Thanks Be to God for His Indescribable Gifts!
I wrote a 15 page paper on this text and Pastor Brian wanted me to preach it, but he said I couldn’t do all 15 pages. So I’m only doing 14!
How many accounts have we heard about where an individual was extremely wealthy, yet lived like a pauper? We hear how they would clean off and reuse paper plates or trash bags or eat cold food because they didn’t want to spend money on heating it up. One woman’s son lost a leg because she didn’t want to spend the money for them to fix it. Some have lived in broken down, condemned houses but yet had millions of dollars scattered around different places. That, we would say, is insane. It’s bizarre. It ridiculous.
Yet it is that way oftentimes with many Christians who are so incredibly rich because of Jesus Christ yet live so far beneath what He has suffered so much to give us. Paul’s goal in his letter to the Ephesians was to instruct them of their lofty position, immeasurable possessions, and the required practice of every child of God. It was written to continually remind all believers, then and now, of who we are and what we have in Christ.
Paul writes this letter from a prison in Rome. Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia which is modern day Turkey. The church was possibly started by Priscilla and Aquilla and Paul left them there in his second missionary journey. It was further strengthened by Paul on his 3rd missionary journey where he served as their pastor for approximately 3 years. After Paul left, Timothy would go on to pastor there for a year and a half.
While much has been written on the illustrious second chapter of Ephesians, a quick search shows that little seems to have been written on its foundational forerunner, chapter one. In this short amount of time, I pray that we will joyfully discover more of our beloved Trinity as we see how Paul profusely blesses our God.
TT: Our Father has chosen us, predestined us, and bestowed on us the twin blessings of redemption and forgiveness. All this should result in an uninhibited and constant praise to Him for the supreme riches of His grace.
Verses 3-14 in this 1st chapter comprise one sentence! Paul starts and it’s as if he builds up so much steam in his praise that he just can’t stop. Essentially, he blesses the Father for blessing us with blessings. The Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. This is past tense. It has already been done. These blessings are ones which we ALREADY possess.
Our physical blessings alone are more than we can take in, yet He has given us so much more! Unfortunately, we tend to desire and recognize these tangible gifts more than the spiritual. That’s certainly true of our health and wealth friends. We see it in the Word. In Luke chapter 10, Jesus sent out seventy disciples to spread the gospel. They came back rejoicing because ‘even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ (v. 17) He responds to them in verse 20, ‘Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.’ The spiritual blessings are far weightier, and we have EVERY ONE THAT WE NEED, but they ONLY come when we belong to Christ. Five times in the five verses of our text, we are reminded that it is ONLY IN CHRIST. We could spend many pages listing all that we are and all that we have because of our identification with Christ. That is one of the thrusts of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. As God’s children, we MUST realize who we are! It is long overdue for His people to realize what we have! Our Savior paid too severe a price for us not to.
The first blessing that Paul blesses the Father for is that He chose us in Him (again) before the foundation of the world. Here we have the doctrine of election. This choosing is once again, past tense. It is an election beforehand.
It is not up to men to choose. Many twist Truth to say that salvation is possible for all men so that all men can decide for themselves whether or not to accept Him. Yet choosing Christ is a good work; the very best work a man could ever do. Man cannot do anything good when he is extremely corrupt; when he is ‘deceitful and desperately wicked’ (Jer. 17:9 KJV)?
BOOK: THE BLESSING OF HUMILITY
BY JERRY BRIDGES
What the Church Needs
1 Peter 5:1-5
Truth Taught- The Church needs godly shepherds to lead her into truth
What do Christians need in times of trials? What does the church need while it lives as exiles in a hostile land? What has God given to His flock to secure their safety and health during times of attack and times of peace? God has given the office of Elder.
In this section, Peter instructs the Church as to what type of elder/shepherd that is needed to assure its survival during difficult days. He is about to tell us that the leaders should oversee the Church in a godly way, shepherding the flock rather than being domineering or dictatorial.
Also, included in Peter’s closing section is the call of God to every Christian to be subject to the shepherds that lead. He gives us proper Church structure that God has set in place for the good of His people.
Why does the Church need shepherds? The reality is that the shepherd/sheep motif is very accurate. Isaiah compared sinful Israelites to lost sheep…
Isaiah 53:6 (ESV)
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Jesus also picked up on this theme…
Matthew 9:36 (ESV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Peter carries this theme over to the Church as he calls the Church the flock of God with overseers, shepherds.
God has set in place the office of elder to provide oversight and protection for the Church. Elders do not make up a board or a group that sits around and makes rulings and decisions. Elders are to be shepherds, leading the flock to good green pasture and clear still water in which to be nourished. The elder is to go to the aid of the flock rescuing it from danger.
Let’s look to see what a godly shepherd looks like and then what the church’s response should be.
1 Peter 5:1–5 (ESV)
5 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
5 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
Peter continues his teaching on the theme of Christian suffering. Here, his point is that all believers share in these sufferings from the least to the greatest. No one is exempt from the pattern we learned about last week, the pattern of suffering first then glory to follow when Christ is revealed. Peter’s point here is even the apostles suffered.
Peter here connect his ministry with the overseers or what we today call elders. The word elder comes from the Greek word (presbyteroi plural). The title elder means overseer or shepherd. This term elder greatly described Peter’s ministry. This is why he calls himself a fellow elder.
As an elder, Peter also experienced trials as he shared in the sufferings of Jesus. So, Peter reminds all Christians and especially here the leadership of the Church to not forget God’s pattern that leads to glory.
The word witness here has been trouble for the Bible translators. It comes from the Greek word martys, which means a witness by association, experience or analogy. It doesn’t mean Peter was an eyewitness to the actual cross, maybe he did see it maybe he didn’t but he did see many of Jesus’ sufferings and he saw them later as he himself shared in the sufferings Jesus experienced.
I’m trying to make the point here that when we suffer we are sharing in Jesus’ sufferings.
Colossians 1:24 (ESV)
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
What does Paul mean when he says he is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”?
I think it’s plain from the context and the wider teachings of Paul that he does not mean that he fills up by his sufferings what is lacking in the atoning worth of the death of Christ. When Jesus says, “It is finished” on the cross, all that had to be done to pay for the sins of all God’s people was done. And nothing could be added.
So when Paul says, “By my sufferings I fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ,” what he means is that the one thing lacking in the sufferings of Christ is the offer of those sufferings in person to those for whom he died. So in essence he is saying, “Alright, I will take the message of the cross—where Christ suffered for lost people—and in my own missionary sacrifices I will take that message to them and say, ‘In me behold the love of God, as I sacrifice to come to you and preach to you, and risk my life and imprisonment to preach the gospel.'” That’s the thing that he provides that is lacking.
Christ cannot personally offer himself to people today. In and through God’s people—especially missionaries—he offers himself to them. And so they fill up what is lacking, namely, the personal presentation of the sufferings of Christ in their own bodies.
What we need to understand is that our suffering fills in the void in Christ’s sufferings because our suffering is a contemporary modern day suffering that the world and the Church can see. When we suffer with the mindset of a Christian our witness is magnified. Our words take on new meaning when they are spoken in affliction. This is what is meant by sharing in the suffering of Christ. It’s suffering like His for a new generation to see.
We have an example of a Church under persecution in Acts. Listen to what Jesus says about their affliction…
Acts 9:1–5 (ESV)
9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Saul was persecuting the Church but Jesus knew that the early Church was an extension of Him in a real sense. So closely is Christ tied to His Church that to persecute His Church is to persecute Him. They were sharing in His sufferings.
One scholar writes, Jesus asks why Saul persecutes Him, although Saul does not yet know who is speaking. This curious remark is unexplained at first but points to Jesus’ corporate solidarity with the Church. To persecute the Way is to persecute Jesus. Jesus closely identifies with His own.
I pray we feel the weight of this enormous truth. When you suffer, when you are persecuted, when you enter into a trial or affliction you are sharing in Jesus’ suffering and He is sharing yours. This is what the apostles are seeking to get us to see.
Peter goes on to state that this part of the pattern comes first then comes glory.
as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
Pastor Brian Evans
Glory Comes Through Suffering
1 Peter 4:12-19
Truth Taught- We are called to follow Jesus’ pattern of suffering and subsequent glory that follows
Peter finished last week’s text with praise to God and a reminder to always use our gifts for the glory of God…
1 Peter 4:11 (ESV)
11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
It could have been a good conclusion to his epistle but Peter wants to make sure we get his main point. So, in God’s goodness and grace we receive the complete message. Peter continues by reminding us yet again that as Christians doing what we should be doing will result in suffering. The suffering that comes as a result of our obedience to God is not random but is in fact God’s will for us. Suffering for Christ is not the end it will bring about glory. So far, Peter has shown us that when we suffer there is a divine purpose.
1 Peter 1:6–7 (ESV)
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Suffering will produce a refined and strong faith and there will be great reward when Jesus returns.
1 Peter 2:20–21 (ESV)
20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
The purpose is to completely follow Jesus even through times of trial and suffering.
1 Peter 3:14 (ESV)
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
To suffer, as a Christian, will result in God’s blessing.
What’s true is what Samuel Rutherford said in the 1600’s when he was put in the cellars of affliction: “The Great King keeps his wine there” — not in the courtyard where the sun shines. What’s true is what Charles Spurgeon said: “They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.”
If you love God’s grace, growing as a Christian, choice pearls and the King’s wine then suffering has a great purpose in our lives.
1 Peter 4:12–19 (ESV)
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
In this passage Peter is guiding us through trials and suffering to see through them to the greater blessing God has on the other side. He wants us to realize that suffering is the first step to glory. It’s the way God gets His people from A to B. Peter tells us that we should not be surprised when trials come our way for serving Christ. This world hates Jesus and because we love Him and serve Him trials will come our way.
The trials the early Christians faced were in the form of persecution. Here it seems Peter is referring mainly to verbal persecution not so much physical. We can relate to what he writes. I’m sure many here have suffered some type of verbal suffering from family or friends because you are seeking to be obedient to what Jesus teaches.
Peter tells us that rather than being surprised and caught off guard we should expect this type of treatment.
I can vouch for the verbal persecution because we have suffered this in more ways than you may know as our little church stands up for truth we have been greatly maligned for the truth we affirm. I have been maligned time and time again by so called Christians. I’m not saying this to drum up any sort of sympathy but to make everyone aware that it has and is happening. When you take a stand for truth and the truth is not popular you will be persecuted to some degree.
It’s okay when others say things against you as long as you’re in line with Jesus. When these things happen don’t be surprised or discouraged but…rejoice!
Pastor Brian Evans
Living as the Church in Light of Our Lord’s Return
1 Peter 4:7-11
Truth Taught – We must be busy serving others within the local Church because the Last Days are upon us
Last week we saw Peter’s military strategy and God’s Art of War. The point he makes is since we are in a war as God’s people, we must engage in the battle and be armed with the mind of Christ then fight aggressively against our passions, which are waging war against our souls. With this wartime mentality we must do battle now because our passions are currently waging war within us. Delaying or putting it off is not an option for the Christian desiring to glorify God.
Today, Peter shows us why we must be using our spiritual gifts in the local church now. We cannot delay or put off using our gifts because Jesus is coming again. The best way to have the Lord’s bride, the church, ready when He comes is to build up the bride through working within the realm of our giftedness. How are you using your gifts for the good of the church?
I’ve pastored for twenty years now and have found this to be true. There is a small percentage of people within the local church who are using their gifts for the good of the body, and then there is a large percentage who think their gift to the church is their presence on Sunday mornings. Your attendance is expected but not a spiritual gift.
As we begin, it’s important to see that exercising spiritual gifts is a very good way to anticipate the Lord’s return then also conclude that to not exercise them is to live not anticipating Jesus’ return. So, we must ask ourselves, Am I living for God’s glory and am I motivated by the imminent return of Jesus?
Last time we looked at the ways of the lost world around us . . .
1 Peter 4:3–4 (ESV)
3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;
As I get ready to read today’s text notice with me how we are to live differently than the lost world especially in light of Jesus’ return.
-The lost world lives their life in drunkenness, and God calls us to live with sober minds.
– They give themselves over to lawlessness, but we are to live in sincere love.
– They give themselves over to orgies yet we are to show hospitality.
– They malign others; we must serve others.
1 Peter 4:7–11 (ESV)
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7 The end of all things is at hand
There is a misconception with today’s heightened zeal for eschatology. The zeal without knowledge is very evident when people can tell you all the intricate details of premillennial eschatology, but the same person cannot explain the basics of the Gospel. Beware of the person who has the Daily Times in one hand and the Book of Revelation in the other. I’ve spoken to and pastored these types before. They wear me out because if they were really looking for Jesus’ return, they would be the most loving and hardest workers in the church. Instead all they want to do is live in a make-believe world and pretend that they have figured out what God is up to, and honestly, they have forfeited true Christianity for trivial knowledge. The danger of spending too much time seeking to discover the answers to when and how Jesus is returning becomes an obsession because it is all theoretical and there are no demands to live a certain way. Whatever your take on the return of Christ is, does it promote an earnest passionate life of overcoming sin and serving others? If it doesn’t, then your end times view is flawed.
Here, Peter fills us in on true end times. He says they have already started. The reality is that the Last Days began when Jesus rose from the grave. We have been living in the Last Days all our lives. The Last Days will be fully consummated at our Lord’s return. We are in the Last Days right now.
God calls his church, in every generation, to live in light of this remarkable truth: nothing now stands in the way of Jesus’s return. After his perfect life, sacrificial death for us, resurrection from the grave, and ascension to heaven to pour out his Spirit on his church, the next major movement in the history of the world is the second coming of Christ.
1 Peter 1:20 (ESV)
20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
God’s great reminder here is that we are currently living in the Last Days, so, what significance does that have for us? What should our lives look like in light of Christ’s imminent return?
therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers
Since we are in the Last Days, live a life that will allow our prayers to be most effective. Peter has already mentioned prayer a couple of times.
The inconsiderate husband’s prayers are not heard.
1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
The Lord’s ears are open to the righteous.
The Art of War
1 Peter 4:1-6
Truth Taught- As Christians, we must be armed in order to live our life for God’s glory.
About 500 BC in China Sun Tzu wrote what has been the definitive work on military warfare. This treatise is over 2500 years old and is still used by many military leaders today. Of course he was not a Christian and so I’m not quoting from this work as if it was the Bible in any way.
Sun Tzu Quotes…
If we are to live as Christian exiles and make an impact in this lost world we must see the Christian life as a nothing less than war. I say that to capture what Peter has been telling us. Let’s look together at some of Peter’s military and wartime ideas and terms.
1 Peter 1:1 (ESV)
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
1 Peter 2:11 (ESV)
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
In Chapter 3 he writes about the suffering of Jesus in war/military focus and the victory Jesus won over sin and death.
1 Peter 3:18–19 (ESV)
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,
Now, our text for today builds on the idea of war. Peter writes that if we are going to fight the battle successfully in this world we must be armed. Let’s look together at Peter’s battle plan and the Art of War…
1 Peter 4:1–6 (ESV)
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
Sun Tzu wrote that we must know ourselves and know our enemy. So, according to Peter who is our enemy?
1 Peter 2:11 (ESV)
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Peter tells us that our enemy is within. The enemy that wages war against our soul is not Satan but our own human passions. This is a spiritual war and the enemy takes no prisoners.
Do we know our enemy? Our own sinful nature our desires and passions are waging a war against our souls. Peter’s writes that the war is currently being fought, in other words, our passions are right now attacking our souls. So, we know who the enemy is and we know what the enemy is currently doing.
Do we know ourselves? Are we somehow trying to convince ourselves that we are strong without God’s help? Possibly, we are telling ourselves that everything is ok and I don’t have to engage in battle. Perhaps we’ve convinced ourselves that there is no war.
There is a war our enemy is strong and merciless and we are weak and currently being attacked. We need some spiritual ammunition to fight in this spiritual war.
What does Peter tell us our ammunition is?
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking,
Because we are in a spiritual war we cannot achieve victory through the physical realm. He gives us the example of Jesus…
To achieve spiritual victory for His people Jesus suffered in the physical realm. He suffered in the flesh for the ultimate spiritual victory for all His people. His suffering won our justification but in order to win our sanctification God requires our suffering. We have been saved by the work of Jesus now God’s grace and our works will sanctify us.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Peter tells us to arm ourselves with the same mindset or outlook that Jesus had. He was willing to suffer in the flesh or in the physical realm to secure a spiritual victory. The same is true for us. When we are armed with proper thinking and a proper mindset, namely that spiritual victory requires some level of physical suffering then we are on our way to see the spiritual victory.
When we fight against our natural passions to sin we will be engaged in a level of suffering but we do it knowing that sin will be overcome. It’s very much like a withdrawal from a drug. We must not live and engage in the things we used to. We cannot, as God’s people continue living like we used to live. We are in a war and when we are in a war we live differently.
Unjust Suffering Accomplishes Divine Purposes
1 Peter 3.18-22
Unjust Suffering Accomplishes Divine Purposes
1 Peter 3.18-22
Truth Taught – Jesus is the supreme example of what suffering unjustly can accomplish.
There are passages in the Bible that are very clear and easy to understand, most are this way. Then, there are passages like this one today that are more difficult.
2 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV)
15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
I found great encouragement this week from Martin Luther. Listen to what Martin Luther, the great reformer, said about this text. This quote gave me a lot of encouragement as I approached this text: This is a strange text and certainly a more obscure passage than any other passage in the New Testament. I still do not know for sure what the apostle meant.—Martin Luther
There are some very odd but amazing truths found in our passage for today. Let’s gather treasure together as we sift through this text. I’m so glad we looked at Psalm 19 and discovered that God’s Word is to be desired more than gold and honey. This was great encouragement for me to try and tackle this text and reign it in for our good and God’s glory.
Last time we discovered (in case you didn’t already know from experience) that there are times when we suffer even if we do the right thing. We learned that when this happens, we should not be fearful or troubled and that we should continue in obedience because God is at work doing something we may not understand. We learned that in these times to continue honoring Christ and be ready to give an account of the hope you have and to make sure to keep a clear conscience. So unjust suffering is a real part of the world in which we live but never forget God is also at work and His ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts.
Well, if there ever was a clear-cut case of someone suffering unjustly for doing what is right it is our Lord, Jesus Christ. In this passage we are to learn that suffering for doing what is right is not the final word in any Christian’s life. It wasn’t the final word for Jesus, and it’s not the final word for us either. Jesus’ unjust suffering made us presentable to God. His suffering was a victory not a defeat, and the same is true for our suffering as well. So, that’s where Peter takes us today.
1 Peter 3:18–22 (ESV)
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
This verse is connected to the previous verse we covered last time . . .
1 Peter 3:17 (ESV)
17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
Peter’s point here is that unjust suffering especially has a purpose. As Christians our suffering is not accidental or random just like Jesus’ suffering was not random. His suffering and death had a purpose and accomplished eternal redemption for all of God’s elect. Peter tells us that the purpose was that Jesus died for the sins of His people. Unlike the OT sacrifices, Jesus died only once not repeatedly like the sacrificial lambs in Jerusalem.
Hebrews 7:27 (ESV)
27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
Jesus’ unjust suffering and death opened the way for all believers to come to God, and it literally brought us to God. This is dramatically shown as the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom showing that Jesus is the way that believers come into God’s presence not through the temple veil.
His death was a victory because His death is what accomplished bringing us to God. So, very clearly, Jesus’ death had a divine purpose. His unjust suffering, the just for the unjust, accomplished a divine directive, the salvation of God’s people.
Hebrews 6:19–20 (ESV)
19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Jesus died as a human. He died in the flesh but remained alive in the spirit. For those three days while in the grave His flesh laid waiting for His spirit to return. Where was His spirit for those three days?
I love movies with a twist. God had more than one twist in the suffering and death of Jesus. It was not a defeat but a victory. It wasn’t random but accomplished our redemption.
being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
The way this fits into Peter’s purpose to show us that suffering even for doing good is okay because God is doing more than we could ever imagine. Jesus’ unjust suffering and death was the power to free all His people from the grip of sin. It even did something else . . .
There have been times recorded in the Scripture which Satan may have thought he won the victory.
In the Garden of Eden Satan thought he won. After he convinced Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, he thought he won only to discover a curse from God—Satan lost.
In the Book of Job Satan believed that he could get Job to curse God and tried with all his might only to discover Job still loved God even though everything was taken away from him—Satan lost.
Satan tried to kill Jesus when He was an infant, the murder of the male infants 2 years old and younger carried out by Herod. Joseph and Mary fled taking Jesus with them—Satan lost.
In the temptation of Christ, Satan thought he could convince Jesus to go down another path, one of ease, if only He would bow and worship Satan, He would be given all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus loved His Father and His will more than anything Satan had to offer—Satan lost.
Then there was the cross. Satan thought that since Jesus wouldn’t worship him then if he killed Him, he would win. Satan worked so hard to get Jesus out of the way. When Jesus breathed His last, Satan thought he had finally won. Then the tombs broke open, the veil was torn, the earth shook, the sky went dark. Satan was used by God, and through the death of Jesus, all of God’s people were saved—Satan lost.
There are currently demonic spirits imprisoned waiting for the final day when they will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire. Ever since the fall of Satan and the angelic realm that followed him, there has been a cosmic conflict between evil spirits and angelic spirits, between God’s people and demonic forces.
The Epistle of Jude tells us the circumstances surrounding this event.
Jude 5–7 (ESV)
5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
So, Jesus is dead, goes out the announcement to all the demons kept in chains awaiting final judgment. The Messiah has been put to death; the Davidic line is broken. There will be no one to continue the kingdom of David; God has been beaten. Satan has finally defeated the Messiah they thought, and our imprisonment is over.
Then Jesus shows up to proclaim that the Messiah has won the victory for the sin of His people. Not only did the devil not destroy the Messiah, but he also just lost all those who were bound by sin. Satan now has nothing. Jesus proclaimed the victory to those in chains.
This place where the demons are kept in chains until the last day is known in Revelation as the bottomless pit. 2 Peter calls this place hell.
2 Peter 2:4 (ESV)
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
Peter mentions the Days of Noah as the time frame for these fallen angels’ sin. What exactly did they do to earn God’s imprisonment until the final day?
The spirits who are currently held captive by God in the abyss, hell, or the bottomless pit are those who did an abominable act during the days of Noah. Their crime was to cohabitate with human women to seek to corrupt humanity.
Genesis 6:1–4 (ESV)
6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
These demons are held in the prison of hell waiting their final judgment. This does not include all demons because during the days of Jesus they were terrified of also being imprisoned by Christ.
Luke 8:26–31 (ESV)
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
Now, Jesus enters the domain of this prison and has a message to share with them. He is going to rise from the grave, and Satan will be once and for all defeated and their doom is final.
So the twist is that what Satan fought so hard to accomplish, namely the death of the Messiah, only served God’s greater purposes to save His people and as the demons who are in chains began to celebrate what they thought was Satan’s victory, Jesus walked in and proclaimed His victory . . . Satan lost.
20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Peter continues with Noah and changes his focus to show us that Jesus’ unjust suffering and death saves us much the same way the ark saved Noah and his family. Unjust suffering accomplished an amazing feat, the salvation of God’s people.
Noah’s ark was the object lesson of his generation. For 120 years Noah and his family worked to build the ark out of obedience to God’s command. The ark was a sermon, in a sense, that Noah preached. It showed his faithfulness and also showed the evil of the generation around him. No one listened. The ark was the means of salvation and the object that also stood for God’s judgment. Enter the ark and be saved, stay on the outside and perish. All who were in the ark lived, and all who did not enter drowned in God’s judgment.
The flood waters that brought judgment on the world in Noah’s day reminds Peter of Christian baptism. Verse 21: “And corresponding to that [the flood], baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Verse 18 says Christ died for sins and brought us to God. In other words, Christ saves us. But the question is: who is us? Whom does Christ’s death actually save? That’s what verse 21 answers: those who are baptized. But Peter knows that this will be misunderstood if he does not qualify it. So, when he says, “Baptism now saves you,” he adds, “Not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience.” This is virtually a definition of baptism. Baptism is an outward expression of a spiritual, inward appeal to God for cleansing. In other words, baptism is a way of saying to God: “I trust you to apply the death of Jesus to me for my sins and to bring me through death and judgment into new and everlasting life through the resurrection of Jesus.”
Baptism may cleanse the body because it was by immersion. But that is not why he says it saves. It saves for one reason: it is an expression of faith. It is an appeal of faith. Paul said in Romans 10:13 that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Baptism is such a calling. It is an appeal to the Lord.
So to be immersed in the Ark saved Noah, and to be immersed in Christ saves God’s people. This is what saves. Water baptism does not save; it is a very good picture of what salvation really is. All who were in the Ark were saved from God’s wrath, and all who are in Christ are saved from God’s wrath as well.
All this was accomplished when the Righteous One suffered unjustly for the unrighteous ones.
Remember, when we are called to suffer, God is accomplishing many things and there will be a divine twist, and you will be amazed at the ending.
Teaching 1 Peter by Angus MaCleay
1 Peter by Karen Jobes
1 Peter by David Helm
1 Peter by John MacArthur
1 Peter by Peter Davids
1 Peter by Wayne Grudem
1 Peter by Edmond Clowney
 Karen Jobes, 1 Peter, 236
Wartime Strategy for Living in a Hostile World
1 Peter 3:13-17
Truth Taught – God calls us to faithfulness even if we should meet resistance and persecution for doing what is right
How are we to respond when things don’t go according to plan? What happens when, as Christians, we do what is right and still experience persecution?
So far Peter has presented the positive side of obedience. He has shown us that Christians are to act in obedience to impact all our relationships whether the broad stroke of government and society to bosses to family life and in the local church. He’s shown us the proper Christian virtues for unity within the church family. In a perfect word, we’d all live in harmony together as believers, but that’s not always the case, and, just in case you’re unaware, we do not live in a perfect word.
When we are obedient and things go right, we can see how God has worked but what happens when we act in obedience and things get worse? What happens when we are zealous for good works, and we find that we are up against resistance and even persecution? What are we to do when the government or certain individuals turn on us because of our Christian faith?
How are we to live as exiles in a hostile world. We must never forget we are in enemy territory we are behind enemy lines. How do we respond when our good deeds meet with resistance and persecution?
1 Peter 3:13–17 (ESV)
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
Peter begins with a sort of rhetorical question. Who is there to harm you for doing what is good? Most of the time the answer would be no one. Yet he knows that there may be times when the answer is someone.
This past week we saw in the news and on social media a state representative that tried to bully an elderly lady, a mother and three children who were standing outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic engaged in peaceful prayer for the babies and the mothers. They were zealous for what is right, and they were engaged in peaceful prayer for the unborn. They were doing what was right and in the right way and yet they met resistance from this liberal politician who disagreed with their beliefs and felt they did not have the right to be there doing what they were doing. How does Peter tell us to respond to these types of things?
His strategy goes something like this: Since Jesus has already won then we will be blessed by God no matter what happens to us in this life. Don’t fear the resistance or even be troubled by the resistance.
Those who would oppose us often through bully tactics, guilt tactics, or whatever other means they use can, at times, make us feel like we are the ones who are wrong and that maybe we shouldn’t be doing the things we are doing even though we know they are in God’s Word.
We are to go to the aid of the unborn, the widows, the orphans and all others who cannot help themselves. We know prayer is right. We know making our presence seen is right. Yet, those who oppose us will twist the truth or seek to bully us into thinking maybe we shouldn’t be doing what we are doing.
Peter uses the phrase zealous for what is good—by this he means things like generosity, kindness, and thoughtfulness toward others. His point is that even most non-Christians respond positively toward these types of actions. Such a lifestyle has a way of restraining the hand of evil in a society. Yet, Peter knows firsthand that doing what is right doesn’t always go well for the doer.
Acts 4:1–3 (ESV)
4 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
Acts 5:27–33 (ESV)
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
If we were in the apostle’s shoes, what would we have done? Would we have dropped our heads and said, okay sir whatever you say? Would we have let them intimidate us? Would we have let them out argue us? Or would we have never even been there to start with?
They were obedient to God, but the secular world saw this as insurrection and wanted it stopped.
Peter tells us that even if we should suffer for righteousness, don’t forget we are blessed so don’t be troubled, intimidated, afraid, and don’t let them pressure you into backing down for one second because we have already won. The victory is already ours because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
The key is to have no fear of man but do fear the Lord.