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MARK XVI. 17, 18.

“AND those signs shall follow them that believe: In my name * * * they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Our inquirer asks for an explanation of only one of the signs that follow them that believe. The Scripture recorded by Mark gives five signs that follow them that believe, but as our inquirer wants us to write especially of the one sign: “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover,” we will not take up time and space in trying to write more than we are asked to write. first of all, belief in God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ is never the work of the creature, it is the work of God. It is the effect of the power of the resurrection working in the soul. The power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power required to cause one to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Belief, thus powerfully produced, has certain results or signs that follow. One of these is that they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. Now, the twelve disciples were, by the working of this mighty power, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, certain signs followed these twelve disciples which gave evidence that these men had been with Jesus and were taught of him. One of these evidences or signs that followed these disciples was that they laid hands on the sick and they recovered. We have but to turn to the book of the Acts of the apostles to find recorded there many significant instances of healings wrought by the apostles, not in their own name, but in the name and authority of the Lord, who had called and qualified them unto the performance of these signs. Thus was the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple healed. Thus was Tabitha restored to life. Thus was it true that from the apostle’s body, handkerchiefs and aprons were brought to the sick, diseases departed from them and evil spirits went out of them. All these signs the apostles performed not of themselves, but in the name of Jesus; and all these signs that followed them proved the power of Cod that was in them, thus giving evidence that they were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the question of importance to us to-day is, How does this sign now follow those who believe? There are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to-day just as there were then, and the belief is wrought precisely now as it was then, that is, by the same power that raised Christ from the dead. How then do those who believe in Christ in this day and generation lay hands on the sick and cause them to recover? first of all, we must say that we do not believe that this sign is literally true in this age of the world. It was literally true of the apostles that they did heal diseases of the body by the power given them to do so; but the power is not now given to the church to heal bodily afflictions and diseases as it was then. However, there is a. sickness which none but a believer understands, and which the believer touches with the hand of his faith, and which sickness is assuaged by such touch. This is the sickness on account of sin. None but a believer understands the symptoms and cause of this sickness, none but a believer can sympathize with another who is thus sick. When one is sick of sin, it is a great comfort to find one who has had this dreadful malady, and the hands of whose faith is able to coolingly comfort and console the one thus sick. None but Jesus can apply the healing balm, and often he is pleased to do this in the ministry of his gospel, thus causing one believer to minister to another, to lay hands on the one that is sick. There are instances of christian experience where one has long labored under conviction for sin, long been burdened with the law’s condemnation, long sick of sin, the worst of all diseases. In some cases it has pleased God to send relief to these sin-burdened souls in the preached word. When such has been the case, has not the believer preaching the word laid hands of faith on him that was sick, and did he not recover? Yea, verily, for the burden was gone and a newborn hope became that one’s health and peace, begotten by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Also, this matter may be looked at from another standpoint. Sometimes members of the church get sick, not physically, but spiritually. They seem to grow cold, their zeal flags, they get to staying away from the meetings and become wrapped up in the duties and cares of the world. Is not this sickness? However, when the members of the church have the mind and love not to give that one up, but to go after him, visit him, talk to him, continually showing that they love and fellowship that one, the Lord is pleased to restore that one to the fold, thus curing the sickness of that one. Sickness means disease, and disease means out of ease or out of order. Every disorder in the walk and conversation of a child of God is a spiritual sickness. Often the manifestation on the part of our brethren that they love us at such times when we are sick, is enough to recover us from our sickness. We are all servants one of another, not in our name, but in the name of Jesus, and every ministration from one member of the body of Christ to another member of the body of Christ is the fruit of God’s power in the members, is the sign that follows their belief in him, so that they are given to lay hands on one another and to recover them from unhealthful states. The child of God, the believer, does not exercise himself unto this ministration, but the power of salvation working in him exercises him unto all such ministrations, thus making our ministrations a sign that we do believe in him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We know of one case where a brother in the church absented himself from the meetings of the church again and again and seemed to be growing spiritually cold. The other members of the church, because they loved this one sincerely, would not give him up to this coldness, but kept going to see him. Every time he missed a meeting, some of the brethren went to see why he was not there. They kept this up until this one who was staying away found that the only way to get rid of them and keep them from coming to pry him out was for him to go to the meetings. Thus he began going to the meetings again to avoid being compelled continually to give reasons for not going, and he found that the more he went the more he wanted to go, until finally he had no inclination not to go, but a strong desire to be at all the meetings and to be in the company of those who loved him and whom he loved, and who had not deserted him in the hour of his need. Here, it seems to us, is an instance where those who believed laid hands on him that was sick and he recovered. All the ministration that was accomplished throughout this whole proceeding was by the grace of God effectually working in them that thus ministered. We cannot do these things of ourselves. If we did, it would be nothing but formality, and would do no good. It takes grace to serve God with reverence and fear, and we can only minister to one another in this way as grace is given us so to do. What a beautiful sight it is, however, when grace does thus effectually energize the members of the church unto the bearing of another’s burdens in love, so fulfilling the law of Christ. He has given us the commandment that we love one another. This commandment he gives not on tables of stone, but on the fleshly tables of the heart, writes it in the mind, imprints it in the inward parts, so that it is not resting with God’s people whether they will love one another or not, but they do love one another because the religion of Jesus is a vital principle, the blessed effect of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead dwelling in his people. Nothing is grander than to see this wonderful power working in believers, causing signs to follow them that are the out- flowering of their belief. The aroma of pine forests is said to be beneficial in certain diseases of the body, but the fragrance of Jesus’ name flowing out from his garden inclosed has cheered many a weary wanderer in his pilgrimage on the way home.

Written at the request of brother S. S. Taylor, of Mitchell, Arkansas.   L.

Elder H. H. Lefferts

Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 22.
November 15, 1916