Archive for the ‘Mark’ Tag

Mark 16:16

If humanity is adopted into the Triune Life through Jesus then what are we to make of scriptures such as Mark 16:16? It reads:

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. ~ Mark 16:16, NIV

A good friend recently asked me about this verse. Here’s how I responded:

However we interpret scripture we can’t interpret it in a way that contradicts who Jesus is.

Jesus is the Word of God living in the flesh and sharing with us in our humanity (John 1:14). Therefore, he is the supreme revelation of who God is and who human beings are in relationship to God.

Romans 5:18 says that Adam brought sin to all people but Jesus has brought righteousness to all people. Colossians 1:20 says that Jesus has reconciled everyone to the Father.

Therefore, whatever Mark 16:16 means it cannot mean that we make ourselves righteous or reconcile ourselves to God by our own baptism or our own belief. Christ has made us righteous and Christ has reconciled us to the Father.

If Mark 16:16 means that we save ourselves by our own belief and our own baptism then why would we even need Jesus?

Either Jesus has saved us first and then we believe, or we save ourselves by our own belief and don’t need Jesus.

Obviously, Jesus has to be the savior. He is the one who has taken away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and made one new humanity in himself (Ephesians 2:15).

Because of Jesus the Father does not condemn anyone and does not hold anyone’s sins against them (Romans 5:9-10). Because of Jesus humanity has been adopted as the Father’s children (Ephesians 1:5).

So, if Jesus is the one who has saved and reconciled humanity then Mark 16:16 is a description to us of what happens when we believe this truth and what happens when we don’t believe it.

If we believe that humanity is reconciled and saved in Jesus then we will be baptized and we will begin to live as the children of the Father that we really are. On the other hand, if we don’t believe that Jesus is the savior of humanity then we will continue believing the lie that God is out to get us and we will continue feeling condemned.

Notice that Mark 16:16 does not say “believe and you will get saved” instead it says “believe and you will be saved.”

If someone said to a young man who was doing a bad job as a husband and father “you need to be a man” would that mean that he wasn’t male and needed to make himself into a male human being? Of course not. It would mean that he needs to act like what he already is – a man.

So, Mark 16:16 and other such verses aren’t telling us that we need to make ourselves into something that we’re not. They’re not saying “you aren’t saved but you can save yourself by your own belief and baptism.” Verses such as this are saying to us: “in Jesus, you are saved; so believe this truth about yourself, get baptized, and be the saved person that you really are. If you don’t believe that Jesus has saved you then you’re going to continue believing the lie that God condemns you.”

That’s the gospel, the good news for humanity. The good news is the message to all humanity that says:

Jesus has saved you, stop believing that God is out to get you and start believing the truth that your Father in heaven has adopted you as his child in Jesus and poured out his Holy Spirit on you.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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