Bible Basics: “Only Believe?”

By Earl Robertson

The extreme anxiety suffered by those who circumvent the word of God which demands man’s obedience for salvation, by preaching salvation by faith only is surely the “devil’s tea”. What is to be gained by rejecting all Jesus teaches for salvation? Nothing. One remains in his sins by such action. Perversion of scripture damns rather than saves (2 Pet. 3:15, 16). Yet, this is the usual procedure of denominational preachers.

Recently a preacher wrote under the heading “Only Believe-But Believe,” using the case of Jesus’ raising from death the twelve year old daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:22-43). The preacher wrote, “It was Jesus who said, `Only believe.’ If anyone objects to the doctrine of faith and only faith as God’s appointed channel of salvation, let such an objector realize that he is not merely finding fault with Baptist, but with the very word of our gracious Lord.”

The account in Mark 5:22-43 has absolutely nothing to do with salvation from sin! It had to do with one begging Jesus to lay his hands on his sick daughter, that she would be healed and live (Mark 5:23). Jairus asked not for himself, but for his daughter; he asked not for her salvation from sin, but a restoration of her health that she might continue to live. However, in the meantime, one came from Jairus’ house saying unto him, “Thy daughter is dead: why trouble thou the Master any further?” When this was spoken, Jesus said to Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe.” In this situation what could Jairus do? His daughter was dead. Jesus did not tell Jairus to repent of his sins, pray, or anything else. It was not a sin question, it was a physical death reality. Jesus raised her from the dead; He did not save Jairus from sin!

We do indeed “object to the doctrine” of faith only as the “channel of salvation,” because the word of God does not teach it, and this preacher perverted Mark 5 in attributing this doctrine to Jesus. The preacher lifted a text from its context and only has a pretext! It is violence to the word of God. Our conclusion is not “finding fault with . . . the very word of our gracious Lord,” but a prevention of permitting promiscuous pandering of the truth on weak and unlearned souls.

Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue, a Jew. He was a child of God already, and served the Lord in synagogue service prior to his meeting Jesus. The term “ruler” translates the prefix which designated Jairus over synagogue service. Lexicographers tell us the ruler’s duty was “to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.”

Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . .” (Acts 2:38). “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized . . .” (Acts 2:41). This plainly shows the plan of salvation stated and applied. Faith, repentance and baptism for remission of sins is not the “faith only channel of salvation,” as asserted presumptuously by the preacher; in fact it is not “faith only” anything. “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).

Truth Magazine XXII: 27, p. 439
July 13, 1978