Monday, March 22, 2010

Baptism Saves

1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV)
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.

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. According to the rules of logic and grammar you can drop the phrase “which corresponds to this,” without doing violence to the subject/predicate relationship of the sentence. In other words the subject here is Baptism, the predicate is “now saves you.” The basic sentence reads Baptism now saves you. Baptism now saves you, just as the ark Noah built saved eight by bringing them through the water.
Peter uses typology here to look back at the Old Testament to see how Christ and the sacraments he instituted were prefigured in the acts of God throughout the history of Israel. But Baptism is the concrete, the reality to which these no less real events pointed forward. We are saved in baptism, Baptism saves us, that is what the Bible says. Why? Because in baptism an appeal is made for a clean conscience, this appeal is made by the Holy Spirit through Christ who died for us. It is into his death and resurrection that we are baptized, forgiveness of sins is given to us there. So we are given his righteousness in exchange for our unrighteousness.


Jonathan said...

I was reading in Acts 9-10 about how Samaria received the gospel and were baptized but, to Peter's puzzlement, they apparently did not receive the HS, and it wasn't until Peter went there and gave them a real 'come to Jesus' pep speech that they were able to work it up in themselves and coax the HS to get in gear.

It occurred to me that that is probably forming the context that bapticostals approach Peter's words in his first epistle about 'baptism now saves you'--that is, "yeah, it saves you if you've been 'baptized in the spirit,' but certainly not just water baptism."

But it also occurs to me that in the Acts account, Peter isn't questioning the effectiveness of their baptism. He's not saying, "Gee, why didn't the HS stick to the water?" Rather he acknowledges their baptism, but seems puzzled why the Samaritans were'nt as pentecostal in the same way they'd seen the Spirit operate in Jerusalem.

Bror Erickson said...

Jonathan: I believe you mean this section of Acts 8:Acts 8:14-17 (ESV)
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, [15] who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, [16] for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [17] Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Now, you read this section like a good baptist. But a Lutheran would read this and understand that if they had received the word, they had received the Holy Spirit. But Peter comes to give them special gifts, special manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Just as the disciples undoubtedly had the Holy Spirit long before John 20. And even though Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit in John 20, he comes again in Acts chapter 2.

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Steve Martin said...

"Baptism saves"

I believe it. God baptizes us. If He can't save us through the water and the Word...then we just can't be saved...period.

Bror Erickson said...

Just to be clear I wasn't calling you a baptist. I was just affirming that this is one of those areas baptists like to draw on, but it doesn't really support their claims.