Baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21)

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now 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, AV)

In 1983, the Lord saved me while I was reading a Gideon placed Bible in a Minnesota hotel room. That night, everything changed in my life. I was never the same again. One of the things that precipitated this event was my wife’s baptism, which led me on a search for truth. Shortly after my salvation experience in Minneapolis, I too was to be baptized by immersion. The date was scheduled and since the school where our little mission church met did not have a baptistry, we were to meet in a church in Lombard, Illinois.

Prior to being baptized, I was speaking with my next-door neighbor and mentioned that I was to be baptized that weekend. He, who was Catholic, asked me an interesting question. “Haven’t you been baptized already?” I replied, “Yes, as an infant.” (My folks had me baptized in a Presbyterian church as an infant.) To that, my neighbor replied, “Well, I guess if once is good twice is better.”

In one sense, I sort of chuckle at my neighbor’s response today. He truly did not understand why I would want or even need to be baptized at 32 years of age. Yet, there are many very important reasons, one of which is that the Scriptures teach that we are to be baptized in water after coming to faith rather than prior to faith.

Here in this passage Peter made an interesting point, often confused, regarding baptism. He related baptism in water to a picture of Noah, the ark, and eight people who got in the Ark and were saved from the flood. To understand this picture, we need to look back at the days of Noah.

At the time of Noah, the Scripture teaches that people’s intentions were on evil continuously (Gen 6:3). This grieved God and He determined to blot out man from the earth (Gen 6:6-7). Yet, He saw that Noah was a righteous man who walked with God and was blameless in his generation (Gen 6:8-9). God warned Noah and had him make an ark, a large vessel, to protect Noah and his family from the coming flood waters that would destroy life outside of the ark (Gen 6:10-22). When the ark was completed, God ordered Noah and his family into the ark and shut them inside (Gen 7:1-16). The flood came and all inside the ark were saved alive, while all those outside perished (Gen 7:17-8:22).

Peter used this historic event of Noah and the ark to picture our salvation in Christ. The ark represents Christ and those inside the ark represent all believers. This is because all true believers are in Christ. Baptism in water is a picture of the believer’s position in Christ. This is what Paul affirmed to the Corinthian church. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13, AV). Water baptism pictures the Spirit’s baptism into the body of Christ (See also Romans 6:3-4).

Thus, a believer’s water baptism pictures the reality of their experience of eternal life. Moreover, it also is a bold statement of their repentance and commitment to live a life that glorifies God. If you are a believer and have not yet been baptized, you should consider taking this step of obedience.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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