Sovereign Grace Blog

6/17/18 - Sermon Summary - Baptism (Part 2)

Baptism (Part 2) – 1 Peter 3:18-22

Baptism is a drama of the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead actually saving persons who are being baptized.  Baptism means “immersion”.  Some groups hold that baptism is a work that the repentant sinner must do before they are forgiven, which is a perversion of the gospel.  The Roman Catholic church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation.  Baptism is the outflow of saving faith, not the cause of saving faith. 

(1 Peter 3:18) – the essence of the gospel of salvation.  Notice that the goal of Jesus’ suffering is to bring us to God.  This implies that we are cut off from God and alienated, because of our sin.  God solves the problem of our alienation by offering Christ, in His suffering, to die on our behalf as the punishment for sin.  Paul summarizes this in 2 Corinthians 5:21.  “Made alive in the spirit” – Jesus’ resurrection, which is proof that His offering on the cross was accepted. 

(1 Peter 3:21-22) – when Christ was raised, all the demonic powers of the universe were now subjected to Him.  When He died for sin, He took away the one thing demonic powers could use to destroy us – our judicial guilt before God.  See also 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.  This means you cannot be destroyed if you belong to Christ.  In the middle of this gospel paragraph on the centrality of the cross and the resurrection, Peter inserts baptism (1 Peter 3:21): “baptism now saves you.” Question: how are we to understand that statement?  3 ways to understand this: 1) an analogy, 2) does this stand together with the whole counsel of Scripture, 3) does it make sense in the immediate context? 

1) An analogy – a wedding ring is a symbol of marriage.  One can rightly say, “By this ring, I thee wed”.  But you can put a ring on your finger and yet not be married.  In the same way, you can go under water for baptism and yet not be saved.  2) Look at the whole counsel of Scripture – we are saved by faith (Acts 16:31, John 3:16, Eph. 2:8-9).  Faith is not merely mental assent to gospel facts, but an act of the heart to embrace the truth as the treasure that it is.  Romans 10:8-9.  Confessing Jesus as Lord is not merely parroting words, but the reality of faith that springs from the heart.  From Acts – note how closely tied together saving faith and baptism are: Acts 2:38, Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:36-38, Acts 10: 47-48, Acts 16:30-33, Acts 16:14-15, Acts 18:8, Acts 19:1-5 – the idea of an unbaptized Christian does not exist in the New Testament.  1 Peter 3:21 may seem like it teaches baptismal regeneration at first glance, but that doesn’t hold with the rest of Scripture.  3) The immediate context – Peter clarifies what he means – not the water that saves you, but an appeal to God for a good conscious, i.e. back to the heart issue. 

Peter is saying: baptism is the God-ordained symbolic expression of saying, “yes!” to the gospel.  To sum it up, saving faith and baptism are not to be separated, but they are distinct.  Faith in Jesus is what saves, not baptism. 


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