PHBC September 27, 1998
Series: First Peter, Ser. #59
SAVED BY WATER—SAVED BY BAPTISM
TEXT: 1 Peter 3:20-21 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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.
INTRO: The verse before us is not as popular with baptismal regenerationists as are Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16. But, they do resort to it, especially in a discussion or debate in which they are trying to amass as much evidence that seems to support their position as possible. One of the reasons they shy away from it more than the others is that it is actually a very good verse of Scripture to use against their heresy.
There are some key expressions in the verses that that are very important. I suppose the first and preeminent one is the expression "The like figure." When Peter uses the word "like" he points back to the second expression that I believe is a key to understanding this passage. That expression is "eight souls were saved by water." This is a figurative statement. In Hebrews eleven we saw that Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house. Literally, these 8 people were saved because they were in the ark. Their salvation was revealed to the world by the coming of the flood. The third expression that we will look at as we study the passage is, "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh." Baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh. No water has the qualities or power to put away the filth of the flesh. Figuratively, baptism does save; literally, it does not. There are other things in the text at which we will look as we consider the subject SAVED BY WATER—SAVED BY BAPTISM.
I. THE SALVATION OF THE FAMILY OF NOAH—LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY
A. Paul was speaking of the literal salvation of Noah's family in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
1. In our text Peter makes it clear that he is speaking figuratively.
2. In Heb. 11:7 Paul in no way suggests that what he is saying is figurative.
B. Had their salvation literally been accomplished in water, there would have been no need for the ark.
1. Our text makes it clear that the flood could not come until the ark was ready. 1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
2. Just as God's longsuffering and grace prevented him from bringing the flood until the ark which Noah was preparing to the saving of his house was finished, the same longsuffering of God will prevent the day of the Lord coming until all of his elect are saved. 2 Peter 3:3-9 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
3. May I repeat again, had salvation literally been by water, the ark would not have been needed.
C. The salvation by water of the family of Noah was a figure.
1. The words that are translated figure in the New Testament have the idea of an image or imprint.
a. For years I had an image of wire wrapped around a pump handle imprinted on the side of my face after the pump kicked me. It was not literally the wire; it was an image or a figure of the wire.
b. If I put my hand in wet concrete and leave a print of it, years later someone might look at that and say, "That is Bro. Camp's hand." Literally, it is only the figure of my hand; it is not my hand.
2. Paul tells us that Adam was a figure of Christ of Christ. Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. We will come back to this in our next point.
3. The earthly tabernacle and temple were a figures of the true tabernacle which God pitched, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
a. One of the problems the Hebrew Christians had was that they attached too much importance to the earthly holy places made with hands which were only figures of the true.
b. Paul calls on them to leave those things behind; they were only figures pointing to the true tabernacle which God pitched, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(1) He is our blood-sprinkled mercy seat.
(2) He is our altar of sacrifice.
(3) He is our sacrifice.
(4) The boards of the tabernacle were of imperishable wood overlaid with gold pointing to the two-fold nature of the Jesus Christ—One person with a complete human nature pre-figured in the wood and a Divine nature pre-figured in the gold.
(5) The boards were set in sockets of silver, the metal used in redeeming slaves, etc. prefiguring Christ our Redemption.
(6) I could go on but this is enough for me to ask the questions: "Do you trust the old tabernacle with its bloody sacrifices for salvation or do you look to the true tabernacle which God pitched? Do trust the figure or do you trust the literal mercy seat the Lord Jesus Christ?
(7) This idea of a figure is very well illustrated in the offering of Isaac. Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
(a) Abraham believed God was able to raise Isaac from the dead even if he did kill him.
(b) In a figurative sense he did raise him from the dead for he was ready to be killed as the sacrifice until God provided a substitute.
(c) Figuratively he was raised from the dead; literally he never was slain and sacrificed.
D. Figuratively, Noah's family was saved by water; literally they were saved in the ark. Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
1. All those who literally got into the water drowned.
2. Those who never got wet were saved.
E. This brings to mind a similar lesson.
1. The children of Israel were literally saved by the blood of the Passover lamb.
a. They were saved from the death on the first born.
b. They were saved from the bondage in Egypt.
2. Figuratively they were saved when their deliverance was manifested by their baptism unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
a. Those who went into the water with the blood already applied came out dry and safe on the other side of the Red Sea.
b. Those who went into the water without the blood washed ashore after drowning.
II. THE SALVATION OF A SINNER—LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY
A. If you are inclined to trust baptism for your salvation, consider again that Adam was a figure of Christ. Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
1. Surely no one would try to be saved by trusting Adam; he is only the figure of him that was to come.
2. Salvation is literally in Christ who is called the second Adam.
3. Adam was a figure of Christ in that he was a representative man—he stood for a people.
4. Adam was a figure of Christ in that what he did his people did.
a. When he sinned, his people sinned.
b. When he fell, we fell.
c. When Christ died, all those who had been given to him died.
d. When Christ arose, all those who had been given to him arose.
e. Adam's sin was imputed to his people, his posterity.
f. Christ's righteousness is imputed to his people.
g. Adam was the root and cause of sin in his people; Christ is the root and cause of righteousness in his people.
5. One may as well trust Adam instead of Christ for salvation as to trust water for salvation.
B. If you lean toward the idea that baptism literally saves from sin, consider again that the earthly tabernacle was and its various furnishings and areas were really only figures of Jesus Christ the true tabernacle which God pitched. Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
1. If you want to trust the figures for you salvation then trust in the tabernacle that Moses built or the temple that Solomon built.
2. If you want to trust the one who truly and literally saves, look beyond the figure to the true tabernacle. Hebrews 8:1-2 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
C. If you may be inclined to trust the figure of baptism for salvation consider the figure set forth in the tabernacle and then consider what Christ accomplished. Hebrews 9:9-12 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
1. These sacrifices and gifts were only figures pointing to Christ and could never make those offering them perfect as pertaining to their consciences.
2. These figures stood only in meats and drinks and different washings and carnal ordinances.
3. But Christ, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle—himself—and by a better sacrifice—his own precious blood—has obtained eternal redemption for those who trust the literal Saviour and not the figure of baptism.
4. If you are trusting baptism for you salvation, you would probably also have trusted the blood of a bull or a goat to save you.
5. Look beyond the figure to him to whom the figure points—Jesus Christ, the lamb of God who has obtained eternal redemption by his precious blood offered on the altar of his own person and sprinkled on himself who is our blessed and only seat of propitiation, our mercy seat.
III. BAPTISM DOES NOT LITERALLY SAVE FOR IT CANNOT PUT AWAY THE FILTH OF THE FLESH
A. We saw in the messages on verse 18 the terrible state in which men are found by nature, therefore I will just briefly remind you.
1. We were all conceived in a sinful state and nature. Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
2. We walked naturally according to the course of this world and were by nature the children of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
3. We were born of the flesh and it is so decidedly filthy that there is no good in it. John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Romans 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
4. The result of this depravity is seen in the fact that we were hateful and hating one another and had to be washed with the washing of regeneration. Titus 3:3-5 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
5. The notion that mere waters of baptism could put away the filth of the flesh is as far-fetched as believing that an Israelite could be saved by the blood of a goat.
a. Both are figures of the true and figures do not save.
b. Figures point to the one who can and does save.
c. As in the Lord's supper we show forth his death till he come, in baptism we show forth his literal death and resurrection by which we are literally saved.
B. All our salvation is dependent on the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. It is by his stripes that we are healed.
2. It is by his broken body and shed blood that we have eternal life. John 6:54-564 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
3. Our salvation is in the Christ of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
4. It is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
5. Because it is only a figure, and not the literal salvation of the sinner, Paul could say without regret that he was glad that he did not baptize many of the Corinthian congregation. 1 Corinthians 1:14-16 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
6. It was a different matter when it came to their literal salvation. 1 Corinthians 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
7. Because it was only a figure Paul could say that he was not sent to baptize. 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
8. Men who make baptism effectual in the literal salvation of the sinner, in effect, make the cross of none effect.
IV. SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM IS THE ANSWER OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE TOWARD GOD
A. Those who believe in baptismal regeneration, of necessity, deny the total depravity of man.
1. If baptism, as our text declares, is the answer of a good conscience toward God, one must have a good conscience before answering in baptism.
2. If one has a good conscience before answering in baptism, we must either deny the depravity of man or believe one must be saved before baptism.
3. Those who hold to the doctrine of total hereditary depravity believe that the mind and conscience of men are defiled and not good. Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
a. In the unbeliever nothing is pure.
b. His mind is defiled and enmity against God.
c. His conscience is defile.
d. His heart is deceitful.
B. The foregoing being true, we cannot hold with the doctrine that men are literally saved in baptism.
1. We must join with Peter in declaring that their salvation by baptism is just as much a figure as was the salvation of Noah's family in the waters of the flood.
2. We must join with Peter in proclaiming we are literally saved in the blood of Christ. I Peter 1:18-20 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
CONC: What or whom are you trusting for your salvation? Will you trust the like figure of baptism, or the one to whom the figure point, the dying and rising and ever living Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ?
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