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Thread: Can believers "drink anything poisonous"?

  1. #1
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    Can believers "drink anything poisonous"?

    The most common advice here seems to be "read the bible" specifically the gospels. I read this today and I'm curious what to make of it:
    Mark 16:15-18 (New Living Translation)

    15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.[a] 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

    Seems pretty unambiguous to me. Can you provide an example of something you can drink without harm, but I cannot?

  2. #2
    I can take a quart of vodka - you can't.


    There are two mainline views on this passage:

    1) It wasn't in the original manuscripts. There's quite a few conservatives who believe that because the Greek is structured differently from the rest of Mark, that it wasn't in the original manuscripts. Likewise, we don't find this passage in earlier manuscripts - it's simply missing.

    My problem with the view is that it's really speculation and ignores the validity of the second view:

    2) Hebraic hyperbole. Westerners, especially Americans, are extremely literal in their reading. We have to have everything given to us in a very literal fashion. The ancients, however, did not. They knew hyperbole when they saw it. Not that hyperbole is wrong or not inspired (only someone under the influence of the Enlightenment would think that), just that it shouldn't be taken literally.

    Jesus is referring to the fact that the disciples will perform miracles, that they'll live in the power of the Holy Spirit. That does carry onto today. Now, because of your presupposition of a closed system, miracles are difficult for you to accept. However, that is what Christ is talking about - not those specific miracles, but merely that we can do great things in Christ.

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    I've always regarded it as being indicative of God's protection. I wouldn't assume that if I picked up a bottle of cyanide and drank it that there would be no consequences.

    That said, if someone spiked my drink with poison I wouldn't put it past God to protect me from the consequences of unknowingly drinking it.

    Ultimately what it's all about is that those who go out in the power of the Holy Spirit will perform miracles, as a sign that they have God's power behind them. With my own powers I cannot heal, I cannot drive out demons, and if I drink poison I die. With God's power and in the name of Jesus I can heal, drive out demons, and so on.

    It's also about glorifying God, not drinking something and saying "Neener neener, bet you can't drink that".
    24 August 2013 - I've decided to take a break from a number of internet forums, including this one, for my own reasons.
    I expect to be back at some time in the future, although at present don't know when that will be.
    I've been here just a few days shy of six years, and those six years have been greatly blessed.

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    1Jn 4:1 NKJV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
    1Th 5:21-22 NKJV Test all things; hold fast what is good. (22) Abstain from every form of evil.




  4. #4
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    You may be right about the vodka - I didn't realize Texas was so well known for it's alcohol consumption.

    To your first point, if this passage can't be attributed to Jesus, then doesn't that call into question this text: "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned".

    Seems pretty essential text to discard. Furthermore, if text in the bible was added after the fact, doesn't that raise questions about the provenance of the rest of the bible?

    Your second point is that we can simply discard these sentences which are obviously not true because we should know they're hyperbole. How do we know not to take this literally? Is it also hyperbole that "anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned"? And how can you spot the difference?

    Sounds like he's also describing faith healing (They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed), exorcism (They will cast out demons in my name), and speaking in tongues (they will speak in new languages). Are these three miracles also not to be taken literally because I've got some Christian Scientist friends that say otherwise.

  5. #5
    To your first point, if this passage can't be attributed to Jesus, then doesn't that call into question this text: "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned".

    Seems pretty essential text to discard. Furthermore, if text in the bible was added after the fact, doesn't that raise questions about the provenance of the rest of the bible?
    Which is why I don't accept the first view (there are other more nuanced details, such as changing grammatical structures within Synoptic writings, historical criticisms, etc)

    Your second point is that we can simply discard these sentences which are obviously not true because we should know they're hyperbole. How do we know not to take this literally? Is it also hyperbole that "anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned"? And how can you spot the difference?

    Sounds like he's also describing faith healing (They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed), exorcism (They will cast out demons in my name), and speaking in tongues (they will speak in new languages). Are these three miracles also not to be taken literally because I've got some Christian Scientist friends that say otherwise.
    Honestly, by reading it in the Greek.

    I never said it wasn't true, I said it wasn't literal. This a mistake made across the board when it comes to interpretation. A literal interpretation does not equal a true interpretation.

    For instance, very few people believe Jesus is coming back with a literal sword in His mouth - almost all denominations, no matter how extreme, accept this as hyperbole. It is true in the sense that it is teaching a true truth about what will occur, but uses metaphorical language to describe this truth.

    In the case of Mark, when we look at the grammatical structure it is taken as hyperbole. So as to not offer a 30 page paper on Greek grammatical structures and how they indicate style, I'll simply point to this; no one in the early church understood this to be taken literally. These were people who were native Greek speakers and yet they viewed it as hyperbole. They believed (as Tango pointed out) that it refers to God's protection and working through us, but not literally that everyone who accepts Christ will do all of these things. Merely that we have the power of the Holy Spirit, so we can do all things through Him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powlette View Post
    The most common advice here seems to be "read the bible" specifically the gospels. I read this today and I'm curious what to make of it:
    Mark 16:15-18 (New Living Translation)

    15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.[a] 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

    Seems pretty unambiguous to me. Can you provide an example of something you can drink without harm, but I cannot?
    I believe the operative phrase in these verses is "in my name." Since verse 17 follows after verse 16 in which it talks in general terms about "anyone who believes", it's easy to get the idea that verse 17 is also talking about "anyone who believes." However, the author of this section posits that miraculous signs will follow those who believe, but specifically those who are casting out demons "in my name."

    Not everyone who believes is going to have a ministry in which he or she is acting in Jesus name, in the way he means it. I believe he is talking about those whom he specifically and explicitly sent out to speak for him, and just as God ratified Jesus' word with a miracle, God will ratify the word of those who are speaking on his behalf.

    Unless I am mistaken, I don't think this applies to anyone today. The passage concerning being bitten by a snake, for instance, come from Acts in which Paul is being transported to Rome and becomes shipwrecked and while gathering wood for a fire he is bitten by a poisonous snake and lives.

    I know that snake handlers use this verse as a proof text for their occupation, but I don't think Mark intended to say anything with regard to these folks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powlette View Post
    The most common advice here seems to be "read the bible" specifically the gospels. I read this today and I'm curious what to make of it:
    Mark 16:15-18 (New Living Translation)

    15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.[a] 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

    Seems pretty unambiguous to me. Can you provide an example of something you can drink without harm, but I cannot?
    As AK says, this is an example of Hebraic hyperbole. It is also metaphorical... the "anything poisonous" can refer also to false gospels, which will not poison a true believer, even if they are exposed to it.

    Personally, I believe that if I were to go out and deliberately take poison, I'd die. Scripture does also say, "thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Jesus Himself wouldn't deliberately flaunt the laws of nature when satan tempted Him, and He is the Son of God! If He doesn't tempt God, then I'm surely not going to be so stupid.

    However, I have seen some miracles which lead me to believe that if someone poisoned me, God would be perfectly capable of preventing my death, so long as it brought glory to Him. Miracles however are His provenance, not mine... if I tried to force His hand and make Him perform a miracle, then it would serve me right if drinking poison killed me.
    Please could everyone pray for Mieke and Charles.

    My testimony http://bibleforums.org/forum/showthr...ight=testimony

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    Quote Originally Posted by powlette View Post
    The most common advice here seems to be "read the bible" specifically the gospels. I read this today and I'm curious what to make of it:
    Mark 16:15-18 (New Living Translation)

    15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.[a] 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

    Seems pretty unambiguous to me. Can you provide an example of something you can drink without harm, but I cannot?
    One passage comes to mind in Matthew 4:
    5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

    6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

    7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

    If we tempt God, according to these scriptures who are we listening to? Can I really expect God to protect me if I'm tempting Him? I think Jesus made it clear in these verses the answer is no.

    If that drink of poison was given to me by someone meaning harm to me, I know that God would protect me in that case. But not if I did something that was tempting Him.
    Hell....the nightmare you can't wake up from.

    Sin is like electricity, it takes the path of least resistance. (the shortest path to ground).

    Jesus said He is “The Way”, not “A” way. Jesus said He is “the Truth”, not “A” truth. Jesus said He is “The Life”, not “A” life. No man comes to the Father but by Me. Are we serving a man or are we serving God?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    Which is why I don't accept the first view (there are other more nuanced details, such as changing grammatical structures within Synoptic writings, historical criticisms, etc)



    Honestly, by reading it in the Greek.

    I never said it wasn't true, I said it wasn't literal. This a mistake made across the board when it comes to interpretation. A literal interpretation does not equal a true interpretation.

    For instance, very few people believe Jesus is coming back with a literal sword in His mouth - almost all denominations, no matter how extreme, accept this as hyperbole. It is true in the sense that it is teaching a true truth about what will occur, but uses metaphorical language to describe this truth.

    In the case of Mark, when we look at the grammatical structure it is taken as hyperbole. So as to not offer a 30 page paper on Greek grammatical structures and how they indicate style, I'll simply point to this; no one in the early church understood this to be taken literally. These were people who were native Greek speakers and yet they viewed it as hyperbole. They believed (as Tango pointed out) that it refers to God's protection and working through us, but not literally that everyone who accepts Christ will do all of these things. Merely that we have the power of the Holy Spirit, so we can do all things through Him.
    Does it follow then, that you can't really understand the gospels if you don't read them in the original Greek? Do you also need to read the OT in Hebrew?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by powlette View Post
    Does it follow then, that you can't really understand the gospels if you don't read them in the original Greek? Do you also need to read the OT in Hebrew?

    Not necessarily. Certainly someone that reads them in Greek will have a better understanding, but even then that isn't always the case.

    What does follow is that someone can't simply do a cursory read of the Bible and hope to gain any level of deep understanding. It sometimes takes study when we come to difficult passages in order to understand those passages.

    For instance, very few people can read Attic Greek, yet many people read Plato and understand him. However, those of us that do read Attic Greek can gain a better understanding of Plato - but a superior one, but one that is more justifiable when presenting our case for an interpretation of Plato.

    In the case of Mark, it is best to consult reputable commentaries (Matthew Henry's, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, etc), which were composed by Greek scholars who can exposit what is being indicated in the Greek.

  11. #11
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    If you'll allow me one more:

    So the sun stood still,
    And the moon stopped,
    Till the people had revenge
    Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.




    Hyperbole, or did the earth stop rotating for a time?

  12. #12
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    Jesus often referred to the religious crowd as "serpents". He also called himself Living Water and invited us to drink deeply from Him. If he is Water that gives life, is there not water (poison) that brings death? For me, I take from Mark that we will handle the religious crowd (serpents) and not be hurt in our souls, and that even though they teach poison, it will not get into us and damage us so long as we walk with Jesus and drink from Him (as his disciples whom he spoke the command to did).
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by powlette View Post
    If you'll allow me one more:

    So the sun stood still,
    And the moon stopped,
    Till the people had revenge
    Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.




    Hyperbole, or did the earth stop rotating for a time?
    It's written in common language. We still talk of the sun rising and setting. We still talk of the noon-day sky.

    It's not making a scientific statement, merely a perspective based on. To say, "Oh, oh, oh, look! They didn't believe that the sun went around the earth!" off this passage is reading quite a bit into it. We still say, "The sun sets" or "The rising sun." These are common idioms in all languages.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    It's written in common language. We still talk of the sun rising and setting. We still talk of the noon-day sky.

    It's not making a scientific statement, merely a perspective based on. To say, "Oh, oh, oh, look! They didn't believe that the sun went around the earth!" off this passage is reading quite a bit into it. We still say, "The sun sets" or "The rising sun." These are common idioms in all languages.
    I don't understand your response. They're not describing the movement of the sun nor are they making a scientific statement. They're unambiguously saying the sun and the moon stopped moving which could only happen if the earth stopped rotating. I'm not trying to play "gotcha" here. Is this an expression of the time or hyperbole, "the sun stood still...did not hasten to go down" like the "poison" in the OP, or did the sun really stop?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by powlette View Post
    I don't understand your response. They're not describing the movement of the sun nor are they making a scientific statement. They're unambiguously saying the sun and the moon stopped moving which could only happen if the earth stopped rotating. I'm not trying to play "gotcha" here. Is this an expression of the time or hyperbole, "the sun stood still...did not hasten to go down" like the "poison" in the OP, or did the sun really stop?
    It was a descriptive saying. Just like when we say, "The sun is setting." Well, it's not really setting, the earth is simply rotating. Likewise, this is what Joshua is saying.

    Now, if we really want to get technical:

    1) The earth stood still, prolonging the day. This is ENTIRELY possible if God is external to the universe and controls it. He can suspend natural law when it suits His purposes (the very definition of a miracle).

    2) The Sun actually did stand still, thus stopping the rotation of all planets. See above explanation for how this wouldn't have thrown things into disarray.

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