By Albert Barnes
Preach the Gospel to every creature.
Jesus, in His great mercy, has wished that His Gospel might break through every barrier; that every person might be able to understand it; that every sinner might profit from it and that the message of eternal salvation might be offered to the entire world. To preach the Gospel to every creature is to offer eternal life to all people according to the conditions of the decreed mercy of God; namely, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the good news of salvation – the assurance that the Messiah has come, and that the sinner’s sins can be forgiven and his or her soul saved.
Preach the Gospel to every creature: to every man, woman and child. No one has the right to limit the offer of salvation to any class of people. God wants His servants to present salvation to all people. If some reject it, it is at their peril. It is not God’s fault if someone refuses His salvation. He has made His mercy known; His grace is without limits; He offers eternal life to guilty sinners.
He that believeth (the Gospel) and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned (Mark 16:16). He who believes the Gospel to be true acts accordingly. Here is the plan of salvation: (1) Man is a sinner, and as such he must repent of his sins. (2) There is a God — man must believe in Him, fear Him, love Him, and seek His favor. (3) The Lord Jesus Christ came to save sinners. To believe in Him is to admit this truth and to act accordingly — that is, to trust Him, to love Him, to rest in Him, to feel that we do not deserve His love, and to rely upon Him for all things. (4) There is a heaven and a hell. To believe this is to admit that the Gospel is true and to act accordingly — that is, to seek the one and flee the other. (5) We must die. To believe this is to be always prepared for death and to expect it every day and at every hour.
In conclusion, to believe the Gospel is to feel and act with the persuasion that there is a God, a Savior, a heaven and a hell; that we are sinners; that we must die; that we deserve condemnation and are in danger of falling into it; and in sight of all this we should repent of our sins and trust in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ in regard to our eternal interests. To act thus is to become a true Christian; to act otherwise is to be unbelieving.
Is baptized: shall be made a member of the church by the application of water, signifying a repentant sinner’s need of the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Let us look at the importance that Jesus attached to baptism. He has not declared, it is true, that a man could not be saved without baptism, but He has clearly made it to be understood that where baptism is neglected, knowing it to be a command of the Savior, endangers the salvation of the soul.
Faith and baptism are the beginnings of the Christian life. The first is the source of piety in the soul; the second is its manifestation before the world, or a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whoever is ashamed of Christ before men compromises his eternal interests.
Shall be saved: from sin and condemnation, and shall possess eternal life. Shall be condemned: by God and banished from His presence. This supposes that at the Day of Judgment, they shall be declared guilty and shall be worthy of eternal death. They shall be cast into a place of eternal woe! We might ask how God can justly condemn sinners for not believing the Gospel. I respond: (1) God has the right to appoint His own conditions of mercy. (2) Sinners have no claim upon God for heaven. (3) Sinners reject the conditions of salvation — knowingly, deliberately, and with persistence. (4) Sinners have a disregard and contempt for the Gospel. (5) The love of sin is the cause of their unbelief. They show by this that they have no love for God, His law, or eternity. They slight what God holds most dear. (6) The man who rejects God will be miserable. He who has no confidence in God believes Him to be unworthy of his respect. He who never seeks His favor will be wretched.
The man who rejects God enters eternity without a Father and without a God. He will have no source of comfort and will forever suffer the Second Death. There is no being in eternity that can make men happy but God; without His favor, the lost sinner will be eternally wretched. The Savior has solemnly declared that such a man will be condemned. Jesus Christ will come to judge the world, and no one will be able to deliver sinners from His condemnation. Without faith in Jesus, we will be condemned. Every person should therefore go to Him for forgiveness and salvation.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” – Jesus Christ (John 5:24)
Adapted from Barne’s Commentary of the Bible and revised. This article may be reproduced and distributed.
NOTE: This article is also in French (Le salut de Jésus-Christ).