Noah’s Flood separated two worlds: an incredibly evil one and a brand-new world washed clean. “…the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience . . .” (1 Peter 3:20-21).
For Israel, the Red Sea separated slavery from freedom. On one side were the pursuing Egyptians. On the other side of the sea lay freedom! “. . . our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).
Isn’t it fascinating that both the Flood and Red Sea experiences are likened to baptism?
Naaman was cleansed of his leprosy only after he had dipped seven times in the Jordan as commanded (2 Kings 5). It wasn’t, of course, the water as such that brought him healing, but could he have been cleansed without obedience?
Jesus told the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9). He went to the water blind but came back seeing. As with Naaman, it wasn’t the water per se, but could he have seen without obeying?
Saved by grace through obedient faith
Saul of Tarsus went into baptism a sinner; he emerged a new man in Christ (Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-7; Colossians 2:12-13).
In none of these cases did they benefit until they obeyed. But did their obedience earn their blessing? People who think they earn God’s blessings simply don’t understand grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)!
Drawing the right conclusion
Noah, Israel, Naaman, the blind man, and Saul were blessed on the condition of their obedience to His commands. They received God’s good blessing by grace through obedient faith (Genesis 6:22; 7:5; Hebrews 11:7, 29). And so with us today.
Those who teach we are saved by inviting Christ into our hearts need to take a good hard look at the five cases above. How vital it is that we understand how and when we make the transition from being lost to being saved.
Water still plays a part (John 3:5; Acts 8:36-39), and our salvation is far too important for us to get this wrong!
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/
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