I am certain that by now you have seen/heard reports related to the death of a West Virginia pastor due to snake bite.
The expected responses poured forth from all camps.
Unbelievers belittle faith and lump all “religious” together.
The Religionists pious forth with demeaning and belittling platitudes.
What is really happening here?
Why was Wolford (the pastor) so insistent on handling/raising snakes (he kept them in his house) and drinking poison?
Is this the evidence of true faith?
First, it goes without saying...though I’m saying it...that this is a sad occurrence.
The photo of Wolford’s mom rubbing her dying son’s feet is heart breaking.
Knowing that her husband died the same way 29 years earlier brings tears.
Here is the Scripture that the “snake-handlers” say commands them to do such…
9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
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.
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.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Jesus spoke these words.
If you read the passage in varied Bible editions and versions you will see that many “throw out” verses 9-20...in one way or another.
Some bracket the passage with an accompanying footnote.
Some bracket and italicize.
Generally, the Religionists seek to explain away with the passage.
The real issue is this.
The Word is misinterpreted and misapplied.
The Word helps us understand this.
Read this passage from Acts 28…
1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
I believe this passage helps us gain a correct interpretation of Mark 16. As with the case with Paul, those walking in faith will be protected. (Note that the barbarians were wrong on both counts related to Paul. He was neither murderer or god.)
Paul was bit by an extremely poisonous snake.
God protected him.
That is the meaning.
What about the drinking of poison?
How often have we eaten/drank something deadly, dangerous?
We know not.
But, God protects.
The “snake-handlers” will say that they are putting the Word to proof...if they don’t do such then the Word will be void.
This is not true.
Yes, the Lord has told us that He will protect.
But, we are not required to put the Lord to the test to prove His Word.
Remember Jesus when He was confronted by Satan.
Satan was tempting Him.
Jesus responded back with the Word.
Satan then tempted Jesus using the Truth of the Word.
I love Jesus’ response…”Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’””
The truly amazing truth is that God continues to pour forth His grace and mercy upon us even when we are in error in our interpretation and application.
This is the reason that it is so important that we know the Word of the Lord.
That is the reason that we study in this manner…
Hear this carefully.
Do not be of the snarky religionists when speaking of such situations.
How many “snakes” are we “handl’n” in our current portion of the Body?
Most churches today have their own “snakes” that they toss about all the while thinking they are serving the Most High in the manner that He desires. The Way of Cain is rampant. Read Jude.
If you are interested in the culture of the snake-handlers, read “Salvation on Sand Mountain”. Worth the time. It is not a theological treatise. You will be surprised what precipitated the book. It is not fiction. Ask the Lord to give you insight. He will. Be amazed at what the Lord...I believe...does with the unbelieving author/reporter.
May we be totally submitted to the Lord.
May we be filled with the Spirit.
May we live in the full counsel of the Word of God.
More photos. Pray for these folk.