Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Apologetics - The Ark and Baptism

Apologetic Thought – The Ark and Baptism

Did you know that a major symbol of the Church is a ship? One of our red paraments, which are most often seen at Pentecost (the birth of the Church), displays a ship. The main area of our sanctuary (where the congregation sits) is called the Nave. Nave comes from the Latin word “navis” which means ship.

Why a ship? Perhaps because so much of the imagery surrounding salvation has to do with water. Think about it. Noah and his family were saved in the Ark through the water. The Israelites escaped Egypt through water. We are baptized with water.  The ark itself is a great image of salvation. Just as the faithful remnant was kept safe in the Ark, so too are we kept safe in the Church (through our Baptisms).

Just as with God’s judgement, a lot of people want to downplay God’s means of salvation. That may seem odd. Why would you not want to believe in a God that saves? Perhaps because we like to be self-sufficient. We want to be in control. Hence why many Christians turn baptism into a work. Something we do for God. It’s hard for many to believe that God can (or would) attach forgiveness of sins to something as ordinary and common as water. But that is exactly what He does. And it’s made quite clear in the Scriptures.

A good exercise for every Christian to do is to look up all the verses that talk about Baptism. While reading them, ask yourself these questions: Does Baptism have something to do with salvation and the forgiveness of sins? Does Baptism accomplish something? Or is it just a sign? Is Baptism God’s work or my work? A concordance or a quick search online will give you a list of verses to read. You will quickly discover that Baptism does indeed save.

Just as some people like to question the efficacy of Baptism, so too do they question the means of salvation that Peter compares it to: Noah’s Ark (1 Peter 3:18-22)). They question how Noah could have built it. How it could have survived a year of the Flood. And perhaps most common, how all the animals could have fit. Just as with the questions about Baptism, it’s best to first go straight to what the Bible says.

In Genesis 6:18-19, we find out that God established a covenant with Noah, that Noah and his family, and two of every kind of animal would survive the coming judgement. We know that God keeps His promises. He also equips people to do the task he calls them to. God would not have told Noah to build an Ark without giving him the skills to do it. Noah was also 600 years old when the flood came. He had a lot of time to develop the necessary shipbuilding skills.

For the size and seaworthiness of the Ark, we are given the exact measurements in chapters 6: 500 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. A cubit is generally anywhere between 18-20 inches long. That makes Noah’s Ark most likely 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 50 feet tall. That is a huge boat! And the dimensions are actually perfect for surviving the types of conditions that would be found if the whole earth were covered in water.

Based on the description in the Bible, the Ark could have easily been the means of salvation for representatives of each kind of animal, plus Noah and his family. This is just what we would expect from a God who saves. While the concept of a worldwide flood and a life saving Ark seems preposterous to our sinful human reasoning, it is no more unlikely than a man dying on the cross for our sins and rising again from the dead. If we are going to believe that God acted in human history in the life of Jesus, why not a few thousand years before that?

If you are interested in the historical and scientific research done by Christians regarding the Ark and flood, check out Answers in Genesis. You can also visit the life-sized Ark in Kentucky (Ark Encounter).
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