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Answering The Atheist
July 23, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 30

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Who can cast out devils in the name of Jesus? Only the followers of Jesus (Mk 16:17), or others also (Mt 7:21-23; Mk 9:38; Lk 9:49). Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Miraculous works did follow those who believed in the first century, as God's witness to the word which was being spoken (Heb 2:1-4). These miraculous gifts continued until the perfect (complete) will of God was revealed, at which time they were no longer necessary (1 Cor 13:8-13). Thus, in practicality for today, this is a non-issue, since the days of miraculous gifts has ceased. However, we will certainly still address the alleged contradiction.

Regarding Matthew 7:21, may I say that one's claim to have cast out demons, and one actually having done so, are two different things. There are numerous supposed miracle workers today who make all kinds of claims, but no proof exists that they have in fact done what they said they have done. Folks claiming to Jesus that they had cast out demons in His name and worked wonders in His name is not proof that they did so, but merely that they believed they did so. Could it be that they were deceived? Consider,

  • "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thes 2:9-12)
  • "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." (2 Cor 11:13-15)


Mark 9:38 and Luke 9:49 are two records of the same circumstance. The questioner would have done well to read on. Jesus responded to John's contention by saying, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side." John's contention about this man was false. He seemed to think that unless one was day after day journeying with the Lord, he could not be his followers. The Lord's words indicate that this man had faith, and was "with them", even though not bodily so.

There is no contradiction here.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible