1 PETER SERIES – NR 7
Theme: Resurrection victory
Scripture: 1 Peter 3: 18 – 22
Also read Genesis 6: 11-22.
It is the will of God when a Christian-believer suffers and sometimes experiences adversity for the sake of a good testimony for the Lord. Not by unnecessarily looking for trouble, but simply by experiencing suffering and persecution by trying to remain faithful to the Lord – faithful to the bone. And that is 100% within the will of the Lord. That is the truth with which the previous passage ended and that we studied last time.
It is perhaps an extreme example but I think of someone like John Cennick who lived in England during 1718 – 1755 and who was a preacher. He decided to take the Lord’s commission literally and to obey by preaching the Word on the streets, where he was sometimes assaulted, beaten black and blue, pelted with dead dogs. Once he was cast into a mud hole and on another occasion he was sprayed with ink. Once people beat drums and banged pans together to deaden the sound of his preaching. But in spite of all that, he persevered for 5 years preaching the Gospel-message.
Now the Apostle is saying: But look at the road the Lord Jesus walked during His earthly ministry in obedience to the will of His Father. Yes, His suffering for sins WAS indeed the will of God and it was God’s work, but it happened through the hands of MAN. Christ-antagonists. In THOSE footsteps all faithful and obedient Christians will somehow follow. Be comforted by that. Look at the way of the Lord Jesus. In a certain sense you too shall suffer like Him if you want to be faithful to Him at all.
But, there is also a difference. Namely that Christ was 100% without sin and innocent. He is the perfect Son of God! HIS sufferings were therefore purely injustice. But, the will of God for HIM was as follows: His unjust suffering was as the substitute of sinners. It means that He took the place of all those who would ever come to faith. It means that His vicarious suffering was FOR US.
Look how the Holy Spirit puts it through Peter’s pen: Christ suffered FOR the sins. The righteous FOR the unrighteous. TO (the purpose) bring you to God. Brilliant, isn’t it?
His suffering was once only. Then the matter was closed. Only ONE sacrifice, and all the guilty are delivered. And reconciled with God. Jesus stooped in under the wrath of God as a lightning conductor. If WE had to do that, we would have gone to hell forthwith. But the Son of God could! He was killed, but rose from the grave – by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now every person who has started to place their hope in Him, is brought to the Father. That means: reconciled with God. It is the best ever message!
In short, that is the teaching and instruction of verse 18. But now look at verses 19-20.
The Holy Spirit inspires the Apostle to take a great example from the OT and pull it through to Christ’s resurrection-triumph. And we must pay close attention and keep in mind who Peter’s first readers were and what he meant to do by writing this letter to them. He wanted to encourage them. Why? Because they were suffering for Christ and eroneously thought it was God’s punishment that came over them because they had supposedly done something wrong. But the Apostle is showing them the truth of the matter and he encourages them by showing them how God saved His children in the OT when it looked as if they were in the teeth of calamity. God has the ability to do it. And the example Peter is thinking of – under influence of the Holy Spirit – is Noah – delivered in the Ark from the catastrophic judgment of God: the flood that was coming over the earth. Yes, the Lord God knows how to deliver His people. Noah’s experience proves it. And God’s promises to Noah were later fulfilled in Christ Jesus. And the suffering Christians to whom Peter is writing are connected to Christ, and therefore to the same Christ who delivered Noah. And their baptism is the visible guarantee that the same promises that applied to Noah, apply also to them by their connectedness to Christ.
You are aware that there are theologians today who no longer believe the reliable historicity of Noah and the Ark and the Flood. But the Apostle Peter believed it 100%. Just like Jesus did. And not one of us know better than Jesus and Peter! Noah, the Ark and the flood are absolutely real historical facts. So say the Holy Spirit of Christ! And we believe Him!
We also believe the Scriptures in Genesis 6 that there were fallen angels – that is demons – who in some way begot children with women. And that while God restricted the angels to maleness and therefore no marriage relations were possible for them (Matt 22:30 and Luke 20:36). They have therefore moved the borders around sexuality which God had put in place for them. And furthermore, they encouraged disobedience to God’s will during all the time Noah preached and was building the ship – so that the spirits of the masses who were lost in the flood are, along with the fallen angels, awaiting judgment in the realm of darkness – to this very moment!
2 Peter 2: 4-5 and Jude verses 6-7 provide more clarity.
For the past almost 6000 years, God is holding these fallen spirits imprisoned in chains of darkness until the breaking of the final Day of Judgment. Jude calls it EVERLASTING chains. These fallen angels together with the souls of the many thousands who died in the flood, the eternal punishment is their fate of which they have had undoubtedly a terrible foretaste for 6000 years already. And that is also the case with PEOPLE who die in disobedience and remain without Christ, up until our day. That is what we read in Luke 16: 19-31 and 2 Thess 2: 8-10.
Certain things we will never understand and other things we can. We cannot understand exactly how these fallen angels/spirits, in the time of Noah, came to a fall. It is therefore senseless to speculate about it. What the Scriptures do not reveal, we shall never know.
We do however, know with certainty the following:
1 They are still living after 6000 years
2 They are kept in chains of darkness
3 They are on their way to hell
4 There SHALL be a final judgment
5 Jesus did rise from the grave
6 AFTER His resurrection, Jesus went to make His victory known to these spirits. How, we do not know, but He did. And He revealed His victory already in a prophetic manner by Noah’s preaching to the lost of that time, whose souls are kept even today in chains of darkness. By the preaching of Noah, Jesus already preached.
7 One CAN be saved from the judgment, because Noah and 7 others were saved from the judgment (the flood)
8 JESUS is the Ark of salvation and whoever is in Him (though they are few) are safe for ever!
Back to Noah and the ship of salvation – Verse 21:
The ship, the ark (incidentally, that means a container for safe keeping) saved Noah from the judgment of God. Without any doubt. Therefore the ark was a foreshadowing of Christ’s resurrection from the grave which saves people from the judgment of God. Christ is sometimes referred to as the “Ark of salvation”.
But look now: NT-baptism proclaims and seals/guarantees/authenticates exactly the same deliverance from the judgment of God. Baptism proclaims that Christ’s death-and-resurrection is the ark of salvation. His resurrection saves believers from God’s judgment and the consequences of sin. The Apostle declares that baptism saves us continuously/uninterrupted! The verb is passive. The believer IS daily being saved. Not by something that washes the body, by that washes the soul. BAPTISM (not the human) PRAYS to God. That means baptism makes an appeal on God’s pledge that the resurrection of Christ would cleanse the heart.
Listen once more: Your personal baptism with water – whenever and however it took place – as long as it was administered to your name – with water – in the Name of the Triune God by a lawful Minister of the Word – every day makes an appeal on the faithfulness of God to His promise that Jesus’s resurrection cleanses you every day from the eternal consequences of sin.
It is true of all those baptized – also those who are still unsaved and even lives a life indifferent towards the Lord and His Truth. Your baptism is not dead. You may not ever even think about your baptism, or you may regard it as something insignificant. But the Scriptures have news for you! Your baptism prays to God. Your baptism makes an appeal on the pledge of God that Jesus’s resurrection cleanses and washes. It is a prudent person who carefully takes note of these things and deeply repents and comes to his/her senses. Why not today?
We must carefully take note of what is written in this passage of Scripture. Because remember: It is GOD’S Word.
Initially it sounds as if baptism itself saves and forgives and cleanses. But such an idea would be contrary to the entire rest of the Scripture which is absolutely clear that baptism and communion do NOT save! The criminal next to the cross of Jesus did for example directly go into Paradise without water or bread or wine.
Look at what the Apostle is saying. He is saying that baptism saves you BY the resurrection of Jesus Christ! There is the answer. It is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that constantly saves and forgives and cleanses the believer. And baptism assures us OF THAT! The baptism binds us to the resurrection of Christ. Baptism draws our attention away from BAPTISM and focuses our heart upon the Lord Jesus’s blood and cross so we can find our salvation THERE!
It is too wonderful for words. Baptism is nothing else but a God given assurance to help us believe. It is a God given guarantee that says: The resurrection of Jesus is truly your salvation and deliverance from the judgments of God and the eternal consequences of your sins. Do not doubt! Cling to the resurrection of Christ. You will never regret it. You will never be put to shame. Look to Jesus and daily repent! And THAT is your great comfort when you suffer for Christ.
Verse 22 is almost even more majestic in truth and power!
The Apostle does not hesitate to put the Lord forward and declare His glory, because He is controlled by the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit always focuses only upon Christ (John 16:14).
Where Peter said in the previous verses that we are saved by the resurrection of Christ and that baptism binds us to THAT, he continues to explain in verse 22 WHO this Jesus really is!
He is nobody’s playmate. He not only went to announce His victory and triumph and authority to the fallen angels in the realm of darkness. He not only proclaimed His victory and triumph and authority through Noah’s preaching to the lost of that time, but also in the heavens! He literally entered into heaven, says the Holy Spirit in verse 22.
Yes, Jesus’s resurrection was a triumphal procession wherein He subjected the angels to Himself. And now they are still – at this minute and hour – submitted to Him. The angels and spiritual authorities and powers bow down to Him and honour Him who has overcome death as the victor. Read also 1 Cor 15:24 and Col 2:15.
According to Eph 6:12 and 1 Cor 15:24-28 the supernatural spiritual beings that are here called authorities, powers and forces, are hostile to the kingdom of God. It is fundamentally part of the struggle which Christians experience, which FEELS and LOOKS as if it is a struggle against PEOPLE. But according to Eph 6, the struggle is not against people .
Every true child of the Lord is included in Christ and is sitting in a position of protection and authority. Because WHERE is Christ the Lord? He is at the right hand of the majesty of the power and might of God’s glory. God’s right hand means a place of honour and authority.
The Christian may sometimes suffer or be persecuted or suffer hardship, but is never a loser. Never. Because Jesus is not. And because HE is not one, the people who are included in Him, are also not that!
Translated by Marthie Wilson