Christianity offers great rewards for those that submit to and
endorse its agenda, which is to spread itself and dominate all
other forms of spiritual belief.
It also offers threats of terrible punishment for those that fail to comply with its demands.
The reward of heaven and the threat of hell have worked wonders in coercing people over the centuries.
Christian believers will point to the New Testament as the authoritative source for their certainty on key spiritual issues.
Many Christians will often preach to unbelievers about how they are filled with the Holy Spirit and how Jesus operates through them when they surrender to him and let him be Lord over their lives.
They chirp about being new creatures in Christ, along with having the mind of Christ.
They boast about the amazing wonder working power of the Holy Spirit and consider themselves to be the earthly agents of God, with the authority and power to overcome the sinful secular world.
However, they are also quick to offer excuses when the grand promises of Jesus that appear in the New Testament don't line up with reality.
In particular, Jesus promised that believers would display some signs of the wonderful power that infests the faithful when they accept the Gospel, become filled with the Holy Spirit, and invoke the name of Jesus to work miracles.
Such is the case with Mark 16:16-18, which makes some grand promises about believers.
14-Afterward he(Jesus) appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
15-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.
Obviously, apart from the claims of faith healing sects and TV
preachers that insist they can cast out devils and heal the sick,
there aren't any Christians that can do these things.
Babbling in tongues is too easy to fake, so that "miracle" can probably be removed from the list.
Even if only a small percentage of Christians were actually able to do these things, hospitals and mental wards would be put out of business in fairly short order.
Anyone that watches television, uses the internet, or listens to radio knows that the pharmaceutical drug companies are doing a booming business these days, and have been for years.
That presents a problem for Christians because according to Christian myth, Jesus can never make a promise that isn't true.
That's because believers operate under a very simple rule that eliminates the need to think beyond cult doctrine.
In this cult world, Jesus is a universal everything and everything in the universe revolves around Jesus.
Therefore, Jesus and the Bible can never be mistaken or wrong about anything.
Having put on that mental strait jacket, believers must then alter the failed promise so that it can be true.
This is accomplished by claiming that Jesus wasn't really saying all(or even most) believers would have the ability to perform miracles, but only a select few of them would have that ability and only for a very limited time period.
In Mark 16:16-18, Jesus is not talking to crowds of people but is talking only to his eleven disciples.
Jesus gave them special powers that were to be used in the 1st century to advance the faith.
This promise was not meant for all believers.
The "them that believe" is limited to the eleven disciples that were in this presence.
The fact that Jesus did not use words such as "you that believe" instead of "them that believe" is not really important.
Jesus did not intend for skeptics to come along and put words in his mouth because they want to find errors.
This is a typical Christian apologetic ploy.
They'll decide what's important and what's not important.
Christians today can't perform these signs so Jesus couldn't have meant what he said.
According to apologists, Jesus really meant to say something like this:
"Whoever among those of you here right now that believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever among those here right now that does not believe will be condemned.
And these signs will accompany those of you here who believe: In my name YOU will drive out demons; YOU will speak in new tongues; YOU will pick up snakes with YOUR hands; and when YOU drink deadly poison, it will not hurt YOU at all; YOU will place YOUR hands on sick people, and they will get well."
Or, an alternative rationalization might simply claim that verse 16 applies to all believers, while verses 17 and 18 only apply to the eleven disciples that were listening to Jesus make this speech.
In other words, it's an apologetic manipulation of the scripture.
Then the apologist accuses the skeptic of trying to put words in Jesus' mouth.
According to this rationalization, the eleven disciples got the industrial strength Holy Spirit, while the rest of Christianity gets the watered down version that won't do these things, except to perhaps babble in tongues.
Also, by trying to limit the promise to the eleven disciples, this apologetic rationalization overlooks St. Paul, who worked miracles and wonders without having ever met Jesus.
Paul was so potent a miracle worker that when he touched cloth, he infused it with magical healing power that drove away both diseases and demons.
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
Paul claimed that he was not the least bit inferior to the eleven disciples, also known as Apostles, even though Paul had not known Jesus. (2 Cor 12:11-12)
Paul also claimed in Gal 2:14 that some of the Apostles did not walk correctly in the Gospel.
There were also many others that performed miracles.
Stephen was yet another believer outside of the inner circle that performed miracles. (Acts 6:8)
In Luke 10:1-20 there are 72 unidentified people that worked miracles.
Jesus also assured these 72 people that their names were written in heaven.
Claiming that the promise given by Jesus in Mark 16:17-18 was restricted to only the eleven disciples, should be classified as deceptive apologia.
Jesus was scolding his disciples for their unbelief in him and told them they would have special power to perform miracles if they believed. Their salvation also depended upon this.
The eleven disciples already had special powers given to them in Mark 6, which was long before Jesus made the speech to them in Mark 16:16-18.
This speech was also made after Jesus was resurrected, but prior to this event Jesus declared that the disciples had sure knowledge and belief that he was from God, and that none of them had been lost except Judas.
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
It's little wonder that some of the eleven may have doubted what had happened at the resurrection event.
According to the Gospel of Luke, they didn't even understand what it meant.
Then he(Jesus) took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
According to Luke, the eleven had to wait until after the resurrection for Jesus to open their minds to understand it.
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
It's somewhat odd that Jesus would be scolding the eleven.
Jesus was scolding the disciples for doubting and not understanding something that they wouldn't be able to understand until Jesus had altered their minds to comprehend it.
According to the Gospel of John, the disciples must have already believed enough in Jesus to qualify them for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And when he(Jesus) had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
It makes little sense for an apologist to claim that Jesus, in Mark 16:16-18, meant his promise of miracle working power would only apply to the eleven disciples, if they believed.
Jesus gave them that power the very first time he saw them after his resurrection.
Their salvation was already accomplished.
Mark 16:17-18 is clearly not promising that all believers would perform miracles.
Nor is there any other scripture to be found in the Bible that makes such a claim.
It must be painful for skeptics to learn that one of their cherished arguments against Jesus and the Bible is unfounded and completely deluded nonsense.
Your embarrassing performance will not be easy to live with.
True Christians have God on their side and skeptics have only their sick, fallen nature to rely on.
This is a nice example of deception, wishful thinking, and spiritual jingoism.
When Christians like this boast about God being on their side, it must embarrassing to have to tell a sick dying child in a hospital that the amazing Holy Spirit power of God will not be able to heal the child as Jesus promised.
When faced with reality, Christians can only impotently quote scripture and tell the dying child that they'll pray to Jesus for them to get well soon.
Perhaps Jesus is too busy making media appearances on burnt pieces of toast or projecting his image on panes of glass to take time out and work actual healing power through his faithful believers.
What a pathetic joke these cult members are.
Many preachers and professional apologists are also afflicted with this malady and they operate under the assumption that the Bible is actually only a rough draft of God's Word.
The final version of God's Word is really found inside their skulls, where they mentally rewrite the Bible, taking out the parts they don't like and inserting qualifiers to alter the text into something that conforms with their desires.
They'll decide what the Bible means, and then try to foist their "wisdom" on to the masses, often for a price.
Many Christian apologists consider themselves to be God's editors, and have no problem claiming to be ordained by the Almighty to do their noble work.
However, the promises found in Mark 16:16-18 clearly indicate that sweeping powers would be given to believers and these verses were not an anomaly.
There are many other verses that reinforce the promises made in Mark 16:16-18.
Jesus promised that belief was the magical ingredient that made all things possible.
This is exhibited in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark 9:23(speaking to a non-disciple)
And Jesus said to him, `If thou art able to believe! all things are possible to the one that is believing;'
Also from the Gospel of Mark:
Note in the following that Jesus doesn't restrict this promise to the eleven disciples and promises a vast array of possible miracles for simply having faith and believing in God.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Jesus also stated that a small amount of faith would go a long way.
A believer can do great works with only a tiny amount of faith.
Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
In this next passage, Jesus promises wondrous miracle working power.
If one believes in Jesus and calls for something in his name, it will be granted.
The believer will be able to do even greater works than those done by Jesus, because doing these works will glorify God.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
There are no restrictions or qualifiers limiting this promise to the immediate disciples or only to those that lived during a certain time period.
The NIV Bible renders this as "ANYONE who has faith in me".
The ESV Bible renders this as "WHOEVER believes in me".
The NLT Bible renders this as "ANYONE who believes in me".
The Message Bible renders this as "THE PERSON who trusts me".
Those apologists attempting to claim that the promise made in Mark 16:16-18 only pertains to the eleven disciples are demonstrating their lack of faith in what Jesus said according to John 14:12.
Perhaps they aren't "true" Christians after all.
Also, if two believers are in agreement, great things can be done because Jesus is with them.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Note that Jesus promised to be in the midst of believers gathered together in his name.
The verse does not say:
"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be with them, but only if they are alive during a certain time period."
Jesus did not restrict his promise to one generation or a select group of believers.
Some apologists will extend the power promised by Jesus in Mark 16:16-18 to include the eleven apostles and their immediate disciples.
(Notice that the list of wonder working people grows as holes in the original argument are exposed.)
While this is more workable, it suffers from many of the same serious flaws as before.
No one today has the power of the apostles and their disciples.
The apostles were baptized by the Holy Spirit, giving them power along with gifts of healing, languages, and all understanding.
The apostles alone, and no one else, could lay on hands and pass that power on to others.
These statements are still just excuses for the inability of Christians today to perform the wonder working powers that Jesus promised to those who believe.
It also implies that the Holy Spirit which believers are supposed to have today is an inferior version of what was given to the apostles and some "others" living at that time.
Jesus did not have caveats that restricted those powers to one generation.
In John 14:12, Jesus told his disciples that anyone having faith would be empowered.
Having faith was the key, and did not depend on when a person was born or who touched them by laying on hands.
The Book of James instructs believers to have church elders heal the sick.
Faith is the key to performing miracles, not what time period a person lived in.
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
In the following, Peter is telling believers that they are partakers of the glory and power of God and the great promises apply to all of them, not just a select few.
2 Peter 1:1-4
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
With regard to the claim that only the apostles alone, and no one else, could lay on hands and pass Holy Spirit power to others:
Paul was a self-anointed apostle, but he wasn't one of the eleven, nor did any one of them lay hands on him to give him the Holy Spirit.
It was a man named Ananias that laid hands on Paul and gave him the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17)
Ananias wasn't one of the eleven apostles, and the Bible doesn't say when Ananias was converted to Christianity.
Stark reality is the reason why Christians are forced to dilute the promises of their own Lord and Savior in order to rationalize the failure of his words to manifest themselves.
The failure of Jesus to return as he promised is what really drives the apologetic.
In this case the failed promise of Matt 16:27-28 helps ensure a failure of the promise made in Mark 16:16-18.
Believers can't do what Jesus promised in Mark 16:16-18, so the promise must be diluted.
Jesus stated that he would return prior to the death of all of his disciples. (Matt 16:27-28)
If Jesus had actually made good on his other promise to return sometime in the near future, the apologetic for Mark 16:16-18 wouldn't even be needed.
Christians today wouldn't be faced with the problem of explaining why Christians can't perform the miracles Jesus gave them the power to do.
However as it stands, Christians have to do a contorted tap dance by claiming Jesus didn't promise miracle working power to anyone in future generations, and that Jesus didn't really mean what he said about returning before all his disciples had died.
Also, it should be noted that according to Rom 2:11, Acts 10:34, and Eph 6:9, God does not show favoritism, and restricting the promise of miracles to a few people not only violates that edict, but waters down the Holy Spirit power promised to all believers.
The Holy Spirit of today is only a pale shadow of what it once was.
Naturally, none of this will make a speck of difference to an apologist, who has to undo the promise made by Jesus because it obviously isn't true.
Another effort to rationalize the promise of Mark 16:16-18 uses an alternate translation.
In Mark 16:16, the words "believeth" (pisteusas) and "baptised" are past tense participles.
The word "believeth" (pisteusasi) in Mark 16:17 is a past tense verb that describes those who have already believed, not those that would believe at some future time.
Therefore, Jesus was only talking about believers at that point in time, which were the eleven and possibly a few other minor disciples that were already believers.
This explanation doesn't do a thing to solve the problem of St. Paul, and others that performed miracles, who were not part of the charmed circle.
But since they were obviously part of the promise, exemptions have to be made for them.
Who determines where the exemptions start and stop?
Why does the Holy Spirit power die out after one generation?
Where does Jesus impose a statute of limitations on the promise, saying that it was null and void after a certain date?
Keep in mind that Jesus promised to return prior to the death of the current generation and that promise FAILED.
Once that promise(Matt 16:27-28) failed, the promise in Mark 16:16-18 also becomes exposed as a failure.
That's when the scramble to find excuses starts.
Young's Literal Translation of these verses does use past tense language, but it isn't limited to the words "believe" or "baptize".
Mark 16:15 also uses past tense.
In the following, the audience is the eleven disciples.
14-Afterwards, as they are reclining (at meat), he was manifested to the eleven, and did reproach their unbelief and stiffness of heart, because they believed not those having seen him being raised;
15-and he said to them, `Having gone to all the world, proclaim the good news to all the creation;
Although the text of this translation uses the past tense word "having", the disciples hadn't yet gone preaching the gospel to all the world.
The word "proclaim" in this case means a future action.
All the conditions and promises that follow this verse are predicated on the gospel "having" been preached.
16-he who hath believed, and hath been baptized, shall be saved; and he who hath not believed, shall be condemned.
This verse states that those who believed and were baptized
shall be saved.
Who is this referring to?
It's referring to those that believed the gospel as it went out to all the world.
When this speech was given, it had not yet gone out to the world, despite the word "having" being used by Jesus.
In the future, once having heard the gospel, those that had believed and were baptized would be saved.
17-`And signs shall accompany those believing these things; in my name demons they shall cast out; with new tongues they shall speak;
18-serpents they shall take up; and if any deadly thing they may drink, it shall not hurt them; on the ailing they shall lay hands, and they shall be well.'
In the name of Jesus, those believing the gospel would work miracles.
There isn't anything here that restricts this promise to the eleven disciples or to just a few people.
The New Testament does contain a few attempts at damage control with regard to Mark 16:16-18.
One example is found in 1 Cor 12, where St. Paul states that believers receive different gifts from God, and some believers can only do a certain types of miracles.
Paul even admits in 1 Cor 12:29 that not all believers can work miracles.
This does defuse the problem of the failed promise to a certain extent.
Apparently, at that time, some people were doing miracles and the promise was at least partially true.
However, Jesus didn't say only some believers would be able to perform miracles.
Jesus pointed to faith as the grease that lubricated the engine of miracle working power, even if a person had faith as tiny as a mustard seed.
Paul's attempt at damage control does very little to rectify this problem.
If a believer could not perform at least one of the miracles that Jesus mentioned was possible, and he said virtually anything was possible through faith in him, then their status as Christians should be called into question.
Pope John Paul II, the Vicar of Christ on earth himself, was wracked with disease.
It seems the Pope couldn't even heal himself, much less empty out any hospital of its infirm patients.
Nor could anyone in the entire Catholic, Protestant or Christian world come to the Vatican and heal the physically degenerating Pope.
The popular faith healer and strutting, miracle working Christian peacock Benny Hinn was nowhere to be found.
If there are supposed to be over 1 billion Christians in the world today, then there should be more than enough of them to empty hospitals and mental wards of their suffering and tormented patients.
Even if only 10% of believers could perform acts of healing and cast out demons, that would still equate to millions of wonder workers available to ease the suffering of physical ailments, disease, and mental illness.
Yet, there are no stories of Holy Spirit filled Christians going into hospitals on Sundays and clearing out the sick by the laying on of hands and the power of prayer.
I've been to a nursing home many times and most of the old people there suffer terribly for years before they die.
They spend their last years in agony, pumped full of medications until they finally expire.
There are plenty of Christian churches near the nursing home and Christians do stop by the nursing home to drop off Bibles and other propaganda, but not a single one of them can heal the sick or really stop the suffering.
All they can do is "pray" and tell the old folks that unless they accept Jesus as their savior, they'll go to hell.
Many Christian believers can often be found gathered together on Sunday at NASCAR races, munching on hot dogs and yelling loudly for their favorite "chariot" driver to cross the finish line first.
Perhaps their time could be better spent manifesting food for the poor from a few loaves and fishes as Jesus did.
It seems that Jesus wants them to go to modern day Roman chariot races on Sunday rather than display the wonder working power of God in hospitals or food banks. It's really quite amazing. Who would have thought it?
Jesus decided that NASCAR events were more important than spreading the word and glory of God by doing the miracles that he promised his faithful followers would perform.
This is nothing more than a farce and modern Christianity is a vapid testimony to the truth of the New Testament Bible and the power of faith in Jesus.
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