in India? Will they ever receive it?’ The duke replied, ‘What are your marching orders?’ That was the only answer he gave. Stern disciplinarian as that great soldier was, he only wanted marching orders, and he obeyed; and he meant that every soldier of the cross must obey the marching orders of Christ, his great Commander. So must we do so today as well.
Jesus gives the reason for His command in the very next verse; Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And to be clear, those who are saved are saved from hell while those who are not saved, those who do not believe, will end up in hell. The focus here is on believing not on baptism for baptism would mean nothing without belief. Salvation is entirely dependent on belief and it is belief that brings salvation. Baptism is the public symbolism or declaration of a new life in Christ and it is also commanded by Jesus. If a believer is to be obedient to His Lord and Savior, he or she will be baptised as soon as possible after coming to belief. Peter Pett puts it this way, Baptism is assumed for every believer. But it is not the lack of baptism that condemns but the lack of belief.
Pett then adds this about how baptism indicates a new life in one’s faith and belief in Jesus, As the word spread among the Gentiles baptism would become even more significant for it would be seen by outsiders, and by the man himself, as cutting a man off from his old life and environment and religion and proclaiming to all that he was now Jesus’ disciple, serving the living God, dead to his old life and living in newness of life. Romans 6:4 reflects the same thought process, We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Then we come to verses l7 and 18 about signs will accompany those who believe. What are these signs? The ability to drive out demons in Jesus name, the ability to speak in new tongues. Also, the ability to pick up snakes with their hands and the ability not to be hurt when they drink deadly poison. Finally, the ability to place hands on sick people who will then get well. Guzik writes this was Jesus giving His disciples a promise of divine power and protection. I would disagree if he means these signs were only for the disciples. I would agree when he writes, Jesus never intended drinking poison or handling snakes to be a specific test or measure of faith. Paul was not showing his faith and belief when he was bitten by a viper on the island of Malta and survived (Acts 28:1-6) nor was John showing his faith and belief when extrabiblical writings tell us the Roman emperor Domitian commanded that the apostle John be boiled to death in oil, but John only continued to preach from within the pot. Thus John was banished to Patmos in A.D. 97. And it was there he wrote of the vision he had of the Revelation of Jesus’ return.
I closely agree with Benson’s Commentary on these verses where he writes, Even at this day, in every believer, faith has a latent miraculous power: (every effect of prayer being really miraculous:) although in many, because of their littleness of faith, and because the world is unworthy, that power is not exerted. Miracles in the beginning were helps to faith; now also they are the objects of it. Benson continues, The gospel word, and faith therein, must precede, and then the signs shall follow. Pett concludes with, We do not read of those who had this gift failing to heal, unlike modern day ‘faith healers’. Indeed!