“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: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” (1 Peter 3:18-22)
How was Noah and his family “saved by water”?
According to the Bible, the prediluvian world’s refusal to believe and enter into God’s ark resulted in its condemnation. It was subsequently destroyed outside the ark by the floodwaters of the world.
On the other hand, Noah’s willingness to believe and enter into God’s ark resulted in the salvation of him and his family. They were subsequently delivered inside the ark by the floodwaters of the world. It was, after all, the rising waters that made Noah’s boat float; and the receding waters that resulted in a new beginning for him and his family. Whereas the floodwaters destroyed everyone outside the ark, they actually delivered and saved the “eight souls” within the ark.
The ark was an Old Testament type-of-Christ. For instance, today it is those who refuse to believe and come to Christ who are condemned. Being found outside of Christ—God’s present-day “ark” of safety—they will be judged and destroyed.
On the other hand, all who believe and come to Christ today are saved. Being found in Christ—God’s present-day “ark” of safety—they will be delivered from judgment and destruction. Whereas everyone outside of Christ is destined for destruction, everyone in Christ is eternally safe and secure.
Just as Noah came to a brand new life through the floodwaters of the world, the Christian comes to a brand new life through the waters of baptism. Yet, the Christian no more owes his new life to the waters of baptism than Noah owed his new life to the floodwaters of the world. Both owe their salvation to God’s ark of safety. In Noah’s case, a literal ark and type-of-Christ, but in the Christian’s case, what Noah’s ark typified; namely, Christ Himself.