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 man 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 each person 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 sins can be forgiven and the soul saved.
To every creature: to every man, woman and child. No one has the right to limit the offer of salvation to any class of men. God wishes that His servants might present salvation absolutely to all. If some reject it, it is at their risks and perils. It is not God’s fault if men refuse His salvation. His mercy is manifest and His grace is without limits, since He offers eternal life to guilty man.
“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 by faith: (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 man. To believe in Him is to admit this truth and to act accordingly — that is to say, to trust Him and rest in Him, to love Him, to feel that we are without any merit, 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 — 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, it 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 (baptism) 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 men for not believing the Gospel. I respond: (1) God has the right to appoint His own conditions of mercy. (2) Man has no claim upon God for heaven. (3) The sinner rejects the conditions of salvation — knowingly, deliberately, and with persistence. (4) Man has a special disregard and contempt for the Gospel. (5) The love of sin is the cause of man’s unbelief. Man shows by this that he has no love for God, His law, or eternity. He slights what God holds most dear. (6) The man who rejects God must be miserable. He who has no confidence in God, who believes Him to be unworthy of his respect and who never seeks His favor, must be wretched.
The man who rejects God enters eternity without a Father and without a God. He has no source of comfort in himself and must die forever. There is no Being in eternity that can make men happy but God; without His favor, the lost sinner must be eternally wretched.
The Savior has solemnly declared that such a man shall be condemned. Jesus Christ will come to judge the world, and no one will be able to deliver us from His hand. Without faith in Jesus, everyone will be lost. Every man, woman and child can therefore go to Him for forgiveness and salvation.
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit). – Acts 2:38
Taken 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).