1 & 2 Thess.
1 & 2 Timothy
1 & 2 Peter
Gifts of the Spirit
Exposition of The Spirit in Mark
This divine commission (v.15-19) has its parallel in Matt. 28:18-20, Luke 24:47-49 and Acts 1:2-9, and must be understood by harmonizing these three accounts.
1 The reader should carefully note the word "while" (MARS, NASB). It indicates a time when the Lord ceased to work in this particular manner even during the lifetime of some of the Apostles. This agrees with 1 Cor. 13:10, and the historical evidence (see Companion Bible, Appendix 168).
These verses prove more than modern claimants desire because where is the person today who can perform the "signs" of v.18?
The gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to the Apostles in their fulness (so that they could spread the gospel throughout the whole world) but generally only individual gifts were given to the other believers.
1 see Section D "the gift of tongues", "the gift of healings", and AWSA, P. 51.
‘It is understandable that in an age dominated by a wonder-working paganism, these vivid and incontestable tokens of true divine power would be necessary as a decisive witness against the vested interests of well-organized cults of magic. Today the same signs would probably be more of a hindrance than a help to the well-balanced preaching of God’s saving grace in Christ. Indeed it is not altogether untrue to say that even the mention of signs here is read by some modern believers with misgivings: casting out devils, speaking with tongues, handling deadly snakes, drinking poison, healing the sick by the laying on of hands. Why should these powers be imparted to the early church and then so soon disappear, leaving later generations to apologize lamely for current ineffective witness and also leaving the door wide open for sensational charlatans with loud-mouthed claims to be the heirs of apostolic powers?
The withdrawal of the gifts of the Spirit is a thing to be profoundly thankful for. For, in the first place, this lapse of open Spirit blessing would never have happened had it not been in the best interests of the believers. The Lord has certainly done what is best for the well-being of his people. But, further, let it not be forgotten that the key virtue in Christian life is faith. What very limited scope there would be for faith today if these signs were openly available for the confutation of unbelief! "Blessed are they that have not seen (either empty tomb or Holy Spirit powers), and yet have believed." ’1
Some ecstatic holiness churches in Kentucky, U.S.A. have taken up snake handling as evidence of "faith". Here a poisonous rattlesnake is handled at a meeting. The lay preacher holding the snake subsequently died from snakebite at a later meeting. (Religious Sects: Wilson)
1 H.W., "He is risen indeed", P. 97.