Who does Jesus say will be saved and how will they know it? Let's find out.
Jesus is reported to have said: "He that believes and is baptized will be saved, but he that believes not will be condemned. And these signs will follow those that believe: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with tongues, and with their hands they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly it will not hurt them at all. They will lay hands upon the sick and they will recover" (Mark 16:16-18).
Who is the true believer in the teachings of Jesus? Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Pentecostal, Jehovah's Witness, Methodist, Latter Day Saint, Episcopalian, Seventh-Day Adventist, Lutheran, Quaker, etc.-each one belonging to a group claiming to possess the true teachings of Jesus. Who is correct? Who is actually a true believer in Jesus? The Answer to this perplexing Question appears to be given by Jesus himself in Mark 16:16-18.
According to this passage, the true believer in Jesus can cast out demons, speak with tongues, pick up serpents, drink anything deadly, and heal the sick. These are the promises made by Jesus to all the faithful, not only of his generation, but of all generations. The true believer in Jesus, his Messiah informs him, possesses the ability to bring all of these miraculous deeds to pass. The formula for success is simple: "Believe!"
Paul, realizing the emptiness of this promise to be able to do the miraculous, qualifies the words of Jesus. He declares that people are given different levels of ability to perform miraculous deeds, depending on the amount of grace bestowed upon them. All believers, Paul states, share in the miraculous works of the few since they are all part of "one body in Christ" (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-31). It is a desperate and feeble attempt, on the part of Paul, at reinterpreting the promise of Jesus, in order to explain why his guarantee to all the faithful never came about. According to Jesus' words, however, all believers are given equal grace and ability to perform the miraculous. The believer himself performs the miraculous; he does not share in them vicariously through a mystic union of the entire church body. The promise, coming directly from Jesus, vitiates any attempt to disavow or modify these deeds by any Christian spokesman.
But can the believer in Jesus actually perform these miraculous deeds? No, of course not! Yet everyone who believes Jesus is the true Messiah has been guaranteed by Jesus the power to cast out demons, speak with tongues, pick up serpents, drink anything deadly, and heal the sick.
According to Jesus, even non-true believers are able to perform miracles in his name. "Many will say to me on that day: 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform powerful works?' And then I will declare to them: 'I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness'" (Matthew 7:22-23). Thus, according to Matthew, even those individuals who claim to perform miracles in the name of Jesus are not necessarily following him. How then can one tell who is a real follower of Jesus? Neither those who are true followers of Jesus, whoever they may be, nor those whom Jesus would reject, according to Matthew, can do all the categories of miracles Jesus promised they would be able to do. Yet Jesus did promise that his followers would be able to do all of them.
What is the reason for the Christian inability to fulfill the words of Jesus? Obviously, Christians cannot perform these miraculous deeds because Jesus' claims have no validity. His own mouth testified against him. According to his own words, there is no such person as a Christian since a Christian should be able to do all the things enumerated in Mark 16:16-18. To continue worshipping Jesus is to stretch one's credulity to inadmissible limits.