Mark 16:16 – He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
In my spam recently I saw an article where someone was promoting an article which claimed that Mark 16:16 shows that you must be water baptized to be saved. This is a complete and utter lie. It is a lie that is designed to bring people into soul slavery. This lie denies the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It denies the sufficiency of his sacrificial, subsitutionary death, burial and resurrection for us. It denies his precious blood, which alone paid the price for our sin. It is the spirit of antichrist that would guide someone to deny the Son – 1 John.
Firstly, anyone propagating this lie will always skip the second part of the verse – but he that believeth not shall be damned. This alone proves that water baptism does not save us, because if water baptism was required to save, then absence of water baptism would consequentially damn. The only thing that damns us is our unbelief, as the second part of the verse says. Because the verse does not say that not being water baptized damns us, therefore water baptism cannot save us either.
Secondly, it is important to note that this verse does not specify water baptism. There is a difference between water baptism and spiritual baptism. We are spiritually baptized when we are saved. This is the important baptism. This is the necessary baptism. But it is not something we do, it is not something we conjure up, it is not something we coerce God into doing for us, it is something done to and for us. We have no part of it. We have no say in it. Our hands do not work it. It is complete, full and final. When we are saved we are born again of the Spirit of God. John 1:13 – Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Jesus repeatedly said, Ye must be born again – John 3. When we are born again, the Spirit of God baptizes us into the body of Christ, which is called the church. This is the true church, which is a spiritual body of which Christ is the head.
So true born again believers are baptized into Christ at salvation, which is part of being born again. It is the answer of a good conscience towards God, it does not put away the filth of the flesh – 1 Peter 3:21. After this, at any point in time, they will be water baptized to show physically what has happened to them spiritually. It is the spiritual baptism that really matters, not the water baptism. As the law could not take away sin or purge the conscience, so water baptism cannot do anything for us spiritually. It is purely something external and physical. God is infinitely more concerned about spiritual than physical. Spiritual is eternal, physical is temporal. Are you looking for the praise of man or the praise of God? Is your water baptism really about stealing God’s glory, about glorifying yourself, about showing how amazing you are or are you giving glory to God? Water baptism does not do anything in and of itself, it is purely something we do as a testimony, as a physical act of identifying with our Saviour who has saved us. When we are saved we place our faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for us. This is what water baptism shows.It shows what has already happened to believers at salvation when we accepted Christ into our hearts.
We can look at other verses in the Bible to provide increasing clarity.The Bible expressly warns against adding works to faith. This is not an excuse for sin. If we are truly saved, we will want to depart from sin. God commands us to depart from evil, we want to stop sinning, we hate sin, we look forward to an eternity without sin. But we stop sinning not to save ourselves, but because we are saved, and we love Jesus. The Bible teaches that works are a consequence of faith in James. Faith without works is dead. If you are truly saved, you will produce works, if you are not, you won’t. But you have to be truly saved first. As in John 15, you can only produce fruit if you first abide in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are trusting in your works, you will be rejected and cast out, as Ishmael, who was born of Hagar was. You will not receive the promise, you are not a child of promise.
People who try to be saved by being good, by doing works, by adding water baptism to faith will be rejected. Period. You must be born again, you must be saved by grace through faith alone. You must put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Jesus said, I am the way. It is Jesus plus noone, plus nothing, both to be saved and after we are saved. We do not help Jesus save us. We do not assist him in our salvation. Do not be brought into works based bondage after you are saved either. Repent and believe and you will be saved. We are complete in him. We do not, we cannot add to our salvation. Ephesians 2:8,9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Grace by very definition rules out any works we can do. Romans 11:6 – And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. There is no compromise, there is no middle ground. If you think you need to do something in addition to faith, whatever it may be, you have believed a lie. We are saved by faith, we live by faith, we walk with God by faith, we cannot please God without faith – let Jesus set you free from all types and forms of bondage, from witchcraft, from the devices of the Devil designed to bring you into captivity.
Will you let Jesus set you free or do you want your works? Do you have to do your little something to make you feel saved and religious? If you are doing works, are you doing them to be saved or because you are saved? Do you want the truth? Because it is the truth that will set you free.