by John E. Werhan
As one seeks God’s inspired truth, we must understand the root of our beliefs as well as our misconceptions. There have been times when considering the importance of baptism with those who hold to Huldrych Zwingli’s 1525 doctrine of “Believer’s Baptism” who have asked me; “where in the Bible does it say baptism saved anyone?”
It is evident that the majority of those individuals do not know the root of their belief or that this doctrine is only 484 years old. This is why it is important for those truly seeking God’s truth to turn from such man-made doctrines and seek truth from the inspired word of God (written in the first century).
Peter compared the salvation of Noah and his family, through the waters of the flood, with the salvation offered by God’s grace in the Christian age. Peter had just written, “…God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water” (1 Peter 3:20).
Then he goes on to write, “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you … through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).
For one seeking God’s truth, it should be evident that God saved Noah and his family “through water” and people today are saved “through water baptism.” God sent the great flood upon the earth because humankind had become so evil that they had turned away from him (Genesis 6 & 7).
In essence, God cleansed the world of all the evil corruption by the use of the medium of water. It was because of God’s grace that he commanded Noah to build the Ark.
Noah kept the commandments exactly as God instructed. And because of their righteousness and their obedience, they were the only individuals to be saved through the flood and walk out of the Ark into a clean new world (Genesis 8).
Peter tells us that when a person is baptized in water, he come forth into a clean new life. Paul writing to the Ephesians and Colossians commends them for becoming Christians and lying “aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self”. (Ephesians 4; Colossians 3). It is when one is “baptized” that they are raised to “walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4).
Peter writing by the inspiration of God in the first century explains, “…baptism now saves you…” (1 Peter 3:21a). Like unto the salvation through the flood for Noah and his family it is through the medium of water baptism that one receives salvation today. He notes that baptism is not the washing of the external body but the washing of the spiritual soul (Acts 22:16).
The qualifying phrases and clauses of this context merely explain what water baptism is and is not.
Peter is not stating that baptism “alone” saves us. Nor does he state that the good conscience saves or that baptism is a symbol of our salvation. He simply states, “… baptism now saves you.” When one obeys the inspired commanded “to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48), one demonstrates to God that we have fulfilled a condition of salvation, and thus can “appeal to God for a good conscience” by fulfilling his command (Matthew 7:21).
The inspired teaching concerning “baptism” was well-known in the first century as explained by Peter in this passage. It was not until 1500 years later that man changed what the inspired word taught. The question is, are you following a 484-year-old man-made doctrine or the ancient truth found in the inspired word of God?
Your eternal salvation is dependent on your choice.