Vol. 4, No. 2
~ Page 11 ~
God told Noah to build an ark. The apostle Peter wrote that eight souls or persons were saved in that ark by water (1 Peter 3:20). Then Peter wrote, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21).
Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives were the eight people who were saved in the ark by water. They were not saved by water from water! They were saved from water by the ark (Hebrews 11:7). But, they were saved by water from something! From what were they saved by water? They were saved by water from a wicked, sinful world of people!
Of that sinful world, Moses wrote, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in all the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). The waters of the flood destroyed that world of exceedingly wicked people. The waters of the flood came between that wicked world and the cleansed world following that flood! Therefore, Noah and his family were saved from that wicked world by water!
We are saved by water in the same sense that the blind man of John 9 received his sight by water. Jesus told that blind man to wash his eyes in the water of the pool of Siloam. When he did so, he received his sight. Of course, the Lord Jesus gave him his sight. The water of the pool did not give him his sight, but Christ gave him his sight when he did what Christ told him to do. His doing what Christ told him to do involved water.
Even so, water does not wash away the sins of one when he is baptized in water. Christ takes away his sins when he does what Christ tells him to do by being baptized in water. His doing what Christ tells him to do involves water. That is the only sense in which water saves sinners.
The Blood of Christ Saves
The blood of Jesus Christ saves, but it saves in Christ. "In whom (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
The reason baptism saves is because in being baptized one gets into Christ where the blood of Christ saves! Since water is involved in one's being baptized into Christ, then water is involved in one's reaching the blood of Christ.
To reach the blood of Christ in baptism obviously just means that one reaches the forgiveness of God Almighty which he gives because Christ shed his blood or gave his life for our sins. Jesus made forgiveness of sins available for everyone when he died on Calvary's cross. Those who are baptized into Christ receive what Christ made available when he died.
The great Baptist scholar, Dr. Charles B. Williams, translated 1 Peter 3:21 as follows. "Baptism which corresponds to this figure, now saves you too -- I do not mean the mere removal of physical stains, but the craving for a clear conscience toward God." (The New Testament, A Translation in the Language of the People, by Charles B. Williams.)
Dr. Gerrit Verkuyl of Princeton translated in his Berkley Version of the New Testament 1 Peter so that it says that baptism saves and that it is "the earnest of seeking a conscience that is clear in God's presence." Could one who knows that being baptized is essential to being saved by the blood of Christ have a good conscience until he is baptized?
One who knows that Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" could not have a clear conscience before God until after he is baptized. Therefore, when he is baptized, he is seeking for, or craving, a clear conscience before God.
After saying Noah and his family were saved by water, Peter said, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…" "Like figure" of this text is from the Greek word antitupou. This word is put in English or anglicized as antitype.
There are many types in the Old Testament. When a lamb was sacrificed for sins, it was a type of Christ, the Lamb of God (John 1:29) who was sacrificed for our sins (Hebrews 10:1-10). A literal lamb offered in sacrifice under the Old Covenant was a type. Jesus being offered in sacrifice for our sins was the antitype of that Old Testament type.
Peter said our being saved by baptism is the antitype of eight souls being saved in the ark by water. This all obviously means that just as the water of the great flood came between the old world of wickedness and the new and cleansed world following that flood, even so the water of baptism comes between the world of sin and the new world of righteousness in Christ Jesus. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The person in Christ got into Christ by being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-4). So, the water of baptism comes between the old world of sin and the new world in Christ Jesus.
Calm ... Out of the Storms: Stresses of Life
paperback, 71 pages
Minister's Marriage Manual