And he said unto them, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Like John 3:5, this verse seems pretty cut and dried, yet there are those who contend—
“Yes, but what about those that believe and are not baptized….It doesn’t say they will be condemned…”
Oh yes it does! Baptism = faith. Those that do not believe will not be baptized.
Remember, even the demons believe Jesus is the Son of God--and shudder!
The Bible does not spell out every single thing we have to do to be lost. Instead, it tells us what we have to do to be saved and expects us to realize that, if we don't obey it, we will be lost.
Christ very clearly warns that baptism is such an important matter that it will be criteria for judgment.
According to Mark 16:16, who shall be saved?
Those that believe and are baptized.
Who will be condemned?
Those that do not believe.
Notice Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
Notice also what Jesus did NOT say. He did NOT say, “He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized.”
In great error, most denominations teach the latter. In other words, most denominations teach what Jesus did NOT say! This should send a chill up the spine of anyone who is truly seeking to follow the teachings of Christ.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
Notice: holding to Christ’s teaching = being His disciple.
Therefore NOT holding to Christ’s teaching = NOT being His disciple!
This is a very simple test God gave us to determine who is, and who is not a disciple of Christ.
Baptism is equated with belief. To reject baptism is equated with disbelief. If one believes the message, they will accept baptism. If they do not believe the message, they will reject baptism. The question must arise then, What is the message? Or, What is the Gospel? In verse 16 Jesus speaks of he who “believes.” Believes what? Believes in the tooth fairy? Believes in Zeus? Believes in Buddha? No! Verse 15 tells us Jesus is referring to believing the Gospel.
In Acts 8:26-40 Philip preached the message of Christ and the eunuch responded by wanting to be baptized!
For even another example of this scripture put into practice see Acts 16:25-33.
The preaching of the message of Christ (or the “Gospel”--which means “Good News”) in the book of Acts always included faith and repentance as a prerequisite to baptism. Baptism is inseparable from the Gospel: It was a part of the message just as faith and repentance was. Baptism is a measure of obedience. Baptism is the greatest act of faith. Baptism is a measure of whether someone accepts Christ’s message or not. Notice how people responded to the message of Christ in the book of Acts in the New Testament.
If we have to be baptized to be saved, then he who believes this will be baptized. He who is not baptized, does not believe this. Therefore, he who does not believe will be condemned (since he won’t be baptized). If someone even teaches baptism is not necessary, it is because they do not believe the message that baptism is a requirement for salvation. So even if someone is baptized correctly but then later is deceived by false doctrine and comes to believe and/or teaches that baptism is not necessary for salvation, they have turned from the gospel and fall into the category
of he who does not believe (the gospel) and are in extreme danger of condemnation. Repentance
is in order.
The point from this verse that is so often overlooked is that if baptism is a part of the gospel (and it is) then those who do not believe the gospel, the Lord says will be condemned. Those who do not believe baptism is a requirement to be saved do not believe the gospel!
Baptism represents death to oneself. Baptism represents taking on the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Baptism represents clothing yourself with Christ. Baptism represents a new birth. Baptism represents a pledge toward God. Baptism represents being buried and resurrected with Christ. Baptism is when we come into contact with the blood of Christ. Baptism represents your sins being washed away and forgiven. Baptism is when we turn to God and surrender our life. Baptism has always been the correct biblical response to hearing the Gospel.
Again, if someone is not baptized, it is because they do not believe these things. Yet these things are what the Word of God teaches about baptism. Baptism represents us accepting God’s salvation plan on His terms, not ours.
If someone does not believe the Gospel message, they will not be baptized. One cannot “believe” and not be baptized. Such would be a contradiction. If I am on the Titanic and am told, “Get in a lifeboat, the ship is sinking!” it would be said that if I do not get into a lifeboat I do not believe the ship is sinking (either that, or I am choosing to stay and die).
Let’s look again at the structure of this verse in a way we can more easily relate to. The following illustration is viewed in light of the horrific September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center:
“He that goes down the stairs and leaves the building will be saved, but he that does not go down the stairs will be killed.”
Relate this to:
“He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that does not believe shall be condemned.“
In each case, there are two conditions that must be met in order to be saved:
1.) Going down the stairs (believing).
2.) Leaving the building (being baptized).
The lack of fulfilling the second condition, leaving the building (or being baptized) has the exact same effect as not fulfilling the first condition, going down the stairs (or believing). That is why not being baptized is equated as not believing. Only fulfilling part of the equation is equated as fulfilling none of the equation. It is an all or nothing proposition.
So the answer to the question, “What happens if I ‘believe’ and am not baptized?” is the same as what would happen if someone went down the stairs but still did not leave the building. Imagine saying, “He who goes down the stairs but doesn’t leave the building won’t be killed.” Very sadly, we know that to be a hopelessly false statement! The very act of staying in the building (not being baptized), even though you went down the stairs, still leaves you inside on the first floor and therefore still in harms way! To be saved, one must complete the escape process by leaving the building after going down the stairs.
It would be self evident that in order to leave the building one must go down the stairs first. Going down the stairs gets you into a position to leave the building. And so it is with baptism. Believing gets you into a position to have your sins forgiven in baptism. One must believe first before they are baptized (otherwise, how would someone know getting immersed is when God will forgive their sins?). If one does not go down the stairs there is no need to say, “He who does not go down the stairs and doesn’t leave the building will be killed.” because the very act of not going down the stairs means one cannot be in a position to leave the building. And in the same way, there is no need for Jesus to redundantly say, “He that does not believe and is not baptized will be condemned.” All He has to say is, “He that does not believe will be condemned.” It is just like saying, “He that does not go down the stairs will be killed.” Hence, “He that does not believe will be condemned.
“He that goes down the stairs and leaves the building will be saved, but he that does not go down the stairs will be killed.” is the same sentence structure as “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that does not believe shall be condemned.“
There are many false teachers who will try to deceive you by telling you, “The verse doesn’t say, ‘He who believes and is not baptized will be condemned’”. But remember, that is exactly what is teaches! This is a bold face lie of satan, using the same trick he used in the Garden of Eden. Look at it carefully. If we must believe AND be baptized to be saved, then we do not receive salvation UNTIL we are baptized. The word AND ties baptism together with belief. In order for the statement, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” to be fulfilled, baptism must happen. It does not state, “He who believes will be saved.” Nor does it say, “He who is baptized will be saved”. It says, “He who believes AND is baptized will be saved.” Therefore salvation does not occur until the moment of baptism!
To those that may be upset and angry about this truth: why not instead rejoice that you now know the truth while it is still the day of salvation and there is still time to do something about it? In effect, by telling us to believe and be baptized, Christ is telling us to go down the stairs and get out of the building!
This page updated May 29, 2005