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”).

9 Responses to Baptism Now Saves You?

  1. Charlie June 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    I like your understanding of 1 Peter 3:21. To see union being expressed the the verse makes sense with Peter clarifying that it is not about “removal of dirt from the body.”

    forgive me for not listening to the sermon. But how do you tie in your understanding to the over all theme of the Christian’s suffering being patterned after Christ’s suffering?

  2. Rich Barcellos June 8, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Thanks for sharing what you did not say in the sermon!

  3. gramzee June 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Whatever happened to the only unpardonable sin being “Not believing in Jesus Christ as our Saviour?

  4. gary June 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,
    I ask you to consider these points:

    1. When God said that he would preserve his Word, what did he mean?
    Did he mean that he would preserve the original papyrus and parchment upon which his Word was written? If so, then his Word has disappeared as none of the original manuscripts remain.

    Did he mean that he would preserve his word in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek only? He would not preserve his Word when it was translated into all the other languages of the world?

    Or did God mean that he would preserve his Word…the message/the words…the Gospel: the free gift of salvation, and the true doctrines of the Christian Faith? Would God allow his Word/his message to mankind to be so polluted by translation errors that no translation, into any other language from the three original languages, continues to convey his true words?

    2. There IS no translation of the Bible, from the original ancient languages, into any language, anywhere on earth, that translates the Bible as the Baptists/evangelicals believe it should be translated.

    No Bible translation on earth translates Acts 2:38 as, “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ every one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost. Then be baptized as a public profession of your faith.”

    There is no translation that translates, into any language, Acts 22:16 as, “ And now why tarriest thou? arise, believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Then be baptized.” Not a single translation in the entire world translates that verse in any way remotely resembling the manner in which Baptists believe it should be translated.

    Isn’t that a problem?

    And this verse, I Peter 3:21 as, “Asking Christ into your heart in a spiritual baptism, which water Baptism symbolizes, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

    And Mark 16:16 as, “He that believes will be saved, and then baptized, but he that does not believe will be condemned.”

    Why would God allow EVERY English translation of the Bible throughout history to be mistranslated or use such confusing language as to suggest that God forgives sins in Baptism? And not only all English translations, ALL translations of the Bible have retained these “mistranslations or confusing wording”.

    Do you honestly believe that God would allow his Word to be so polluted with translation errors that EVERY Bible in the world, if read in its simple, plain interpretation, would tell all the people of the world that God forgives sins in water baptism??

    3. Why is there not one single piece of evidence from the early Christians that indicates that ANYONE in the 800-1,000 years after Christ believed that: Water baptism is ONLY a public profession of faith/act of obedience; sins are NOT forgiven in water baptism? Yes, you will find statements by these early Christians that salvation is by faith, but do Baptists and evangelicals really understand how a sinner obtains saving faith? THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, MY FRIENDS! Does the sinner produce faith by his own free will or does God provide faith and belief as a gift, and if God does provide faith and belief as a free gift, with no strings attached, when exactly does God give it?

    4. Is it possible that: Baptist-like believers, at some point near or after 1,000 AD, were reading the Bible and came across verses that read “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved” and established their doctrine of Salvation/Justification first, based on these and similar verses alone, and then, looked at the issue of water baptism, and since the idea that God forgives sins in water baptism doesn’t seem to fit with the verses just mentioned, re-interpreted these verses to fit with their already established doctrine, instead of believing the “baptism verses” literally?

    Is it possible that BOTH groups of verses are literally correct?? If we believe God’s Word literally, he says that he saves/forgives sins when sinners believe/call AND when they are baptized? Why not believe that God can give the free gift of salvation in both situations: when a sinner hears the Gospel and believes and when a sinner is baptized?

    Should we re-interpret God’s plain, simple words just because they don’t seem to make sense to us?

    Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters, your doctrine is very well thought out and very reasonable…but it is wrong. Do you really believe that God would require an education in ancient Greek or a Greek lexicon to understand what he really wants to say to you? And do you really believe that Baptist “Greek” scholars understand Greek better than the Greeks themselves? If the Greek language, correctly translated, states in the Bible that Baptism is only a public profession of faith as Baptists say, then why do the Greek Orthodox believe that the Greek Bible plainly says, in Greek, that God forgives sins in water baptism? Somebody doesn’t know their Greek!

    Please investigate this critical doctrine further. Do you really want to appear before our Lord in heaven one day and find out that you have been following a false doctrine invented in the sixteenth century by Swiss Ana-baptists?

    God bless you!

    Gary
    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/06/the-early-church-fathers-believed-in.html

  5. gary October 4, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    Dear Christian,

    I challenge you to watch this short, but very provocative video clip regarding the morality of your God’s act of killing so many little children in Noah’s Flood. If after watching this video clip you can still assert that your God and your belief system is good and moral, I will strongly and sincerely recommend that you see a mental health professional.

    • JMH February 1, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

      So, just to be clear: you’re indicting the God of the Bible on the basis of his own standards?

      And if he doesn’t exist, or doesn’t deserve to, as you seem to hold, by what standards have you arrived at that conclusion?

      And if you have arrived at it, what standards remain?

      Without him, how do we know what the standards are?

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