A Good Feeling by Being Obedient

Bill Brinkworth

“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: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” I Peter 3:21-22
The doctrine of baptism is, and has been for a long time, a subject of much debate. To a Bible-believer, the subject is quite clear; one is saved, and then baptized by immersion.  Others abide by the unbiblical christening ceremony believed to be encouraged by Constantine when he attempted to merge paganism with Christianity by mass-christening.   Some even hold that baptism washes away sins. 

This verse in I Peter 3:21 may give many the impression that baptism does “save us.” However, if the context of the verses is examined, it is clear that baptism does not have anything to do with being saved from the penalty of sin.

In parentheses, verse 21 clearly states that baptism does not put away sins (“the filth of the flesh”). However, baptism does give us a good conscience toward God. It makes us feel good that we have done what we are told (“good conscience”). The topic of having a “good conscience” was also brought up in the previous vs. 16.

Baptism does not save a person, but what does is obedience to God’s commandments.  In Noah’s case, building the ark physically saved him and his family (I Peter 3:20).  In our case, salvation is obtained by obeying God in trusting Christ’s death and resurrection (I Peter 3:21).

Before salvation, a believer has often run from obeying God and certainly did not do what God wanted him to do.  After salvation, baptism is one of the first steps of obedience that a believer demonstrates to God.  A believer can have a clear conscience in knowing that he is finally obeying God.  He shows others, and the watching Lord, when he is baptized that he remembers that Jesus died, and rose again for him and that Jesus is now his Saviour.

“Baptism is an outward expression of an inward faith.”  - Watchman Nee

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