As a Christian, most of us want to grow in faith, or do we? Have we received a series of teachings or done Bible studies that put God in a box? Over the years I have had pastors tell me that certain Bible passages were difficult. Here are a couple of examples:
Matthew 27:51-53 (NKJ) 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
This text in Matthew is authentic, and as much as I have researched, I have never found it contested. For what reason has it simply been avoided? Honestly, I have heard more preaching about Lazarus' grave clothes. Why? Because the verse about Lazarus gives us a wonderful illustration of the work that Jesus does in salvation. All while avoiding the obvious message. Lazarus came to life after he died and started to decompose! He was raised form the dead. Jesus said "Lazarus come out!" and he did. If He had just said, "come out", the entire cemetery would have been awakened!
What is difficult, is that this verse does not appear to be difficult in Greek or English-- just supernatural.
Here is another verse that pertains to you and I.
Mark 16:17 "These signs will accompany those who have believed : in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues ; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover ." 19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. ]
This particular verse, if you read your NIV study notes, "does not appear in all reliable manuscripts." It is contested as an authentic scripture. Therefore; it shouldn't be in the Bible? Or it should? Or we can't determine if it is really God?
Let's take a closer look to see if there more authoritative scriptures than this. We'll look at each portion of the preceding passage and see if we can verify it, or dismiss it.
Regarding Signs and Wonders (Miracles):
Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 4:16 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.
Acts 14:3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Romans 15:19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.
Regarding Casting Out Demons:
Luke 10:17 ESV The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"
Luke 8:2 ESV And also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Mark 3:11 ESV And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."
Matthew 17:14-20 ESV And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." And Jesus answered, "O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. ...
Matthew 12:22 ESV Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw.
Luke 8:47 NKJ Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
Luke 8:48 NKJ And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."
Luke 5:17 NKJ Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
Mark 16:18 They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well.
Luke 10:19 Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.
Acts 28:3-6 Now Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and he was laying them on the fire when a viper crawled out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4When the natives saw the little animal hanging from his hand, they said to one another, Doubtless this man is a murderer, for though he has been saved from the sea, Justice [the goddess of avenging] has not permitted that he should live. 5Then [Paul simply] shook off the small creature into the fire and suffered no evil effects. 6However, they were waiting, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead; but when they had watched him a long time and saw nothing fatal or harmful come to him, they changed their minds and kept saying over and over that he was a god.
Regarding Poisonous Food:
2 Kings 4:38 Elisha came back to Gilgal during a famine in the land. The sons of the prophets were sitting before him, and he said to his servant, Set on the big pot and cook pottage for the sons of the prophets. 39 Then one went into the field to gather herbs and gathered from a wild vine his lap full of wild gourds, and returned and cut them up into the pot of pottage, for they were unknown to them. 40 So they poured it out for the men to eat. But as they ate of the pottage, they cried out, O man of God, there is death in the pot! And they could not eat it. 41 But he said, Bring meal [as a symbol of God's healing power]. And he cast it into the pot and said, Pour it out for the people that they may eat. Then there was no harm in the pot.
You, see, the Bible is an amazing book, the human owners manual. With a little effort, faith is not really that difficult. It is accepting the supernatural as a way of life that can be beyond the average believer.