“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned.”
This is perhaps the most straightforward statement in all of Scripture affirming the absolute necessity of baptism to be saved. One needs help, and a lot of it, to not see the clear teaching of the Lord in this text.
Yet, those who reject this word of the Lord while claiming to follow Him have twisted themselves and the text in knots in a vain attempt to deny its teaching.
The most common objection to the force of this text is this, “The second half of the verse doesn’t say, ‘and is baptized not,’ so baptism can’t be an essential part of salvation.’” This objection may be answered on its face in several ways.
First, go back to the recesses of your mind and the days of diagramming sentences. A simple sentence diagram of Mark 16:16 will show you two things: 1) the verse consists of two independent clauses, meaning neither is subordinate to the other. Thus, the force of the first clause is in no way affected by the statement of the second. In simple terms, the second clause in verse 16, “he who does not believe shall be condemned,” has no effect on the force or meaning of the first clause, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
So, the question may be properly posed, “What does the verse say one must do to be saved?” The Lord’s answer? “Believe the gospel AND be baptized.”
Concerning the objection under consideration, I often tell people, “The second half of the verse tells me how to be lost. I am NOT interested in being lost. Been there done that. I want to know how to be saved. And Jesus said I have to be baptized in order to be saved.”
Finally, the Butthatchee River runs about a half a mile from my house. Just down river is an old dam and mill. If I put an ad in the local paper saying, “He who comes to Pearce’s Mill and is baptized shall receive $1000,” do you think people would have difficulty understanding it? The same people who object to baptism would flock to the old swimming hole to receive their cash, but they won’t obey Jesus to receive the forgiveness of sins. SMH