Was the Gospel of the Kingdom a ‘Bait & Switch’?

Kingdom Switch

Sunday 03/06/22

Message –  Was the Gospel of the Kingdom a ‘Bait & Switch’?

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Was the Gospel of the Kingdom a ‘Bait & Switch’?

Last week we read yet another example of signs, wonders, demonic deliverance and healings which were taking place in great and increasing numbers in the early church and so I thought it wise to address the elephant in the room.

Why, in the modern church do we see so little of this?

At first my mind, being reawakened to this issue, ran off in about a dozen directions trying to find an answer or perhaps to remember an answer I’d already found in the past but which I’d forgotten due to its irregular use…but within 24hrs. of these initial thoughts I came to be amazed that we’ve seen as many miracles, signs, deliverance and healings as we have! 

So this morning we are going to take a serious look at this from two angles. 

  1. What does the modern Church say in response to this question?
    1.  Why or why aren’t these responses valid? 
  2. What do the scriptures say? 

The ONLY reason to look at and consider the first question at all is for learning and instruction. For doctrine – we need only consult the scriptures, for training in ministry we need to familiarize ourselves with both so that we might better understand where others are coming from in the body and be able to learn from them and provide answers for them. We are called to be the light of life to our fellow Christian AND the world. So knowing common thoughts on this within the body is important.

Many in the body of Christ today claim that such demonstrations of healing were for the early church ONLY and that even though God can and may still heal today – He does so without certainty or regularity. They believe and teach that the time of “come and you WILL BE healed” is over. 

I can sympathize with this view because it often seems to be the experience of the modern Church. 

It is a danger faced by every generation to believe 

that their limited experience is all there is to a story. 

We began our examination of this last week by introducing two examples which illustrated why sometimes healing does not take place. They were found in 1 Cor. 11 which pointed out how not acting in reverence to Christ’s actual physical body AND the body of Christ – meaning our brothers and sister’s – was THE reason Paul gave for why MANY of the believers in Corinth were weak, sick and some had died. 

This is just outstanding! I think one would have to be almost spiritually blind to not see that these conditions are rampant in the body of Christ today, so it is VERY relevant to our study.

We HAVE to take this seriously if we want to pursue walking in step with the Spirit – being filled – living in Koinonia. That begins with inviting the Spirit of God to evaluate our respect and honor of the actual physical body of Jesus offered for us as well as the honor and respect we show to our siblings in Christ. 

The other passage we looked at was in Gal. 6 where we learned that if we sow to our flesh we will from the flesh reap corruption. The word “corruption” in that phrase means death, destruction and corruption in a natural sense.

I found it interesting & compelling that in both of these examples, financial misconduct was spotlighted. 

In Corinthians there was the mistreating of the poor who had nothing (1Cor. 11:22), and in Galatians it was in not supporting your spiritual leaders (Gal. 6:6)- but the greater truth was simply living selfishly and after the flesh. 

If we are going to be theologically and intellectually honest, we cannot allow ourselves to assume that it is a simple coincidence that the early church who had all of these miracles, signs and healings were also ardent givers. I’ll just leave that right there.

Now, as I said last week, it seems to me that if God ever wanted to heal all or at VERY LEAST, the great majority of people who are sick then He still does

That if sickness was ever seen as a work of the devil then I cannot envision how today it is now a work of God which represents His kingdom and rule. 

I even linked you to two separate messages from a series I taught called, Living in the Kingdom, where we saw that healing and deliverance were in fact known and seen as a signs and proofs of the rule of Christ in His kingdom.

Continuing with that thought this week, we will consider modern excuses for why we have so little of the supernatural in our midst today and examine what the scriptures might have to say about it. 

The kingdom of God and Healing…

The early church was replete with miracles, signs, wonders and healings. We know this was in large part due to the expectation and faith of the people healed and delivered. We know this because of the details given us in the accounts which are offered. 

However, faith comes from God – it isn’t something we work up or conjure, it is the result of responding to the inward work and influence of God’s Spirit. 

As such, the early church could not have believed God to heal or deliver if those things were not being offered. 

The proverbial questions which have arisen in the modern era revolve around whether these events were due to some special circumstances in the early church. 

Now let me suggest that even the a question itself reveals a certain agnosticism. For even under the old covenant was there not a blanket covering for healing, IF they would love the Lord their God, diligently following His ways He would place in them, nor allow to come upon them sickness & disease which dad come upon the pagan nations around them? Yes there was!

I submit to you that the people of God, among whom Jesus was born had the same basic agnostic walk that most Christians have today. People were sick all over the place, but very few were expecting the healing and health promised if they would just love God and diligently follow His commands

Today’s suggested questions regarding why we fail to see this as the norm, range from:

  • Was there a special anointing upon the 12 Apostles of the Lamb that was not given to others to perform signs, wonders, deliverance and healing? 
    • This we know is not true because miracles were also done through the hands of the apostles Paul & Barnabus as well as the prophet Silas [Acts 15:32] & Stephen who was not an apostle nor a prophet and NONE of these were of the 12.
  • Was there a special anointing on any and all of the Apostles and Prophets of the early church for the sake of confirming the Gospel to the Jews?
    • We know this is not true because again, miracles were worked by Paul, Barnabus & Silas among the Gentiles [Acts 15:12].
  • Was healing ONLY a sign to facilitate initial belief, but once that belief was secured it had served its purpose? If which is true, God clearly has no broadstroked interest in maintaining the physical health of His people. 
    • I think the impact of the words themselves upon our hearts coupled with the compassion which moved Jesus to heal multitudes destroys that question. 
  • Did God give the apostles and prophets of the early church a special but dispensational anointing to “jump start” the early church (for lack of a better term) but which faded out of the church as the apostles died off, leaving the “post-apostolic”* church with the Word of God, but absolutely zero attesting signs which follow the preaching of the word.
    • This one requires some investigation since it is true that many of the times we see miracles and healings done in the early church it is at the hands of the apostles and prophets. But is that exclusively true? 
      • As it turns out – no! Stephen, mentioned above was only identified in scripture as a witness or martyr [Acts 22:20].
      • 1 Cor. 12:28 speaks of gifts of the Spirit which include healings and the working of miracles. Hopefully you remember that there are two different “working of miracles” in Corinthians. One was a gift given as the Spirit wills to any believer and the other was the person who was given AS A GIFT to the Church by the Father. So while we could consider the possibility of the person who IS a ‘worker of miracles’ as being something which passed away, the other seems unlikely since the scriptures tell us that we have these gifts until we ALL come to the full measure of the stature of Christ – a perfect bride. We will hopefully read about that later today in Ephesians, if not then next week.

So the fact that healings and miracles could be worked through the average believer as the Spirit wills, seems to effectively address most of the modern arguments. However, we do also have one other example and that is found in Mark 16

Now, some in the body of Christ will and do point out that Mark 16 verses 9-20 do not exist in the earliest manuscripts. 

This is true, but it is also true about other verses as well as one of the most beloved passages in the entire New Testament. Does that mean it does not belong? Well, it is my opinion and the opinion of many others who know the earliest manuscripts and the New Testament writings better than I, that none of the passages which were not in the earliest manuscripts present any major difficulties in terms of doctrine. They introduce no NEW doctrine seen nowhere else in scripture but only affirm what other passages also demonstrate or say.

So, the fact that God is sovereign over His Own works and the Bible has withstood countless attacks over the years which in all reality should have destroyed all reprints and translations early on – tells me that if these verses were not supposed to be in the scriptures or if they presented doctrinal error into the purity of all God preserved in the scriptures, then God would have sovereignly weeded them out literally centuries ago!

So I choose to believe the passage can be 100% relied upon and means precisely what it says. God does not require our limited experience to validate His word!

Mark 16:12-20, “(12) After this He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were on their way to the country.  (13)  They went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.  (14)  Then He appeared to the eleven themselves, while they were eating, and He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him resurrected.  

(15)  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  (16)  The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.  

(17)  These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages;  (18)  they will pick up snakes with their hands, and whatever poison they drink will not harm them; they will place their hands on the sick and they will be well.”  (19)  After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.  (20)  They went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through the accompanying signs.]]”

So, that leaves us again with why we see so few miracles, healings and signs in the church today.

Well, as far as signs are concerned, places like North America have been drowned in the message of the Gospel and it has been largely rejected by the masses.

In fact, as we have learned many times here at our church- the very message of the gospel itself has been deeply distorted and misrepresented in the modern era. We have ourselves had to amend some of our teachings as we discovered that they were out of sync with the scriptures.

Nevertheless, the gospel has gone forth and one thing we have seen in scripture regarding this is that God has a rich history of denying signs to those who have heard but refuse to believe. This we KNOW with 100% certainty!

That this includes entire geographical areas is clear. Jesus’ words to His disciples was if a city will not receive you, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them and take your peace with you. It will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city [Matt. 10:12-15; Mk. 6:10-11]. 

Interestingly enough, the word “peace” in this context means health, welfare, prosperity, every kind of good you have in Christ and share through salutation and benediction.

So it seems to me that in an area which has heard the word over and over and over and over and has responded so little and even then it is only met with feigning respect – it is of little wonder that we see so little – especially in terms of signs.

So, does that leave us with the notion that God could, but probably won’t?

Well in this generation regarding signs – quite possibly, but regarding miracles, deliverance and healings I don’t think that is a safe assumption, IF we as individuals seek Him & respond in faith. The scriptures afirm that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him by faith.

“Now without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who approaches God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” ~ Heb 11:6  

Healing and what is says about God

Most of us are aware that the scriptures several times make mention that Jesus healed them all or that Jesus healed all who were oppressed of the devil. 

We also are aware that there are absolutely ZERO examples of Jesus denying healing to ANYONE in scripture. 

We are not claiming it never happened, what we ARE affirming is that IF it happened, it was such an extraordinary event that it did not clearly represent the overwhelming norm, or we would see at least ONE example of it and we simply do not!

Also, Jesus said that ALL the works He did were FROM the Father, were BY the Father and were representative of the heart and character of the Father. That the works represented the person and therefore were a basis for belief in them.

  • “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.” 
  • “I ONLY do those things which please My Father”
  • “I only do and say those things I SEE My Father doing and saying”
  • “The works I do testify of Me”
  • “Believe Me for the sake of the works themselves”

Wouldn’t it be deceptive if God represented His person, power and Kingdom by healing you so you would believe and enter the kingdom ONLY to almost never give that same healing AFTER you were IN the kingdom?

In American law this would be tantimount to “bait & switch”.

It would be immoral to use healing as a bait to get someone to believe in a God Who really isn’t that kind of God.

It would be like me offering an all expense vacation for anyone who will come to work for me and my business and then deny them any vacation – paid for or otherwise – once they became my employee. 

It may not add up to an outright lie, or even bait & switch technically, but it would be a clear deception and misrepresentation of my character and my business practices.

Remember Jesus called healing the children’s bread[Mk. 7:24-30]

Was that to be only for the Jews and not the rest of the world?

We know that is not true for even though Jesus came to and for the Jews [Mat. 15:24], EVERY Gentile who EVER came to Him for healing of ANY kind – received it! Even the Syrophencian woman to whom Jesus made that statement that healing is the children’s bread.

Healing as a work of the kingdom and a demonstration of the rule of Christ

Let’s look at a couple of verses which represent healing as a work of the kingdom and REMEMBER that BEING KINGDOM WORK, it IS BY NATURE New Covenant work, because the Law was in force until John but SINCE THEN, the gospel of the Kingdom has been preached! – Luke 16:16.

Turn with me to Luke 7:19-23,

“(19) And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”  (20)  When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ”  

(21)  And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits;                        and to many blind He gave sight.  

(22)  Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  (23)  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

What gospel? The Good News of the Kingdom OR the Good News of the Rule and Reign of Christ!

Also turn with me to Luke 13:10-17,

“(10) Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  (11)  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.  (12)  But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”  (13)  And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.  

(14)  But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”  

(15)  The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?  (16)  So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom satan has bound—THINK OF IT—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 

(17)  And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”

Then the VERY NEXT THING Jesus began to do was talk about the Kingdom of God by saying…

Luke 13:18-21, “(18) Thus Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what should I compare it?  (19)  It is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the wild birds nested in its branches.”  (20)  Again He said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God?  (21)  It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.”

Now why do I say all of this? Well because of two things…three really. 

  1. Because I think sometimes we, through our lack of faith, identify more with the single, extraordinary example we saw last week of Ananias and Sapphira than we do with the countless thousands who WERE healed.
  2. It seems clear to me that regardless of what we have and have not personally experienced, healing is the bread of the children of Abraham or the children of God. It is not the natural born people of Jewish descent that are Abraham’s children, but those who enter into the Kingdom by faith in it’s king – Jesus. If this is NO LONGER true – would He not have told us?
  3. Because we need to know how and why things work the way they do in the Kingdom and at least part of that is understanding what IS the work of the kingdom?

Some major denominations have taken some verses out of their context in Heb. 2:1-4 & Eph. 4:11-16, and have used them to say that these healings in the early church only followed the Apostles and some who had been given gifts of healing, but that such people and gifts are no more. 

Since this is in fact taught in a good number of mainstream denominational churches, I find it imperative to cover this misunderstanding so that you will know how to counter it when you encounter it.

  • Earlier when I mentioned the “post-apostolic” age, I did not mean to imply in any way believe there is such a thing, only that many do believe that the role of “Apostle” was only here during the infancy of the church and became unnecessary in later ages. This is NOT true. That the original 12 were gifted with ecclesiastical authority from God by Christ Himself, is clear, but that made them what is referred to as “Apostles of the Lamb” of which Paul and Barnabus were not a part, but they were Apostles. We are told in scripture that we WILL have these people and gifts until the return of Christ, which we will address in next week’s message. For more on the subject of apostles, see – About Apostles.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!