1 Peter 3:18-20
For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh…
I. In the first place, we see by the parallel drawn between THE FAITH OF A CHRISTIAN AND THE PRESERVATION OF NOAH IN THE DELUGE, that we must look for a deluge answering to that which then came upon the world. Who can seriously think of the world blaspheming its Maker, rebelling against Him, and then proudly contending that there is very little evil in that rebellion, and not see that some signal proof from the Governor of all, that that rebellion shall not be tolerated? The deluge of wrath, then, will come, like the deluge that swept away the millions of mankind in the days of Noah.
II. But then, as THERE WAS AN ARK which Noah constructed for his preservation and that of his family, we have an ark too, built not by our own hands, but built by our great Creator and Redeemer. Christ is to His people now the one Ark. There is one Shelter from the coming deluge of God's wrath, one only Ark, for a lost soul; unless we are saved by that, we perish. Christ is the only thing between us and eternal destruction.
III. But as Noah was saved, not merely by understanding its construction and not merely by looking at its fair proportions and its massive timbers, but BY ENTERING WITHIN THE ARK and being shut within it by God, so the disciples of Christ are saved by entering into their Ark; and the one thing by which they enter in is faith. So that unless we come to Christ as our only hope, we are excluded from that Ark. It is built by the hand of God, it will float in safety over the deluge, and whoever is in it will be gloriously saved; but we must get within it. We may talk as Christians, we may belong to a Christian church, we may think ourselves safe; but unless we have climbed into the true Ark by faith, and have been shut in by the hand of God, we have no more possibility of safety than a person could have been saved by walking round the ark which Noah had constructed, or examining with surprise and admiration its massive construction.
IV. But there is another similarity between the disciples of Christ and Noah and his family. That similarity is in THE WATER OF BAPTISM, as compared with the water of the deluge to Noah. Anti-typical to which, the apostle says, "Baptism doth now save us." And therefore, just as the water bore up the ark of Noah, and it was when the waves dashed upon the ark in which he floated that his preservation was completed, so it is by baptism that the disciples of Jesus Christ are likewise saved. The water of baptism could no more save the baptized man, of itself, than the water of the deluge could save the antediluvian sinners who were outside the ark. It was the ark which saved; and then the water completed the salvation, by bearing up the ark upon its flood. And the water of baptism is the antitype of that water of the deluge, because it completes the figure which makes the person safe in Christ, who is the only Ark of the soul from the deluge to come. That this was the apostle's meaning is further manifested by the expression which he used himself, to correct the imagination which might arise in any mind, that the external rite had in itself any such efficacy. He adds, "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh"; external washing cannot save anyone; but it is the "inquiring after God of a good conscience," it is the seeking God with the heart and with the soul — it is this which is the essence of the baptismal profession. There are two more points of comparison on which I must dwell. In the days of Noah there were multitudes that disbelieved, and but few that believed, the warning God gave; eight only out of the millions of mankind believed. The millions disbelieved. And so it is with the threatenings of God now; there are few that credit them, and millions that disbelieve them; which are right, the few or the millions? Christians! hold fast the truth, even if you were much fewer than you are; and never let your opinion be in the least shaken by any allegation of the presumption, the enthusiasm, or the folly of entertaining the opinions which are against those of the great mass of mankind. Hold them fast, and it will be for your happiness. And lastly, there is one final comparison between the two cases. The multitudes of those who disbelieved, in Noah's days, perished, and the few that believed were saved. Oh! that a warning voice could reach the millions of this world!
(B. W. Noel, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: