Doesn’t Mark 16 where Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will
be saved” contradict teachings on salvation by grace alone? Also, if you
say that Mark 16 was inserted over time then doesn’t the Bible fall short
of it’s claim to be inerrant?
First of all, you will not find the phrase salvation by grace alone in the
Bible. This is because, grace is not sufficient for salvation. That may
sound blasphemous, but it is true. In order for us to be saved, we need
to respond by putting our faith in Jesus. Faith on our part is a
“requirement” for us to be saved. I would be so bold as to say this is
about as well-supported a claim as one can make about the Bible. As it
says in Ephesians 2:8, For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faith?. Now, it is as obvious as it could possible be that our faith
without God?s grace would have no value. It is also as clear as can be
that without faith on our part, the offered gift of grace is not received.
This brings us to the question of baptism. Is our obedience to the
command to be baptized a part of the response of faith which is required
for salvation? This question can only be answered by reading the
scriptures, not be reference to something any of us has been taught since
our youth. Mark 16:16 makes an unmistakable link between baptism and
salvation. In fact, the next phrase “those who do not believe will be
condemned” seems to imply that baptism is an assumed part of belief for
the saved person.
If this were the only passage on the subject, perhaps one could argue that
the case would be in need of some more support. For this support, I would
advise you to turn to Colossians 2:12, which implies that baptism is an
act which is empowered to bring salvation through our faith. The way I
understand it, baptism is not so much HOW we are saved, but WHEN we are
saved. Other relevant passages which seem to mark that the point of
entering salvation include Galatians 3:26,27 and Acts 2:36-39. Others can
be mentioned as well.
So, the answer to your question is that the requirement of our response of
faith does not contradict the biblical teaching on faith.
Now, let me respond to your second question. This is whether the original
Mark included Mark 16:9-20. The answer is that the manuscript evidence
for this passage is inconclusive. There are less that half a dozen
significant issues with the New Testament manuscript. This is one of
them. Others include John 7:53-8:11 Acts 9:36 and 1 John 5:8. In fact,
these are really the only four significant textual issues in the New
Testament. My answer to your question is that the original letters of the
New Testament in their original language is entirely inspired and
inerrant. Any small copying errors which have occurred result in
imperfect copies. If you study out this subject, you will learn that the
issues of copying errors and textual variations in the New Testament text
are nearly all extremely minor. We have a nearly perfect copy of the
original, but not an absolutely perfect copy of the original. I suggest
you read an article at the web site titled “A Remarkable Collection,” or
get a copy of my book “Reasons for Belief” from www.ipibooks.com to answer
John Oakes, PhD.