Does The Bible Mean What It Says?
Many religious people don't believe the Bible means what it says. Those who believe that a person is saved by faith alone don't believe what the New Testament teaches concerning obedience. Those who believe in universal salvation don't believe what the Bible says about hell and eternal punishment. However, if the Bible doesn't mean what it says about baptism or eternal punishment, can it be trusted in any other matter?
Jesus told the apostles to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16) Peter writes, "And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 3:21) The verses teach that baptism is essential for salvation. If they do not mean what they say about baptism, do they mean what they say about salvation? Who then could say that anyone would be saved?
The New Testament clearly speaks of a place of punishment for the wicked. "For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." (2 Thess. 1:6-9)
Jesus explains that following the judgment, the wicked ". . . will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matt. 25:46) If Jesus did not mean what He said about hell, can He be trusted concerning heaven? If Paul had some other meaning in mind about the "eternal destruction" of the wicked, could he not mean something else concerning his expectations about the resurrection? (Phil. 3:11, 1 Cor. 15)
Either the whole Bible means what it says, or none of it does. When men arbitrarily chose passages to believe and others to reject, they are saying that they know more about God's will than the apostles and prophets did.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Ps. 19:7)
The whole law of God is perfect. Not one bit falls short of total perfection. Baptism is as much a part of the perfect will of God as faith in Jesus Christ is. Heaven and hell are both real places. God means what He says. If you want to go to heaven, would you submit your will to God's today?
By Tim Stringer
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