Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, 'He will command His angels concerning You. On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Matthew 4:5-7
Last month Pastor Mack Wolford, a high-profile preacher from West Virginia, passed away. Pastor Mack died from the same cause that had taken the life of his father, who also was a Pentecostal preacher.
Both pastors died because they had received the bite of a poisonous snake.
It's true. Now if that sounds highly coincidental, it's not. Both of these fellows were preachers who believed the Bible orders Christians to handle poisonous reptiles to test, prove and show their faith in God. They believe God will stop them from being bitten and -- if they are bitten -- God will heal them without medical help.
And, if they're not healed?
If they're not healed, it was not because they had no faith or a weak faith; they died because it was their time to die.
Now I have no doubt the Lord has the ability to nullify the toxins delivered by poisonous snakes. He has done miracles like that, and many which are far more impressive.
But God's power is not in question here.
The question before us is this: should Christians put themselves in a position where they are testing the Lord? It's a question Jesus Himself answered when He was tempted by the devil. On that day He said, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test."
It is my belief Jesus said that because He knew that Christians, when they practice their faith, didn't need to search out times of testing -- those times would come to Christians naturally.
Truly, the world can't stand Jesus, His sacrifice, or what He has done for sinners.
This is why, since the opening days of the faith, Christians have been the victims of persecution.
It is especially at those times the Lord Jesus who defeated sin, death and devil has sent the Holy Spirit and given His followers the words to respond, the courage to suffer, and the faith which enables them to endure, conquer and, upon occasion, survive that which should not be survivable.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, if it be possible, may I avoid the cup of persecution. Still, if I must suffer for being one of Your redeemed souls, may my faith be unflagging, as I reflect Your great power and strength. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries