You Might Not Be Able To Believe
Everything You Read In Your Bible!
Let’s first read our text for this lesson: Mark 16:16. “He who believeth
and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Some study Bibles on the market today try and prove by this verse that baptism
IS NOT essential and has nothing to do with salvation! Let me give a few
examples from actual study bibles on the market today.
1. The Life Application Study Bible. According to their advertisement, this is
the best-selling study bible on the market. Their note on Mark 16:16 says that
baptism is not essential to salvation, but that belief is the only thing
involved in whether or not someone is saved.
2. The Nelson King James Study Bible says, "Only faith, not baptism, is
essential for salvation, as the omission of baptism from the last clause shows."
3. The New Geneva Study Bible (read the Bible through the eyes of the
Reformers), refers the reader to an article on infant baptism, and the Baptist
view of infant baptism. The article goes on to state that baptism is just to
show other believers that you are already saved!
Many other study bibles simply try to ignore the verse altogether by questioning
whether or not verses 9-20 even belong in God's Word to begin with! Yet, they go
right on to comment on how modern day believers should be able to have the
miraculous gifts based on verses 17-20.
Regarding Mark 16:16: First off, in a comparison of 48 different English
translations (yes, 48) NOT ONE renders the verse structurally different from the
King James Version. They may use slightly updated versions of the words, but all
in all they are rendered the same! So, we can see from this that every scholar
and Bible translator agrees that the sentence construction on the verse is 100%
correct. Even the most liberal of translations and paraphrases agree on this
The sentence structure shows that the person believes and is baptized, both in
the present tense. And then it says "shall be saved" which is future tense. In a
straightforward reading of the first part of this verse, we can see that
salvation is promised to those who 1. believe and 2. are baptized. Now, who
receives salvation, based upon Mark 16:16? Those who believe and are baptized!
Another thing to look at in this first section of the verse is that believing
and being baptized are given equal importance when connected with the
conjunction "and". In English classes, we all learned that the word 'and'
combined two things together in equal importance. If two things are joined with
this conjunction, then they are inseparable. To quote the Practical English
Handbook (10th edition), "conjunctions ... connect elements that are of equal
rank or importance." So, belief and baptism are, according to Jesus Christ, of
equal rank or importance in reference to salvation.
If baptism is only of symbolic value, WHY WOULD JESUS COMMAND IT? If it was not
important and part of being saved (those who are hard headed, read the first
part of that verse again), WHY DID JESUS PLACE IT THERE AS A REQUIREMENT???
These people who try and twist this very clear passage to mean the opposite of
what it says claim that the second part of the verse negates baptism's being
essential. They claim that since the verse says "he who believeth not..." and
doesn't mention the person who is not baptized, that belief (or the lack
thereof) is what is essential. I will take issue with is the absolutely
absurd reasoning and hermeneutics that are employed to come up with such an
unscriptural conclusion about baptism's role in salvation.
Suppose someone were to say "He who gets in his car and drives 100 MPH shall be
ticketed, he who doesn't get in his car will be unticketed." We would be able to
see from the first part of the sentence that the person who shall get ticketed
would be the one who does two things: 1. gets in his car, and 2. drives 100 MPH.
From the second part of the sentence, we can see that the person who does not
get in his car will not get a ticket. The question, then, arises: is going 100
MPH of any consequence? If you use the reasoning of these "scholars" (and I use
that term very loosely), then going 100 MPH is not important in determining if
the person gets a ticket, but only the fact that they got in their car!
Or to use another example, let's insert some other words instead.
"He who has ingredients, and prepares them, has a cake. He who doesn't have the
ingredients has no cake." Who has a cake? The person who (1) has the ingredients
and (2) prepares them! Now we see from the second part of the sentence that the
person who doesn't have the ingredients does not have a cake. Again, using the
"scholar's" argument, the only thing that determines whether or not you have a
cake is if you have the ingredients... and preparing it is of no consequence!
Preparing the ingredients, according to their reasoning, is not essential to
having a cake!
Who can prepare the ingredients without first having them? Who can drive 100 MPH
without first getting in their car?
Can you see the absurdity? Read our example sentences again, and then change the
words back to the verse in question.
Why make this point? Simply this: Name one person who would be baptized who did
not believe! There was no point for Jesus to say here "he who believeth not and
is baptized not shall be damned." Because the person who believeth not WOULD NOT
BE BAPTIZED! Just as in our examples, the person who does not get in their car
would obviously not be speeding. The person who doesn't have the ingredients,
obviously wouldn't be able to prepare them! Common sense tells us that. There is
no need for us to spell it out, because every person understands that! Why must
people twist scriptures and abandon simple reasoning and common sense to try and
justify their own unscriptural doctrines?
So, if we were to expound and paraphrase the verse in question, we could
(without any contradiction, and without harming the meaning of the verse one
bit) say "the person who believes and is baptized shall be saved. The person who
believes not (and therefore would not be baptized anyway), shall be condemned."
Just because the baptism is not mentioned in the second part of the verse does
not mean it's not implied.
Be very aware of false teaching, even in your own Bible. Remember first that the
Word of God is infallible. Remember as well that the Word of God is inspired by
him (God-Breathed), and contains all we need to know for eternal life (2 Timothy
3:16-17). The footnotes in your Bible are NOT from God, they are put there by
men. Baptism is essential for salvation, just as much as belief is! Just as much
as repentance is! (Acts 2:38)
- Bradley S. Cobb
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