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SAVED OR DAMNED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, January 24, 2016

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15, 16).


Before I preach on those words of Christ I must deal with textual criticism. Look at the Scofield note, number one, at the bottom of the page. It says, “The passage from verse 9 to the end is not found in the two most ancient manuscripts, the Sinaitic and Vatican...” That should not trouble us at all. As I have told you before, those two manuscripts were copied by monks who were influenced by the false teaching of early Gnosticism and other heresies. It is clear from Galatians that heretical teachers were preaching “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). They were adding works of the law to salvation by faith in Christ alone. In II Corinthians, Paul warned against those who preached “another Jesus, whom we have not preached” (II Corinthians 11:4). That is the spirit-Christ of early Gnosticism. The Apostle John wrote of the Gnostic spirit-Christ in his first epistle.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:1-3).

He said, “Many false prophets are gone out into the world” (4:1). He said these false prophets denied “that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (4:3). “Is” is the present tense of elēluthota. It means they deny that Jesus came in the flesh, and continues in His resurrected flesh, even up in Heaven. The commentary is Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Then the next verse in Hebrews says, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:9).

My point is this – there were many false prophets and false teachers in the very beginning of Christianity, even when the Apostles were still living. It is strange that the critics of Mark 16:9-20 never seem to think of that! As soon as you think of that (and meditate on it) you realize that false teaching is behind the removal of the last half of Mark 16! The men who copied this passage were affected by false teaching – so they left out verses 9-20 in the Sinaitic and Vatican copies – “and others have it with partial omissions and variations” (Scofield, ibid.).

What if the Sinaiticus manuscript and the others ended Mark 16 at verse 8? The Gospel of Mark would end with the Disciples fleeing from the empty sepulchre in fear! In other words, Mark would end without the resurrection of Christ! Look at verse 8.

“And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8).

Only a spiritually blind Bible critic would think that the Gospel of Mark could end by saying the Disciples “were afraid”? No! You must have verses 9-20 or there is no Gospel! No good news at all!

Mark 16:9-16 give a clear statement of Christ’s resurrection and appearances to the Disciples. Verses 19-20 give Christ’s ascension and the work of the Disciples that followed. What about verses 17 and 18? The commentary on those two verses is given in the Book of Acts. Did they cast out demons in the Book of Acts? Of course they did! Did they speak with new languages? Of course they did, at least in Acts 2:4! Did any Disciple “take up serpents” without being harmed? Yes, Paul did that, recorded in Acts 28:3-6! Did any of the Disciples “lay hands on the sick” and have them “recover”? Yes, Peter did that, recorded in Acts 9:32-35! Peter even prayed over the dead body of Tabitha, and she came back to life, recorded in Acts 9:36-42! The only miracle in these verses that is not recorded in the Book of Acts is drinking poison without it hurting them. That is recorded of the prophet Elisha in II Kings 4:38-41. Since God gave this miracle to the prophet Elisha, how can we deny that it could happen at least once to the Disciples also? No, there is no miracle in verses 17 and 18 that is too hard for God to do! None at all! That is one of the reasons the Gospel spread so quickly throughout the early Roman Empire! For instance, Tabitha was raised from the dead, “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42). God used the miracles recorded in Mark 16:17, 18 to show His power, and the reality of the Gospel, to the heathen world! In times of revival, many miracles like that occur even today, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and others tell us. Many healings and other miracles have occurred in places like China and the Muslim world, during revivals in our own time! Good men like Irenaeus (130-202) and Hippolytus (170-235) had no trouble quoting from the last half of Mark 16 (cf. Scofield note on Mark 16:9). We should follow the example of Irenaeus and Hippolytus, rather than that of blind modern Bible critics! I am convinced that Mark 16:9-20 is the verbally inspired Word of Almighty God! Let it stand as written, the Greek text inspired word for word (verbally) by the Holy Spirit! Let us not be confused by the heretical Gnostic scribes who copied this passage in the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts. They mutilated this great chapter in the Word of God! They threw out this clear passage on salvation through Christ!

We learn two important truths from the fact that this passage was hated by the Gnostic heretics.

I. First, there is an adversary, seen in the mutilation of Mark 16.

The Apostle Peter said, “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). The Apostles and their students knew they were fighting an enemy. And they knew that enemy was the Devil.

Irenaeus (130-202) was a student of Polycarp (80-155), who in turn was a student of the Apostle John. Irenaeus knew that Gnosticism was Satanic. He wrote a book called Against Heresies. In it he showed that the “spirit-Christ” of the Gnostics was demonic. To prove that he quoted from the sixteenth chapter of Mark. One of the verses he used was Mark 16:19, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” This quotation shows that Irenaeus had a copy of the second half of Mark 16. That was about 200 years before the Sinaitic manuscript was copied – leaving out the second half of Mark 16. The fact that Irenaeus had a full copy of Mark 16 two hundred years earlier shows two things. First, it shows that the Sinaitic manuscript had been mutilated. Second, it shows that incipient Gnostic criticism was the reason those later copyists left out or corrupted the second half of Mark 16. They did it because the Bible-believing apologists and theologians, especially Irenaeus, used this passage against their heresy.

Modern evangelicals are far less aware of the reality of the Devil than the Apostles and Church Fathers. They don’t seem to be aware of what was clear to the Apostle Paul, when he said,

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Corinthians 2:11).

Paul knew about the “devices” of Satan! Again, Paul spoke of “the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Modern evangelicals never seem to realize that there is a conflict with Satan in real conversions. The great evangelist Asahel Nettleton said that the followers of Finney never even thought there might be such a thing as a false conversion through Satanic blinding, or Satanic confusion. They do not consider the fact that Satan “hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4). And because of Satan’s power “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (II Corinthians 4:3).

Remember what Philip Chan, a young man in our church, said in his testimony. I will not quote all of it – only this – “My mind was going in circles.” He kept on and on, month after month. He was trying to figure out how to come to Jesus. He went over it again and again. His mind was going in circles. I saw him the day he got saved. I told him what happened when a man said to Jesus, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Jesus said to him, “I will; be thou clean” (Mark 1:41). I said it was as simple as that, “I will; be thou clean.” Philip trusted Jesus right then! “I will; be thou clean.” But you say, “It couldn’t be that simple!” So you go on and on, in circles, thinking the same things over and over and over. The Devil is holding you as a captive in the circle of his torment! “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (II Corinthians 4:3).

Many are held captive by the Devil. We are praying that God will release them, “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:26).

Listen to Chirsty Maggie MacLeod’s struggle. This was during the revival on the Isle of Lewis, when Rev. Duncan Campbell preached. Maggie said, “I went to my room and closed the door – and then the battle raged! Satan did his utmost to prevent me from coming to the Lord. He cast up one argument after another. I knew I had to come [to Jesus] but how? The text ‘Whosoever cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’ was God’s wonderful encouragement to me as I wrestled. He won’t cast me out; He will accept me; but how do I come? It took hours. I did not want to come; but I knew I had to come. I knew I was lost, and I knew I had to be saved. I had to come to Christ. I wanted to be saved but I did not want to yield my all to Christ. I was afraid of the consequences. ‘Oh God, have mercy on me...’ What a battle it was. At a point of desperation...I cried, ‘Don’t pass me,’ and He didn’t...and I knew I was His. That was forty-eight years ago – and I can recall it as if it was yesterday. The Spirit of God drew me so tenderly to my wonderful Saviour. I loved Him then and I love Him all the more now. I am a widow now but not alone, for He is with me and is so precious to me” (Sounds From Heaven: The Revival on the Isle of Lewis, by Colin and Mary Peckham, 2011 edition, Christian Focus Publications, pp. 211, 212).

II. Second, there is a clear Gospel message in Mark 16.

I am convinced that is the second reason the Gnostic heretics hated the second half of Mark 16. Please stand as I read Mark 16, verses 15 and 16.

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).

You may be seated.

Jesus tells the Apostles and us, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” That is what Christ wants us to do. That is why we “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in” to hear the Gospel preached (Luke 14:23). That is why we go to the malls and colleges and bring in lost people to hear the Gospel. That is why, in every sermon, I preach that Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin. That is why, in every sermon, I tell lost sinners that the Blood He shed on the Cross can cleanse them from all sin. That is why, in every sermon, I tell them Christ rose physically from the dead to give them eternal life. I say what Mark 16:19 says,

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

I tell them to come to Christ, to trust Him, and be saved by Him.

Yet many people hate the message of the Gospel. They are like the heretics in the Second Century who hated verse 16 so much that they literally tore it out of the Bible! Indeed! Verse 16 is a verse people hate even today!

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

But great Spurgeon loved that verse with all his heart. He preached a wonderful sermon on it – and he quoted it again and again for years in other sermons. It is one of Spurgeon’s favorite verses. That great Baptist preacher knew that it did not teach baptismal salvation. Just the opposite! It teaches against baptismal salvation. The second clause of the verse shows that – “He that believeth not shall be damned.” Spurgeon correctly said that a person who does not believe on Jesus is damned whether he has been baptized or not! The only requirement for you to be damned is not to believe in Jesus. In fact I think that may be another reason the copyists didn’t want this passage in the Bible. They believed in baptismal salvation by the time the Sinaitic manuscript was copied, two hundred years after Mark wrote those words. And so those monks and scribes removed verse 16. They wanted people to depend on baptism – and they taught that very strongly. Yet the verse corrects them. It says there is only one thing that will damn you – and that one thing is not to believe on Jesus!

Then, someone says, Why does the first clause say, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved?” The answer is simple enough. Many people think you are saved by believing that Jesus existed – or believing that He said and did several things. But that is not what the Bible means when it tells us to believe on Jesus. You can believe that Jesus is the Son of God and still go to Hell. You can believe that Jesus died on the Cross to pay for sin, and still go to Hell. You can believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead and still go to Hell. But our text does not refer to believing things about Jesus. It speaks of believing Christ Himself. Coming to Him, trusting Him, relying on Him alone! The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Barnabas described that when he spoke to the people of Antioch and said, “that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23). “And much people was added unto the Lord” (Acts 11:24). Cleave to the Lord, trust the Lord Jesus, receive Him, come to Him, be united to Him. That is the thought! When you trust Jesus, as Philip Chan did, as Maggie MacLeod did – then, and only then, are you fit to be baptized! And if you refuse baptism it shows that you have not believed on the Son of God. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

Damned! What a horrible thought! Damned – in the flames of Hell – for all eternity!

Eternity! Eternity!
Where will you spend eternity?
   (“Where Will You Spend Eternity?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Mark 16:9-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“Where Will You Spend Eternity?” (by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).


THE OUTLINE OF

SAVED OR DAMNED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15, 16).

(Galatians 1:6; II Corinthians 11:4; I John 4:1-3; Hebrews 13:8, 9;
Mark 16:8; Acts 2:4; 28:3-6; 9:32-35, 36-42; II Kings 4:38-41)

I.   First, there is an adversary, seen in the mutilation of Mark 16,
I Peter 5:8; Mark 16:19; II Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11;
II Corinthians 4:4, 3; Mark 1:41; II Timothy 2:26.

II.  Second, there is a clear Gospel message in Mark 16, Luke 14:23;
Mark 16:19; Acts 16:31; 11:23, 24.