In these final verses of the Gospel of Mark we see the Lord commission the disciples to go out and preach the gospel to all of the world. He adds some interesting details, information and conditions in this section that it is worth listening to.
The key to salvation mentioned in this section is faith. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Verse 16) You cannot be saved without faith. There is nothing a man can do to be saved other than to believe in God and the the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot work for salvation, you cannot buy it, you cannot study to get great knowledge to get it. All you need to do is to believe for that is the basis and the key to salvation.
But he also added a condition, baptism. Why is baptism important enough that he would mention it as part of the great commission to the disciples? Baptism is one of the foundation teachings of the New Covenant as defined in Hebrews 6:1-2. It is through baptism that we take on the Lord’s death, for we are baptised into his death, and by baptism our sins are taken away and we are released from the law of sin and death. Baptism is the mechanism by which we enter the kingdom of God for when we are baptised into the Lord Jesus Christ we “put on Christ.”
So if you are not baptised, how do you receive these promises and enter into the kingdom of God? If Jesus made this one of the pre-conditions for salvation, should we ignore his word and think it is OK not to be baptised? Absolutely not. Part of the process of salvation is to be obedient to the Lord and being baptised is just one small aspect of that obedience.
Jesus then goes on to show the signs that will accompany those who believe. He said, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Verses 17-18)
These signs certainly operated in the days of the disciples and they still operate today. There are plenty of instances of these things when you search and read the testimonies of Christians on the web and speak to believers that you may meet. I have seen and experienced some of these myself as I have testified to in the testimonies section on my web site.
He shows that there is protection, power and authority given to Christians in these signs. Speaking in tongues is given so that they can communicate with God and learn how to walk in the Spirit. Healing through the anointing of oil and laying on hands was given so that people did not have to suffer illnesses needlessly. And the drinking of deadly things or picking up snakes was provided as protection. I can testify that these things still exist and abound today and I have seen the power of these things in my own life.
There is a time coming when the Lord will send out the great invitation to all the people of the earth, just before the end and His return, and I believe we will see even more miraculous signs performed by those people he can trust to do his work. In the last verses of this section we see that the disciples went out and preached everywhere and Jesus confirmed the truth of the message by the signs that attended it. It will be the same today. Where the truth of the Lord is there will be confirmation of the message through the signs He gives to attest to the truth of the message.
This ends the Gospel of Mark.