Mark 16:9-20 (KJV)
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.
It is not the unbaptized that are damned but unbelievers that are damned. Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
If casting out devils, speaking with new tongues, taking up serpents, and not being hurt by drinking deadly things does not apply after apostolic times, neither would the great commission apply for us today. Not everyone is healed when Christians lay hands on the sick for their recovery but sometimes they are healed. Therefore, it is not far-fetched to understand that it is neither a denial of the Scriptures or of the miraculous that Christians would not always live after handling snakes or drinking deadly things.
Signs following those who believe do not always mean simply believe to salvation but can mean also having faith in Christ to perform the miracle. Also, Jesus did not command us to take up serpents and drink deadly things. The Apostle Paul took up a serpent because one bit him of which he did not die. When it came to being tested to do a deadly act in response to Scripture, Jesus Himself would not subscribe to it…
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 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. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
– Matthew 4:5-7 (KJV)
The Lord has confirmed his word with signs following. He does so in context of what He has said in His word. Is the basis upon which this passage in the Holy Bible gets rejected by some because they simply do not agree with it doctrinally? Faithful believers in Jesus do not bunny-pick their favorite parts of the Bible and reject others. If these verses are to be rejected on a doctrinal basis, then other verses would need to be rejected also…
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
– Luke 10:19 (KJV)
If the dispute is really about comments over textual manuscripts saying the best or the most reliable manuscripts do not contain these verses, that is another issue. What defines “best and most reliable” and upon what basis is this determined? If these verses were not in the original manuscripts why then does Irenaeus (120-202) in his writing against heresies quote the ending of Mark as such…
“Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: “So then, after the Lord Jesus has spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God;”
– Irenaeus Against Heresies, chapter 10, paragraph 5
There exist other early Christian writings and other evidences in support of this longer ending of Mark chapter 16. However, we see from this quote of Irenaeus that he actually quotes the longer version of the ending of the gospel of Mark and sites it as being genuinely from the Gospel According to Mark.
Speaking in new tongues is a subject which has made some conservative appearing Christians feel squeemish. New tongues implies they are not old tongues or other tongues that already exist, to which, if they do believe in the existence of tongues for the modern church, they will only go as far as to say that they must be known tongues that already exist. The Scriptures speak in the 1st Corinthians about the tongues that no man understands and that do not speak to men but to God.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
– 1 Corinthians 14:2-4 (KJV)
Still, despite the repetition of words describing the unknown nature of these tongues, arguments get raised against the clear words of 1st Corinthians to redefine its meaning. However, Mark’s gospel ending is hard to talk around for them, therefore, they will either assert a non-Biblical notion that God doesn’t do such anymore in this age or claim that the Mark 16 ending has been falsely added.
A high motivator for some to discount the ending of Mark’s gospel is because they just feel tongues are too spooky sounding for them. The Holy Spirit is a person of God and should understood this way regarding tongues. Thus, to discount the ending of Mark’s gospel for cessationist or some conservative-mannered Christians becomes a cheap way out in order to deny some of the ways of God they deem more uncomfortable.
Excuses should not be made to discount what is demonstrated as God’s word. Greater and more discerning examinations need to be made by Christians when it comes to testimonies that seek to refute the Holy Scriptures. The Kingdom of God comes with power. We should not place our faith in the words of those who deny. God Himself confirms His word with signs following.