Dead Snake Handler's Friend Responds
Editor's Note: Please read all three of the articles in this month's issue which contain brother Hafley's initial article, and the email responses from two readers, answered by Larry.
(Evidently, our comments on the Pentecostal who died while handling a snake last Easter have struck a nerve. Here is yet another response.)
(For further information, go to our web site, biblework.com. There you may order video or audio tapes of, "Holy Spirit Baptism, Tongues, and Miracles," preached in 2001, and a copy of, "If They Have Received Holy Spirit Baptism," preached in 2002.)
Thank you for writing and expressing your views. I am sincerely sorry for the loss of your friend and co-laborer, Wayne Long, (the paper I saw reported his name as "Dwayne Long" ) who died from a snake's bite during a snake handling, religious service. I grieve for his family, too. I am sure he was a sincere man who did what he believed was right.
However, sincerity does not make one right. One may be sincere, but be wrong before God. Jesus said so. "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (Jn. 16:2Saul of Tarsus is a good example of this prophecyActs 8:3; 9:1; 26:9-11). "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:22, 23). They were sincere in their service. Like you, they believed that they were doing "many wonderful works," but, like Mr. Long, the dead snake handler, their sincerity will not save them.
First, you say, "I am not interested in having a bible study with you." Why not? I am interested in a Bible study with you. If you truly have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, you should have no problem at all with me. I am a simple preacher of the gospel. I have not had any formal religious training in a seminary. However, you believe that the Holy Spirit personally guides you in what you teach. So, why should you fear a study with me?
According to you, I am denying the power of the Holy Spirit. If that is true, I am lost. Do you not love my soul enough to study with me and show me the truth? Are you going to ignore me and let me go to hell without trying to help me? I believe you are wrong. I love you enough to study with you. Why will you not study with me?
I propose that we discuss the issues that divide us. In an open, public Bible study, I will affirm that, "The Scriptures teach that Holy Spirit baptism and the five signs of Mark 16:17, 18, are not for believers today as they were in the first century." Will you, or one of your brethren, deny that topic?
If you, or one of your brethren, will affirm, "The Scriptures teach that Holy Spirit baptism and the five signs of Mark 16:17, 18, are for believers today as they were in the first century," I will deny it.
You said you "did not appreciate the way (I) talked about (your) religion." What did I say that you did not like? Please be specific. Did I misrepresent what you believe? I cited the articles about the case and appealed to Scripture to sustain what I said. Tell me exactly what it was that you did "not appreciate."
Second, you say you are "a snake handling preacher." Are you also a, "if I drink any deadly thing and it shall not hurt me," preacher?
Third, you state,"Serpent handling is very much real. I have handled serpents and never been bitten." Well, "Drinking any deadly thing is very much real," too. Have you ever drank a deadly substance and not been hurt?
Fourth, you ask, "Why do you consider our faith to be false?" Well, for starters, there is the death of your friend, Mr. Long. If your faith were not false, he would not have died. Even if the snake's bite made him ill, you, or some of your other fellow believers, could have laid hands on him and saved him, for the same passage which says, "They shall take up serpents," also says, "they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover." Since neither of those things occurred, it is obvious that your faith is false. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deut. 18:22). What you speak "in the name of the Lord"that one may take up serpents and not be hurtdid not "come to pass." Therefore, your faith is false.
See the tapes at our web site which were cited above. They explain in detail why your faith is false and contrary to the teaching of the Bible.
Fifth, you ask, "Why do you insist on slandering and putting down someone's religion?" You have not proven that I have slandered and put down someone's religion. I deny the allegation and challenge the allegator to prove it.
The Lord renounced and repudiated the doctrines and commandments of his Jewish brethren (Matt. 15:1-9; 21:28-44; 23:2-33). Was he guilty of "slandering and putting down someone's religion?" The Lord severely rebuked several of the seven churches of Asia, saying they had left their first love, that they were "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." He told the church at Sardis that they were "dead" (Rev. 2:2-5; 3:1, 17). Again, was Jesus guilty of "slandering and putting down someone's religion?" Will you tell me he was? If not, neither am I.
Paul could not praise some of the deeds of the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:22). He charged them with being "carnal" (1 Cor. 3:1-3). He said the Galatians were not obeying the truth and that some "are fallen from grace" (Gal. 3:1; 5:4, 7). Was Paul guilty of "slandering and putting down someone's religion?" Will you say he was? If not, neither am I.
Finally, you promise that I will hear from you again. When I do, I hope you will answer the questions I have asked you. I answered your questions; now, you answer mine, please.
Also, let me know about the proposed discussion of Holy Spirit baptism and the gifts of Mark 16. I will be happy to come to Virginia for a discussion of those issues. After that, we will have another discussion where I preach and you, or one of your brethren, can defend your position on Holy Spirit baptism and the five signs of Mark 16. I anxiously await your response.