Baptism Saves You? Sermon notes for 1 Peter 14c

1 Peter Part 14c

1 Peter 3:13-22

Baptism Saves You?



Last time we were together, we really had to put our thinking caps on to sort out the difficult ideas in vss. 18-19 / 1 Peter 3:18–19 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,”


You will remember the idea here appears to be that The Spirit that raised Jesus from the Dead – the Holy Spirit, was at work even back in Noah’s day. That we could say Jesus was preaching through Noah to those who were about to enter the Flood, and that even though the results were very little – only 8 souls were saved – it was still God at work and WE can take great comfort in our day when the Gospel seems to have little impact.


Peter has been making this point over and over; that HOW we respond to persecution and marginalization by the culture – is once again a means of preaching the Gospel by the power of the Spirit – and that we ought not to lose heart even when we don’t see lots of results. God is still at work!


And in making that argument, Peter is going to enlarge our understanding of how the Gospel works in one of the most graphic similes in the Bible. It is a powerful and useful picture.


And by virtue of how Peter places this before us, I want to speak especially to you here today who have not yet come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. For this is a Gospel saturated passage and one the I pray will open the eyes of any here who might still be lost in the face of Christ’s coming judgment upon mankind for sin.


The text: 1 Peter 3:18–22 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, 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, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”


Once again we have to be careful in not letting a difficult verse become the basis for a doctrine all on its own. Sadly, this verse has been used by many to claim that water baptism is necessary in order for someone to be saved. Or, that baptism itself – somehow saves.


However, a careful reading of the text, and seeing what point Peter is making and how he makes it, clearly rules out the idea that this is what the passage is teaching.


6 Observations:


  1. 1. (19-20) In the Spirit, Christ preached to those who refused the message, and remained disobedient to it “when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah.”


  1. 2. (20) As a result of this only “a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”


  1. (21) Baptism, “corresponds to this”. Corresponds to what?

What is the THIS, that baptism corresponds to?

“THIS”, is the scenario Peter just outlined from the Genesis flood account.

Somehow – Water Baptism corresponds to the key factors that were at play in Noah’s day – while God waited 120 years to send the flood, and while Noah preached (righteousness – 2 Pet. 2:5) and built the Ark.


We can easily tease out 4 key facts in that scenario:


  1. To a message of judgment preached
  2. That message being believed,
  3. Responding appropriately – Noah responded and built the Ark
  4. Being spared from the judgment

Hebrews 11:7 (ESV) “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”


  1. Baptism isn’t about “a removal of dirt from the body” it is NOT a physical thing – but about having “a good conscience” – having heard the Gospel and responding in faith – faith which acts by putting trust in the message.


  1. “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” – As Rom. 4:25 notes, Jesus was “raised for our justification”


This is how we arrive at a good conscience before God – because Jesus was raised up from the dead, proving our sin was atoned for and that we can have a conscience devoid of condemnation over past sin.


More – He has endured the judgment, and risen again, and if we are IN HIM, we are saved.


So the simile Peter uses plays out to its fullest: Jesus is the “Ark” of our salvation.


  1. In being resurrected, He ascended into Heaven with ALL THINGS in the universe having been “subjected to Him”.


All of this then is a most wonderful picture of how salvation works – AND, of a dreadfully missing component in the Gospel message so often neglected in our day – JUDGMENT.


Romans 2:12–16 (ESV) For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.


This aspect of being delivered from God’s just wrath is absolutely central to the Gospel presentations in the NT. And it is often neglected, if not completely absent from much of modern preaching of the Gospel. We try to declare good news (Gospel) without any BAD NEWS! Guilt and sin and shame.


Acts 17:29–31 (ESV) Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”


Just as the Spirit of Christ preached that same coming judgment and God’s means of salvation through His preacher in the days of Noah

Just as that message, both of judgment and salvation has been preached by the Spirit of Christ in every generation after

And just as Paul preached that coming judgment in his day, as we have it in this text

So it is we today must declare to the world that this judgment of God is yet to come upon all mankind.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.


Matthew 12:36 (ESV) I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,


Hebrews 4:12–13 (ESV) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.


You see, this is the great dilemma of all mankind – this is what makes the Cross of Jesus necessary, and rational: “For ALL have sinned…”Romans 3:21–25 (ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.


What is our great sin? We fall short of the glory of God in it.


We were created to reflect Him and all His perfections

We were made “in His image”

And we must ask – Is God in all of His divine glory and perfections seen in me without flaw?


For that is the purpose for which we were created and the lofty place from which we’ve fallen.


Is my every action one that displays His holiness?

Is my every word one which declares His holiness in perfection?

Is my every thought in perfect submission to His plan and purposes?

Is the foremost love in my heart love of Him and His glory?

Do I serve Him consciously and joyfully and perfectly more than myself?


If not – Then how can I hope to be spared His wrath?


How can I possibly be reconciled to Him since I have spurned His love and lived for myself and for my own desires and have become so separated from Him in every way?


Hear the message – there is judgment coming – yes!


But there is also salvation to be had in His Ark – in faith in Jesus Christ!

I must believe that He has made a way and that way is to trust His Son as my sin bearer on Calvary – that He endured MY judgment there. That I deserved what He took.


And putting my faith in Christ and Christ alone – I now follow Him.


So it is in Baptism, I declare that Jesus was crucified in my place, rose up from the dead and ascended in Heaven above all powers and authorities.


He went THROUGH the judgment safely, and if I am IN HIM, so will I!


And my conscience is cleared by His having satisfied my debt to the Father – I am now reconciled to The Father through The Son, and with all who believe.


This is what Baptism signifies.


And though comparatively few are saved in this way – that in no way diminishes that this salvation is real and magnificent and full of mercy and grace that is unfathomable.


(21) Baptism, “corresponds to this”. Corresponds to what?

  1. To a message of judgment preached – Have I heard?
  2. That message being believed, – Have I believed?
  3. Responding appropriately – Have I responded by putting my faith in God’s “Ark” in Christ Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection?
  4. If so, then I will be spared from the judgment

Hebrews 11:7 (ESV) “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”


So, as our key text tells us:1 Peter 14c

Baptism which corresponds to this – To Noah having heard the Word of God and being saved from God’s wrath by believing and acting up it –

now saves you

Not through the removal of dirt from the body – NOT THROUGH THE PHYSICAL ACT OF BAPTISM

But an appeal to God for a good conscience – Having heard, believed and acted upon the message ourselves

Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ – by testifying to our faith in Jesus who has undergone God’s wrath against sin, so that if we are IN HIM – we might remain safe.






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