He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)
What Did Jesus Say?
Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Great multitudes followed Him as He taught the message of the Father. When Jesus taught the multitude on a certain mountain, the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority. His words were powerful and moving and unlike anything that had been heard from the Jewish teachers of the day. On one occasion, the Jewish rulers sent officers to arrest Jesus but when the officers returned empty-handed, the chief priests and Pharisees asked, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered them, “No man ever spoke like this man.” Everyone who heard the teaching of Jesus was astounded by the clarity of His message, the power of His truth and the force of scriptural foundation in all He said. There was no doubt in the minds of those who challenged Him that seeking a war of words with Jesus of Nazareth would be a futile effort. The Jews tried often to catch Jesus in His speech and failed on every account. John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus inquiring if the Lord was truly the Coming One, or should they seek another. Jesus replied the miracles done among the people showed Him to be the Christ and the poor had the gospel preached to them and they understood His message. The gospel writer Mark said the common people heard Jesus gladly. Reading the four gospels of the life and teaching of Jesus impresses upon the individual the power of the words of Jesus. There were many people who rejected the words of Jesus denying He said and sadly there are many people today who read the words of Jesus and continue to deny His teaching.
Mark writes a powerful message of the character of Jesus as a man of power. His message resonated with the Roman mind that loved power and authority. The shortest of the gospels, Mark presents the Son of God with the image of divine authority. After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Lord appears to the eleven and commissions them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He tells them the simple plan of salvation that when one believes the gospel and is baptized they will enjoy the blessings of salvation. If they do not believe they will be condemned. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the eleven would show through the evidence of many miracles the gospel as genuine confirming the word through the accompanying signs. After Jesus returned to the Father the eleven went out and preached everywhere and what they preached was what Jesus told them to preach. He told them to preach the gospel and they did. When a person believed in the word of the gospel and asked what they needed to do to be saved they were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Many would answer the gospel call and put on Christ in baptism. Many others did not believe the word of the Lord and denied Jesus was the Christ. They did not believe and were not baptized for the remission of their sins because they did not believe in the fundamental truth of the gospel: Jesus Christ is Lord. When Paul was in Athens he preached a powerful message of the true and living God in a world given over to idolatry. When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others wanted to hear more. Some men believed Paul and were baptized just like Jesus said including Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris and others with them. They believed what Jesus said and were saved. Others did not believe. Why were the mockers and disbelievers not baptized? They did not believe. There was no reason to refuse something they did not believe. This was the pattern throughout the Acts of the Apostles as Luke shows the preaching of the gospel in fulfillment of the command of Jesus. Those who heard the gospel and believed were baptized. For those who did not believe they refused the grace of God and were condemned.
There are many religious people today who deny the words of Jesus. Mark is an authoritative writer of the divine word of God telling the story of Jesus as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. Earlier in the gospel of Mark, Jesus said that anyone who is ashamed of Him and His words will be refused by Jesus Himself when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. To deny the words of Jesus will bring judgment upon the heart of the unbeliever. Jesus told the eleven that when a person believes and is baptized he will be saved. When men say today that baptism does not save and is not necessary for salvation they take the words of Jesus and deny He said them. No matter how often a person twists their understanding of the words of Jesus the truth remains the same. He that believes and is baptized will be saved and he that does not believe will be condemned. The argument is made that Jesus did not say that those who are not baptized shall be damned; it says those who do not believe will be damned. In fact Jesus did say that because if a person does not believe they will not believe baptism has any purpose. It is incredible the lengths of human wisdom people will exercise to deny the words of Jesus when all is said and done the words of Jesus remain the same. The sad reality is how many people believe they are saved by faith alone and do not realize that according to the words of Jesus they are condemned. What Mark wrote has remained unchanged for two thousand years. These are the words of Jesus. Denying them does not make them go away. When did Jesus say at any time that faith alone saves? Where in scripture is found the foundational truth of denominational dogma that man is saved by faith only? James is the only writer that uses the words faith alone and that is when he says that man is not saved by faith alone. Every example of conversion (without exception) in the New Testament church follows the words of Jesus when He said he that believes and is baptized will be saved. Paul affirmed in his writings the necessity of baptism because Jesus said it was. The words of Jesus will judge you on the last day and it will not be different from what Mark wrote.