Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fixing Your Hope On Christ (1 Peter 3B) #hope #suffering #Christ

Theme: Fix your hope on Christ

5) By preparing to suffer (13 - 4:19)

All those who live godly in Christ Jesus, will suffer persecution (1 Tim. 3:12). Jesus did, and 1 Pet. 4:1, in summary of what has been said in 3:13-22, says, "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose..." (NAS). There are several ways you may prepare for suffering:

By making Christ your Lord (13-15a)

Mt. 10:28 says do not fear those who can kill your body, but are unable to kill your soul, but "rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell" (NAS). Romans 8 says no one can separate you from the love of God, and Hebrews says that hope of resurrection in Christ can free you from the fear of physical death. 

When you do good works, this helps keep you from suffering for wrong doing or a guilty conscience, and will "put to shame" "those who revile your good behavior". By setting Christ apart from others as the Lord of your heart, you prepare for suffering in a way which results in good works and helps you silence your enemies. 

By knowing why you hope (15b):

This verse says you should be ready to "make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (NAS). The hope to which Peter refers in this letter, is your hope of grace Christ will bring you at His appearing. Chapter one explains you will receive an eternal inheritance.  

Your basis for this hope is "the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1:3). Since Christ died for your sins, raising Him from the dead confirmed a sufficient payment, and that you too will rise from physical death (1 Cor. 15).  You fix your hope on Christ by knowing why you hope, and this prepares you to suffer and witness to the lost.

C) By keeping your conscience clear (17-22)

It's important, when you're suffering, to know you are not guilty. Guilt makes you ashamed of the appearing of Christ (Heb. 10:37-39), and gives the lost a grounds for slandering you. Romans 2 says your conscience is that internal witness which either convicts you of your sin, or justifies  your conduct when it is right. If you thrust away the testimony of your conscience, it can become defiled or seared, so that you are no longer convicted of error, begin to drift from sound doctrine, to practice sin, and to embrace lies (Rom. 14 - 15; 2 Cor. 8 - 9; 1 Tim. 1:3ff.; 1:19-20; 6:3-5).

When you "prove zealous for what is good" (13 NAS), though, your conscience will not convict you, and the lost will be the ones who are ashamed for slandering you. Your basis for knowing that you are not guilty, is the death of Christ for your sins (18). As your High Priest, Christ has, "once for all", satisfied all God's righteous demands against all sin of all time (Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 10). Christ's priesthood prevails in the heavenly holy of holies, and gives you grounds for confident access into the very presence of God (Heb. 4:14-16; 6:19-20; 10:10-22). 

Christ's death and resurrection not only free you from the guilt of your sin, they also free you from it's power in your daily walk with God (Rom. 6:1-14). The Holy Spirit so baptizes, or places you into the person and work of Christ, that you have actually died with Him to sin, and been raised with Him to newness of life. As you know your position in Christ and count it to be true, you may, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, yield your members as instruments of righteousness to God, rather than sin. This enables you to maintain good works and a clear conscience. 

Verses 19-22, about Christ preaching to the spirits in prison, and you being saved by baptism, has yielded much discussion and various interpretations. The one which seems simplest and clearest, is that Christ preached "in spirit", through Noah's testimony during the 120 years he built the ark. Just as getting into the ark brought Noah safely through the waters of judgment, delivering Him from the mocking of the lost, so now, your baptism into the person and work of Christ saves you from a guilty conscience and the slander of the lost. 

Verse 18 is talking about preaching which Christ did "in spirit". The souls to whom Christ preached, are those in prison, but which were disobedient during the time when Noah was preparing the ark. We may understand that these souls are "now" in prison, but this does not necessarily mean that they were in prison at the time Christ preached to them.  

In Genesis 6, God says His Spirit will not always strive with man, "nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." 2 Peter 2:5 says that Noah was a "preacher of righteousness", and that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (1:21). 1 Peter 1:11 says the "Spirit of Christ" was in the OT prophets, indicating spiritual truths through them. Thus, the Spirit of Christ was in Noah, preaching to the disobedient souls for 120 years before the flood came. 

In the NT, "baptism" (a placing under, or into), can refer to ritual water baptism, or to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which places you into the person and work of Christ. Water baptism is a picture of spiritual baptism, and serves as a testimony, but is of no saving value. Verse 21 says that the type of salvation it is referring to is "not the removal of dirt from the flesh", as baptism in water would accomplish, but "an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God. 

As entering the ark brought Noah safely through the waters at the time of the flood, delivering Him not only from judgment, but also the slander of the lost, so being placed (or baptized) into the work of Christ saves you from guilt of your sin, and the slander of the lost. You prepare for suffering by keeping a clear conscience, through faith in Christ.

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Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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