Today, I was working on a paper for a college course I'm taking (at CDU--see below), when I decided to look up the phrase "baptism saves you now." I couldn't remember exactly where it was in I Peter. What was so funny is that many Protestant entries came on the Google search. I clicked on the first one which did not, at first give the reference (I Peter 3:21, by the way). It went on and on about how this verse had nothing to do with water baptism and salvation. The rest of the diatribe was about how spiritual baptism saves us. All I kept thinking as I'm reading this is how does this fit in with his professed sola scriptura position? It wasn't just him, though. There were many others with similar and differing things to say on the subject.
My problem with such a convoluted explaining away of the actual context is the claim that they believe that the Bible is their "only authority" when it comes to doctrine. Of course that first 'author' I read did not go back at all and quote the previous verses and I wonder if he'd even read them, judging by the way he twisted verse 21.
"For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that He might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the spirit. In it He also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him." (I Peter 3:18-22, NAB)
Honestly, even as a former Baptist, I cannot understand how one can ignore such a glaring indication of the place of WATER baptism in God's plan of salvation. Noah and his family "were saved through water". It says right there in black and white, "This prefigures baptism, which saves you now." How can intelligent person in their right mind, unless of course they have a man-made agenda, pretend that this is not about literal water baptism? Obviously, Peter does mean water baptism saves you now. He indicates this not only by the prefigurement of the flood but also his comment afterward. "It is not a removal of dirt from the body" can only indicate he means water. Certainly if he meant "spirit baptism", for which the article I read tried to make a case, he wouldn't need say anything about the removal of dirt from the body--only water can do that. I just cannot comprehend that a man's agenda can blind him so much to God's plan.
According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus said, "All power in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (28:18-20a)
and in St Mark's Gospel, Jesus said: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned." (16:15,16)
How one can "reason" away these passages is a mystery to me. How so many "bible only" Christians not only don't believe what the Bible says about baptism and it's place in God's plan of salvation, but they don't follow Jesus' command and baptism anyone. Many sincere, well-meaning Christians have been lead far afield by other Protestants or their own "understanding." Another indication that sola-scriptura (bible only) Christianity doesn't work. In His Church, the Catholic Church, the Scriptures are seen as a whole, not picked apart into proof-texting. God's plan of salvation is in all of Scripture and given to us wonderfully and mystically and spiritually in the Sacraments, including baptism, "which saves you now."