1 Peter, Bible Studies

Arm Yourselves with the Faith to Suffer for the Sake of Christ and his Kingdom(1 Peter 3:18-22)

In this passage, Peter emphasizes that believers are blessed by God if they suffer for doing what is right (3:13-17).  The sufferings of believers’ leads Peter to the topic of Christ’s suffering.  The suffering of Christ was the pathway to glory and the means by which He triumphed over evil powers.  Peter implied that the same pattern is true in the life of believers.  Our suffering is the prelude to eschatological glory.  But in the interval between suffering and glory believers must prepare themselves to suffer and to make a clean break with sin.  They will be rewarded in the last day if they do so.  Finally, they are to live daily in light of the eschatological hope, which means that they must pursue a life devoted to prayer, vigilance, and ministering to others.

In verses 13-17, believers are to be full of confidence and refrain from fear because of the promise of their eschatological inheritance.  In our passage today we see that God wants to answer the question, Why it is sometimes God’s will for us to suffer for doing what is right?  Verse 18 starts answering this question by first pointing us to Jesus.  Our Lord suffered; therefore, we will follow him in suffering.  The first great encouragement to prepare ourselves for suffering for doing what is right is that this is what happened to Jesus the greatest, most loving, caring, truthful, holy man, that ever lived.  (Piper, 1994)

Naturally, someone might ask, “Why would anyone become a Christian if what you could offer them was that things in this world would probably go worse for them and that their lives would be at risk?”  The answer is that the greatest human needs are not to live long on the earth and be comfortable.  The biggest human needs are how to have our sins forgiven and overcome our separation from God and live forever with happiness in his presence instead of living forever in misery in hell.  That is ten thousand times more important than living long on the earth and being comfortable for a zillionth percentage of your existence.

This is what the death of Jesus accomplishes.  Verse 18: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.”  Notice four things.

First, Christ died “for sins.”  This is what separates me from God.  This is my biggest need.  These are my biggest enemy—not Satan. Isaiah 59:2, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.”  This is vastly more terrifying than suffering for righteousness’ sake—suffering the wrath of God because my sins have not been forgiven.  But Jesus died “for sins.”  This is the greatest thing in the world.  I do not have to die in my sins. There is forgiveness.  This is why people would believe on Jesus even if it cost them their lives.

Second, Christ died “the just for the unjust.”  His death was by substitution.  He took my place.  He stood under the wrath and penalty that I deserved and bore it for me.  His death was utterly innocent.  It was all for others’ sins, and not his own.

I like to look at it like this: It is like being in a courtroom and you are on trial and you know that you are guilty and you know that you are before a just and holy judge.  Satan the prosecutor gets up and rips you telling the judge all that you have done wrong in your life and accuses you of even the good that you have done was out of the wrong motivations.  You are at your lowest because you know that you are guilty because Romans 3 tells us that there is no one righteous, not one.  All looks dark for you.

But then, Jesus stands up on your behalf and he doesn’t say a word.  He approaches the seat of the Holy judge and reaches out his two nail pierced hands and points to the hole in his side and the crown of thorns.  And the judge rules INNOCENT, not because he is unjust, not because you deserve it, but because the punishment has been paid for.  Now here is the good news.  God the holy and just judge is not mad that he had to let you off, he is not like well I have to because the penalty is paid for.  No, he is the one that provided a way for you to be able to come to him and have fellowship with him because he loves you.  We could have never had come to the father unless he had prepared a way for us to be able to stand blameless in front of him.

Third, Christ died “once for all”—that is, his death was final and all-sufficient to accomplish the forgiveness of all who believe on him.  He does not have to ever offer another sacrifice.  It was finished.  It was all that was necessary to take away the guilt of my sins.  The debt is paid in full.

Fourth, All of this brings me to God. “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God.”

In verses 19-20, we get Jesus Christ’s proclamation of victory and judgment over the evil angels.  We read about just how evil these spirits were in Genesis 6 verses 1 through 8.

[Increasing Corruption on Earth]

[6:1] 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.

            [5] The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. [6] And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. [7] So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” [8] But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Here in this passage we see history at its most corrupt time in history, God reminds us of a time when it was tragically bad to show us that He is powerful enough to handle any circumstance.  The demons of Noah’s day were running riot through the earth, filling the world with their wicked, vile, anti-God activity, including sexual sin.  The world had become so corrupt that God looked down on the earth and only saw one man that he was pleased in, and that man was Noah.

The world was so corrupt that even 120 years of Noah’s preaching, while the ark was being built, could not convince any of the human race beyond the eight people in Noah’s family to believe in God.  Therefore, God bound these demons permanently in the abyss until their final sentencing.  The point of the passage, then, is not that Christ descended into hell, but that he delivered a message to these evil angels.  The message that Christ proclaimed is almost certainly one of triumph, after having been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”. (Schreiner, 2003)

We can apply this strange passage to our lives by realizing that we too are foreigners on this earth, a small community beset by opponents who mistreated them.  They should not be discouraged by the smallness of their numbers but must remember that God now extends his patience to all, but the day of judgment is coming in which their opponents will be ashamed and they will be vindicated.  Hence, the appeal to Noah and God’s patience reminds them to persevere.  If God preserved Noah when he stood in opposition to the whole world, he will also save his people, even though they are now being persecuted.  (Schreiner, 2003)

In verse 21, a comparison is drawn between salvation in the ark and baptism.  In both instances, believers are saved through the waters of judgment, since baptism portrays salvation through judgment.  The mere mechanical act of baptism does not save, for Peter explicitly says, “not as a removal of dirt from the body,” meaning that the passing of water over the body does not cleanse anyone.

Baptism saves you because it represents inward faith, as evidenced by one’s appeal to God for the forgiveness of one’s sins (for a good conscience).  Furthermore, baptism “saves” only insofar as it is grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Baptism is a visual representation of the fact that Christians are clothed with Christ (cf. Gal. 3:27), and in union with Christ they share his victory over sin.

For example, baptism is like my wedding band.  It is an outward sign of a commitment that I have made.  If I were to take off my wedding band then that would not make me any less married, but if I never wear my wedding band then you have to wonder about my level of commitment to my marriage.

So the question can be asked, what does suffering have to do with Baptism?  Why is this short explanation of Baptism surrounded by a passage on Suffering?  Basically, Peter shows us that Baptism is there to strengthen us for suffering with Christ.  So how does this happen?

Like this: When we have come through the water of baptism, we have passed through death and judgment.  We have been buried with Christ and we have risen with him.  We have passed from death to life.  Judgment is past.  The suffering we are experiencing cannot be the condemnation of God.  That has already been experienced for us by Christ.  We have received that by faith and we have expressed our faith by baptism.  It stands as a constant reminder that the worst suffering has been averted.  Christ took it for us.  We will never have to come into judgment.  There is now no condemnation.  We have already died that death in Christ and been raised in him.  Therefore, our present suffering is not the wrath of God but the loving discipline of our Father and the preparation for glory.

Now in verse 22, Peter realizes how confusing the past couple of verses could have been, so he reminds us of the main point of the passage.  The central truth of vv. 18–22 is that Christ has triumphed over his enemies.  He is now ascended to the right hand of God, and all angels and demonic powers are subjected to him since he is Lord and Christ.  Christians can therefore rejoice in their sufferings, knowing that Christ has triumphed.

So the main point of these verses is to help us get ready to suffer with Jesus for doing what is right, not for doing what is wrong.  For all the puzzling things in these verses we must not forget this main point—Peter’s intention in this text is to help us arm ourselves with the faith to suffer for the sake of Christ and his kingdom. (Piper, 1994)

Therefore, as believers we have no need to fear that suffering is the last word, for we share the same destiny as our Lord, who is similar to Noah.  We are a small-embattled minority in a hostile world, but we can be sure that, like Noah, our future is secure when the judgment comes.  The basis of our assurance is our baptism, for in baptism we have appealed to God to give us a good conscience of the basis of the crucified (v.18) and risen (v.21) work of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Schreiner, 2003)

In conclusion let us sum up 5 ways that this passage prepares us for suffering.

1. Remember That Christ Suffered (v.17-18).

2. Christ Has Triumphed and Brought Us Safe to God (v.18)

3. Remember the Days of Noah (v. 19-20)

4. Know the Meaning of Baptism (v. 21)

5. 5. Look to Christ at God’s Right Hand, Ruling over All (v. 22)

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Bible Studies, Sermons, The Gospels

Outline of Sermon Given on 12/16/12 (Matthew 5-7)

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1

Salt and Light
[13] “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
[14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. [15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. [16] In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Christ Came to Fulfill the Law
[17] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [19] Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

2

Anger
[21] “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ [22] But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. [23] So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, [24] leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. [25] Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. [26] Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Lust
[27] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [28] But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [29] If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. [30] And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Divorce
[31] “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ [32] But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths
[33] “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ [34] But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, [35] or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. [36] And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. [37] Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Retaliation
[38] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ [39] But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. [40] And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. [41] And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. [42] Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Love Your Enemies
[43] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? [47] And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? [48] You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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Giving to the Needy
[6:1] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
[2] “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. [3] But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4] so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The Lord’s Prayer
[5] “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. [6] But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
[7] “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. [8] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. [9] Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
[10] Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
[11] Give us this day our daily bread,
[12] and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
[13] And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[14] For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, [15] but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Fasting
[16] “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. [17] But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, [18] that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

3

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
[19] “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, [20] but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. [21] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
[22] “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, [23] but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
[24] “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Do Not Be Anxious
[25] “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? [26] Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [27] And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [28] And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [29] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. [30] But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? [31] Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. [33] But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
[34] “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

4

Judging Others
[7:1] “Judge not, that you be not judged. [2] For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
(Matthew 7:1-2; Matthew 7:3-11 ESV) [3] Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? [4] Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? [5] You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
[6] “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Ask, and It Will Be Given
[7] “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [8] For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. [9] Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? [10] Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? [11] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

5

The Golden Rule
[12] “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

6

[13] “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. [14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

7

A Tree and Its Fruit
[15] “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. [16] You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? [17] So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. [18] A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. [19] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
I Never Knew You
[21] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [22] On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ [23] And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

8

Build Your House on the Rock
[24] “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. [25] And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. [26] And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. [27] And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

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