It is written:
Mark 16:16-He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Critics of Jesus’ teaching on baptism claim that the second part of this verse negates the first part of the verse by not including a lack of“baptism” as part of what leads to damnation. In essence, they claim that if baptism was part of the plan of salvation, Jesus would have said:
…”but he who does not believe and has not been baptized will be condemned.”
What shall we say to this?
First of all, the second part of the verse does not contradict the first part of the verse. Since the first part of Mark 16:16 places both belief and baptism before salvation, then the second part of Jesus’ statement will not contradict this.
Second, there is a good reason why Jesus does not include a lack of baptism in the second part of what leads to damnation. A person who does not believe in the Gospel (Mark 16:15) will not go and be baptized! It would be illogical and horribly grammatically incorrect for Jesus to speak words in the way that is suggested by opponents of baptism. We recognize this in English! For example, consider the following sentence:
“He who eats his food and digests it will live; but he who does not eat will die.”
Would a person say:
“He who eats his food and digests it will live; but he who does not eat his food and who does not digest the food he has not eaten will die.”
The second statement would be foolish.
“He who uses his key and unlocks the door will enter the home; but he who does not use his key will remain outside.”
If we were to following the “logic”of those who oppose Jesus’ words, we would have a translation such as this:
“He who uses his key and unlocks the door will enter the home; but he who does not use his key and does not unlock the door for which he has no key will remain outside.”
Again, the latter part of Mark 16:16 is in perfect harmony with Jesus’ teaching. Very simply, both belief and baptism come before salvation.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
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