OceanSide church of Christ

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Miracles – Mark 16:17-18

Victor M. Eskew


            After setting forth the Great Commission, Jesus made this promise to His disciples:  “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18).  This text is used by those who advocate that miracles still exist.  They believe this promise is still being fulfilled.

            There are several ways to answer this argument.  First, the purpose of these miracles is clearly stated within the context.  Mark 16:20 states:  “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.”  Miracles served the purpose of “confirming” the words spoken by the apostles.  The New Testament of Jesus Christ was not completely revealed until the close of the first century.  The message of salvation was oral in nature at first (See Acts 2:14, 22).  How were the hearers to know if the message was truly from God?  By means of the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit, the Word of God was confirmed.  Even this was not a perfect system.  False teachers could perform all types of magic and cunning craftiness to deceive the masses (Eph. 4:14).  Once the Word was completely revealed, the miracles were no longer needed to confirm the Word.  Miracles were a temporary structure, much like scaffolding on a building.  Once a building is completed, the scaffolding is removed.  In like manner, once the New Testament was revealed, miracles were not needed to confirm the Word.

            Second, there is an old adage that says:  “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  Those who claim to be able to perform miracles need to make open displays of their miraculous ability.  They need to perform the miracles that Jesus said would follow them that believe.  The ability to take up serpents and drink deadly poison should be shown to all.  Most of the so-called “miracles” that are performed today are superficial.  They leave the honest on-looker asking the question:  “Where’s the beef?”

            Third, the New Testament teaches that miracles were to cease.  This was taught to the church in Corinth in I Corinthians 13.  “Charity never faileth:  but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (v. 8).  The time of the cessation of miracles is revealed in I Corinthians 13:10:  “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”  It is agreed that the “part” is miraculous gifts.  The disagreement comes over “that which is perfect.”  The word “perfect” means “complete, full, entire, and mature.”  It has reference to the “perfect law of liberty,” the Word of God (James 1:25).  When the New Testament was revealed in its fullness, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were “done away.”  Some believe that the “perfect” is Jesus Christ.  Thus, they teach that the miraculous gifts will last until Jesus comes again.  The gender of the noun in the Greek language does not allow this interpretation.  The gender is neuter, not masculine.  The noun refers to an object, the New Testament, not to the person of Jesus Christ.