By Shelby G. Floyd
In the days of Noah, all of the world’s population except eight people was disobedient and perished in the waters of the great flood: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5-6). It seems Noah preached to them about the impending destruction for many years:
Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
EIGHT SOULS “WERE” SAVED THROUGH WATER
When the ark was finished, those who were obedient, went into the ark, “…in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). Please note that the water, by which the world perished, is the same water that saved those obedient souls who were in the ark of safety—Noah’s Ark. Peter declares emphatically that “eight souls were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20).
HOW WATER BAPTISM “NOW” SAVES US
In the next place, the apostle Peter launches into how water baptism also now saves us—the obedient people living in the Christian age:
1 Peter 3:21
There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The subject of water baptism is mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament, and is one of the most explained topics affecting our salvation from sin. Water baptism may be classified under three heads: (1) the subject of baptism—all people accountable; (2) the action of baptism—immersion in water; and (3) the purpose of baptism—”for the remission of sins.”
THE TYPE AND THE ANTITYPE
Some commentators have said that water “baptism does not now save us,” contradicting the inspired words of the apostle. They contend that water baptism is only a figure of speech. It is true that in 1 Peter 3:20-21, Peter does say that “baptism does also now save us” as an “antitype” of the “eight souls saved by water,” in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20-21). If the water “baptism that does now also save us,” is the “antitype,” then “the eight souls who were saved by water” in the days of Noah, is the “type.” In these examples it does not matter whether the water is the type or the antitype as far as salvation is concerned. The water of the flood saved eight people from physical destruction and the water “baptism that does now also save us,” is spiritual salvation from sin.
But water baptism is not the only thing that saves us. We are saved by faith, repentance, and confession of our faith, and living a faithful Christian life. We are saved by all these actions because of the atonement of Christ and the shedding of his precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). “Baptism does now save us” because that is where we come into contact with the death of Christ and the blood of Christ (John 19:33-34; Romans 6:1-4).
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Shelby G. Floyd Heartland Church of Christ 1693 West Main Street Greenwood, Indiana 46142