By Brannon Howse
The Scripture: He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
The Twist: Both belief and baptism are necessary for salvation.
This scripture brings up yet another twist on the notion of baptismal regeneration. Yet it can be clearly shown that this verse—consistent with the twists we’ve already debunked—does not support the idea that a person must be baptized in order to be saved. It does make clear, though, that a person who does not believe will be condemned. Notice that the second half of the verse does not say condemnation results from not being baptized but from not believing. As we have already determined, works, ceremony, or ritual do not save, only faith and repentance.
As is our practice, let’s review the context of Mark 16:16. The scene during which this verse takes place is a resurrection appearance of Jesus. He is with His disciples, who have now become His apostles after the resurrection. Verses 14-15 explain:
Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
During this appearance, Jesus begins to give the disciples their commissioning. In this context, Jesus gives them authority to go and preach the Gospel and then to declare that people are saved based on their response to the Gospel. If people respond to the Gospel, repent of their sins, and place their faith and trust in Christ, then you should be able to see the fruit in their lives and acknowledge that “this person is truly saved.”
In accord with Jesus’ teaching, the apostles are going to lay down foundational doctrine and give birth to the New Testament Church. They will be commending the saved on their faith and their fruit. And they will be confronting people who aren’t saved or who are false converts, tares among the wheat.
At the Mark 16:16 commissioning, Jesus does not say that if a person believes and is also baptized, then he or she is saved. It’s not baptism that saves. As we saw earlier with Simon the sorcerer, a person can be baptized yet be on his way to hell. In fact, Peter said to Simon exactly what Jesus told Peter (and the other disciples) in Mark 16:16 he should say: “You’re condemned because of your unbelief.” Not a pretty picture, and neither is this baptismal regeneration twist.
Copyright 2014 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.