“And He said unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 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.’
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” Mark 16:15-20
Jesus gives us the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and it is longer and more detailed in its application there. Here, however, we have a simple “Go and preach the gospel to every creature”, and then, what follows are signs, evidence that they are servants of God. Because of the newness of this message of grace, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, there must of necessity have been proofs of their words being true. The gospel is true and powerful to save, but the Scriptures [New Testament] had not yet even started to be written. Today, we have the completed Scriptures [Old and New Testaments], and we no longer need evidence of the power of the gospel to save.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” seems like a salvation of works, but any one who comes believing in Jesus will in obedience follow the Lord in water baptism. It is the “Public confession” of one’s faith in Jesus. When a person comes to faith in Jesus they have a desire to obey Him in all things. The first step of obedience, and the believer’s first call is a public testimony, and that is shown in baptism. Baptism is the testimony of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection, and by baptism you tell the world of your faith in Jesus and that you have died to the old life, been buried putting it all away, and have risen to new life in Him.
According to the apostle John in the gospel he wrote, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). You could ask the question, a fearful question, “What does one have to do to go to Hell? The answer to that is absolutely nothing. You can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus, His finished work on the cross and the resurrection, and enjoy the glory of Jesus for all eternity. You can do absolutely nothing and spend eternity in Hell. The truth of the matter is we are all condemned, dying, hellbound sinners. We are born in that condition – separated from God, hating God, loving ourselves, and seeking our own way, and not God’s way. There are some who believe that once this life is over that is it. There are even some professing Christians who believe only the saved will have an “Eternal life” while those who do not know God through His Son Jesus will simply go back to the dust, and their “spirits” will cease to exist. Part of the way that God created us in His image is that He gave us an eternal soul and spirit. Not “Eternal” in the sense that He is; like “Eternal past”, but an eternal future, and our eternity with Christ actually begins with our faith in Him. The condemned person’s eternity without Christ begins at the death of the physical body, and it will be an eternity without light, without friends, without satisfaction of desires. It will be an eternity of torment, or flames, heat, no water, nothing to quench your thirst. It will be a place without God’s love, only wrath.
These were signs of authentication. They were evidence of the power of God to save those who believe, and the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The first sign Jesus gives is the power to “…Cast out devils [demons]”. There is evidence of this in Acts with a young girl who is “demon possessed”, and brings great profit to her owner, because she can “Foretell” the future. Paul was bitten by a poisonous serpent, and without harm (Acts 28). The apostles Peter and John, on their way to the temple, meet a man who is lame, and by their words, “Rise up and walk” he gets up and walks (Acts 3). Paul raises a young man named Eutychus from death (Acts 20). There are many accounts in the book of Acts of the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of the apostles, doing miracles, signs and wonders, to confirm the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel which is being promoted not the miracles, and we must always remember that.
The changed lives of millions through the years is evidence of the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Men and women who have had hate filled, murderous hearts are changed into loving, compassionate, caring individuals who reach out to others with the truth of Christ. Men and women who have selfishly stolen from others through greed, lust, and larceny are changed into giving, unselfish individuals who love Christ and have given their all for Him.
One sign of the resurrection of Jesus is His ascension into Heaven to His Father’s right hand. The apostles all witnessed it. Peter, James and John, Matthew, and all the rest, except Paul for he had not yet come to faith in Jesus. Jesus fulfilled all the Scriptures concerning the things concerning Himself and His first coming, and He will fulfill all the things concerning His Second coming.
The disciples/apostles were the ones who are responsible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the beginning of the Church – the Body of Christ. Without the Holy Spirit confirming their word, there would be no church.
Can we go out in the same power of the Spirit that they did? Most certainly, and now we have something much better than miracles, signs and wonders. We have God’s Spirit confirming His written Word. It is finished. There is no more being added to it, and anyone that does add to it or take away from it will find the curses of His Word in their lives (Rev. 22:18-19).
There is nothing impossible to those who walk in the Spirit of God. Praying for the power of the Spirit on Christian lives.
-Tim A. Blankenship