Mark 16.16



1.   The Lord Jesus Christ is not only the Son of the living God, the Savior Who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, but while He walked among men He was the master teacher.

2.   In Isaiah 28.10, the prophet wrote, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”  For sinners to be taught the Word of God our minds must be impressed by teaching a little bit at a time, over and over again, with simplicity and repetition.

3.   That is one reason why we have four separate services each week.  Three times each week we have instruction from God’s Word, and once each week we come together to go out together to invite others to church.  And each of those services is important to your overall spiritual health and well-being.

4.   Now, it is true that there are some who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” Second Timothy 3.7.  But our goal is not supposed to be the acquisition of knowledge, to increase learning, to enlarge the storehouse of information.  The goal is to move beyond knowing about God to knowing God.

5.   So, when God’s Word is communicated in God’s way, in the way that best meets the spiritual needs of an audience that . . . .  Well, we are sometimes dull of hearing and hard of heart, so our instruction needs to be repetitive.  This is why the Lord Jesus Christ taught important things over and over again, sometimes using an economy of words, and at other times expanding His statements as He saw fit.

6.   This being the case, it should come as no surprise to us that there are four different versions of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ found in the New Testament.

7.   In Matthew 28.18-20, we find the following words:

18     And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19     Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20     Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


8.   In Mark 16.15-16, there is a somewhat more condensed directive:

15     And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16     He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


9.   Luke’s version of the Great Commission is found in Luke 24.46-48:

46     And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47     And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48     And ye are witnesses of these things.


10. Luke also recorded the directive of the Savior to His disciples just prior to His ascension, in Acts 1.8:  “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

11. It is clear that each of these Great Commissions has a central directive, the preaching of the gospel to the entire world for the purpose of making disciples for Jesus Christ.  However, the emphasis of each version of the Great Commission varies to a degree.

12. This morning I will address the question, “So, what happens to me if I do not get saved?”  Let me answer that question by turning you to Mark’s version of our Lord’s Great Commission, Mark 16.15-16.  When you find that passage, please stand and we will read God’s Word aloud.  I will read verse 15 aloud, and I would like you all to read verse 16 aloud:

15     And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16     He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


13. If verse 15 is rightly seen to be the command, per se, verse 16 is rightly seen to be the consequence.  Since my sermon will focus on the last half of verse 16, let me take a few moments to deal with the first half of verse 16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”  Three comments:



1B.    The Bible is internally consistent.  The Bible never contradicts itself when it is properly understood.  Therefore, this statement should never be interpreted in isolation from the rest of the Bible.  We should be especially careful to avoid the mistake of trying to use any difficult to understand passage as a tool to interpret easily understood passages.  It should be the other way around.  Always use the clear statements in the Bible to guide you in your understanding of the difficult passages.

2B.    That said, allow me to recite several verses that are extremely easy to understand:

1C.   Psalm 14.3:  “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  So, it is established that sinners cannot do anything that is good in the sight of God.

2C.   Isaiah 64.6:  “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”  Again, this time stated by the prophet Isaiah, we are incapable of doing good deeds.  Everything we do is, in the sight of God, foul and dirty, contaminated and unclean.

3C.   Ephesians 2.8-9:  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Sinners cannot save themselves by any means.  If we could save ourselves we would be boastful about it.

4C.   Titus 3.5:  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.”  Thus, it is not any sinner’s good deeds, but through God’s mercy in sending Jesus Christ to save sinners that any get saved from their sins.

3B.    Sinners are not capable of doing things to earn salvation.  But sinners do get saved.  How is this possible?  The grace of God.  The mercy of God.  So, since the Bible is internally consistent (that is, since the Bible nowhere disagrees with the Bible), whatever else this statement does teach, we can be sure that what the Lord Jesus Christ did not mean is that you have to get baptized in order to get saved.

4B.    There are a number of denominations which teach that salvation is acquired by works of righteousness of some kind.  The Church of Christ denomination, and the Disciples of Christ denomination, and several others, believe that baptism somehow washes away sins and that a sinner gets saved by getting baptized.

5B.    But First John 1.7 clearly shows that only the blood of Jesus Christ washes away sins:  “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  And does this happen as a result of doing good works, doing works of righteousness, whatever they might be?  We have seen that the answer is, obviously, “No.”



“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

Two observations about this sentence, and then a conclusion:

1B.    First, the word “is baptized” is the passive participle form of a single Greek verb, “to baptize.”[1]  “The passive voice is that use of the verb which denotes the subject as receiving the action.”[2]  Meaning?  Meaning that baptism cannot be a work of righteousness if it is something done to the person, rather than something the person does.  How can baptism save someone if I do the baptizing of someone, understanding that I am not the Savior?

2B.    As well, the subject of this sentence is “He that believeth and is baptized.”  That is, the Lord Jesus Christ is here referring to a person who has two experiences.  The first experience is faith.  The second experience is baptism.  What happens to this subject who believes and is baptized?  He “shall be saved.”  That is future passive.  In other words, when a guy believes and is baptized he does not save himself presently.  The Savior indicated that he will be saved in the future.

3B.    My friends, our text in no way teaches that a sinner saves himself by getting baptized.  All this shows that is that the sinner who has come to faith in Christ, and who will someday be delivered to glory, is also a person who gets baptized.  But since the New Testament clearly shows that only believers are qualified candidates for baptism, the Lord Jesus Christ cannot mean in this statement that baptism is required for salvation.[3]  No, He is required for salvation.



“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

1B.    What this statement does show us is the very close connection between faith in Christ and believer’s baptism.  The connection is so close that salvation from sins through faith and the public declaration of one’s new life in Christ by means of baptism was combined into a seamless message in John the Baptist’s preaching and in the case of Philip dealing with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8.

2B.    In the Bible you never see any evidence of a person who comes to faith in Christ who does not then get baptized, though you have several examples of people who were thought be genuine believers in Christ who are baptized but who later gave evidence of a lost condition.[4]

3B.    This close connection between genuine salvation, which comes through faith alone, and the public profession of salvation which comes through the ordinance of immersion in water, called baptism, has sometimes resulted in confusion over the centuries.

4B.    Spiritual understanding is required to discern between the picture and the reality, and in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, various eastern churches, and the denominations that sprang up from the activities of a fellow named Alexander Campbell during the early 1800s (what we know today as Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ and Christian Church denominations) are groups that have not maintained that critical distinction.

5B.    Being in error on what the Bible teaches about how to get saved, they then erred on the meaning and place of the picture of salvation, which is baptism.  Not realizing that baptism is but a picture that shows that a person is justified by faith (saved from his sins if you will), those in error proceeded to make the mistake of thinking that you could get saved by getting baptized.  Such an error was fatal.



1.   The Lord Jesus Christ commanded that the good news that He saves sinners from their sins be declared to every person on earth.  In the mild Mediterranean climate that preaching activity was typically done outdoors in the highways and byways, in the streets and at gathering places.

2.   In our wetter and colder regions buildings were later erected to provide places where people could be brought inside to hear the good news.  Once a person hears the good news, which is what the word gospel means, there are two reactions:

3.   One person will respond to the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ to the saving of his eternal and undying soul.  That person will also publicly declare his newfound life in Christ by submitting to baptism.

4.   Such a person will someday be saved from the very presence of sins and delivered to glory.  That is the promise the Lord Jesus Christ makes in the first half of Mark 16.16.

5.   After brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song, we will focus on the second half of the verse, as I answer the question, “So, what happens to me if I do not get saved?”



1.   If you were here last Sunday morning you will remember that I used two illustrations to establish the meaning of the words “saved” and “salvation.”

2.   One illustration was of a lifeguard rescuing a drowning person from the water.  The other illustration was of a fireman rescuing someone from the tenth floor apartment of a burning building.  Those are two pretty vivid illustrations of the concept of saving someone so that they get rescued from disaster.

3.   Allow me to further refine the picture for you this morning, to bring your understanding of the concept of “saved” and “salvation” a bit closer to spiritual reality.

4.   Picture the lifeguard pulling the person from the water, but he is already dead.  Now picture the fireman carrying someone down the stairs of the burning building using a fireman’s carry, getting the guy to the safety of an ambulance, only to find out that the person the fireman got out of the building has died.

5.   You see, according to Ephesians 2.1, the picture of rescuing someone from the water is most accurate when you understand that the lifeguard actually rescues someone who has already drowned and brings him back to life.

6.   And the fireman analogy is most comparable to spiritual salvation when the fireman uses the fireman’s carry to bring a corpse out of a burning building, and then brings that dead fellow back to life.  This is because you are, right this moment, already dead in trespasses and sins if you are not saved.

7.   Therefore, when you ask the question, “So, what happens to me if I do not get saved?” you need to understand that you are already the victim of a drowning, you are already the arson fatality.  This is because you are already dead in your sins.  You are a dead man walking, a dead woman walking.

8.   Your question should properly be, “So, what happens to me, a person who is already spiritually dead because of my sins, if I do not get saved?”  In Mark 16.16, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

9.   Two things for you to keep in mind as I answer the question:



That is, you believe not.  This means,

1B.    First, that you do understand,

1C.   Hebrews 11.3:  “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” 

2C.   “Oh, but I believe God created everything.  I even accept that God created everything in six literal days, just as the Bible says He did.”

3C.   It is not likely that you are correct about that.  It is likely that you are deceiving yourself.  But if you really do have faith, then that faith will carry you through to saving faith in Christ.

4C.   But if you are not one who believes, then not only do you not understand that God created everything, but you also do not understand anything else of a truly spiritual nature.

5C.   This is because “. . . the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”[5]

2B.    And, second, this means that you cannot please God.

1C.   Hebrews 11.6:  “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

2C.   It is pretty easy to say that you believe in the Biblical account of creation.  And you may even think you believe in the Biblical account of creation.  But if you really do have faith you will diligently seek God.  Do you diligently seek God?

3C.   Attending church once a week is not diligently seeking  God.  Even those who never miss a service are not necessarily seeking God.  And they wonder why they never get saved?  Simple.  They believe not.

4C.   Real faith alters a person’s behavior, as the rest of Hebrews chapter 11 shows.  And, as Hebrews 12.2 shows us, real faith ends up with Jesus Christ as Savior, because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith:  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

3B.    The result, in this lifetime, is that you remain estranged from God by not believing in Jesus Christ.

1C.   You see, oftentimes so much emphasis is placed on where a person will spend eternity, that what is happening right now is completely ignored.

2C.   According to the Bible you are dead in sins right now.  That means, God is angry with you right now.  Thus, you are estranged from the God Who created you right now.  You have no meaningful interaction with the God Who sustains your physical life, who gives you breath and conscious thought, right now.

3C.   It may eat you up with guilt for your mother or father to be upset at you for doing them wrong, so that you will go to them and apologize and make it right.  But God is more important than anyone else, and it seems you could care less that He has grievances against you.

4C.   Listen to what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 59.1-2:

1      Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

2      But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.


5C.   You are not beyond God’s reach, so that His hand cannot save you.  And it is not that He is deaf, so that He cannot hear you.  The problem is sin, you see.  Your sins are an insurmountable barrier to His good will toward you.  So long as the sin remains the gulf between you and God is an impassible chasm.

6C.   A person who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ receives the benefit of Christ’s cleansing blood, that washes the sins away, removes that terrible obstacle to reconciliation with God, and bridges that great gulf that separates between the sinner and His God.  But you believe not.


2A.   The Result Being, YOU SHALL BE DAMNED

1B.    Of course, in one sense you are condemned already.  John 3.18 reads, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  That is, in your current state of unbelief God thoroughly disapproves of your resistance to the gospel, to your stubborn opposition to His Spirit, and to your refusal to bow before His Son and take Him as your Savior.

2B.    But Mark 16.16 speaks of condemnation in another sense, in a future sense.  When the Lord Jesus Christ said, “but he that believeth not shall be damned,” He was specifically referring to a future time when God will formally condemn and sentence to everlasting punishment those who die without faith in Christ.

3B.    Turn to Revelation chapter 20.  We do not have the time to explain everything that awaits you when you die without getting saved, but suffice it to say that you will go straight to Hell.  Hell, however, is not the worst of it.  After Hell, everyone who died without believing in Jesus Christ will face a formal trial, called the Great White Throne judgment.

4B.    We read about it in Revelation 20.11-15:

11     And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12     And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13     And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14     And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15     And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.



1.   The question is, “So, what happens to me if I do not get saved?”  I modified the question to, “So, what happens to me, a person who is already spiritually dead because of my sins, if I do not get saved?”

2.   Let me repeat the answers found in the Bible:  First, there is already something happening to you because you are spiritually dead and are not saved.  You are presently disconnected from the life of God.

3.   Had I the time I could show you that God’s judgment on your life has already begun; but that might make matters too complicated for you right now.  Just keep in mind that you are, right now, cut off from the life of God.

4.   And when you die . . . you will go to Hell.  But that is not the condemnation the Lord Jesus Christ was talking about in our text.  The condemnation He was talking about comes after Hell, when you will be made to stand before the Great White Throne for formal and final judgment before being cast into the lake of fire.

5.   So you see, a terrible fate awaits you.  Why else would Christians down through the ages willingly die to get the gospel to people, to make sure people heard the good news that Jesus saves sinners from their sins?

[1] Gerhard Albert Raske, A Complete Grammatical Blueprint Of The Book Of Revelation, (Simcoe, Ontario: Fundamental Baptist Publishing House Canada, 1996), page 135.

[2] H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, (Toronto, Canada: The Macmillan Company, 1955), page 161.

[3] See Matthew 3.11 and Acts 8.36-37 for illustrations of proper candidates for baptism and Acts 8.13 to illustrate that sometimes unqualified candidates are erroneously baptized.

[4] Simon the sorcerer, Acts 8.9-24, and the young Corinthian fornicator, 1 Corinthians 5.1-5.

[5] 1 Corinthians 2.14

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