By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
It is so heartbreaking to see the many false teachings in the religious world regarding baptism. Especially true in this regard is the myriads of people who do not understand or who were not properly taught that baptism is part of God’s plan of salvation.
In fact, every time that baptism and salvation are mentioned together in the New Testament, baptism always precedes salvation (cf. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:26-27; Titus 3:3-8; John 3:5, etc.).
However, there is one passage of Scripture I want to call your attention to in particular in this article. While discussing the fact that the Noahs were saved through water (and that baptism likewise saves us), the inspired Apostle Peter wrote these words:
1 Peter 3:20-21-20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
The Noahs were saved through (Greek preposition dia, which means through the instrumentality of) the water. Peter then says that in the same way that the Noahs were saved through the water, baptism now saves us.
Well, HOW were the Noahs saved through the water?
Really, in only one way: they found themselves in an old sinful world: then-by means of the water-they were set down into a new cleansed state.
In the same way, baptism saves us.
But what I really love about this passage is that word in verse 21, translated as “answer.”
If you will study the different translations, you will learn that that word is also translated as “appeal” and “pledge.” William Barclay tells us the significance of this wordage:
“(2) Peter calls baptism the pledge of a good conscience to God (verse 21). The word Peter uses for pledge is eperōtēma. In every business contract, there was a definite question and answer which made the contract binding. The question was: ‘Do you accept the terms of this contract, and bind yourself to observe them?’ And the answer, before witnesses, was: ‘Yes.’ Without that question and answer, the contract was not valid. The technical word for that question-and-answer clause is eperōtēma in Greek, stipulatio in Latin. Peter is, in effect, saying that in baptism God said to those coming direct from the old religion: ‘Do you accept the terms of my service? Do you accept its privileges and promises, and do you undertake its responsibilities and its demands?’ And, in the act of being baptized, each individual answered: ‘Yes.’” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters Of James And Peter, 282-283 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)
Isn’t that beautiful? Baptism is (in effect) where we exchange our wedding vows with Jesus. Notice with me three things from this.
First, this demonstrates to us that baptism is not for infants and small children who do not understand the facts of sin, accountability, repentance, and forgiveness. Baptism is only for those who are able to commit themselves to Christ Jesus.
Second, this is very clear that baptism is a crucial part in our relationship with Christ and in God’s plan of salvation. Even though many in the religious world do not like to accept this, it is absolutely clear. As such, I encourage every believer reading this to repent of sin in your life and baptized immediately for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:37-38).
Third, it is enlightening that most of the passages of the New Testament regarding baptism are written to those who still need to learn and grow in their understanding of this incredible moment. In fact, often when the Apostles wrote, they were correcting misunderstanding that brethren had regarding baptism and its’ role in some aspect of life. Baptism is something which we grow in our understanding of, just as is true in every aspect of Christianity.
Finally, what happens when we are unfaithful to our vows? We are blessed to have a loving Savior Who promises full forgiveness for His people Who repent and confess their sins to Him (1 John 1:9). If you are an erring child of God, I implore you to return to your first love as He gently knocks and invites you back to Him (Revelation 2:4; 3:20).
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.