The Gospel comes to people under sentence of death
These [who speak evilly of you] shall give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason, then, the Gospel was also preached to those who are now dead so that, they might be judged in the flesh according to men, but live by the spirit according to God.
We should remember that the final judgement is in the hands of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt 7 and 25)
He will acquit the living (those made alive in Christ) i.e. Christians
- Not because we are better than others,
- But because he has acted for us – he has made us alive.
Jesus Christ will condemn the dead — those who go on in their rebellion, who reject the mercy now offered by Christ)
- No one has an excuse – Rom 1
- It is what all people worked hard to get.
- It is what justice demands.
Those who keep on rejecting the mercy of Christ try to mess with the message and our heads
- Judged according men in the flesh .
Death comes to all people, Christians included. Some in Peter’s day pointed this out in an effort to shake the hope of Christians. ‘Look,’ they’d say, ‘Your friend/Mother/child trusted Jesus, but they still died. Where is the evidence for life that you talk about. What sort of hope is this Christianity!’
- Alive by the spirit according to God.
What Peter is pointing out is that reality does not consist only in what we can see here and now. Peter saw Jesus die on the cross, and then saw him alive again three days later. We have the assurance, from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that when Christians die, they go immediately to be with Jesus and have eternal life with him.
The main point here is: The death that comes to all cannot mess with the Christian’s hope.
As we are able, we should tell the message of hope to anyone and everyone, particularly to our enemies. We are to live in light of the message, the mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ as there are eternal consequences at stake.
People of hope live in hope
Finally, Peter reminds Christians that their struggle of this life is not forever. The consummation of all things is near.
But the end of all things draws near. Therefore, but sober and watchful in prayer for all, having earnest love for each other, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. Just as each one has received a spiritual gift, serve one another with it as good stewards of the many-sided grace of God. If one speaks, as the oracles of God; if one serves, with the strength God gives so that in everything God might be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever, Amen.
When Peter talks of the end, he is talking about the end of this world-age — from the fall of Adam to the return of Jesus. Peter points Christians to the new heavens and the new earth, where there will be no more sin, or tears, or suffering or death.
In short, he is reminding us that Christians have an eternal hope. We can live now, and must live now, in the light of that hope.
We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain (it is already kept for us in heaven).
Think like people with hope, Peter says
- Be sober
- This is not about being grim or gruff, but
- Encouragement to think clearly — don’t be muddle-headed about your hope
- Be watchful in prayer
- Pray for things Christ urges us to pray for, namely, the spread of good news, and for the basic needs of people, leaders, family, friends and enemies)
- Keep on praying
- Love one another
- Forgive one another – love covers a multitude of sin (Peter’s question to Jesus Matt 18 – how many times am I to forgive? Just keep doing it.)
- Use your abilities to serve
- Born with abilities – Spirit given (even to non-Christians)
- Use them to help others
- The word –
- Treat with it respect
- Pass it on as received – no messing with the message
- Other ways of serving
- Administrating, cleaning, befriending, feeding, Inviting, and
- Hospitality, in the context of being pilgrims and strangers in a hostile world. Sharing without grumbling. This is not talking just about a cup of tea occasionally; these were people in desperate circumstances who needed to help one another in substantial ways.
The purpose in all this is?
- That our God and Saviour Jesus Christ is to be known, loved, served and respected.
- That all good is to be attributed to him.
- That He is to be thanked for it.
- God is to be praised if you are a Christian, because you are one only because of God’s goodness, not yours.
That is Good News.