Commandments, Gifts and Choices

I know this is picking nits, but when the Gospel Advocate tweets something kinda off-the-mark, the ornery part of me wants to say something:

“@gospeladvocate: The Son of God came and commanded that all are to believe and be baptized in order to be saved (Mark 16:16)”

I don’t even have to go to Mark 16:15-16 (but I will) to know that what Jesus asked His followers to do was to go and teach the good news about Him:

“Mark 16:15-16: He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’ “

Believing and being baptized are what people choose to do (or not) after they are taught. Being saved is what Jesus does for them. His promise is that they will be saved if they do. His warning is that they will not be saved if they don’t believe.

I can understand why someone who does not believe would not choose to be baptized. I have trouble understanding why someone who believes would not want to be baptized. (After all, Jesus Himself was – because it was fully the right thing to do; His followers practiced it and thousands who believed in those days experienced it.)

But I’m afraid I can sympathize a little when these two verses are interpreted only as commands, giving the impression that the One who died for all was in the habit of issuing ultimatums rather than bringing the best news ever about grace and forgiveness, as well as the all-but-priceless gift of choosing to accept it.

As I recall, He emphasized two commandments from the old law, then rolled them into one at the Passover table before He was arrested: To love one another as He had loved us.

He called it a commandment.

But it really doesn’t sound like one to me.

It sounds like the last request of a man about to die.

So I’ll get off my soapbox now.

I can’t apologize for my tribe of faith, but if someone from it has tried to intimidate you into obeying a command to be saved, I hope you’ll forgive them. And reconsider, looking at what the text actually says … and the nature and circumstances surrounding the One who said it … and the fact that being saved is a response of love to inimitable divine love, sharing a message of that love and an opportunity to choose it for life that not only lasts, but is actually worth living.

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12 thoughts on “Commandments, Gifts and Choices

  1. Amen, Brother Bren(ton) ‘Way too often we put words in Jesus’ mouth that he didn’t say. We would strongly resent it if others did the same with us! — Jerry

  2. kb, Why can’t we just believe what it says? “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”. I would conclude from the last part that those who don’t believe, would never conceder baptism, no point for Paul to mention baptism again. You don’t believe, no point in being baptized. So Paul is twisting what Jesus said? That’s the line your taking. It’s clear in Jesus’s instructions in Matt 28:19-20. They were to make disciples by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s the only scriptural way to make disciples, “Christians” it is Christ’s way. It is what everyone MUST do to be saved. It is a command. Don’t you believe the words of Christ in John 3:5? “unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” kb, have you become ashamed of the testimony of our dear Lord? 2 Tim 1:8. For those who balk at baptism, how can they say they believe in Jesus and at the same time reject what He says?

    • Yeah; I’d be glad to respond to these questions if their subject even vaguely resembled the issues I commented on in the post above, Jeff.

      As always, thanks for dropping by.

  3. Did you not say above that you can sympathize with those (who don’t believe in baptism, my emphasis)) when this verse is twisted into being a command? Giving the impression that Christ gives ultimatums? Did you not say that? Matt 28:19-20 and John 3, are impossible to refute, thus you have no valid answer. Let us not forget, we express our love by being obedient. Jesus said, “if you love Me, keep my commandments.” kb, the text actually says, “he who believes AND is baptized will be saved, the word AND connects the two, they can’t be separated. “I charge thee in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, preach the word, be urgent in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lust, and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.” 2 Tim 4:1-4.

  4. You also said, that you couldn’t apologize for your tribe of faith, Eph 4 informs us that there is but one faith. Christ built and died for one church. So please don’t apologize for those in the Lord’s church who desire to be found faithful in all things, holding fast to the pattern of sound words. Rather, look inward and reflect upon thy own heart, and consider that your ears are itching.

  5. Every time I hear “sound doctrine” and “itching ears”, I know exactly the type of person who is using those terms. You gave away your hand.

  6. No I don’t have a blog, are you suggesting that those who do, have all the answers? But I do know where all the answers are. They have been revealed to all of us through God’s inspired word. What we have to do is receive them, accept them. What right do any of us have to change what He has declared?Hey Mark, what exactly are you saying about our heavenly Father who through the inspired writer and Apostle Paul pinned those exact words? And yes I gave away my hand Mark, I am one who sees the Bible as God’s inspired revealed word for mankind. A guide that must be followed. The two of you have given away your hand as well. Everyone who has an honest heart and is humble enough to submit to the Fathers will can easily see that you and kb do in fact have itching ears, that you have turned from the truth and now are following fables invented by mere men. So again Mark, what kind of man do you think Paul was? an uneducated moron? Was he twisting the truth and deceitful? Was he perverting the gospel of our dear Lord in your eyes?Are you somehow more in tune with what God wants than he was? And you suggest that it is me who is arrogant! “he who believes and is baptized will be saved.” I stand with Paul.

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