Examining Mark 16:14-16
The New Testament of Jesus Christ is a marvellous document intended to instil faith and to save our souls. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31).
But God knew that Satan would hate the Bible and attempt to stop its influence. Satan does this, first of all, by emphasizing the commandments of men over the word of God (Matthew 15:9). Second, by causing the untaught and unstable to “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:16). Third, by producing an outright lie that men believe rather than the Bible (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
Satan's minions are false teachers who either ignorantly or with full knowledge pervert the word of God (cf. Matthew 7:15; Jude 4). Yet if a false doctrine were formulated this very hour the Bible would already have an answer for it (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What a blessed thought that is! “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil....17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” (Ephesians 6:11 & 17).
Let us examine Mark 16:14-16 and see how it refutes many false doctrines with bible truth.
A. Unbelief Is Mental Blindness “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (Vs.14).
B. The Lord appeared to the eleven in late afternoon/early evening on the Sunday He was resurrected from the dead. He ensured earlier that day that there was ample evidence for His disciples to believe. Notice this evidence:
1. The testimony of the women who had seen the empty tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane (including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the apostle James (Mark 16:1).
2. The appearance of Jesus to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).
3. The appearance of Jesus to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).
4. The empty tomb of Jesus witnessed by John and Peter (John 20).
5. The testimony of the bribed guards of Jesus tomb (Matt. 28).
In spite of the evidence the apostles did not believe. Jesus strongly rebuked (upbraided) them for their unbelief and hardness of heart (Mark 16:14). There is nothing wrong with sincere doubt and honest scepticism when it comes to religion. Jesus welcomes it. At this same meeting with the apostles Jesus proclaims, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39). The apostles and early evangelists encouraged evaluation of their message (Acts 17:11). Unbelief in Jesus or any other doctrine of the New Testament is not the result of a lack of evidence. Rather, unbelief is the result of mental blindness. For some it is their wish to maintain a sinful lifestyle. Others build a wall of pride and religious prejudice between themselves and God's truth. Yet I believe that, for many, intellectual laziness is the barrier. They do not want take the time and effort to find out the Truth. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16).
There Is Only One Gospel (Vs.15)
Fifty days after the Lord arose He ascended to the Father. Before He ascended, He gave to His disciples what is called the Great Commission. The Gospel (good news) would no longer be limited to the Jews but would be for all creatures. It offers the greatest hope for mankind (Romans 1:16). Yet other religious groups claim a counterfeit gospel which challenges the Gospel of Jesus and the apostles.
Islam claims Mohammed received the Koran revealed to him by an angel during the 7th Century AD. The Latter Day Saints teach that an angel gave golden plates to a teenager name Joseph Smith, Jr. of Palmyra, New York, who translated them into the Book of Mormon in 1823, their so-called “another testament of Jesus Christ.” But we are in deep trouble with God if we try to dilute or even add to the Gospel. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9).
As one drop of mud contaminates the whole glass of water so man-made doctrines and “revelations” pervert the Gospel of Christ (Galatians 5:9). We have the pure Gospel today found in the pages of the New Testament (Galatians 1:11).
In Salvation, Belief Does Not Preclude Obedience (Vs.16)
“He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). A grammatical diagram of this factual statement of Jesus Christ reveals that “He” is the simple subject modified by the limiting restrictive clause “who believes AND is baptised”. The simple, unmodified predicate, “shall be saved” refers to this same clause “who believes AND is baptised.”
Who is the “He” who will be saved? Not just anyone will be saved. According to this verse it is the person who “believes” and “is baptised.” Much of the religious world wants to delete the word “baptised” from Mark 16:16. For them, obedience to Christ's plan of salvation comes after salvation. They say one is baptised after the fact, as testimony of their salvation. That is adulterating the words of Jesus.
The apostles and evangelists of the New Testament taught that baptism is essential for salvation (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-6; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21). Another opinion is that the lack of the word baptised in the second half of this verse annuls its effect in the first halfin the day of judgment for those who are not baptised.
A Believer May Well Be Just As Damned As The Non Baptised, Non-Believer.
To be baptised is as linked to God's pardon as belief. For example, consider this illustration: He who eats and digests his food will live. He who does not eat his food will die. Does the failure to mention digestion of food in the second half of the statement mean that is not necessary to being alive? Of course not! False doctrine always falls before the truth of God's word.
Speaking of such unbelief the apostle Paul wrote, “...Indeed, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). Each of us will stand before Christ and be called to account for what we believe or disbelieve, what we obey or disobey. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48).
Presented by the Cape Rd Church of Christ.