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Friday, April 12, 2019

Saved in Baptism: Asking God in faith for a good conscience through the Resurrection of Christ


It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

He went and proclaimed God's salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment because they wouldn't listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus' resurrection before God with a clear conscience. Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He's standing right alongside God, and what he says goes. 1 Peter 3:17-22, The Message   


In his paraphrase of 1 Peter 3, Eugene Peterson says that the waters of baptism save us by presenting us before God – through Jesus' resurrection – with a clear conscience. Not the waters only, of course, but the water is still necessary. That baptism (immersion in water) saves believers is not open to question. Mark 16:15-16; Galatians 3:26-27. Exactly how baptism saves us is not quite as clear. This is seen in the various ways different translations render 1 Peter 3:21. More on this later.


Romans 6 teaches us that: 

"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." Romans 6:4-5


This shows the connection between baptism, death to sin, and the resurrection of Christ.


Romans 6:7-11 puts it even more clearly:

For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Christ took the world's sins in his body and condemned them when he died on the cross – in anticipation of sinners believing in what Christ did and being baptized to unite with Him in His saving death and resurrection.

When we are immersed in the water of baptism we spiritually die with Christ and are buried with Christ, and thus set free from our sin. This means that when we are raised with Christ from the water in the likeness of Christ's resurrection, having been freed from our sin in our death and burial, we can now walk a new sinless life in and with Christ. Once raised as Christ was, we are presented to God without the sin that was left in the burial tomb. Note also Romans 4:25. "Set free" in Romans 6:7, Greek dedikaiōtai,  contains the very same root – dikaiō - as does "justified" in Romans 5:1, Greek dikaiōthentes! You don't need to know Greek; just look at the two words containing dikaiō. Faith and baptism work together in our justification: our acquittal from sin.


In 1 Peter 2:24, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. After dying for the sins of the world, the sins are left in the grave as God resurrects Christ to life. In our baptism our sins are left in the watery grave as we are resurrected with Christ to new life.


Notice how other Scriptures on baptism are closely connected with the resurrection. Mark 16:1-16; Acts 2:29-38;



It is obvious that for one to be baptized and saved, one must believe in the death and resurrection of Christ. This is the point of Romans 10:9-10. Yet believing in Christ's death and resurrection, and confessing that faith, doesn't in itself bring salvation. Such faith means you are eligible to be baptized so as to be saved. It's the same in the conversion of the jailer and his household in Acts 16:30-34. The candidate for baptism must answer questions

regarding what he or she believes about the death and resurrection of the Son of God.


This is probably the significance of "baptism does also now save you – not as a removal of dirt from the body but as a request to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 3:21. This is why both the ESV and the ERV versions cross-reference Romans 10:10 with 1 Peter 3:21. Each Scripture helps you understand the other one. It's called 'harmonizing.' Bible students who latch on to one of these two Scriptures – Romans 10:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:20-22 - but ignore the other, have failed to "rightly handle" the word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15.


For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:10


With the heart one believes and is justified, Romans 10:10, but dying in baptism sets free from sin = justifies. Romans 6:4-7. So, one believes in the heart, confesses with the mouth, and is baptized to save as God's answer  to our request for a good conscience - through the resurrection of Christ from the dead.


Let's look at how the resurrection of Christ saves us in baptism:


There's a Greek noun, eperōtēma, found only once in the New Testament at 1 Peter 3:21. The related verb eperōtaō is a common word for "ask" in the New Testament. You'd therefore expect the noun form of  asking to be something like "question" or "interrogation." But what has baptism saving a person got to do with a question or an interrogation or an asking God of or for a good conscience? The Message paraphrase, at the beginning of this study, avoids the idea of asking altogether. But the idea would seem to be that when one is being baptized, one is asking God, in good conscience, for salvation, or asking God for a good conscience which would be tantamount to asking to be saved from our sins and evil conscience.

And "through the resurrection"? Well, probably this: "Lord, can you please raise me from my sins to life with Christ, just as you raised Jesus from death to life?"


Remember Paul's conversion? "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.' Acts 22:16. "Calling on His name"?? Sounds a lot like, "Lord, can you please take away my sins, seeing I have just encountered the resurrected Jesus?"


Additionally, to eperōtēma is also found in the Greek Septuagint of Daniel 4:17,


The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.' (ESV)


The word translated "decision" in Daniel 4:17 ("demand" in my own Septuagint interlinear) is 'to eperōtēma' – the identical noun (but no definite article) found in 1 Peter 3:21, and which has caused much confusion regarding how best to render the word in English. Even the two renderings just noted in Daniel 4:17 (decision and demand) show how confusing this is.


Albert Barnes said "the original Chaldee word means a question, a petition; then a subject of inquiry, a matter of business. … this matter, this business was in accordance with the direction of the holy ones." The Chaldees or Babylonians spoke Aramaic, which is the sense of 'Chaldee' as mentioned by Barnes.


The idea seems to be that "the watcher" of Daniel 4:13 had been watching Nebuchadnezzar, and an inquiry about Nebuchadnezzar and the dream has been put to God, then a decision made which is God's answer to the inquiry – God's judgment against Nebuchadnezzar.


Could this be a similar idea for eperōtēma in 1 Peter 3:21, in that in being baptised, the candidate is appealing to God for a good conscience, and God answers by granting salvation! In cricket, the bowler appeals for a decision in his favour, and the umpire grants a decision in his favour. There is no benefit without the inquiry. There is no salvation without the appeal to God. Since no charge can be brought against the sinner because he is trusting in Christ's atoning sacrifice, Romans 8:32-34, God's decision in baptism is "Not guilty. Acquitted."


Now for another relevant Scripture:


In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:11-14


That Scripture says that in our baptism, God forgave our sins and made us alive with Christ – because of our "faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Jesus from the dead"!!  In our baptism we are trusting in the God, who raised Jesus from the dead, to also raise us from our "trespasses and the uncircumcision of our flesh"!! Thus "God made [us] alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses"!! It's one thing to "confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead", Romans 10:9-10, it's something else again to make that resurrection from the dead your own resurrection from the dead by being baptised into Christ and raised to new life in Christ! See Romans 6:3-11. That is our response to Christ's resurrection – our asking God from a good conscience for a good conscience.


And observe:


how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God,

purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:14


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19-23


Ah yes! The cleansing of the conscience, by Christ's blood sacrifice, in baptism!


The denominational idea that God forgives our sins by faith before baptism is clearly repudiated by Colossians 2:11-14, and other Scriptures in the New Testament.  In Christ, our sinful flesh is stripped away when we are buried with Christ in baptism, in which we are also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God who raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Christ saves us in our baptism through our faith in God's power to resurrect from death. You can only deny this by denying the validity of Colossians 2:11-14.

Also note the words Paul writes about Timothy: Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12.

We can imagine the scene in which witnesses have gathered to see a disciple baptized and saved:


1.  God has called you to eternal life through the gospel we have taught you.

2.  Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?

3.  Do you believe Jesus died for your sins and was resurrected three days later?

4.  Will you confess Jesus as Lord and submit to His Lordship?

5.  When you, in good conscience, from the heart, confess your faith, I will baptize you into union with Jesus Christ where you can ask God to save you and forgive you of your sins – thus receiving the gift of eternal life and the Holy Spirit.

6.  In your baptism, trust in God to raise you from being dead in your sins as He raised Jesus from the tomb of


7.  "For The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23


Eternal life is in Christ, and one gets into Christ through the baptism that accompanies faith. This is the gift of God.

       for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26-27


"What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." Acts 22:16


To be eligible for baptism, we express our belief in Jesus as Son of God and Lord. We confess His name.

While being immersed and raised in baptism, we trust in His name – asking God to cleanse our conscience.

In baptism we appeal to God for cleansing, and God answers by saving us through the forgiveness of our sins.

God's decision in answer to our appeal is rendered in the affirmative in baptism.

Baptism is more about Him than us, but we must obey in baptism, full of faith, if we want salvation!!

It's tragic how many denominations say that baptism is a human work and therefore cannot save!!

Missing the boat on baptism is like missing the ark in the days of Noah!! It means missing salvation!

Read again the Scriptures, for it is in the Scriptures where the answers are found:

2 Timothy 2:15

Romans 4:25

Romans 5:1-2

Romans 6:3-23

1 Timothy 6:12

Mark 16:15-16

Galatians 3:26-27

Acts 2:29-38

Acts 22:6-16

Romans 10:9-10

1 Peter 3:18-22

Colossians 2:11-14

Romans 8:32-34

Hebrews 9:14

Hebrews 10:19-23

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. 21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as an appeal to God for a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

22 Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honour next to God, and all the angels and

authorities and powers accept his authority. 1 Peter 3:18-22

·     Christ died in the flesh once for our sins – the righteous for the unrighteous – to bring us to God.

·     He went and proclaimed to those in hades who had disobeyed in the days of Noah.

·     The ark floating on the water was the way in which the obedient Noah and his family were saved when the rest of humanity was destroyed.

·     Faith and obedience have always brought God's saving intervention, while disobedience brings judgment.

·     This prefigured the Christian age where water also plays a part in saving obedient souls in baptism.

·     Baptism saves because those of faith and good conscience have trusted in God's power to raise the dead in sin to life in Christ as He powerfully demonstrated in raising Jesus from death to life. Appealing to God for salvation happens in baptism, not the sinner's prayer!!

·     Believe in my power to raise Jesus from death, and believe in my power to raise sinners from death in baptism.

Just ask me in good conscience and I will save you! "God be merciful to me, a sinner" is answered positively in baptism.

·     In their obedience, sinners have submitted to the Lordship of Christ and been saved.

·     Salvation means being presented to God as righteous.

·     Those who disobey share the same fate as those who disobeyed in the days of Noah.

·     How's your conscience?

¾ Why is it that no believer rejects Scriptures that connect faith with salvation, but many believers reject  Scriptures   that connect baptism with salvation?

¾  There's an illogical and fatal bias in the denominational world against the truth that baptism saves!

¾  Satan has worked overtime on this, blinding eyes to the clear truth of the word of God.

¾  Oh for truth-seekers!


David Hunter


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