Saved By Water

A study of 1 Peter 3:16-22

The Title of this article is “Saved By Water”.

Those are literally the words you find in this passage of 1 Peter 3: “Saved By Water”. That is quite a challenge. We know that we are saved by Christ only.

Why then would God write here in 1 Peter 3 that we are saved by water?

But I love a challenge when I see it.

1 Peter 3:16
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

1 Peter 3:18
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:

1 Peter 3:19
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

1 Peter 3:20
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.

1 Peter 3:21
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:

1 Peter 3:22
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

The beginning of this passage starts with “A Good Conscience”, and toward the end, in verse 21, God again speaks of “A Good Conscience”.

Therefore the unifying theme throughout this passage is:

“A Good Conscience” (1 Peter 3:16-17)

In the first two verses God says:

1 Peter 3:16
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation (conduct) in Christ.

1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

God tells us here how to behave ourselves in this world that is in the Bible alternately named “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”, or “The Bottomless Pit”, or “The Place Where Satan Dwells”.

Why is it that we must behave ourselves this way?

It is because this world is filled with people who do not know the Lord Jesus, and we are called by Him to be His witnesses in this world. God will use our witness to accomplish that for which it is sent, namely to lead some to salvation in Christ, and to testify to others that they are condemned because they remain unbelievers and remain unsaved.

It is better that we suffer for well doing than for evil doing. It is not better that we suffer, but if the will of God be so that we suffer, “let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters”.

How do we get a good conscience?

The heart of the matter

“The Just For the Unjust” (1 Peter 3:18)

We are called to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. He suffered for sins He did not commit, therefore we also should not be surprised if we shall suffer for sins we did not commit. The Lord Jesus says to us: “Remember the word that I said unto you: The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). We read in 1 Peter 3, verse 18,

1 Peter 3:18
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:

Christ is the Just we are the unjust. We all were born into this world as sinners, in rebellion against God and against His laws. We all were by nature children of the wrath of God, even as others. We all justly deserved Hell for our sins, and therefore we all were on the way to Hell. But God, who is rich in mercy, provided a way out of this dilemma.

How did it happen that Christ suffered for our sins?

God provided a substitute. The Lord Jesus speaks of His suffering as a vicarious suffering, which means His suffering was a substitutionary suffering. His suffering was on behalf of others who were not able to endure so much suffering. His sacrifice was a vicarious sacrifice, or a substitutionary sacrifice.

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 20:28, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many”.

In other words, the Lord Jesus suffered the wrath of God for the sins of others; He suffered for the guilt of sins that had been imputed to Him. By suffering for the sins of those people, those people do not have to suffer again what He has suffered.

And what did Christ have to suffer?

God says in Galatians 3 that Christ came under the curse of God, because “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree”. To be under the curse of God, and to be separated from God like Christ was on the cross, means to endure Hell. No lesser payment could be sufficient to satisfy the righteousness of God than the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Therefore, all those for whom the Lord Jesus suffered the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, never have to endure Hell themselves, because Christ has already endured Hell in their place. “Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring US to God”. This is the washing of sins.

Next: Who is US?

If Christ had paid for the sins of everyone in the whole human race, then nobody would go to Hell. That is an impossibility, because the Lord Jesus said: “Wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat”.

There are many going to Hell.

If Christ had paid for sin in general, and God would have waited for those who would believe on the Lord Jesus by their own volition, or by their own free will, then nobody would go to heaven. Just like Adam and Eve, we all have been mesmerized by the temptations of Satan, and we would rather follow Satan than follow Christ. To follow Christ means that we must suffer.

Who wants that?

If Christ had paid for particular sins, then we must remember that those sins were paid almost 2000 years ago. There is no other way sins can be forgiven. “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me”.

Therefore God must have chosen the individuals for whom Christ had paid their sins. The Bible calls that election. Only the elect had their sins paid by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. That is why the Lord Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews: “Ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep”.

We believe because Christ washed our sins at the cross, and promised to give our soul a new life. We believe because we have been regenerated, a good conscience toward God.

Moreover, 1 Peter 3:18 says: “Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit”.

Literally:

Quickened In the Spirit (Romans 8:10-11)

You can check this in any Interlinear Bible. The Greek text says: “Made alive in the Spirit”.

Did His Spirit die?

When Jesus hung on the cross, enduring Hell in His body and in His Spirit, He cried: “My God My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me”.

He was forsaken by the Father. His Spirit was under the wrath of God in some state of spiritual death. But shortly before His body died His Spirit was again made alive to God, because Jesus said: “Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit”.

While His body lay in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, His Spirit was alive in heaven. When He rose from the tomb on that morning, His Spirit again entered that lifeless body, showing us that He is the God that raises the dead.

God raises the dead, both physical dead and the spiritual dead. In the beginning of Romans 8 God lays down the principle: “You Must Be Born Again”. If we have been born again by the Spirit of God, we have been made alive spiritually, which means we have received a new spirit from God.

Romans 8:10
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

The body is dead because of sin. That is why the body must die. Then in verse 11 God says: “He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you”.

Does this refer to our bodily resurrection from the dead on the Last Day?

Not according to the context. In verse 6 God says: “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace”.

This speaks about living a sanctified life. Then in verse 12 God says: “Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh”.

This again speaks about living a sanctified life. This we do not out of obligation, but out of gratitude. We are not obligated to live a sanctified life; we live a sanctified life because the Spirit of God living in us draws us to live a life that is pleasing to Him. In one sense we are still in the flesh because we still live in our mortal bodies. But in another sense we are no longer in the flesh because we do not have the mind of the flesh (verse 5) We have already begun the new life by the power of the Spirit of Christ. And “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. Our life of sanctification is never complete because of sin. But on the Last Day Christ will complete it and give us a glorified body.

The Longsuffering of God (1 Peter 3:19-20)

God must be very longsuffering with us, because we still struggle with this body of sin.

1 Peter 3:18
“Christ was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit.”

And then we read in verses 19-20,

1 Peter 3:19
By which (Lit: In which) also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

1 Peter 3:20
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.

These verses are often misunderstood. But the literal translation from the Greek text makes it clear: In the Spirit Christ preached unto the spirits in prison.

Which spirits, in which prison?

These were the spirits, which were disobedient in the days of Noah.

Why were they in prison?

The spirits of unsaved people are in the prison of their bodies, which are drawn to sin. The longer they live, the worse their situation gets.

Why did God particularly mention His longsuffering in the days of Noah?

Because God waited 120 years for Noah to complete the Ark. When God said in Genesis 6:3, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years”, that was the point in time when God commissioned Noah to build the Ark.

Noah was preacher of righteousness. For 120 years while he was building this big boat Noah was preaching to the people, warning them of the judgment of God.

Then we read in 1 Peter 3:20, “Eight souls were saved by water”. Literally the Greek text says: “Eight souls were saved through water”. That is a big difference. No one is saved by water, because only Christ does the saving.

How were these eight people saved through water?

The water separated these eight souls from the wicked world on which God brought judgment.

Look at how few people were saved when the flood came. Only eight out of perhaps millions of people escaped the judgment of God. Look at how few people were saved when God brought judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboim. These cities constituted perhaps many thousands of people, and yet only Lot and his two daughters escaped the judgment of God. The Lord Jesus said that these events typified the conditions on the Last Day. Normally only a remnant is saved by grace. But on the Last Day it will be even a smaller group of people that will escape the judgment of God. This should scare the wits out of anyone who takes the Bible seriously.

As we approach the end of the last days, let us remember the days of Noah and the days of Lot. Joining the majority is not the wisest thing to do. Remaining faithful to the Word of God is the wisest thing to do. But remember that it is only by the grace of God can we can have that wisdom.

Is God longsuffering in these last days?

Most definitely!

Many churches have developed false gospels straight out of the King James Bible. They see these words: “Saved by water”, and therefore they have made “water baptism” a requirement of salvation. By adding conditions to God’s way of salvation, they have violated Revelation 22:18, and thereby they have become a cult. They do not know:

“The Goodness of God” (Romans 2:3-4)

Many churches and denominations look down on the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and they label them cults. Rightly so! These are cultic groups, which from the beginning of their existence have violated Revelation 22:18-19.

They have both added to the Word of God and they have taken away from the Word of God, claiming that this is God’s Word to them. But all those churches and denominations that have added water baptism as a requirement for salvation have also violated Revelation 22:18. They have taken these words of 1 Peter 3:20 out of context. They have added conditions to salvation, which are not in the Bible, just like the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have done. God speaks to those churches in Romans 2:3-4,

Romans 2:3
And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Romans 2:4
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

You might think that I am taking these verses out of context. Read carefully Romans, chapter 1. God speaks there about people who have gone to worship idols, instead of the only true God of the Bible. This applies to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it also applies to many more religions of this world. But if people violate Revelation 22:18-19, they have done exactly the same thing. God says:

Revelation 22:18
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

Revelation 22:19
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

This is the sharp edge of the Sword of God. Salvation is entirely by Christ, through His Atonement on the cross and through His Gospel as circumscribed by the Bible alone. Christ’s work is the only work unto salvation. Everything else is a gift from God. As soon as we have departed from that principle we are worshipping other gods, but they are not the gods of the Bible.

As soon as we have added that we must depart out of the church as a condition for our salvation, we have violated Revelation 22:18, because we have added a work that we must do in order to be saved. As soon as we have added that we must speak in tongues, we have violated Revelation 22:18, claiming that God is still bringing Divine messages today. As soon as Mohammed wrote the Koran in the 7th Century AD, he and all the Moslems have violated Revelation 22:18, because God says that He is not bringing Divine revelations after about 100 AD, when Revelation 22:18 was written.

As soon as a church claims that God is still bringing Divine revelations through saints, or dreams, or visions, or angel-visitations, they have violated Revelation 22:18, and are still under the wrath of God.

As soon as a church claims that Christ has done all He could and now we must reach out to Him, or we must accept Him, that church is in violation of Revelation 22:19, because they have spiritually torn out certain passages in the Bible which clearly state that salvation is an unconditional free gift.

As soon as we believe the theory of evolution, we have spiritually torn out the first eleven chapters of Genesis, and we are in violation of Revelation 22:19.

Is God longsuffering these days?

Most definitely!

And people “do not know the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth them to repentance”.

Yes, even repentance is a gift from God.

But how then shall we deal with those verses, which seem to say that we are:

Saved By Baptism (1 Peter 3:21)

We now turn back to First Peter, chapter 3. In verse 20 God says that Noah and his family were saved through water. And then we read in 1 Peter 3:21,

1 Peter 3:21
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 (lit: through) the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The water separating Noah’s family from the rest of the world is a type of baptism, because baptism also separates us from the rest of the world. No, not water baptism. Water baptism is not in view here. Water baptism is something that we do, and thus it cannot contribute to our salvation.

Baptism means washing. The baptism that is in view here in 1 Peter 3:21 is the washing away of our sins. This separates us from the rest of the world. This spiritual baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh as water baptism does.

Water baptism is only a shadow of the washing of sins that has hopefully occurred prior to the ceremony of water baptism. Spiritual baptism gives us “the answer of a good conscience toward God”. Our conscience can no longer accuse us of being under the wrath of God, because our sins have been washed away.

When were our sins washed away?

This happened in two stages: First, the Lord Jesus Christ took the guilt of all our sins upon Him. Then He paid the penalty that God’s righteousness demanded. He endured the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, and when He said: “IT IS FINISHED” He came out the other end of Hell cleansed from all the guilt of our sins.

Then He died, and was buried. When Christ rose from the grave He completed the three days and three nights Atonement in full. When Christ rose from the grave He proved that He had fully paid for the sins of all those whose sins were washed away.

That is when God declared us “justified” in His sight. It was a purely legal act of God in 33 AD, changing the status of the sinner, without changing his condition.

When we came into the world, we were born as dirty rotten sinners, in rebellion against God, and we were “by nature the children of wrath even as others”. But God had committed Himself to change our dirty rotten souls because Christ had fully paid for our sins. Therefore, at a certain point in time God the Holy Spirit gave us a new soul: We were Born From Above. From this point in time God Himself came to dwell in our souls to give us faith and a desire to live pleasing to God.

All this is included in the spiritual baptism that is in view in 1 Peter 3:21. It is a washing of our sins at the cross that is applied when we were regenerated, or Born From Above. So again, we are not saved by water, but we are saved by the washing of our sins, the result of which is a good conscience toward God. What then is meant when we read that we are:

“Saved By His Life” (Romans 5:8-10)

God says in Romans 5:7, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die”. And then we read the glorious words of verse 8,

Romans 5:8
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

When did Christ die for us, or literally: on behalf of us?

The Greek tense translated “died” is in the Aorist tense. This is a tense in the Greek language that does not occur in the English language. The Aorist tense portrays an action that began in the past, it is continuing in the present and it continues in the future.

What then is the meaning of the translation: “Christ died for us”?

It means that “Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, as we read in Revelation 13:8.

At the present, Christ has died for us, and that is why we can be sure that all our sins have been paid. And in the future we are called “the Bride of Christ, the Lamb’s wife”, as we read in Revelation 21:9, and we shall gather around “the throne of God and of the Lamb”, as we read in Revelation 22:3. God is not going to let us forget the reason why we have been redeemed. It is because Christ died for us. God decided to do that way in the beginning, from the foundation of the world. God’s love toward us was already extended to us from the foundation of the world. And when Christ actually died for us in 33 AD, we were yet hopeless sinners, rebelling against God, and on the way to Hell. We did not deserve His love at all.

Now we read in Romans 5:9,

Romans 5:9
Much more then, being now justified (Aorist tense) by his blood (lit: in His blood), we shall be saved (Future tense) from wrath through him.

Romans 5:10
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled (Aorist tense) to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled (Aorist tense), we shall be saved (Future tense) by his life (lit: in His life).

What does it mean that “we shall be saved by His life”?

When we look at two expressions: the first in verse 9, “We shall be saved form wrath through Him”, and the second in verse 10, “We shall be saved by His life”, we can see in the Greek text that the tenses are completely identical. We know that verse 9 speaks about the wrath of God at the judgment on the Last Day. Therefore, verse 10 must also refer to the judgment on the Last Day.

How shall we be saved by His life then?

Since Christ has risen from the grave, and is alive in heaven in His glorified body, and has promised that we shall be like Him, therefore on the Last Day God will also raise our dead bodies and change them into glorified bodies. Then we shall be united with our souls and “so shall we forever be with the Lord”.

“Christ Is Gone Into Heaven” (1 Peter 3:22)

1 Peter 3:22
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Christ has gone into heaven.

Does Christ now let the world run on its own, and He will see what will come of it?

No!

We read: “angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him”.

Do we have to wait for the millennium for Christ to be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords?

No!

Right now, while Satan and his messengers are making war with the Lamb, we read in Revelation 17:14 that “the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful”.

The Lord Jesus said to His disciples right after His resurrection: “All authority is given unto Me in heaven and on earth”. When He rose from the grave He was given all authority in heaven and on earth.

When did the Lord Jesus ascend into heaven?

40 days after the resurrection.

What does it mean that Christ “is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him”?

Does it not mean that Christ is reigning Sovereign, and that nothing can hinder Him to carry out His plans?

Does it not also mean that all the elect are safe and secure in His hands?

Gid says in Romans, chapter 8. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Our enemies are only able to harm us in the flesh, and then only if God permits.

We read in Romans 8:34,

Romans 8:34
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Who is able to condemn us?

Nobody!

Christ died for us, and paid for all our sins, even for the sin of unbelief from the time before we were saved. Moreover, Christ rose from the grave, He ascended into heaven and presently makes intercession for us.

Is that necessary?

If Christ has paid for everything on the cross, is it still necessary that He continues to make intercession for us?

Well, we do not doubt that His work on the cross was an all-sufficient price for everything. But we do notice that God says in several places that Christ is presently our Mediator in heaven. Therefore He ensures that “all things work together for good to them that love God”.

And who are those that love God?

“Those who are the called according to His purpose”.

That is why we need a Mediator in heaven.

“Christ is Seated On the Right Hand of God” (Romans 8:35-39)

Let us continue in Romans 8, with the next verse. We read in Romans 8:35,

Romans 8:35
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:36
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Romans 8:37
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Verse 35 starts with the question “WHO?”

But the list that follows does not seem to answer WHO?

Rather it is a list of seven things.

These seem to be answers to WHAT?

But notice now that “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” are not 7 things that act by themselves. There are persons behind the tribulation. These are enemies of Christ who bring on tribulations. Also, earthquakes, or hurricanes, or famines can bring on distress. But that is not in view here.

God gives this list to answer the question WHO?

These are enemies of Christ who inflict distress on the family of Christ. Enemies of Christ are behind the persecution, or the famine, or the nakedness, or peril. Enemies of Christ are carrying swords to kill off the family of Christ. This happened many times in history. Just think how the enemies of Christ tried to kill all the Huguenots in France.

Were they successful?

God answers: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

How can they be successful?

If God be for us, who can be against us?

Christ has gone to heaven and is reigning sovereignly over all that happens in this world.

Our battles are not against flesh and blood. Our battles are not about property and money. Our battles are spiritual battles and are against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. In such battles we will be “more than conquerors through him that loved us”. We read in Romans 8:38,

Romans 8:38
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Romans 8:39
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

No creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What God has done within us cannot be undone. Christ has saved us. We were not saved by water, but we were saved by the washing of our sins, that the Lamb has initiated from the foundation of the world, that Christ has performed on the cross in 33 AD, and that His Spirit has applied to our souls in the 20th or the 21st Century. The result is that we have a good conscience toward God.

Amen.

By Alfred Chompff

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