Mark 16:16 And Baptism
by David J. Stewart
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." -Mark 16:16
Mark 16:16 is one of the most misinterpreted Scriptures in the Word of God. False religions such as the Church of Christ, Lutherans, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Russian Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and so many others... all require that a person be baptized in order to go to heaven. This heresy is known as "Baptismal Regeneration." The Bible condemns such ADDING to the simple plan of salvation. The Word of God is clear that salvation is obtained simply by believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 16:30-31, "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
Mark 16:16 DOES belong in the Word of God. The NIV (New International Version) butcher gang (Westcott and Hort followers) like to claim that Mark 16:15-20 weren't in the originals. Maybe not in the corrupt Alexandrian originals, but they were certainly found in the preserved originals at Antioch. This is why you need a 1611 King James Bible and NO other! Mark 16:16 confuses people who don't read the rest of the Bible. It is dangerous to take one Scripture out of context by itself. There's 31,102 verses in the King James Bible, and they all perfectly interlock together to convey the Truth. You can't just arbitrarily open the Bible and expect to obtain an accurate understanding of it's contents. You need to read all of it.
Having said that, Mark 16:16 is brought to light when compared with 1st Corinthians 1:17...
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."
At first glance, Mark 16:16 appears to teach that a person needs to be baptized to be saved; however, when compared with the rest of the Word of God, it is clear that salvation is of the heart. Salvation is of God, NOT man. Baptism is simply a public demonstration of the inner work of regeneration, nothing more. Martin Luther in his Small Catechism clearly states that "Baptism is not just plain water." That's a lie! Baptism no more makes you a Christians than a wedding ring would make a woman married. If fact, some single women wear rings just to give the impression that they're married. Just because a man finds a police badge doesn't automatically make him an officer of the law. Baptism is simply an ordinance that our Lord started in the New Testament church; but it is an act of discipleship, not salvation.
I used to work with an ordained Church of Christ minister. He went to some big Church of Christ college down in Texas for four years. Anyway, we talked often on the subject and he taught me much about the Church of Christ's beliefs. Surely, there are many areas of the Scriptures which are not fundamental doctrines of the faith (i.e., they're not necessary for salvation). Even among Baptists, we don't agree on everything. In fact, there are over 75 varieties of Baptists in America. People often ask me which religion is the right one and I always tell them... none of them! Salvation is NOT found in a religion, but in a Person--The Lord Jesus Christ!
Mark 16:16 cannot be taken ALONE. The only accurate way to interpret the Scriptures is to not interpret them, but compare Scripture with Scripture...
"Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." -1st Corinthians 2:13
1st Corinthians 1:17 declares that Paul was NOT sent by Christ to baptize, but to preach the Gospel...
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." -1st Corinthians 1:17
Some Church of Christ followers believe that Paul's disciples performed the baptisms instead. I do not find that taught in the Scriptures. We know that Jesus didn't Baptize, but His disciples did (John 4:2). But this was an act of discipleship, not faith unto salvation. People in the Bible were always baptized AFTER they were saved, not to get saved. A woman wears a ring because she is married, not to get married. The ring is simply a token of her marriage vows, just as the rainbow is God's token to us that He will never destroy the earth again by flood.
Oftentimes we see Jesus in the Bible speaking to people alone, such as the Samaritan woman in John 4, and Nicodemus in John 3 at midnight. Jesus never mentioned Baptism. Salvation is by FAITH...
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" -Romans 5:1
"And he found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:" -Philippians 3:9
Also, please notice that Mark 16:16 declares that "he that believeth not" shall be damned, NOT "he that is not baptized." The same should be applied to Romans 10:9,10...
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Romans 10:9,10
Does a person have to audibly "confess" Christ to be saved? I actually heard a preacher on the radio say "yes, you do." The truth is that you DON'T, salvation is of the heart. Jesus clearly said in Matthew 7:21 that not every one which saith unto Him "Lord, Lord, (confessing with the mouth) shall enter into the kingdom of heaven... but he that doeth the will of the Father." John 6:40 tells us what the will of the Father is...
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." -John 6:40
The will of God is for us to be saved is to simply believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, no more. A person can confess with their mouth all they want to and still go to hell. They had better do the will of God, which is to believe upon the Saviour.
It is clear that Baptism is NOT required for salvation. God's plan of salvation has never changed, it has always been the same... by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ PLUS NOTHING (Ephesians 2:8,9). No one in the Old Testament was ever baptized. They were saved back then the same way we are today. In the Old Testament, people looked forward to the coming messiah and placed their faith upon Him to forgive their sins. Today, we look back to Calvary and believe upon Christ because of His work of atonement. Salvation has never changed. God never changes (Malachi 3:6).
Also, consider 1st John 5:13, which states the reason why John wrote the Epistle, that is, so “that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” Yet, John never mentions baptism even once. God is the divine Author of all the Bible, but He used about 40 different holy men of old to pen the Bible. Men were only the writers. Thus, God is the Author of the Epistle of 1st John and although he wrote 1st John to help Christians have the assurance of salvation, God NEVER mentions water baptism. Surely if baptism were essential and required for salvation, then God would have said to make sure you've been baptized, but He didn't. Clearly water baptism is not mandatory to get to Heaven.
The Bible defines the Gospel (good news) as the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). If you receive Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sins, then you are saved immediately and forever. It's that easy!
Baptismal Regeneration is the most popular heresy in the world's cults today, who masquerade as true churches. From the Lutherans to the Roman Catholics, and from the Seventh-Day Adventists to the Mormons, and from the Greek Orthodox to the Jehovah's Witnesses... they all require water baptism for salvation. But God DOES NOT!!! Baptism is simply one's public profession of water, as evidence in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Notice that in water baptism, LIKE AS CHRIST, we are buried and resurrected with Him. It is symbolic.
Also, baptism is NOT a sacrament. The word's not even found in the Bible. The Lord instituted only two ordinances: Water baptism and the Lord's Supper. The garbage about confirmation, confession and holy mass are Catholic heresies (manmade traditions).
I have a lengthy article on my website by Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon addressing Baptismal Regeneration if you'd like to know more.