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  • Alan Salwei

1 Peter 3:18-22 - The Washing of Rebirth

The washing symbolized in your baptism gives you a clear conscience towards God.

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Read 1 Peter 3:18-22

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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 71

Q. Where does Christ promise

that we are washed with

his blood and Spirit

as surely as we are washed

with the water of baptism?

A. In the institution of baptism where he says:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

This promise is repeated when

Scripture calls baptism

the washing of rebirth

and the washing away of sins.



Baptism is a sign and a seal of God’s covenant of grace. There is a close relationship between the baptism as a sign of God’s grace and the work of Christ it signifies. Enough so, that Peter uses the words “baptism…. now saves you,” which is not used to describe salvation via the sacrament of baptism, but salvation via the grace symbolized in baptism.

Peter also makes a connection between the waters of baptism and the waters of the flood during the days of Noah. This connection may feel out of place at first. Especially considering how the flood was an act of God’s judgment on the wickedness of mankind. What can be missed in this is how the flood was also a means of salvation for Noah and his family. While judgment was cast by God, grace was also extended.

Dig Deeper

There is a question from back when I was taking the written test to get motorcycle license that has stuck with me. The question referred to safety procedures when riding a motorcycle and which of the listed answers was the “most true” as a means of making yourself visible to other drivers. The trick here was that all of the answers were true and listed in the reading I had done ahead of time. While proper lane position and high visibility clothing were good answers, what they were looking for is which of the options was deemed the most important. In this case, I remembered the answer was to have a functioning headlight. The thing to keep in mind, however, is that one answer being correct does not mean the other options are without merit.

As the catechism rightly points out from scripture, baptism is described as “the waters of rebirth” and “the washing away of sins.” It is easy to see the grace symbolized in baptism, but what we sometimes miss is the presence of God’s judgment. Just as both grace and judgment were present in the flood narrative, so too are both present in baptism. Salvation and new life in Christ are seen in the waters of baptism, but these waters also symbolize God’s judgment on sin, which can be seen in the removal of sin by means of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

While the grace symbolized in baptism might appear to be the “most true” answer, this does not diminish the presence of God’s judgment on sin. In recognizing the price paid to separate you from that sin, do not overlook the importance of repentance. Jesus paid a high price to set you free from your sin, which speaks into the necessity to continually turn away from sin and abide in Christ.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who saved believing Noah and his family from the judgment on sin that flooded the world;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God that you would reflect your status as a baptised believer by continually repenting and turning away from sin;



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Luke 3


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