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September 12, 2023
Properly Understanding Mark 16:9-20 to Debunk Greg Locke's Demonology
By Anthony Wade
An examination of the key verses leveraged by the YouTube deliverance hucksters...
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. - 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)
The Charisma News Greg Locke image rehabilitation tour rolls on. Even though Locke appears to be primed to enter the next level of the Charismatic grift machine, he remains true to the brand that built his ministry - fake deliverance. We should never lose sight of the fact that Greg Locke is disqualified from pastoral ministry due to his violation of his wedding vows by cheating on his first wife with the church secretary, who he then married. So, remember that even if his schtick was biblically accurate, which it is not, the notion that God is using this adulterer to deliver people from demons is biblically absurd to begin with. Yes, God can use anyone for anything, but this is not a one off. Greg Locke sells himself on a repeated ministry mantra of perpetual "miracles" from God. God, however, would not use such to achieve such because it sends a very conflicted message and contradicts His own word. With that as the backdrop, let us reason once again through his latest Charisma news article, linked above.
"We all need to understand that the Bible is still just as practical and prophetic today as it was when the ink of inspiration flowed out in Revelation 22. We also have to realize that we have no say in which parts of the Bible to obey. We either believe the Bible or we don't, and the only parts of the Bible we truly believe are the parts we truly behave. Jesus is just as powerful and anointed a teacher today as He was when He walked the earth, and He is doing the same things today that He has always done. Jesus was the Word then, and He is still the Word now. If we have a problem applying Jesus and His teachings to our lives today, the problem resides in us and our religion. That's the realization the Holy Spirit used to break me of mine. Having been an evangelist for 10 years and then a pastor for another 15 years, I've often found myself trying to read certain things into the Bible and also out of the Bible because of the way I was taught. I found myself apologizing for the clear teaching of the Bible, but I was never trying to deceive the people or lead them astray. Thank God, He has brought me into a new understanding." - Greg Locke
Like most false teachers, Locke cannot discern when the scriptures he is citing apply to himself. I agree that we cannot pick and choose what parts of the bible to agree with. I agree that we either believe the bible or we do not, it is intriguing that he states the only parts we truly believe are the parts we behave. Considering this, he clearly does not believe the key verses today because he knows he does not behave like he believes them. The qualifications for pastor are quite clear. Does anyone truly believe that Greg Locke behaves in a sober minded way? Not quarrelsome? He built his entire fame on being quarrelsome! He openly called people who disagree with his politics demons, witches and sought to expel them from his church! Then there is the aforementioned problems which leaves him NOT a husband of one wife. Greg Locke is reviled by outsiders beloved. To say he is disqualified is a vast understatement. The ironic thing here is that he fancies himself as having grown out of "reading certain things into and out of the bible"; but he continues this practice today - just on different areas. Some may feel he is willfully deceptive, like me. Others may think he is just genuinely mistaken. It matters not. Our focus must always be on the sheep, not the wolves.
'"And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover," (Mark 16:15-18). Here in our key passage of this study Jesus is at the end of His ministry, preparing to ascend to the right hand of the Father. No one has a problem with how it starts, but there are certain commands that follow this instruction that most Christians have been ignoring for a very long time because we were told to look past them.' - Greg Locke
This highlights one of the central theological problems with the latest spate of YouTube "deliverance" ministries. They are predicated on this section of scripture but they fail to understand, or seemingly do not care, that this entire section was probably never actually written by Mark. It is generally accepted that the older the manuscript is the more reliable it is because it is closer to the actual events that are recorded. The two oldest manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, both end Mark at verse eight. The transition between verse eight and nine makes little linguistic sense and verse nine presents Mary Magdalene as a new character when Mark actually discussed her in multiple places within his gospel. The website "Got Questions" also points out the vocabulary is not consistent with the rest of the gospel, including 18 words in the added text that were never used in the actual gospel. It appears quite obvious that scribes for some reason added verses 9-20, which would make them NOT divinely inspired.
So, what do we do with these verses then? Since we believe in an all-powerful God, we believe He decided what made the cut into the canon of scripture at the Council of Nicaea, and that would include verses 9-20, credited to Mark. Even though verse eight presents a more likely and better conclusion to the gospel, we need to examine the added verses to determine their usage. There does not appear to be any contradictory information, which one would expect from a perfect God. That said, we should not create doctrine solely from these verses. This means we have to make sure we have supporting scripture elsewhere. The general historical narrative can be laid aside for the synoptic gospels support Jesus appearances post-crucifixion. From verse 14 on however, we get into the Great Commission and the signs and wonders verses that so many false teachers like Greg Locke latch onto. Verse 15 contains the go into all the world command. This appears in other gospel accounts, such as Matthew 28, so there is no problem relying upon it in Mark. Verse 16 contains the controversial line about baptism being potentially related to salvation. Entire false denominations have been based on misinterpreting this verse but more importantly, this notion does not exist anywhere else in the bible. So only in the questionable section of Mark do we find this and as such, we can dismiss it theologically. It also says that he who believes will be saved but we do not need to rely on these verses for that because it is a consistent theme throughout scripture.
Verse 17 starts more serious theological issues. After the resurrection of Christ there is no discussion of picking up serpents, drinking poison, or casting out demons. Not as it is related to Christians. For a more obvious example of misunderstanding these verses there are actual churches that practice the picking up of lethal serpents during service. Pastors in this absurd cult have died from snakebites as a result and the practice continues. Remember these verses were probably added, centuries after the fact, by a transcriber who had their own false beliefs. This verse also mentions speaking in tongues but again, we do not need to rely upon this because Paul discusses tongues at length. That leaves us with casting out demons, which is the central cog of Greg Locke's ministry. There are certainly demons cast out during the ministry of Jesus but to what extent do we translate that into actionable doctrine for believers? Locke tries to leverage the Mark verses because he knows he has no other directive scripture. He only has anecdotal historical narrative. Here is the problem. I assume even Greg Locke would agree that this scripture does instruct us to pick up serpents. I would hope he agrees we are not instructed to drink poison. Then why in the world would you conclude this instructs us to cast demons out? You should not conclude such and you definitely cannot base it on Mark 16:9-20. Mind you, I am not suggesting the involvement of demonic activity is not real. The bible makes it clear that it is. It is trying to use these scriptures and the fact that Jesus cast out legion to parlay it into a ministry where Greg Locke pretends to do the same thing every week that is biblically moronic and offensive. What Locke and his contemporaries like Isaiah Saldivar, Vladimir Savchuk, and Alexander Pagani do is they create a "demon behind every bush" myth and they sell it to undiscerning folks. Are you feeling down because your spouse left or a relative died - demon! Are you battling an addiction - demon! Are you having trouble reading the bible - demon! Most time we feel what we feel for a reason. We choose to sin because we are sinners by nature. Not everything is demonic influence. I will not even get into possession because some people have seen too many Exorcists movies and not done enough bible reading. Locke continues:
"It's a tragedy that many large denominations continue teaching that the gifts Jesus addresses in this passage no longer apply to us today. I know people who have become so incredibly bitter and discouraged over this passage and others like it that they now deal with deep depression. Some have even taken their own lives, all because they could not reconcile what the Bible clearly says with what their grandfather or their ex-pastor told them it says. In these last of the last days, it's time to take off the denominational lens and learn to read the Bible exactly as it was written." - Greg Locke
Once again, I agree that we need to read the bible exactly how it was written, and that excludes Mark 16:9-20, unless supported elsewhere. I do not know of anyone who committed suicide over not understanding bible passages. There is no reason to be bitter over these passages. We must understand what they are, what they say, and more importantly - what they do not say. Not sure if you noted the sleight of hand here. These commands list five "signs" that will accompany believers. Only two of them can be called gifts and not within this context. Tongues is listed as a gift elsewhere as is the gift of healing. Drinking poison successfully, picking up serpents and casting out demons are not discussed as "gifts" anywhere else in scripture AND are not discussed as such here either! Locke deftly changes the word signs to gifts so he can pretend this is a matter of cessationism verses continuationism - it is not. The argument is premised inaccurately as well. Solid congregations do not teach these are gifts not in operation anymore. They simply teach correctly to not create doctrine out of these scriptures or these signs.
"At the top of our key passage, in verse 15, we see that it starts out pretty easy to understand. It's the Great Commission crystallized in black and white. Simply put, we are to herald the truth of the gospel. Romans 1:16 says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." And 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us what the gospel is: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There's no social gospel, there's no medical gospel, and there's no civic gospel. There's only a saving gospel. I find it interesting that in Mark 16:15 Jesus tells us what to do, who to do it to, when to do it and where to do it, but He never tells us how to do it. That's because every generation has to figure out how to effectively preach the gospel to their culture without compromising the integrity of the gospel itself. Some people use media, some people use the internet, some people use a tent, some people use a bus or even a motorcycle. Some just hoof it on foot. In the context of the full passage, Jesus just told us to use our gifts to go preach the gospel to a lost community of individuals. Everybody wants to have a gospel that's soft-served and peddled to them all nice and neat. Galatians 5:11 warns us not to take the offense out of the gospel, yet that's what we have today"churches and pastors trying to take the offense out of the cross of Christ. We want to tell you about Jesus, but we don't want to be offensive. We want to tell you about heaven, but we don't want to offend you with the prospect of hell. It's offensive to hear that you are dead, doomed, damned and depraved, but we all need to know the hard truth so we can understand the gift of God's grace." - Greg Locke
Wow, and I thought the demonology was poorly constructed doctrine. There is no instruction from Jesus in these verses because they were not written by Mark. Even if they were these are not discussed as gifts! Not even by the scribe! The reason why the false gospel of Greg Lock is so offensive is that it is false! I agree that a balanced gospel contains both the law and the grace of God but that has nothing to do with holding demonic deliverance services. It is cunning and deceitful for Locke to close with the proper representation of the gospel after writing an article completely opposed to it. Remember his argument here is that the notion of demonology and deliverance are related to gifts that are not being taught by the church anymore. His sole basis however is to leverage a portion of scripture everyone knows is suspect and rely upon the portions of that compromised passage that are not supported anywhere else in the bible. He does this to create out of whole cloth a false gospel that focuses on his schtick rather than the saving gospel of Jesus Christ he tries to tie it to. He fails however and badly. False signs and lying wonders is just as eternally tragic a false gospel as the soft-served fluffy one he rails against. It should be obvious, but mark and avoid Greg Locke.
Reverend Anthony Wade - September 12, 2023