3 Controversies


Ryan Hayden Mark

I'm going to preach two more messages out of the book of Mark. This morning I'm going to preach through verses 14-20, next week I'll preach on just verse 15.

Let's read verses 14-20:

[Mar 16:14-20 KJV] 14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with [them], and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

I really want to spend most of my time this morning preaching on verse 15. Because I think it's one of the most important verses in scripture. But I'm going to save that for next week, I need to address three controversies with this passage.

This morning is going to be a bit of a different message because we are going to be talking about some doctrinal errors this morning.

I listen to a podcast called Breakpoint this week by a guy named John Stonestreet about current issues from a christian perspective and he has a favorite quote. He's always saying:

Ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims.

That's a great quote. It's absolutely true. Communism, for example, was an idea that ended up having millions and millions of victims.

Racism is another bad idea that has had millions of victims and people are still suffering under it today.

Ideas matter. It's important.

But I want to add to that quote today. Here is my version:

Ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims, and bad ideas about salvation have eternal consequences.

This passage in Mark is one of the most controversial passages in the Bible for three reasons, one is textual and the other two reasons have to do with bad ideas about salvation. All three of them are important for us to understand because I don't want any of you to be eternal victims.

So let's pray and I'll we'll discuss these three controversies today.

1. Should these verses even be here?

First, because many, many modern Bibles will footnote these verses and say they don't belong here. A lot of Christians look at these six verses as being less than Bible. They say they weren't in the earliest manuscripts. They say that the vocal doesn't match the rest of the book of Mark. So a lot of Christians want to either put a big asterisk here or just take these verses out of their bible.

I think that's a mistake. It's true that the earliest manuscripts don't include these verses, but I've never believed the earliest is best argument when it comes to the Bible. The vast majority, like 99% of ancient manuscripts, do include this passage. Also, a lot of early church writers like Papias and Justin Martyr referenced this passage as scripture.

But here is what it comes down to, at least for me. God promised to preserve His word, and for 1800 years, the "word" Christians had included these verses. So it's meant to be in there. I am 100% confident that this is just as much scripture as John 3:16.

2. Do these verses teach baptism regeneration?

A second reason these verses are really controversial is because they seem to teach baptismal regeneration.. That is the idea that you have to be baptized to be saved. Look at verse 16:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

There are many denominations that teach that baptism is a necessary sign of salvation and this is the passage they go to. But I don't think that's what this is saying at all.

Notice the second half of this verse. It says "but he that believeth not shall be damned.". It doesn't say "but he that believeth not and is baptized not shall be damned." And that important. It's important because when you compare this with other passages of scripture on salvation, you see that the Bible consistently teaches that salvation is by faith and not of works. Let's look at a couple of scriptures real quick because this is really important. Look at Ephesians 2:8-9:

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

If salvation depended on Baptism, then it would depend on works.

Look at another familiar passage. Acts 16:29-32

29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

When the jailor asked Paul "What must I do to be saved?" Paul didn't say "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and then get baptized." He said "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."

Look we could go to Romans where Paul lays out salvation for us and we'd see it's all about faith, it's not about Baptism. After 10 chapters which are mostly about how we are saved by faith it says "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Look, I have friends in some Christian churches and some Assembly of God churches and some Pentecostal churches that I think are saved people and I think they love Jesus and love the Bible - but they are wrong about this. And it's a dangerous thing to be wrong about. You don't have to be baptized to be saved.

Now, having said all that, I do want to say this: The New Testament assumes that all saved people, barring some extraordinary circumstance, will follow the Lord in believers baptism. In fact, if we are still in Acts 16, the verse next verse says that the jailor and his family were baptized. Look at verse 33:

And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Turn back to one more passage of scripture in Acts and then we'll get back to Mark. Look at chapter 8 verse 35. In this passage, God sends Phillip to preach to an Ethiopian Eunich in the desert. Phillip explains the gospel to this man as they are driving in a chariot. Lets just read verses 35-36:

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

So this man assumed that because he understood the gospel, he needed to get baptized. But notice what Philip said to him in the next verse:

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Look, baptism always comes after saving belief. But notice too, that this guy does get baptized.

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

So baptism doesn't save people. It doesn't, this verse doesn't teach that, the New Testament doesn't teach that. But Baptism is really, really important and if you've never been baptized after salvation, you need to take care of that. You need to take that step of obedience. It's not just for kids. It's for everybody.

Baptism is important. It's a sign to the world that you are following Christ now. It's symbolic of you being buried with Christ and your sins being washed away. And it's an important first step of obedience.

  • So the first controversy was that some people don't think these verses belong in the Bible.
  • The second controversy is that some people think these verses teach baptismal regeneration - or that baptism saves people.

3. Do these verses teach that all saved people will do signs and wonders?

Let me show you one more important controversy here. Look back in Mark 16 at verses 17-19:

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with [them], and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Again, some pentecostal people love to take these verses and use them to teach that all people who are saved will experience speaking in tongues and other signs and wonders. But that's not what these verses are saying at all. Not at all.

Here is how the pentecostal folks are reading this. They are subconsciously adding a word to verse 17. They are adding the word "all."

They read verse 17 as "And these signs shall follow (all) them that believe." They read into this that everyone who is saved is going to experience at least a little of these signs and wonders.

But that's not what it says. It says "And these signs shall follow them that believe".

So what is this talking about. There is a very, very simple explanation for these verses. Jesus was prophesying what was about to happen to these Christians which we can read in the book of Acts.

You can look at the things this talks about and almost every one of them is fulfilled in Acts. Some believers spoke in tongues. Some believers cast out devils. Some believers healed people. Some believers showed immunity to poison and snakebite.

Jesus wasn't telling us that all Christians are going to experience this, He was prophesying to these apostles what was about to happen to them in the time period right after He ascended into heaven. These verses actually serve as a fantastic summary for the book of Acts.

But let's deal with this idea of Christians speaking in tongues as an evidence of salvation here - because that is really the main thing. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12. There is a really, really simple answer to this. Look at verse 27:

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

So we are all part of the body of Christ. We are body parts. Right. Now, this is going to make some big B baptists mad, but this isn't talking about the local church here. It's talking about the greater body of Christ. You'll see why in a second. Keep reading.

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

So God's given gifted people to the church. It can't be talking about local church only here because not every local church has apostles, prophets, healers, etc.. It's talking about Christians in general. Ok.

Now, look at the next verse:

29 [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?

It's a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious - no. Every christian is obviously not an apostle right? Now keep reading as the rhetorical questions continue:

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues?

Just like every Christian is obviously not an an apostle, it was obvious to Paul that every Christian obviously didn't speaks with tongues.

So there you have it. Next time you are having a conversation with one of your pentecostal friends and they try to tell you that you have to have this experience where you are baptized in the spirit and speak in tongues to prove you are saved just take them on a little trip to 1 Corinthians 12.

That is absolutely NOT what the Bible teaches.

So three controversies from this passage. I hope I cleared each of those bad ideas up this morning.

Now, let me wrap this up with a two quick warnings to you that this passage reminds me of:


First, I caution you to beware of subtle changes to the doctrine of salvation.

Salvation is by grace, through Faith. It's based on what Jesus did on the cross, not in any way on our works.

There are a lot of folks who want to add things to what God requires for us to be saved. Whether that is baptism or speaking in tongues or joining a church or taking communion. They are adding things to it.

And that is dangerous. Because subtly, people aren't trusting Jesus anymore, they are trusting the experience of getting baptized or some experience of ecstasy speaking in tongues. None of those things are what the Bible says saves you.

I think some of you seem to think that the only way to get saved is to come forward at an alter during invitation, and that isn't what the Bible says at all. It actually says nothing about invitations or altar calls. You don't need an altar, you don't need the pastor to be there. You don't need anyone to be there. You've got to be really clear about salvation and how it works.

The best way to spot a counterfeit is to really know the real thing. So study your Bible. Don't doze off when we are talking about doctrine. It's important.


Ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims, bad doctrine has eternal victims.

A second warning I have for you is this:

Second, Beware of reading the Bible superficially.

A lot of Christians fall into the bad habit of reading a passage and not really thinking about what it is saying. It's really easy to read things into or out of a passage that aren't there. So you have to read the Bible carefully.

Context and grammar matter. They can and often do change the whole meaning of a passage and it can make a life or death, heaven or hell difference.

Look, I'm just going to be honest with you. A lot of preachers, even independent Baptist preachers, are sloppy about this stuff. I've heard many sermons from preachers before and then looked at the text and said "that not what that is saying at all."

So get in the habit of saying "does that really say that?" "Is that really what that means?" It will help you and keep you out of a lot of trouble. Fact check the preacher. Fact check me. Ultimately, what I say matters very littler, what matters is what the Bible teaches. So be careful.

Look, you might say "I'm just a regular guy. I don't want to think about that stuff." I get that. But Peter was just an unlearned fisherman, it didn't stop him from studying the Bible.

Ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims, bad doctrine has eternal victims.

Maybe you've been the victim of some bad ideas this morning and you realized you've never been saved. Why not trust Christ today?

Maybe some of you have never been baptized after salvation - you need to take care of that.

Let's stand for invitation and prayer.