• John Allan

Mark Wolford was a Pentecostal preacher...

Mark Wolford was a Pentecostal preacher in West Virginia. In 2012 he died several hours after being bitten by a rattlesnake. Wolford believed Jesus’ words in Mark 16:18 required Christians to handle venomous snakes to test their faith. He also reportedly believed that if bitten, he had to trust in God alone to heal him.

His mishandling of scripture resulted in an unnecessary death, and an opportunity for critics to say this is proof the Bible shouldn't be taken literally.

In reality, Mr. Wolford’s mistake wasn’t taking Mark 16:18 literally. His mistake was failing to understand those signs were confined to the early days of the Church when miraculous spiritual gifts were in use.

The New Testament shows there certainly were Christians with miraculous spiritual gifts. It also asserts (1 Corinthians 13:8-10 and Ephesians 4:11-16) those miraculous gifts would cease. Their end would be when “that which is perfect” had come (1 Cor. 13:10), also known as when the “unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:13) was achieved. Both passages point to a time when the New Testament message would be fully revealed and confirmed. Since Jude 3 teaches this has happened, we know not to look for miraculous gifts today.

Since Scripture portrays the apostles as the ones able to impart such miraculous gifts, the gifts could not be passed on after the apostles died. Thus, even without Jude’s words we could deduce that miraculous spiritual gifts did not persist into the 21st Century.

Usually a failure to consider all the Bible says doesn’t result in physical death. But it can lead us to embrace a faulty view of scripture and jeopardize our soul.

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