“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 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. 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: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” – I Peter 3:18-22.
Praise God, Jesus Christ suffered once for all under the penalty of our sin. He is the only One that could pay sin’s penalty. By His being put to death on the Cross, that suffering completely found its end and purpose there. Therefore, as we contemplate “Water Baptism” we should realize why He suffered. We should consider what He accomplished by such terrible suffering. We just revel in the wonderful benefits that flow out to us because of such suffering.
“The Just” – the holy, sinless, undefiled, separate from sinners, innocent Son – did not deserve it. “For,” in place of, on behalf of, “the unjust” – we who were guilty, and deserving of every detail of the wrath of judgment and suffering that He endured. He did it for this, “That he might bring us to God.” Oh, what a glorious statement. There is no other way to God.
“By the Spirit,” Jesus went into the lower parts of the earth and “preached.” What did He preach? I am sure His message contained the announcement of victory won! There were believers there who awaited the results of Calvary. Their faith had looked forward to that time. Oh, now He could proclaim “LIBERTY.” I think He gladly announced that He had tasted “death for every man,” the price had been paid. He could now joyously proclaim that He had come to lead “captivity Captive.” For He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” – Romans 4:25. Many, which slept in graves, awoke and came out and entered into Jerusalem. HALLELUJAH!
“SAVED BY WATER?”
Think of the essence of what is being said here. God, in His longsuffering love, awaited the preparing of the ark. Those flood waters represented the death and the judgment of God to Noah and his family, except for being in the ark. They were safe in the ark while passing through the flood. This gives us a beautiful picture, figure, or type of our being in Christ who is indeed our ark of safety. Therefore, at this point, Peter lets us know that water baptism represents the waters of wrath, death, and judgment passing over us as we in symbol go into death and burial, and came up in resurrection with Christ.
Water baptism is indeed for us a solemn precious act, and not to be taken lightly. Yet, it should also be a very joyous occasion. Peter tells us something of what it is and is not. He says it is “Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” It is not an experimental or practical cleansing. See I Corinthians 6:18 – 7:1. This is done through the Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:25-27. Water baptism cannot change what we are by nature. We are filthy, sinful, sold under sin, entirely opposed to God. Jesus said, in essence, that the washing of the outside of the cup does not change the inside. But, because of having an inward change, we should desire to carry out this outward act.
An “ANSWER” pledge, appeal
By being baptized, we say to the world that our conscience is clear before God of condemnation for sin – Romans 8:1; John 5:24. This is a very personal thing. No one should be pushed into doing it. We are demonstrating openly what we believe inwardly to be ours by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our own public declaration of our personal identification with Jesus Christ – Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:11-13. This can be our announced intention to walk in newness of life. Water baptism should be a part of our acknowledgment of His headship of our lives, for it is Scripturally done in His Name. He is the Head of His Body the church – Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:15-19; Ephesians 1:21-23.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” – Colossians 3:17.