Religion made the news this past week. Kentucky preacher Jamie Coots has long been the snake-handling 'pastor' at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus' Name in Middlesboro, Kentucky. At the Saturday night service one week ago, he demonstrated his belief once again by handling rattlesnakes. Though one of the snakes bit him, it wasn't the preacher's first time to be bitten. You might have seen Jamie Coots on the National Geographic reality show, Snake Salvation.
Though the snake-handling movement has been outlawed in most states, it is still found in a number of Pentecostal churches in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. The heritage and tradition in these churches tries to imitate the power of the apostles that Jesus spoke of in Mark 16:18.
"They will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them."
Jesus promised this miraculous power to His apostles. He also gave them power to miraculously heal the sick, to speak foreign languages they had not learned, as well as the power to cast out demonic spirits (see Mark 16:17-20).
Such powers served as signs to confirm the brand new gospel message to the world. The apostles went forth and preached, and their message was indeed confirmed by the Lord as He produced these signs among them (see Hebrews 2:1-4, esp. v. 4).
The great Apostle Paul was living proof that Jesus had given such power to His apostles. In Acts 28:1-6 when Paul was bitten by a venomous viper, he merely shook the serpent off into the fire. He was completely unharmed.
God's word also makes it clear that these signs were limited in duration and would cease with the completion of New Testament revelation (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). But, in spite of what God's Book says, there are folks like Jamie Coots who would try to elevate themselves to the level of the apostles. So, how did Pentecostal preacher Jamie Coots fare when he was bitten by a rattlesnake?
His funeral was held this past week – Coots was 42.
Lord, help us to carefully study the Scriptures so we may understand the truth about miracles, signs and wonders. And, Father, we pray for those in error that they will learn the truth and come to the knowledge of salvation.