THE ARK AND THE CHURCH
I Peter 3:18-22 October 31, 2004
I have selected as the text of this message I Peter 3:20,21 which says, “The Divine longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us, even baptism(not the removal of he filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This is a most remarkable passage of scripture. The apostle Peter declares that there is a similarity in the way Noah's family was saved by the water of the flood and the way Christians are saved through baptism. Peter said eight souls were saved by water and in a like manner baptism saves people in the Christian religion. He says that eight people were saved through water and Christians are saved through baptism . He called baptism an antitype of the flood water. Some preachers think they are wiser than Peter about salvation, for they teach that baptism is not a saving act. They should remember that Christ gave Peter the keys to the kingdom, and Peter was the first person to admit people into the Kingdom of Christ on the earth.
Let me make a few comments on what an antitype is. The word of God reveals that many persons and things in Old Testament times were used to symbolize persons and things in New Testament times. The types were in the Old Testament and the antitypes were in the New Testament. An antitype is someone or something that corresponds to someone or something in the Old Testament. For example Adam was a type and Christ was the antitype. They had similarities. Adam is called the first man and Christ is called the second man. The High Priest in the Jewish religion was the type; Christ was the antitype. In our text, the waters of the flood is the type, and baptism is the antitype. Peter speaks of the similarities between the flood waters and baptism. This particular similarity suggests some other types and antitypes connected with the flood and the salvation of Christians. The purpose of this message is to discover those similarities.
The first similarity revealed to us from Peter is that one between the waters of the flood and water of baptism. The flood water is the type and Christian baptism is the antitype. God intended that a similarity would exist between the water of the flood and the water of New Testament baptism. Peter said it like this, “Eight souls were saved through water, the like figure whereunto even baptism now saves us.” The truth stated is that like the flood waters saved Noah and his family baptism saves those of us who become Christians. God used water to save Noah's family, and He uses the
water of baptism to save people in the Christian age of the world. The questions this passage raises are: How did God use water to save Noah's family and how does God use baptism to save people in the Christian religion? And what is the similarity?
The first matter at hand is to determine how the eight members of Noah's family were saved by water. We usually think of the flood of Noah in terms of death and destruction, not salvation. However, the same water that destroyed the pre-flood world saved the family of Noah. Peter did not mean they were saved by water, nor in water. They were saved through water. Water had an important part in their salvation. The waters of the flood caused the ark to rise with the rising waters and delivered the occupants of the house boat from the destruction of the antediluvian world. Had the waters of the flood not caused the ark to float, it would have remained on the ground and would have been buried like a sunken ship. Peter did not say they were saved through water alone. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Their faith, their godly fear, the building of the ark, and their willing entrance into the ark had as much to do with saving them as the water. Nevertheless water had an important part in saving them from death and destruction.
Another way those eight souls were saved by water was by washing the old world clean by the waters of the flood and by destroying the evils of the old world. In a real sense the earth itself had a baptism. It was completely immersed in water that rose 20 feet above the mountains. This allowed Noah and his family to enter a new world and begin a new life. These waters separated those who were saved from those who were drowned in the waters. . In a real sense, God recreated the earth. When it rose out of the covering of water, it had a kind of a new birth. All the changes that were made in that old earth after rising from the flood waters we can never fully know. We can only surmise how many new lakes and rivers were formed and what changes were made in the continents of the earth. Many Bible-believing scientists and Bible scholars believe that the beautiful Grand Canyon in Arizona, one of the wonders of the world, was formed by the flood of Noah and not by one single river over millions and millions of years. There is a message on this Website entitiled, “The Grand Canyon Controversy, and as of this writing there have been more hits than any other message on the Website. Be that as it may, the apostle Peter
gives the clear meaning that water was the means through which God exercised His saving power in saving eight people from the flood. I think that is a sufficient explanation of how those eight souls were saved by water. The mention of water in connection with Noah's deliverance from the destruction of the old world suggested to Peter a resemblance which exists between the salvation of Noah's family and the salvation of the
Christian family of God. It is written, “Eight souls were saved through water, the like figure whereunto, even baptism does also now save us.” Peter wrote those words as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wanted this resemblance recorded in Scripture. The water of the flood was the type, and the water of baptism is the antitype.
What is the resemblance between the water of the flood and the water of baptism? The resemblance is that God uses water to save in the Christian religion, even as God used water to save Noah and his family. Water by itself did not save Noah; but it was the way God used water that saved them. God used water to raise the boat and make it float. In like manner water by itself does not save lost people today; there is no saving power in water we drink and bathe in. However, God uses water in the Christian religion in such a way as to exercise His saving power. Peter makes it clear that he is talking abut water baptism, and not Holy Spirit baptism or some other kind of baptism. By comparing Christian baptism to the flood waters, he makes water baptism the antitype The reference is to water, ordinary water, the same kind of water in the flood. What makes water baptism a saving act is that it is a commanded act; it is an act of obedience. It is a matter of obedience or disobedience..
How then does God use water to save people in the Christian religion? As the water of the flood was used to raise the ark and save its inhabitants, as the flood water separated the saved from the lost, as the flood destroyed sin and evil of old world and enabled Noah's family to enter into a new existence, in like manner Christian baptism, which is immersion, is the final condition in God's plan through which one is enabled to escape the condemnation of the lost. In Mark 16: 15,16: Jesus said, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” This is the sacred use God makes of baptism, and those words of Jesus is why Peter says, “baptism now saves us,” that is, those of us who become Christians. Baptism is the line of demarcation between the lost and saved. As s water was used as a cleansing agent in the flood, cleansing the earth of sin and evil, in like manner when a penitent believer is buried in a watery
grave through baptism, the old man of sin is buried, and from the watery grave one emerges cleansed and forgiven of all past sins. One rises from baptism to walk in newness of life, and enters into a new existence in the kingdom of Christ, His church. Peter could make this resemblance because he understood the saving importance of baptism. In his first gospel message to the Jewish people who asked what they must do to be saved Peter said, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins.” The remission of sins is the forgiveness of sins. Are you going to believe Peter or some modern-day teacher who disagrees with Peter? Are you among the “every one” mentioned in this scripture? Thus God uses water in the saving process to forgive, remove or cleanse people of all past sins in their life. God also uses faith and repentance to forgive, but Peter said, “baptism now saves us, ” because baptism is the final act of obedience in God's saving plan. Forgiveness of sin occurs while the penitent believer is immersed in water.
Here are some things you should always remember about your baptism. That was the day you confessed your faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior. It was the day when you resolved to turn away from sin and follow Jesus. It was the day when a man of God gently immersed your body in the name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It was the day when your heart was cleansed from an evil conscience and your body was washed in pure water(Heb. 10:22). Water as used by God in baptism is called pure water. .It is called pure water because God uses water in the forgiving process. In our text Peter said baptism is not a washing of the body to remove dirt from the flesh, but it is the answer of a good conscience toward God. Baptism washes the soul, not the body. That day was your first day as a Christian in this life, the day of your new birth, and the day you became a part of the family of God. It was the day God translated you out of the darkness and dominion of Satan, and transferred you into the Kingdom of God's dear Son, the church. . That was the day you took up your cross to follow Christ wherever He may lead you. Nothing could be more important in your life than that life-changing day All of these blessings are implied by Peter when he compares the salvation of Christians to the salvation of Noah's family from the death and destruction of the flood. We should always remember it, cherish it and be loyal to the commitment we made.
I want to suggest one more resemblance between those who were saved in the flood of Noah and those of us who have been saved by our conversion to Christ. Peter did not specifically say that the ark was a type
and the church is the antitype, but I think it was so apparent that there was no need to say it. Noah's family was not saved by the flood alone. By faith they built and entered the ark, when an unbelieving world refused to do so. The Bible says they condemned the world by that act of obedience. Had they not entered the ark, the flood waters would have destroyed them instead of saving them. They were saved in the ark, not out of the ark, alll people on this earth who were not in that ark perished in the flood.
It seems to me that the church made up of penitent baptized followers of Christ corresponds most fittingly to the ark. God used water to save people in the ark, and He uses water to save people who enter the church. The church is a soul-saving institution. The ark was a place of
safety, and the church is a place of safety. Luke makes this significant statement in Acts 2:47. “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” All saved people are in the church; there are no saved people out of the church. All are added to the church at the time of their immersion in water. All saved people were in the ark, and all saved people are in the church. All people who were not in the ark lost their souls, and all people who do not become members of he New Testament church during their lifetime will lose their souls.
In addition to comparing the church to the ark, I would say as it was in the days of Noah, so it is today. Jesus said of the door of church and the way that leads to heaven, “Few there be that find it.” Peter said that while the ark was being prepared in which a few, that is eight souls were saved. by water. ” We live in Noah's world. It is unbelieving, corrupt and degenerating rapidly. The God-given principles that hold the world together are being torn asunder one by one. One of those principles is that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. God recognizes no other kind of marriage. Any other arrangement is just another form of fornication. In the midst of the 21st century world stands the Church, just like the ark stood in Noah's world, and the Bible calls it the pillar and ground of the truth. It holds up the banner of truth to the whole world.
Moreover, Christians are the Noah's of this day and time. God needed a Noah then, and He desperately needs Noahs today. We too have an ark to build. It has been in the building for two thousand years. We are building in our generation, and future generations will continue to work on God's spiritual ark until Christ makes His appearance. But when He appears the door of the church will be closed, just like the door of the ark was closed. We are to preach to an unbelieving world like Noah did. After 120 years of preaching, he was able to convince only his wife, his three sons and their wives to enter the ark, but he did not become discouraged.. So let us not become discouraged.