~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bible Verses ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name,
3: 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that every one who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Words of Ministry ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[Part 1 of 2]
To believe is to receive the Slave-Savior (John 1:12), not only for forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43) but also for regeneration [i.e. to be born anew with God’s eternal life] (1 Pet. 1:21, 23), so that those who believe may become the children of God and the members of Christ (Eph. 5:30) in an organic union with the Triune God (Matt. 28:19). To be baptized is to affirm this, by being buried to terminate the old creation through the death of the Slave-Savior and by being raised up to be the new creation of God through the Slave-Savior’s resurrection.
To believe and to be so baptized are two parts of one complete step for receiving the full salvation of God. To be baptized without believing is merely an empty ritual; to believe without being baptized is to be saved only inwardly without an outward affirmation of the inward salvation. These two should go together. Mark 16:16 does not say “who does not believe and is not baptized shall be condemned.” This indicates that condemnation is related only to not believing; it is not related to not being baptized. Believing itself is sufficient for one to receive salvation from condemnation; yet it needs baptism as an outward affirmation for the completion of one’s inward salvation.
Some may rightly think that salvation is not dependent on hope, confession, works, or prayer, but still think that one must both believe and be baptized in order to be saved. This concept is also incorrect. Even though Mark 16:16 says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” we have to pay attention to what the word “saved” refers to. In the Bible there are several kinds of salvation: the eternal salvation by which one obtains eternal life, the believer’s daily salvation, the salvation through affliction, the salvation of the body, and the salvation of the soul in which one reigns with the Lord in the kingdom of the heavens. The salvation related to baptism is our salvation from the realm of the sinful world. This is different from having eternal life. Having eternal life is a personal matter of receiving eternal life, but being baptized is to be saved out of a sinful realm.
If a person only believes but is not baptized, although he has eternal life, in the eyes of the world he is still not a saved one. He must rise up to be baptized and declare that he has nothing to do with the sinful realm. Others will then acknowledge that he has been saved. In order to receive eternal life, deliverance from condemnation, and eternal salvation, all that one has to do is believe; there are no additional requirements. The first part of Mark 16:16 says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” and the second part says, “But he who does not believe shall be condemned.” The second part does not say that “he who does not believe and who is not baptized shall be condemned.” In order to be saved from the sinful realm of the world, one must believe and be baptized. In order to be condemned, however, all that he has to do is not believe. In other words, the requirement for not being condemned is just believing; it is not baptism in addition to believing. The criminal on the cross was not baptized, yet the Lord said, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:40-43). He believed and was not condemned; rather, he was saved and had eternal life. Therefore, baptism is not a condition for receiving eternal life.
(c) Living Stream Ministry. Bible verses are taken from the Recovery Version of the Bible and Words of Ministry from
Witness Lee, Life-study of Mark, pp. 436-437, and Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 20: Questions on the Gospel, Chapter 44, Section 2. All are published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA