When two different portions of Scripture seem to contradict each other, it is imperative that we don’t believe one and reject the other. Instead, we must bear in mind that God is omniscient, and, because of this, we can trust that He will reveal the truth to us if we need to know.
As an example of an apparent contradiction, consider Mark 16 where Jesus said these signs will follow those who believe, in His name Christians will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover, etc. Now consider chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians where it speaks of the gifts of the Spirit.
Verses 4-7 say, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” Verses 8-10 lists the gifts of the Spirit, which include the effecting of miracles, speaking with new tongues, and the gifts of healing. There is also the instruction in James 5:14-15 for the sick to call for the elders of the church.
So which is it? Do all Christians cast out demons? Do all Christians speak with new tongues? Do all Christians heal the sick? Or does each individual Christian have different gifts? It cannot be the same thing. If all Christians can perform the same works, there would be no need for the gifts of the Spirit, and vice versa. And what about calling for the elders of the church? If everyone can heal the sick, what would be the reason to call the elders?
So how do we reconcile these verses that appear to be discrepancies? We must trust God to show us the truth. And this is the truth: In Mark 16, Jesus was referring to the collection of believers, not each individual. In other words, these signs will follow the church. And this is made evident by 1 Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He [the Spirit] wills.”
There is always a truth behind anything in the Word that seems to be contradictory.
May we all humble ourselves before the Father in the name of Jesus, and seek His will, rather than our own, that we might walk pleasing to Him, and fulfill His will. For when each individual member of the body is working properly, the promises of God are yes in Jesus.
Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant