Since God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:40), religious chaos must have its roots in the way people read God’s Word. Is there a rationale for robbery in Ephesians 4:28? “Let him who stole steal, no more working with his hands.” That’s not exactly how the verse reads. Is the justification for nurseries in the church building from 1 Corinthians 15:51? “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Not so much.
Yet, when a scripture is so plain, like Mark 16:16, where is the issue? “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Notice: (1) He that believes, (2) and is baptized, (3) will be saved.
Now, a cursory reading dispels all the complications attached to this verse. It is so easy to see that it does not say, “(1) He that believes (3) shall be saved and (2) can be baptized sometime after for salvation.” Neither does it say, “(2) He that is baptized as an infant (3) is saved and (1) shall confirm their belief when one becomes cognizant of what allegedly happened.” The order is simple and straightforward.
Some might quibble that “not being baptized” is not mentioned in the condemnation. First, let us all agree that Jesus was not grammatically challenged; He was not given to stating absurdities or redundancies. Therefore, one can easily see the quibble of this quibble in an analogy: “He that eats and digests will be nourished, He that does not eat, will starve.” It would be absurd to insert “he that does not digest” in the negative phrase since a person that does not eat cannot digest. The two are inextricably tied together, and in the order given. If you do not believe, you cannot be baptized; all you can do is get wet.
Misunderstanding Jesus’ simple statement can only be attributed to one of two things: (1) a person is ignorant of the simple grammar of the text or (2) there exists a predisposition founded in religious error that rejects this simple truth. If you are in either position, it will keep you from being saved; that is the simple truth.