1 Peter 3:17-22 (continued from Part 1)
If you are trusting Jesus Christ, as he is offered to us in the Bible, then God has done an extraordinary thing for you. He has brought you to himself.
- put to death by flesh — we killed him
- raised to life by the Spirit — God raised him from the dead
‘By which Spirit, Christ went and preached to the spirits now in prison, to those who were disobedient in the days of Noah, when the patience of God waited while the Ark was being prepared.’
This is a difficult passage, but I invite you to think of it this way.
Noah, Peter tells us in 2 Peter 2:5, was a preacher of righteousness. In other words, Noah would have spoken to the people about how they might be saved if they trusted themselves to the message of judgement and mercy that God had given Noah to preach.
Noah might have said something like this:
‘Our sins have offended our creator, and he will bring a terrible judgement — a deadly flood. But he has given a way of escape — an ark is being prepared. Believe God’s assessment of your behaviour. Repent of your distrust of God and come to him. Come into the ark and be saved.’
It was Christ who, by his Spirit, spoke through Noah long ago. It was the same sort of message that Peter and the Christians of his day heard and believed.
Many in Noah’s day heard that message but ignored it. They most likely made fun of Noah and his sons as they built a huge boat far from the sea. They died in the flood and their spirits are now in prison awaiting the resurrection and their final condemnation.
Those who believed the message were saved, but they also endured the mockery and other sufferings associated with trusting God and trying to do good in a sinful world.
Remember that Noah, as much as anyone else in his day, deserved to die for his sins. But God was pleased to show mercy to Noah and his family. Noah found grace from God.
Eight were saved, but the mere presence of the ark saved no one. The gift of saving faith was needed to get any human being into the ark before the flood came.
They were saved through water, which is an antitype (a picture) as baptism now saves us.
It is not water baptism that saves anyone, just as it was not the water that saved Noah.
Safety did not come through the action of water as if water could remove guilt as easily as it can take dirt off our skin. No, rather Baptism is a sign that we are in Christ (Romans 6). If we are in Christ (by God’s goodness, through faith) then we are saved from sin and condemnations.
Just as Noah was saved by being in the Ark (sprinkled by the rain — a sign of baptism), we are saved because we are in Christ (of which baptism is a sign).
We have our real guilt dealt with by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Jesus’ resurrection points back to his faultless life that he lived in our place, to his death on the cross by which he removed from us our sin and its judgement.
By his resurrection the benefits of forgiveness and righteousness are now available to his people — those for whom he died, those to whom the Holy Spirit gives faith and new life.
Because of these things that Jesus alone has done for us, we can have a clean conscience before God. We can know that God is no longer angry with us, if we are trusting his Son.
And this Jesus is trust worthy. He is at the right hand of God. He has all authority in Heaven and on Earth. The world is in his control. Nothing happens without his command.
Remember where we started.
Why is it better to suffer as a Christian than for being an evil doer?
God brings his good out of evil. This might not mean we experience that good ourselves in this world, but God is served when his people do what pleases him in difficult situations.
- No matter what evil we may suffer here and now, it cannot take from us that good which God has stored up for us in heaven.
- The suffering of this life is nothing compared to the sufferings of the next if we go on in our rebellion against our Creator. Remember the spirits in prison. They have nothing to look forward to but continually experiencing the consequences for their unchanging rebellion against God.
- Christ has saved his people and they can never be lost. Their safety depends on the victory and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. It does not depend on us. We are simply to trust him.