Baptism Now Saves You?

Have you ever wondered why Peter says (1 Pet 3:20-21) that the waters of the flood through which Noah and a few others were saved correspond to baptism?

In the sermon it was my privilege to preach yesterday, I tried to pursue a biblical-theological explanation of how the flood was an expression of God’s wrath that was used by Israel’s prophets to symbolize the wrath of God that would fall at the exile. When Jesus died on the cross, the full expression of wrath anticipated by the flood and the exile was poured out on him. To capture this reality, Jesus spoke of his death as the moment when he would “drink the cup” of God’s wrath and be “baptized” (e.g., Mark 10:38-39). Jesus was baptized into the floodwaters of God’s judgment, and when believers are baptized into the body of Christ, they are united to Christ, and his baptism into the floodwaters of judgment counts for us. We are saved through the death dealing waters of judgment and raised to walk in newness of life.

As I say, I did my best to exposit these themes in a sermon preached at Baptist Church of the Redeemer on June 6, 2010. You can download it here. Thanks to my dear friend and former fellow elder, Travis Cardwell, for letting me seek to serve the beloved saints of Redeemer.

I didn’t say this in the sermon, but if my exposition is correct, we see Moses doing biblical-theological interpretation of the creation and flood narratives and then connecting those events to his own experience as a baby in the Nile and Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea at the exodus. The prophets then follow the biblical-theological interpretation modeled by Moses, and Jesus interprets what will happen to him in line with these biblical-theological moves made by Moses and the Prophets in the OT. That is, Jesus interpreted the OT and his own life the same way that Moses and the prophets interpreted the OT and their own lives. Then the Apostles, Peter in this case, interpret the OT, the Gospels, and their own experience the same way that Moses and the Prophets did, and Peter learned this way of reading the Bible, as well was this way of reading life through the lens of the Bible, from Jesus.

I didn’t say this in the sermon either, but I think that the flood, the exile, the cross of Christ, and the baptism of new believers all show that the glory of God in salvation through judgment is indeed the center of biblical theology, which is the thesis of my forthcoming book. One of the reasons I wanted to preach this sermon was that I hadn’t dealt so much with these connections between the flood and baptism in the book.

As days go by someone may want to find this sermon among the others in the sermon player on that page. If you need to search the sermon player, you can probably search my name (Jim Hamilton), the date (June 6, 2010), or perhaps the title of the sermon (“The Floodwaters of Judgment”).

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