Baptism Doth Not Save You

Arvid K. McGuire
Kirkwood, Missouri

Peter tells us ". . . 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: which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ; who is gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him" (I Pet. 3:20-22).

Water - the Flood

Peter states ". . . eight souls were saved by water." There is no disputing the fact that water was the means of the salvation of Noah and his family. It is true that Noah found grace in the eyes of God (Gen. 6:8). He was saved by faith and obedience (Heb. 11:7) . But, it was water that was the means of bearing him out of the old world of sin, corruptness and ruin and placed him in a cleansed, purged, new world.

Water - Baptism

" . . . after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism." Baptism is the "true likeness," the "like-figure," or the "antitype." The water of the flood is the type or figure. The salvation of Noah by water prefigured the salvation of men under the gospel by baptism in' water. In this case the flood water is the type of baptism in water.

Baptism in water is the means of bearing a penitent believing sinner out of his sin and ruinous life into Christ Jesus and the remission of his past sins (Ram. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3 : 2 6-2 7 ) . He is at that time delivered out of the power of darkness and translated by the Father into the kingdom of the Son of God. He is made fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12-13).

Baptism saves you. One is not and cannot be saved from his sins prior to and without baptism in water. Belief, repentance and baptism are necessary for gospel obedience (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16).

Not for Putting Away Filth of Flesh

This filth is not moral filth but dirt which can be washed from the physical body. One is not baptized in water to take a bath. The same word translated "filth" in this passage is translated "vile" in James Z : 2. James refers to material substance on the raiment of the poor man. Vincent says that Peter refers to "dry dirt on a person." Baptism is not for the purpose of removing dirt from the body.

The Answer of a Good Conscience

This word is translated "answer" (KJV) and "interrogation" in the (ASV). It literally means: "an inquiry, a question, a demand, seeking, appeal, interrogation." Moffat says it is, "an appeal to God for a clear conscience." Also, it includes an "intense desire expressed in the inquiry or demand."

The word "answer" includes the idea of desiring a good conscience, demanding a good conscience, and earnestly seeking and appealing to God for a good conscience. This interrogation, appeal and demand constitutes "calling upon the name of the Lord." This calling is done in the act of baptism. Saul was told to "Arise and be baptized, washing away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Baptism is the ground of appeal for a good conscience and this appeal is made in the act of baptism.

The Resurrection of Christ

Salvation by baptism has meaning because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If Christ was not raised-our faith is vain, our preaching is vain, and our obedience in the form of death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is meaningless and without foundation in fact (I Cor. 15:1-19). But Christ was raised and through him we have hope by our obedience to the form of the gospel (Rom. 6:3-4, 17-18).

Jesus is now exalted at God's right hand as head of the church (Eph. 1:20-23). He is able to give remission of sins to those who believe in him as the Son of God, repent of their sins, and are immersed in water to be saved. Baptism now saves you, for by it one enters into covenant relationship with Christ and obtains a good conscience toward God.

Truth Magazine, V:10, pp. 14-15
July 1961