Charismatic doctrine encompasses a belief in healing, signs and wonders, dreams and visions, God giving His supernatural power to someone (in which they convulse and faint), and the practice of speaking of tongues. This heretical doctrine has become so widespread and popular not only in present-day churches but in Christian television networks as well. Although there are saved churches that believe the King James Bible is the word of God (among other correct doctrines), they also believe in some form of signs and wonders. Oftentimes, famous preachers compromise with charismatic organizations in order to retain as many followers as possible.
But what does Scripture say about all of this? The following verse is used by Charismatics to prove that believers (Christians) have signs and wonders today.
Mark 16:17-18: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 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.”
“And these signs shall follow them that believe”
If you believe on Jesus Christ for salvation, the signs mentioned in the rest of the verses follow.
“In my name shall they cast out devils;”
Believers can perform exorcism.
“they shall speak with new tongues;”
Believers can speak in tongues.
“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.”
Who was Jesus giving the signs to?
However, one of the problems with this text is that we need to know who He is speaking to when he mentions those who ‘believe’ in verse 17. You might be tempted to believe it is referring to every saved Christian, which is not the case. The way you know this is by looking at the context of the verse, specifically, verse 14.
Mark 16:14: “Afterward he 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.”
“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven”
Verses 17-18 were about the disciples of Jesus Christ, not all Christians.
“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.”
The reason why Jesus mentioned those who ‘believe’ is revealed; the disciples had a problem with unbelief. This is why in verse 17 Jesus tells the Apostles that if they have faith, they can do signs and wonders. This makes sense when one reads the Acts of the Apostles, which is literally what the Apostles did (their actions). This ties in with the healings and wonders because signs and wonders were designated solely for the Apostles to do. The book of Acts is just describing them.
So then, why shouldn’t Christians believe in signs and wonders today? Simply put, the Apostles, the ones who were supposed to do these signs and wonders, died. Nevertheless, Charismatics will still claim that the fact that it says ‘signs shall follow those who believe’ is still applicable to today’s believers.
The Apostles were the only ones who had signs
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Let us assume verse 17 is applicable to everyone who believes in Christ. Keep in mind that verse 14 was referring to the Apostles. Now, if signs and wonders were not exclusively for the Apostles and we assume that every believer can practice them, why did many believers have to seek out the Apostles for healing, deliverance from demons, etc.? Recall that the Apostles often had to travel long distances to heal other believers because those believers could not heal themselves. Acts 9 makes this more apparent.
Acts 9:37-38: “And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.”
A sister in Christ died. The Christian disciples heard Apostle Peter was nearby. Disciples sent brethren to bring back Peter concerning the sister that had died.
Acts 9:40-41: “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.”
Peter raised this woman from the dead. This proves that not all saved believers have the signs and wonders, only the Apostles. If Charismatics still don’t believe that, have them raise one of their loved ones out of the dead. They won’t be able to. When God gives someone His signs and wonders they are instantaneous, not gradual, much like the signs and wonders Jesus and His Apostles performed.
1 Corinthians 12:9-11: “To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
“To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy;”
Sign gifts are not the same for every believer.
“to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues;to another the interpretation of tongues:”
Some can speak in tongues.
“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
God divides these sign gifts among different people, not everyone gets the same thing. Consider this when everybody starts speaking in tongues during service. You know that’s not from God. Not all people can do this or other sign gifts in the same way.
Romans 15:18: “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
“For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,”
Non-Jews (Christians) partake in something.
“Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. “
Christians can partake in signs because of the Apostle Paul. This proves that Christians can only partake in signs and wonders if there is an Apostle present. Otherwise, it is impossible. Try looking for a verse where a Christian participates in signs and wonders without an Apostle present.
2 Corinthians 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
The word ‘of’ proves that these signs and wonders and mighty deeds belong to an Apostle. Much like the word of God belongs to God.
Signs and wonders (today) are of the devil
Charismatics believe that the signs and wonders in their churches are genuinely real because the members are ‘genuinely’ healed and ‘genuinely’ feel the presence of God. They argue that Satan cannot partake in the things of God where it takes him out of the picture. What they fail to realize, however, is that Satan’s goal with these signs and wonders is to pretend to cast him out falsely in the name of Jesus. In fact, this is the tactic Satan will be using in the Tribulation. As more and more Christians are falling into the signs and wonders bandwagon which they believe are from God, they will become more susceptible to the Antichrist’s signs and wonders that he will claim to do in the name of Jesus. And this is exactly what is described in Mark 13.
Mark 13:21-22: “And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”
“And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs”
Deceivers will claim to do things in the name of Christ.
“and false prophets”
Charismatic preachers that claim they can prophecy.
“shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”
These deceivers can convince even saved people of their signs and wonders.
This is why signs and wonders today are dangerous. They all lead up to what will happen during the Tribulation which is the context of Mark 13. Compare this passage to Matthew 24.
Healings were fading away at the early church
We know that the Apostles could heal and raise people from the dead among other signs and wonders. It was necessary for them to do so or else the people would think they were frauds. However, during the last era of the first Christian Church, these healings were fading away. Such is the case in 1 Timothy 5.
1 Timothy 5:23: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”
Notice that Paul advised the Apostles to take medicine instead of outright healing them of their infirmities. This shows that the healings were fading away.
It is known that Paul could raise the dead back to life and heal the sick. So then why was he afraid of a church member’s deadly sickness? Jesus Himself was not afraid when He raised Lazarus from the dead because He knew He could do it. Paul, however, seems to panic in this verse, which leads us to believe he was losing his power to heal/raise from the dead.
Philippians 2:25-27: “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
Paul is talking about his brother in Christ Epaphroditus. Paul was afraid of losing this brother. This wouldn’t be the case unless Paul was losing his ability to heal. It was by God’s grace that this man lived and not by Paul’s healing.
This is a perfect example of what Christians do today. We don’t have the ability to heal but we can pray for God to heal a person just as Paul did when healing signs were fading.
2 Timothy 4:20: “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”
Paul could not heal this person so he left him sick. Proof that healings were fading away.
Before continuing, we have to note that a lot of Charismatics are emotional people. In fact, they will often claim, as you are showing them proof from the Bible, that what you are explaining is ‘your interpretation.’ They will often take things personally if you try to show them what is wrong with their beliefs, which is an emotional response. That being said, you have to tread carefully.
Charismatics will try to argue that there are some illnesses Apostles cannot heal, similar to today’s Charismatic pastors. This gives them a leeway on their healing programs in the case that it is not genuine. The problem with this is that when someone claims to have the ability to perform these signs and wonders and is unable to do them, it jeopardizes their Christianity and their genuine Apostleship of the miracles. This in turn gives a bad testimony to the power of God which is genuine and foolproof and makes Him a false god when they are unable to do these things in the first place.
Revelation 2:2: “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”
2 Corinthians 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
Truly meaning certainly. Paul said that an Apostle has to prove himself through his signs. Combining this with Revelation 2, God says to try the so-called Apostles, and if they are unable to prove themselves they are liars.
Going back to the previous statement, if there are only some healings these so-called Apostles can do and not other things they would prove themselves liars, according to verse 12.
Up until now, we’ve discussed two possible reasons why an apostle could not perform healings; either signs as a whole are fading away (now completely gone) or these apostles are liars. This is how you respond to Charismatics that insist that there are some things that they can’t do. They have to choose from these two interpretations, there’s no way around it given the evidence found in 1 Timothy, Phillippians, and 2 Timothy and Revelation and 2 Corinthians presented above.
The Jewish apostleship was proven through their abilities to perform miracles
Again, it is important to note that the Apostles’ signs were immediate and foolproof. These signs were not required to be under God’s timetable meaning that they occurred instantly, not gradually, and could heal any sickness, including death. This is how their apostleship was proven, otherwise, they would be deemed fakes. Take this into consideration when someone claims to have the healing signs of the Apostles; they should be able to heal any disease immediately.
Acts 3:6-8: “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.”
The lame man jumped up immediately, proving the healing was immediate, not gradual. This verse also proves the man was completely healed, not partially. Otherwise, he could not have jumped up immediately.
Acts 5:16: “There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.”
Many people came out and not from only one city. There weren’t any lines or limits on how many people could be healed, nor were the same people being healed more than once. This is the type of “healing” that is seen by those fake Apostles of today that claim to possess healing signs. This verse states that a large number of people coming from different cities were collectively healed at the same time.
As previously mentioned, Charismatics are emotional people. This becomes dangerous when their faith is directly tied to their emotions and not the word of God. Because they rely so much on these healings and signs their final authority is how they feel and not the word of God.
Matthew 4:24: “And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.”
All sick people were brought to Jesus. not just some, with all types of incurable diseases. Jesus was able to heal any sickness, even those with mental problems.
At the beginning of the Apostles, signs were happening all over the place, but they were coming to an end by the end of the first Christian Church. Here’s another possible reason why signs are not available to Christians today; signs are only for the Jews and not the Church. Earlier, we discussed how Christians could only partake in signs if there were Apostles present. These Apostles were Jewish.
The Jews require a sign
1 Corinthians 1:22-23: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;”
Jews require signs, that’s what they need in order to believe. Greeks, or non-Jews, value intelligence, education, and wisdom over signs.
Emotion will not convince an atheist, only intelligence. Not only does it make Christians look bad when these so-called healing pastors are unable to heal people of their sicknesses, but it also hurts those who are waiting to be healed under God’s timetable (because these healings are not immediate and they rob people of their faith and money).
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;”
Our authority and faith are found in the word of God. Because of this, Christians do not need signs.
During the times of Acts, it was necessary for the Jews to have these signs and wonders because the Bible was not yet completed. Today these same signs are no longer needed because we have the completed word of God which is evidence of Christianity.
The beginning of signs
Still not enough? Let’s go to the beginning of signs and see how God purposed them.
Exodus 4:1-8: “And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.”
Moses knows his own people (Jews) will not believe him.
Moses turns his rod into a snake. This is a sign, a miracle but for what reason? Verse 5 gives us the reason.
“That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.“
The context of this verse is Jews. Therefore, the signs belong to the Jews.
Verses 6-7 show how God gives Moses’ hand leprosy but changes it back to normal.
Verse 8 clearly states these signs began with the intent of convincing the Jews.
Why signs and wonders faded away by the end of the first Christian church
Now, why were the signs and wonders fading away by the end of the first Christian Church? With the start of a new era, God was now working with the Christians (Gentiles) while the era of the Jews was fading away. In other words, God was transitioning from Jew to non-Jew.
Acts 28:25-29: “And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.”
God knows that the Jews will not listen, having closed every part of their body. Thus, the transition from Jew to non-Jew is begun.
The Jews found it disgraceful that God turned to the non-Jews.
Need more evidence? If this is still not enough consider the Great Awakening revivals and the missionary movements. Did the preachers of that time use signs and wonders to bring about their revivals? No, they used the word of God. If these preachers had been able to use signs and wonders (which the Catholic Church believes in) Protestants would not have been killed and persecuted. Not only that, but there is evidence throughout the hundreds and thousands of years that prove that signs and wonders are gone. It wasn’t until the end of the Great Awakening (not coincidentally) that camp meeting preachers and televangelists started to claim they had signs and wonders after hundreds of years.
Charismatics will argue that there is evidence found in the writings of the Church fathers that signs continued into the Christian Church. However, the Church fathers were caught up in many wrong doctrines, with one of those heretical teaching being the need to work for one’s salvation. They were also the ones that brought up the Catholic Church, which Charismatic Christians dislike and disagree with. The Church fathers are not the final authority.
The Bible says signs and healings are gone. We should not go by what we feel is correct but rather by what the Bible says.