Here’s a prime example why one must rightfully divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This past week in West Virginia, a Pentecostal pastor named Mark Wolford died as a result of handing a rattlesnake that bit him during an outdoor service. This tragedy should have been avoided especially since Pastor Mark saw his father killed three decades ago from doing the same thing.
Snake-handling Christians justify this activity by quoting Jesus in Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them...” But that doesn’t mean God wants His people purposely handling snakes. That would be like drinking a bottle of arsenic to see if it won’t kill you. God would protect a believer only if he accidentally drank a toxic liquid or someone tried to poison him.
One might recall how the Apostle Paul inadvertently picked up a viper while on the island of Malta but suffered no harm from “the creature hanging from his hand.” (Acts 28:4) One might also remember Moses confronting Pharaoh by throwing down a rod that turned into a snake. But that was in response to a clear commandment from the Lord. God was glorified when Moses’ snake ate up the snakes produced by Pharaoh’s magicians. (Exodus 7:12)
Preachers performing premeditated circus acts like handling snakes do not result in people getting saved, healed, and delivered. They need to focus on obeying the first part of the Great Commission: “Go and preach the gospel!”
“You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” - Luke 4:12