"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that does not believe shall be condemned."—Mark 16:16.
Hear this word of the Lord, all you who have decided to seek your salvation.
He that believes will be saved; simple faith is enough: more God does not require. With less, however, He will not be content. Faith is the only way: there is no other way that leads to salvation. He that does not believe will be condemned. Thus, alike on the right and the left hands, on the one side by the attractions and charms of His grace, on the other by the menace of His wrath, does God seek to impel us to faith in Christ as the one indispensable condition of salvation.
However much man may be opposed to this method of God, the time comes when the lost in hell no less than the saved in heaven will justify God in this ordination of His. The whole universe will acknowledge the equity of this sentence: he that does not believe will be condemned. The gracious Lord had always met the sinner with the wonderful offer of having remitted all the offences he had committed, or what the law had still to demand—of having bestowed on him all that was necessary for an everlasting salvation. He required no worthiness or merit, but simply this, that man should accept what was offered to him, and believe what was said to him. And, in order to remove every impediment to faith out of the way, and win the heart, God ordained to be sent the glad tidings of salvation through His own Jesus Christ, who manifested Himself in the most loving and attractive form, and sealed His love with His own precious blood. He, then, that still does not believe—the whole creation must approve of the sentence—he will be condemned. He has anew set the seal upon all his former sins, for he will not suffer himself to be redeemedfrom them. To his former sins, he has yet added this, the greatest of all, that he has affronted the authority of God, despised the love of God, lightly esteemed the Son of God, defied God's vengeance, and thrust away from him God's salvation. By unbelief he has shown his enmity against God and his rejection of God; it cannot, it may not, be otherwise: he that does not believe will be condemned.
Not less is the absolute necessity of faith confirmed by the contemplation of the other side: he that believes will be saved. Man has nothing, absolutely nothing, whereby on his part he can be in a position to contribute something to the attainment of salvation. And yet the Lord will do nothing but reign over a willing people. Man is no stone; on his own side, he must play his own part. It is faith that solves the difficult enigma that man who can do nothing should yet do something: faith which is manifested in the acknowledgment of poverty and misery, in the confession of inability and helplessness, in consent, submission, and surrender to that grace of God which is to be everything in us. More God could not require; less He may not require, for He will not inflict wrong on His own honor and the freedom of man. He requires faith: faith alone. What grace it is that thus bends to our weakness: he that believes will be saved.
Reader, behold, then, these two ways: make your choice. Pray, reason not any longer, nor ask the question if there be no other way; but, come, submit yourself to God and to the word of His grace: he that believes will be saved. No longer yield to the secret thought, that something else may after all still be necessary. I am well aware that everlasting salvation appears to you to be too great a boon over against this meager and paltry faith. It appears to you too hazardous for your sinfulness to venture so far merely upon faith; yet, see, it is God that has spoken: only by faith. He that possesses this faith, has all; for by it he has Christ. He that does not possess faith has nothing, although he should possess all besides. Faith is indispensable.
Anxious ones, hear it yet once again: "he that believes will be saved; he that does not believe will be condemned."