Mark 16:14-20 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves ... 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole 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 cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 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.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
These are the last words recorded in the book of Mark describing the events surrounding the life of Jesus Christ beginning at His baptism and ending with His ascension into heaven where He is at this very moment. Jesus came on a mission to provide for our salvation. He is at the heart of the Gospel message. He is the Good News as it is through the very actions of Jesus Christ that anyone can be justified in the sight of God. It is only through Jesus Christ and His finished work upon the cross that anyone can be saved. Jesus confirmed the Gospel message (even before it was truly understood by anyone) with many signs and miracles. All of these actions confirmed His authority and proved that He is indeed the very Son of God.
The man, Jesus of Nazareth, is a real person who walked upon this earth and is fully man and fully God. This God-man called upon the Jews as well as the Gentiles to repent and to turn away from their wicked ways, just as John the Baptist before Him preached this message. But the difference was that Jesus called all of mankind to look upon Himself. Look to Jesus- the author and perfecter of our faith who alone is the instrument of our salvation. Any person who is born again believes in Him- not only that He exists and is real and is a God-man but that He died a horrific death upon a cross for me. He died for me personally because I have been corrupted by sin and cannot have a relationship with God apart from Him. He died to restore my relationship with God as His perfect righteousness is imputed to me (given to me and covers me) and my depravity was imputed to Him (given to Him and destroyed in Him) as He suffered the punishment that I deserve upon the cross as God the Father punished Him. He rose from the dead proving that the victory had been won and that He had pleased God the Father in every way and I live in Him as I have been set free and given a new heart and a new nature that not only desires to love God with a genuine desire that is not self serving and selfish but that also actually can love God by living a life of obedience to Him as given the power to overcome sin by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
As Jesus ascended into heaven He left the eleven disciples behind. They were to carry on the work that He had begun. But at this point the New Testament had not been written. The only written Scriptures were found in the Old Testament. Why would anyone believe the eleven who were left behind? Because Jesus would “work with them and confirm their message by accompanying signs.” The eleven disciples were first hand witnesses to what Jesus had said and done. This, in and of itself, is enough proof to believe that Jesus is who He says He is and that although He walked upon this earth over two thousand years ago, every person alive today should still examine His life. But their testimony doesn’t justify another compilation of books nor would it convince people to join the Church instead of continuing to follow all of the Jewish laws (all 613) and customs. And so the end of the book of Mark emphasizes that these eleven men had unique and powerful external signs that would accompany the Gospel message that they preached. They were able to cast out demons, to speak in new languages and tongues, to pick up serpents with their hands, and to drink any deadly poison and not be harmed, as well as when they laid their hands on the sick, the person recovered. Does this mean that all who are born again Christians today can do similar things? While it is possible for God to do similar miracles in our day, it is not necessary for God to confirm the Gospel message that we share in the same manner as He did with the apostles. For the New Testament is recorded in the completed Bible. The Gospel message is written in a clear and straightforward manner for all to read and to hear. The Gospel message was present but hidden in the Old Testament writings but as soon as Jesus rose from the dead He made the plan of salvation clear to all who followed Him. Every Christian today has the complete Word of God and can look back to the cross of Jesus Christ and can learn exactly what transpired including all of the spiritual significance involved in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. If we shared the Gospel message with those around us we do not need the message confirmed by signs and wonders in order for people to believe. We can believe based upon the historical account and the witnesses, but also we can believe the Word of God is true based upon the accompanying signs that were performed by the Apostles. Just because they occurred over 2,000 years ago does not diminish their significance.
The greatest need in our day, as a Christian shares the Gospel message, is not the need of accompanying signs of wonders or miracles, but the fruit of a converted soul based upon a proper declaration of the Gospel message as found in the Word of God. If a person is declaring to others the true Gospel message and not a perversion of it, the end result will be that the Holy Spirit will use it to convert the soul of an unbeliever. Only God knows who will be saved but if the Gospel message is proclaimed in the same manner as the Apostles declared it, people will repent and believe and be baptized and be saved. Unfortunately, often what is presented as the Gospel is nothing but a false Gospel message. Jesus will not confirm a message that is not true and a message that does not point to Him as the only means of a person’s salvation. But He absolutely will confirm a message that does present the true Gospel. The greatest need in our day is not more signs and wonders to be seen within the Church but rather a message preached and declared to a lost and dying world that is the same message that Jesus taught and that the Apostles also shared that turned the entire world upside down.
How well do you know the Gospel message? Can you share it with someone else? Has Jesus confirmed the message that you have shared with others by the evidence of a converted soul? I’m not talking about leading a person through a prayer of salvation. This is not what is meant by Jesus confirming the message. I am talking about a person who has been completely transformed by Jesus Christ Himself as you have shared the Word of God with them.
Pastor Murray Hack
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