Brother Beebe: Will you give your views on the last words which our Savior spake before his ascension, namely: “And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall 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.”
Hamilton Co., Iowa, March 10, 1859.
Reply: In the early ministry of the apostles of the Lamb, and of the primitive disciples of our risen Lord, all these signs did literally follow them that believed, for it is added in the closing verse of the same chapter, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” Many instances are recorded of miracles performed by them in the name of the Lord Jesus, such as healing the sick, casting out devils; and we have an instance of the deadly viper which lit on Paul’s hand, and which he shook off into the fire, to the utter astonishment of the heathen with whom his lot was providentially cast, and all these signs were performed in confirmation of the word of the Lord. To prove by ocular demonstration the reality of the exaltation of the Son of God, and his divine omnipotence, external evidence was thus given, and such as confounded and stopped the mouths of infidel philosophers, but having thus by the most supernatural testimonies established the certainty of the resurrection and exaltation of our Divine Redeemer, ocular demonstrations were to cease, and the saints in all subsequent ages were to live by faith upon the Son of God, and not to walk by sight. If these ocular demonstrations were to be continued, the natural judgments of men might be convinced without any radical change of heart, as many were in those days of miracles. But our knowledge of God, of spiritual and divine things, is not by informing or convincing our natural or carnal minds through the natural senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, &c., but by special revelation of the Spirit to the faith of the children of God. The carnal Jews, whose religion was the service of a worldly sanctuary, and whose ordinances were carnal, relied on signs, desired signs, required signs, and the learned Greeks who sought after wisdom, were in their carnal state, incapable of appreciating any other evidence, for except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit. But the children of God shall all be taught by the Lord. The Spirit, the Holy Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, is the teacher of the saints. He, said Jesus, shall take of the things of mine, and shall shew them unto you. They shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them even unto the greatest, saith the Lord.
Miraculous displays of the divine power are not now made to the natural understanding of natural men, as in the apostles’ day; but we do not hold that the day of miracles is passed. The work of salvation by grace is as miraculous now as it ever was. The work is superhuman, supernatural, and in it the naked arm of God is as visible to the faith of God’s children at one time as another. The ministry of the gospel, in a spiritual sense, is as healing to the sick, and quickening to the dead now, as formerly. Not that preaching in itself ever quickened or healed any one, but these signs follow in all those whom God has quickened by his Spirit. It is the power and wisdom of God. In his name devils are now displaced, cast out, and believers in Christ are secured from the rage of wicked men and devils. The old serpent, and all his brood of vipers, are in this day, in a spiritual sense, trodden upon by the saints, and all their venom is rendered harmless to God’s people by and through the matchless name of our ascended Lord.
Middletown, N. Y.
May 15, 1859.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 224 - 226