Four Views of One Command

By: Zach Collins

Jesus said, in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” 

It is an immutable law of salvation. It is one of the most irrefutable instructions ever recorded in the Bible. It is one of the most beautiful promises that ever passed through the lips of our infinitely gracious Savior. But the denominational world has treated this single instruction of salvation as disputable. 

For a moment, I will provide you with four views of this one command and allow you to choose which version we ought to obey. 

1.     The Universalist teaches, “He who does not believe and is not baptized will be saved”, as the universalist believes that all are going to Heaven, whether they are saved or lost.   

2.     The Catholic teaches, “He who does not believe and is baptized will be saved”, as they teach that the “sacrament” of baptism is completed with the expectation that, one day, you will believe.  

3.     The Protestant teaches, “He who believes, and is not baptized, will be saved”, as they believe that salvation is by faith only or grace only, and obedience to the commands of Jesus are not required. 

4.     The Lord taught, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”

Let me provide you with an English teacher’s interpretation of this instruction. This verse is composed of two independent clauses, “He will be saved who believes and is baptized”, and, “He will be condemned who does not believe.” The construction of the latter clause in no way negates the force of the first. When Jesus says, “who believes and is baptized”, He uses an adjective clause modifying the one who “will be saved.” The word “and” is a coordination conjunction, making belief in the gospel and baptism of equal necessity in obtaining salvation. 

Since the Garden of Eden, the oldest play in Satan’s playbook is to add one word to the command of God and, thus, change the command (c.f., Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:4). Unfortunately, regarding this immutable law of salvation, many in the denominational world like to add the word not, where it is never found. If Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will receive $1,000,000”, would there be a quibble over what to do to receive $1,000,000? Then, why the quibble over a gift far greater than gold, or silver, salvation? (c.f., Romans 6:23)

Now that you have read the five versions of Mark 16:16, which “view” should we obey?