When a Christian is baptized, that act is a powerful picture of what Jesus Christ has accomplished in bringing salvation. So also the believer is showing that he is not defying God, that he has accepted the plan of God, has placed himself in Christ in the saving work of Christ his ark.
It is an incredibly wonderful and significant statement of your faith, and I say that to simply say, Christian, if that's who you are and you haven't been baptized, what are you waiting for? Jesus Christ overcame sin and death forever with his work on the cross and his resurrection. It all took place during the course of one weekend, over 2,000 years ago.
In that short time, many things happened. Peter gives a brief description in his first letter about what Jesus did between his death and resurrection. He reminds us of the hope we have, because Jesus defeated sin and death, we can have hope to help us get through our difficult times. Peter wanted to remind us that our struggles are only momentary and are worth enduring for the glory of Christ.
Stephen called this message, It happened one weekend. Peter really has an overarching theme, a direction he's taking us. You notice in verse 18, it begins with Christ dying, then in verse 19, Christ descending, then in verse 21, Christ rising, and then at the end of verse 22, Christ ascending. Let me also set the stage by telling you that this is written to encourage the believers.
This is written based on the fact they're suffering for doing what is right. That's how the previous verse ended. Then he gets into this and he says, well, Christ suffered too. And let me explain that. That seems to be very encouraging then in Peter's mind to the believer, which indeed it is.
So what I'm going to do is that lead us through this entire paragraph is to follow that general obvious theme that is the unfolding gospel drama of Christ dying, descending, rising, and ascending. All right. Fair enough. All right. Here's the first point.
Let me put it this way. Christ died paving the way to heaven. Verse 18 again, for Christ also died, for sins once for all, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God.
We've covered much of this in former studies. In fact, I will add this, however, this is one author said, probably the shortest, one of the shortest and simplest, yet one of the richest summaries of the gospel you'll find in the New Testament. In fact, some historians believe these were the lyrics of an ancient creed or even the lyrics of a hymn sung by the first century church. It just summarizes it kind of like we did before I came out here to preach. You just say it very simply, Jesus died, he saved us, and he rose on our behalf. Peter adds that what he did there brings us to God.
It's a rich statement. In fact, I think he's thinking of classical Greek here where the concept refers to one who is making the introduction to a king, a sovereign, a monarch, this individual controlled access to the king, the one bringing you to the monarch, had control, and you had to verify to him your right to see the monarch. Peter uses that idea to describe Jesus as the person who is verifying your right to go into the presence of the monarch, God the Father in this case. In other words, anybody who wants to go to heaven but doesn't want Jesus to have anything to do with it has essentially ruled out, according to Peter, the one whose role it is to verify your right to get in. Think of it like Jesus being the customs agent, or if you travel, you know, internationally Jesus is the guy or gal sitting at that booth and you're in line and you get your passport out because they're going to verify your right to get past that point. He says, you're not getting in without Jesus. Secondly, here's my second point, Christ descended proclaiming the victory of heaven. Notice the next phrase at the end of verse 18, having been put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. This is where you want to sit up, you know, straight in your desk in this Christianity 101 series because Peter's going to write some things on the board that are written in this manner nowhere else in the New Testament. He's going to give us some information that doesn't appear anywhere else.
I wish he had given us more information, but he gave us this, and let me set it up for you. When Jesus died on the cross, you remember if you're old enough of the faith and you've read the gospel accounts, especially in Luke chapter 23, he said, Father, into your hands I commit my what? My spirit. It was a real death. Wasn't slight of hand. He didn't go unconscious and then, you know, swing back to life and the coolness of the grave. He literally physically died. That's why Peter's emphasizing he died in the flesh.
This is a real death. He wasn't a phantom inhabiting a body. He could die because he was human, right?
He could die and pay the penalty for your sins in mind because he was God. Took both to even make this possible, but there on that cross, Jesus, his body died just like your body, and my body is going to die one day, barring the rapture, and when Jesus died, just like you and me, he did not cease to exist. He committed his spirit to the Father just as we will have our spirits go to be in the presence of our Lord. Paul the Apostle makes it clear that when we die, when our bodies die, yes, it looks like our bodies have fallen asleep, doesn't it? You've been to a funeral recently. You'll notice the body of the deceased looks like they're sleeping, which is why the New Testament uses the idiom of death being sleep, and all sorts of erroneous views have come out of that expression.
Paul clarifies it in 2 Corinthians 5 verse 8, to be absent from the body that is in death is to be present with the Lord immediately. Now, let me add here that we're given some sort of intermediate body. It isn't described for us.
It would look very much like us, I would assume. We aren't given descriptions of it, but we are shown it to be true. We're proven it to be true by several passages. The tour of heaven given to John the Apostle is one of the most significant proofs of this. Those who had died are immediately singing before the throne. Those who were martyred during the tribulation before the resurrection are already before the throne. They're speaking, they're kneeling, they're worshiping, they're singing.
That requires lungs and breath and mouths and tongues and the ability to speak and knees on which to bend and kneel, right? So we're given a temporary body after death, our physical body is laid in that grave and it's going to go back to dust. It'll be resurrected, reunited with our spirit that's been with the Lord immediately. That temporary body is done away. The spirit unites with this reconstituted, immortalized, eternal body like the Lord's.
That's really another sermon, probably six or seven of them. But I say that to explain Peter's statement that the spirit of Christ is alive. He's not some mystical ghost floating around, there's a body. In fact he's going to be using it to speak. He's traveling, he's going from one place to the next.
He's not sleeping somewhere, he's not in limbo, he's very much alive. Now all of that is sort of background to tell you what I find very fascinating. Peter is about to be the only New Testament author that tells us, really with this kind of clarity, some of what Jesus did after he died on the cross and before he rose again three days later. Think of it this way, Peter is telling us what Jesus did over the weekend.
I mean how cool is that? What did he do? Well look at verse 19, having been put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit in which also he went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison who once were disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah during the construction of the ark, and we better slow down right there, Jesus is alive and he's preaching to the spirits.
Who are they? Well for starters the word here for spirits is never used of human beings, apart from one occasion in Hebrews 12 where it is qualified as the spirits of the righteous. In every other instance spirits, numassan is the Greek term, always refers to angelic beings both good and evil. Jesus made a proclamation to the spirits in prison. Let me tell you those nine words in the English language have produced volumes of disagreement among Bible believing scholars. Can I tell you this paragraph has kept me awake at night? I tell you how many times I've told my wife honey that text is coming, it's here, this is the toughest text I've ever encountered, nobody agrees with anybody. Who are these spirits exactly? What is this prison, when exactly over the weekend did Jesus preach to them, did they listen to him, did they scoff at him, did they mock him, we're not told. What exactly did Jesus say to them? Listen there are at least 20 views out there on what's happening here.
I have just enough time to give you the right one, okay? So here we go. Actually I kind of say that tongue in cheek beloved because my view is sort of a combination of one or two of the other views. Now as you study the Bible, as you're growing in the Lord, you know, you've discovered it's important to read other passages of Scripture because they provide commentary on verses of Scripture. And there are a couple of passages that allude to this same event. In Peter's second letter he writes that God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into pits of darkness, that word pit, the word for the abyss is the same place where that angel is going to throw Satan during the Millennial Kingdom for a thousand years into the abyss where he's going to be chained, he won't be able to get out. So there are certain angels who sinned and were never really told what that sin was, but it was bad enough that they're judged early so that they're cast into the pit and chained reserved, Peter writes, for judgment. They're reserved for a coming judgment. That's going to occur in Revelation chapter 20. Nothing happened to a select group of demons which brought them into an early judgment prior to the final judgment, and they are now incarcerated waiting for the coming lake of fire. Jude writes a brief statement, he says that angels who did not keep their own domain but abandoned their proper abode, I think that's a reference to the defied God and they were kicked out of heaven.
He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, again very similar in its language. There are demons right now who have been kept in a special place of imprisonment in the spirit world, and we're not told where that prison is, we don't have the coordinates, don't go looking for it. They are imprisoned, unable to move around the country like the devil and all the other demons are uniquely held in prison, awaiting a future and final judgment. Now some, in fact you might have a study Bible, you're already reading the notes, and you know that's not inspired, those notes are not inspired below that line by the way, but some would argue that this is the proof that these demons are referred to in Genesis 6 who cohabited with human women in their lust and desire. These are the demons who are judged and incarcerated and they're half human, half demon offspring will die in the coming flood.
That's actually an excellent view and many hold to it, although I don't, I don't believe that demons were created with the ability to produce sperm, that would create some physiological miracles that they have been given the delegated authority to fulfill from other passages. I'd be much more confident in that view if it weren't for Peter's description here. In fact Peter tells us that these demons were disobedient not during the generations of time where they polluted the human race, corrupted it. Peter specifically tells us that they were disobedient notice during the construction of the ark.
That's a very limited 120 year period of time, right? Something happened, in fact Peter uses a generative absolute, while the ark was being built, these demons did something where God said you're going to be judged early and I'm going to chain you up and you're not getting out into the final judgment. I think, this is my view, it's more than likely, that demons possessed men and women during this 120 year period, to lead in a rebellion against God, to defy God, to literally wipe away the human race that all then would be judged, thus voiding, nullifying the possibility of a Messiah being born to a human woman. Whatever these demons did, I believe they demonized humans, they did it during the 120 years it took Noah to build the ark. And now we're told, and this is something we can be sure of, Jesus went and he made a proclamation to them in prison.
What did he say? We're not told. But I believe from the context here and what we know of demons, we're not told specifically but keep in mind that demons are not omniscient. Satan does not know the future, he's good at putting pieces together but he's been studying the Bible and he's quite clever at it and I think he takes it quite literally as well.
He can know things are going to happen, in fact he counterfeits things that the prophets say are going to happen centuries before they occur. But demons like Satan are going to have to read the newspaper to find out what happened in Nebraska last night unless they are told and I think there's a chain of information, there is a system of information that would be quite remarkable in the demonic world that were told nothing of it. But they don't know what's happened unless they've been told. And now these demons have been incarcerated in this pit of darkness ever since the construction of the flood.
So what does that mean? That means that these demons knew enough to know about the Messianic promise, that was delivered in Genesis 3.15, that the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. They knew they were in on Satan's passionate efforts to throw everything in the way they could to nullify the potential of that Messianic promise. They knew that God promised Satan in Genesis 3.15 that human offspring would crush the serpent's head.
They saw the sacrificial atoning, foretelling, foreshadowing work of that Messiah take place with God even taking the lives of animals, the shedding of blood and covering Adam and Eve. They're able to put a lot of this together and they knew that there's the Satan crushing Messiah who's going to come. These demons knew all that.
Guess what? They didn't know that he had come, that he had died. They didn't know that.
They seem to be the implication is in darkness they are isolated. They didn't know the Lord had died and atoned for sin once and for all paving way to heaven. They didn't know that Satan and their leader's plans were now crushed, irreversibly.
There's no hope. Even in some fragment of hope in a demon's mind none of that exists now and I believe Jesus went down there and told them that. I don't know how he said it but I would have said it like this, you lose. We win.
It's done. From the context of Jesus' death on the cross, the payment for sin, the promise of Satan's plans would be crushed on the cross, the fact that every attempt to pollute the human race or somehow cause all of them to defy God and be judged and wiped away thus nullifying the promise. Oh, by the way, that he's going to rise from the dead in a matter of hours and I think he probably told them that too. He's proclaiming to them that they've lost. Heaven is one.
It's victorious. What about that ark, those demons who tried to stop it, upset it, defy it, whatever? What happened with that ark? Jesus probably told them about that too. Verse 20, the middle part, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, much to the chagrin of Satan, eight people were brought safely through the waters. In other words, God's amazing plan in rescuing a remnant of believers, the entire human race defies God, but guess what, eight believed, sorry, we still have a continuous line of humanity through which ultimately the Messiah will come, Satan and the demons tried to destroy what didn't then pan out as they had hoped because God's plan succeeded. He's gone down there, wherever that is, to proclaim the victory of heaven.
I would have loved to have seen that scene. Now notice verse 21, corresponding to that, baptism now saves you, not the removal of dirt from flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that our clear conscience, which baptism is a pledge of, is accomplished by the blood of Christ. But Peter isn't saying here that the act of baptism saves you. The waters of baptism don't save you. The act of being baptized doesn't save you any more than what it corresponds to, any more than the waters of that flood save Noah. Noah didn't get out of the ark and say, I praise God for the water. In fact, he didn't even say, you know, thank God for the ark.
That saved me in a way it did. But all of it is a picture pointing to the plan of God. So they offered sacrifices after they got out of the ark, not to the ark, not to the water, but to God. The water, by the way, represents judgment and death. So corresponding to that, when someone enters the baptismal tank over here to my left, and they step into those waters, they are stepping into something which corresponds to Noah. They are stepping into water, and that water represents what?
Something wonderful that will wash your sin away? No, it represents judgment. That water represents death. It represents the grave. And that believer who is in the ark of Christ, there's the analogy. It points ultimately to the death, burial, and what?
Resurrection. You might even notice how the verse is constructed. Notice there's a parenthesis here.
Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you. Notice there's a dash. There's a parenthetical statement. Go down and begin reading after the next dash through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So just read it and take the parenthesis out. Read it that way. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That saves you from error, doctrinally. And by the way, it's still a powerful statement of your faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, right? It's a defining moment. When Noah and his family entered that ark, do you think that was a defining moment?
It sure was. It separated them from a world that defied God. So also the believer who steps into the baptismal tank is showing that he is not defying God, that he has accepted the plan of God, has placed himself in Christ, in the saving work of Christ his ark. It is an incredibly wonderful and significant statement of your faith, and I say that to simply say, Christian, if that's who you are and you haven't been baptized, what are you waiting for?
Make that statement. Take that stand. It's a wonderful opportunity to take the stand to identify with the one who saved you from judgment. I'm in the water here, but I want you to know that I placed my faith in the one who can rescue me from death. I'm going to die in Christ, I'm going to be buried in Christ, and I'm going to be resurrected in Christ.
So take your statement. Follow the Lord in baptism. Christ died, paving the way to heaven. Christ descended, proclaiming the victory of heaven, third. Christ rose and ascended, proving the supremacy of heaven. Look at the latter part of verse 21, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who was at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to him, that angels, authorities, and powers, as a reference, as Paul did to the Ephesian church, of the angelic world.
I believe both holy and demonic. Thirty days after his resurrection, what happened to Jesus, he ascended back to heaven to sit. That's the right hand of God. The father of ed kids asked me, how come Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God?
Doesn't that hurt? Well, it's not exactly what that means. This is an expression, the right hand of God. It's an expression that refers to the place of power. This is the special place of authority, worthy of all adoration. Peter is simply wrapping up this text by emphasizing the complete victory and sovereignty of Christ.
Heaven wins. He is sovereign over all of the human race, over all of human history. He's sovereign over all of nature and creation, and by the way, he validates and confirms this subjugation of the demonic world by his resurrection and ascension. They are under his authority. There's no stray Adam. There's no stray demon that is not under his sovereign control. That's where Peter's taking his readers, because they're suffering. They're discouraged. I don't think he wanted them to get hung up on demons and prisons and convoluted baptismal conclusions. He's writing to people who are suffering.
Heaven wins. So keep these two truths in mind. Let me wrap it up by these two. Number one, it is not what it seems to be. It's not what it seems. The winning side often doesn't seem to be winning.
You noticed? Jesus on the cross. Which side's winning? What does it look like? Noah's building the ark. Which side's winning?
What does it look like? Everyone mocked him. The entire human race defied his message.
He barely got his daughters and sons in law in there. Who's winning? They ridiculed Noah's belief in that ark, and they ridicule your beliefs in your ark, the Lord. You might be surrounded by unbelief, but you're safe in the ark of Christ forever. It leads me to the second truth to keep in mind. Secondly, it isn't over yet.
It isn't over yet. The believer in Christ has a spectacular future. God's plan succeeded, and Jesus accomplished that for which he came, the redemption of our soul through his own death and resurrection.
I hope that reality is true for you. Friend, have you had a chance to preview our magazine? Each month, Stephen deals with a different topic in a magazine we call Heart to Heart. He helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life. Each issue also includes a devotional guide for that month.
Stephen's son, Seth, writes devotionals that are theologically rich and filled with practical insight for your life. This is a resource that we mail to each of our wisdom partners as a way of saying thank you. We also send three issues to anyone who asks, and we'd like to send the next three to you. You can sign up on our website. As soon as you get to WisdomOnline.org, you'll see a link that will take you right to the sign up page. You can also call us today. Our number is 866-48-Bible. Contact us today, then join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-05 22:54:47 / 2022-11-05 23:00:38 / 6