1 Peter 3:19 "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 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. 21 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:"Eight souls were brought to safety (diasozo). They were "saved" when they stepped onto dry land (Genesis 8:18). Notice that God used water to bring the eight to "safety" (verse 20). Water destroyed those who were not protected by God in the ark, but made those "safe" who had the faith to abide with him, one-hundred and twenty years, and over forty days.
The water was from God. It was His judgment that a few be safe. Those eight represent the narrow way (by faith), whereas the majority who stayed in the world represented the broad way. Of course, the door to the ark was the straight gate because it was God who opened and closed it. You might say that God only closed it, but the ark resulted from the grace of God. When the eight walked out, Noah opened what God had closed, but it was God's grace that it opened.
The tool which God used to bring those eight to safety was water. Water is symbolic of Jesus' living sacrifice. It can be accepted (the eight) or rejected (the world), but the way to salvation on the ark was by the water. The way to salvation for everyone is the Living Water.
John 4:10 "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."The waters which spewed forth from the depths was living water. That water made the eight safe until they endured forty days and nights, waited even longer until God's time, then they stepped on dry ground - they were saved! Was it the water which saved, or was it dry ground? The water brought them to safety but salvation was when the water ceased. Thus, the water didn't do the saving, God did.
Genesis 8:15 "And God spake unto Noah, saying, 16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee."When God spoke that was the moment that they were saved. Until then they were safe from peril. When God spoke in the Old Testament, it was pre-incarnate Jesus who was the Word. Jesus saved them by standing them on dry ground, not in the water, and their hope of salvation was rewarded, as they all stepped on solid ground.
Then it is written, in like manner (as in the days of Noah) whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (verse 21). Sozo or "made safe" is the Greek word transliterated "save". Therefore, the water doesn't save, but protects from peril.
Then verse 21 says that baptism doesn't really clean away the filth of the flesh, but is having a good conscience toward God. (Read more about the conscience (http://kentuckyherrin.blogspot.com/2017/05/consciousness.html).
The conscience is conforming to what is morally good. It tells the person to quit doing one's own will which is sinful, and do God's will which is righteous. Therefore, baptism is decision-making time. It's when one commits to living for God in whom he believes. It's a testimony to the world, that the baptized person is a changed person, now on the ark of God where God's mercy protects. They are different than when they built the ark, but after being brought to safety, they have changed.
Noah built an altar to God after deliverance from destruction (Gen. 8:20). Baptism is presenting to God a living sacrifice (Romans12:1), not as Noah did with animals but by crucifying the self. When Noah presented his offering, God was well-pleased (Gen. 8:21). When we present ourselves to God at baptism, he is well-pleased. As such, baptism is a physical sacrifice of the self. It is obedience to the one who makes safe, and as such is an ordinance.
Being Arminian in doctrine, and I must be honest there, I believe in apostasy. As such, with the free will to deny God, the state of the convert is not "saved", but "safe" in the sense that God puts a protective hedge around us called His "whole armor". Symbolically, the ark was the whole armor of God. It didn't save, but made safe.
It is illogical to believe in apostasy and at the same time say, "I am saved," because salvation is not done until one is standing on dry ground. That is symbolic of death when eternal life is rewarded. Therefore, it is logical to say, "I am born-again," which is convinced that Jesus provides the way, or the water to keep us afloat. Those who strongly believe in the promise of dry ground, are so convinced, and their faith is so great, that they can say "I am saved," because they see the dry ground ahead from the safety of their ark.
As such, belief makes one safe, and trust makes one feel saved. Noah was given a rainbow:
Genesis 9:13 "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."The rainbow sealed the covenant with God. No longer would life be destroyed by water. After the flood, water would always represent life, no longer death. Hence, water forthwith represents eternal life, and that is signified by the rainbow which shines after the rain. The rainbow means "hope" because it is trusting in God for life. Fro the ark of we see dry ground. That is our hope of salvation.
Noah and the seven were new creatures in a new world. Sin had been washed away symbolically, but as we soon see, it recurred with Ham. He too was a new creature, his sins were washed away but still he sinned. He was still physically "saved" from destruction since he stood on solid ground, but his soul had not yet stood on that spiritual solid ground.
Now for a confession. I had almost changed my doctrine. It seems, based on the KJV translation that baptism saves (verse 20), but when one examines the Greek text, it seems that baptism is safety, and in the context of Noah, salvation is at the end of the voyage. Noah was confident that he was so safe that he could rightfully say, "I am saved," even as they sailed. Ham was surely not as certain. He enjoyed safety, but for him and the others, they weren't saved until they stepped on solid ground. As such, we shall be saved when we lie under that ground, and until then, we are safe from the goings to and fro of Satan. He cannot harm us since we are on the spiritual ark heading toward solid ground in paradise.