Monday, August 31, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: We Win!
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:19-22 …through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Jesus is alive! He is risen from the dead! And because He lives, I too am alive and will live forever.
Those statements form the basis of a proper understanding of this difficult passage in First Peter. Keep all of that in mind as we go through it.
Jesus Christ was crucified in the flesh, but when He was raised from the dead by the power of God He was raised a spiritual being. Yes, He still had a body, but it was a glorified one. As Peter writes to us in chapter three about our Christian lifestyle, and specifically in the previous verses about being willing to suffer for our faith, He uses the death and resurrection of Christ as an example for us to follow. Christ was unjustly persecuted and killed, yet in His resurrection He proclaimed His victory and their condemnation. Now He abides at the right hand of the Father with all authority over them.
Let’s break down each part of the passage and give a short explanation so it doesn’t confuse us.
- Through whom… the Holy Spirit, who was the giver of Christ’s resurrected life at the command of the Father.
- also he went and preached…He did not preach to these spirits while He was in the grave, but rather after He had been given life from above.
- to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built…Who were these spirits? Of all the explanations, I think the best one is that they were the demonic spirits that influenced the people of Noah’s day to remain in rebellion against God in spite of Noah’s preaching of judgment. I do not believe that these are the spirits of dead people, righteous or unrighteous, because nowhere in Scripture does the term spirit refer to dead humans. These demonic spirits are being held captive by the power of God until the final Day of Judgment. In the victory of His resurrection, Christ proclaimed to them that their final doom was sealed and that He is Lord!
I’ll finish the passage tomorrow, but need to make a point of application so you have something to live by today. The Apostle Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” There is an undeniable correlation between our willingness to suffer as Christ did and the experience of the victory and power of Christ’s resurrected life in us. We must reach the point of death to self. We must surrender the complete and total control of the outcome of our life to God. When we do, we will experience the same power over the suffering that Jesus did.
Look at Paul’s words in Ephesians one – “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Here’s the point – the power of God to stand in victory over all enemies is ours because we have been raised from death to life in Christ. That doesn’t mean that all the enemies are presently defeated. But in the final Day of Judgment, we will stand with Christ in the power and authority of His Name and we will be exalted over them. It was that hope that allowed Jesus to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2 – Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.) It is that same hope that gives us endurance today (Hebrews 12:3 – Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.)
My friend, times are tough. They are going to get tougher. It is not God’s objective for our lives to empower us to make life easy. It is His objective to empower us to look beyond whatever suffering happens to us as a result of our stand for Him and to see the finish line of victory. Stop spending so much time trying to change your physical condition now. Your spiritual life in Christ is the guarantee of future exaltation. Live in the hope of your faith.