At that time, Noah and all the living creatures—the fowls, cattle, and creeping things—were saved. Noah is a type of the Savior, and the ark is also a type of the Savior. Noah is a type of the Son of God, while the ark is a type of the Son of Man. The ark was made of gopher wood, and it is a type of the humanity of the Lord Jesus. The salvation that they experienced was a salvation out of the world. At that time, all the fountains of the great deep burst open, the windows of heaven were opened, and the flood came upon the whole earth. This was not a judgment on individuals, but a judgment on the whole world. Salvation is being saved from the world community. All those who were in the ark were saved out of the world. A saved person cannot be saved on the one hand, yet still remain in the world on the other hand. He cannot ride on the fence, with one foot in the ark and the other foot in the world. Everyone who entered the ark was locked inside the ark. After a person is saved, he cannot love the world on the one hand, and love the Lord on the other hand. You may try to do this in secret, but God will not allow you to do this before Him. Therefore, every saved person should reject the world completely and have no love for the world. We should not think that even though certain matters are worldly, we only need to change them a little or turn them around a little. Fundamentally speaking, God has delivered us totally out of the world. Since we are out of the world, we should live a life that is out of the world. This is different from exhorting people to not love the world. The citizens of one nation are at enmity with those of a hostile nation because a hostile relationship exists between the two nations, not because they have been slapped on the face by someone in the hostile nation. This is the issue among us today.
We are those who are delivered out from the world. How are we saved from the world? The world has been usurped, and mankind in general has stood against God. As a result God saves men out of the world. He prepared an ark and brought man out of the world and into the ark. God brought all the living creatures on earth into death, but the human beings and the living creatures within the ark were brought out of the world and through death. Then He released them out of the ark, in order that they would fill the earth. This earth was a new world. This means that the old head, Adam, and everything in him was rejected, while the new head, Noah, and everything in Noah was ready to express the new life so that his descendants could inhabit the whole earth. Those on the new earth typified those who would be in Christ in the future, inheriting the new heaven and the new earth. The ones within the ark typify those who are in Christ. Therefore, the ones who are in Christ will be in the new heaven and the new earth. The ones outside the ark typify the ones who are in Adam, who will be judged by God in the future. The ones within the ark are in Christ; they have the new life to enter the new heaven and the new earth. The descendants of the new life will fill the new earth. Everyone who entered the ark was brought through the water of judgment into the new earth. This signifies that Christ will fill the new heaven and the new earth.
"And the ark rested...upon the mountains of Ararat" (8:4). The name Ararat means "holy ground." This typifies resurrection, the coming out of death; it also typifies the Lord’s ascension. The ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, which means that the mountaintops were visible. Today we are also on top of our "Ararat"; we have seen the mountaintops, and we are waiting for the land to dry. Our Lord has died, resurrected, and ascended. We are remaining on the mountains of Ararat, waiting for the land to dry. This means that we are waiting for God to judge the earth.
Our focus is not on the many things mentioned in the previous paragraphs. Our special attention is on the matter of baptism. We have seen what Noah did, and how he passed through death. We have seen the flood, and how the saved ones entered the ark to pass through death and were then ushered into the new earth. First Peter 3 says that the ark’s passage through the water is a type of baptism. Some who are sitting here are already baptized. Some are not yet baptized. The water of the flood is a type of the water of baptism. First Peter 3:20-21 says, "Who had formerly disobeyed when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared; entering into which, a few, that is, eight souls, were brought safely through by water. Which water, as the antitype, also now saves you, that is, baptism." What saves us? What is the subject of this clause? The subject is the baptism typified by the water. The verb is "saves." What saves us? Baptism saves us. Is this not amazing? Can baptism save a person? I must tell you that unless you are baptized, you will not be saved. Peter said the same thing, that the baptism, signified by the flood, saves us through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. In addition, Mark 16:16 says, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved."
Many of us have changed Mark 16:16 to read, "He who believes and is saved shall be baptized." But the Bible says that baptism comes before salvation. Many of us are confused. We think that we have to be saved before we can be baptized. But the Bible says that those who are not baptized cannot be saved, and that once a person is baptized, he is saved. If a man is saved, it is because he is baptized. If there are a million people in heaven, they are there because they have been baptized.
Do not misunderstand the meaning of salvation by baptism. The Bible speaks of salvation in different aspects. The part of salvation that is known as justification deals with man’s position before God. The part of salvation that deals with God’s acceptance of man emphasizes the distinction between the world and the believers. The part of salvation that has to do with forgiveness deals with the propitiation of our past sins. The part of salvation that has to do with receiving eternal life points to our separation from death. The part of salvation that deals with the kind of deliverance spoken of here has to do particularly with our relationship with the world. Salvation does not mean merely a deliverance from hell in the future. Strictly speaking, according to the Bible, salvation refers to our deliverance from the world today. How do others know that we are saved? How do others know that we belong to Christ? We say that we are saved, but can we open up our hearts to show others that we are saved? We cannot see faith with our eyes. Who can see faith? God sees and knows that we are justified, accepted, forgiven, and have received the eternal life, but man does not see it. James told us that man’s eyes cannot see our faith; they can see only our work. The first work of every Christian before men is the act of baptism. Our first work before God is to believe, but our first work before men is to be baptized. Baptism is salvation from the world into Christ. It is coming out of one’s own house into the ark. Baptism is a declaration to the world, as Noah declared that God’s judgment, wrath, and punishment would fall upon the world because of its opposition, rebellion, and rejection of God. He was no longer one of them, and he left them to enter the ark that God had prepared for him. Therefore, baptism is not just a sprinkling of water on the head, nor an immersion of the body in the water. Baptism is a declaration to the whole world that the world has nothing more to do with us and that we are delivered from the world. The real significance of baptism is that we are no longer living in the world, we are now dead through the judgment on the Lord Jesus, and we will never rise up again. Although we are in the water only for a brief moment, it spiritually means that we will never come out of the water again. From this point on, in the eyes of the world, we are forever separated from it and have no share in it anymore; we will never come back again. Men of this world are most attached to their parents, wife, children, and dear ones. But if one of their dear ones were to die, they would not want to have the dead person around anymore. They would never take a dead man out of the grave and put him in their house to live with them. This should be the way the world looks at a Christian; they should consider him a dead man who has been buried in the grave.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 21: The Christian (1934-1940), Chapter 6, by Watchman Nee)