In the CoC, I can remember distinctly how there was always a tremendous amount of emphasis placed upon 1 Peter 3:20, simply because it mentions the words “saved by water.” Ironically, 1 Timothy 2:15 mentions the words “saved by childbearing,” yet the CoC would never touch those words with a ten foot pole, for they do not fit the CoC’s false narrative!!
Although the CoC will boldly point to being “saved by water” and shamelessly declare that “it means what it says”…yet, it will create a double standard when it comes to being “saved by childbearing,” for neither does it literally “mean what it says.” Because, in order to rightly divide God’s Word, one must be enabled to challenge surface-level notions that contradict the full council of God, in order to interpret what is really being conveyed, for Scripture interprets Scripture.
For instance, saved by childbearing obviously cannot literally mean that women are saved by giving birth, for that would contradict Ephesians 2:8, etc. Instead, the context conveys the fact that although daughters of Eve have always bore the stigma of initiating the Fall of mankind, those who, through faith, become the daughters of King Jesus, are exonerated from the curse, for He bore it for them (Gal. 3:13). As a result, what had initially been a curse actually becomes a blessing for those who are in Christ Jesus.
But the CoC deceptively ignores the scriptural import of Bible terminology in order to propagate its false water gospel. So the next time you hear a CoC’er boldly declare that saved by water “means what it says”…just kindly ask them to apply that same surface-level standard of interpretation to “saved by childbearing” and just see what happens. Their reaction would actually be comical if it wasn’t so tragic, for they are sadly and severely unequipped to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
It cannot be stressed enough, just how crucial water baptism is to the CoC’s sacramental system of salvation, for it is everything to this religion. In the CoC, baptism is faith; baptism is repentance; baptism is obedience; baptism is salvation; baptism is how one receives and accepts Christ; and baptism is even how one calls upon the name of the Lord!
To put it more precisely, the CoC makes everything in the Word of God dissolve into water! This is why its preaching is peppered with references to water, in order to induce a false and unbiblical obsession with baptism as the only way to even have a fighting chance at obtaining salvation.
Though Jesus Himself never taught such a thing, this warped “water syndrome” is the one thing that all CoC’s agree upon and show severe symptoms of, for it’s the most consistent, inevitable result of the two foundational pillars of their sacramental system of salvation: autonomous freewill and universal atonement. Without these, all CoC’s and every other self-salvation Arminian cult would collapse.
In 1 Peter 3:20, Noah’s family was “saved by water” only in the sense that the reality of their salvation became obvious through the trial of water, for they were enabled by God to pass safely through the destructive waters by being in the Ark, which represented Christ. The word “by” in this verse is translated “through” in the original Greek. The water itself was a means of God’s judgment, not a means of salvation! Yet the CoC could grasp for straws here and say “the ark couldn’t have floated without the water.”
But, the fact remains, the water itself didn’t save, or else those outside the Ark would have been saved! Peter even says here, baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh (v. 21). And a symbol cannot literally purge a guilty conscience. It can only be an outward sign of what’s already occurred inwardly. There is no such thing as baptismal regeneration. Baptism, in no way, shape or form, effects what it signifies. Yet the CoC claims that it does.
In the CoC, Noah’s Ark and all of the “patterns” that he had to go by, in order to get it just right, was deceptively used as a perpetual illustration of how we too had to get the “pattern” just right, in order to be saved. We were never taught that the Ark represented Christ in all of His perfection, or how His perfect righteousness is all that can keep one afloat through the destructive waters of sin and death.
In scriptural reality, the Ark was a figure of Christ; it was a figure of the true, whereas faith was the substance. Today, baptism is a figure of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection; it is a picture of the true, whereas faith is the substance (Heb. 9:9, 14, 26; 11:1, 7). The shadow and symbolism of the Ark finds its fulfillment in the reign of Jesus Christ.
Baptism is the outward response of a conscience that has been purified by faith in Christ and what He has accomplished in the believer who then wants to identify with Him in baptism. All who savingly believe in Christ have already been baptized by the Holy Spirit into His death spiritually (1 Cor. 12:13). They, like Noah and his family, have passed safely through the waters of sin and death…in the Ark of Christ.
But the CoC makes the deadly mistake of taking the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is how God literally puts His people into the Body of Christ (e.g. Mk. 1:8, 1 Cor. 12:13), and confuses it with physical water baptism. However, there is only ONE spiritual baptism into the Body of Christ, and it is solely the work of God almighty (Eph. 4:5).
This is why those in the CoC have become so vulnerable to every kind of satanic device that excites the biased prejudices that have been so relentlessly pounded into their heads by heretics who attempt to hide the biblical necessity of God’s divine agency in salvation. For this is how the CoC’s sacramental system attempts to gain the monopoly on salvation, by appearing to be the only means of obtaining it, thereby making its “church” and its leaders all the more authoritative.
Sadly, those who have been blinded by the god of this world, are unable to comprehend the fact that the only way one’s works can be acceptable to God for salvation, is if they fulfill God’s standard of righteousness perfectly, which is an absolute impossibility.
“For as many as are of the WORKS of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10, emphasis mine).
God’s perfect standard of righteousness is unattainable by fallen, sinful man. The only way one can be reconciled to the heavenly Father is by having Jesus’ perfect righteousness credited to their account by a sovereign act of God, Who alone can purify the heart by faith (Acts 15:8-9). God’s perfect standard of righteousness (the law) shows us our total depravity, whereas the gospel alone reveals the only cure….Jesus Christ.
Copyright ©2020 by Lee Anne Ferguson.