“And He said to them, ‘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 16:14)
Supposed instead of reading this passage you have someone read it to you as if they were Jesus speaking and you were one of his disciples. Forget for a moment the teaching you have had about this verse and others like it. The disciples did not have the benefit of any commentaries or pulpit ministers, they just heard the words for the first time.
I won’t bother you with the Greek. English is plain enough in this case. You don’t even have to use the NASVU if you don’t like it. Try one of the other major translations. Most people do not have any trouble with the first part of this command of Jesus. Go, preach seems easy enough. Wherever you go take the good news. Got it. It’s the second part that we want to mess with because we don’t like the theology it represents.
The second part of the verse is Jesus commentary on the first part. If the disciples go and preach what will be the results. Actually, Jesus is suggesting that there are two possible results. One is that people will not believe the good news. The other is that people will believe. Would you agree that those who do not believe will be lost? What about the ones who believe? Those who believed AND were baptized would not be lost but saved. Isn’t that what he said?
Why then, if that is what Jesus said, do so many say that baptism is not needed to be saved? If you were a disciple right after the resurrection and Jesus said “he who has believed your teaching of the good news and has been baptized are the saved ones,” would you have argued with him that baptism was not necessary? Be honest!
Task for Today: If you’ve been arguing with Jesus about what He says is required to be among the saved, stop. Put yourself in the audience of the Apostles preaching the good news. Remember in Acts 2 when that occurred? Pretend you are there and are one of those who asked the question “What shall we do?” Will you argue with Peter as well? Peter says, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.” Would your reply be “I’ll repent but there is no need for me to be baptized to have my sins forgiven?” Want to be saved? Do what Jesus taught. Believe in Him, repent of your sins and be baptized into his death, burial, and resurrection.