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Our Wonderful Savior Jesus Christ

Notes & Transcripts

Our Wonderful Savior Jesus Christ

1 Peter 3:18-22

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 3, 3013

*Nobody is like Jesus! -- He is our wonderful Savior!

*I love the way this old hymn puts it:

“O worship the King, all glorious above,

O gratefully sing His power and His love;

Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,

Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,

In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;

Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,

Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.” (1)

*Jesus is our wonderful Savior.

-And in these verses we can see how wonderful He is.

1. First, we see Jesus’ perfection.

*Leading up to vs. 17&18, Peter had been talking about believers suffering for the cause of Christ. Then Peter said:

17. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

18. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

*“Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust.” Jesus is perfect. He is the Just One, -- The only one who never sinned in thought, word or deed. The Just died for the unjust. The perfect, only righteous one died for the unjust!

*And we are the unjust. Richard Wilson explained by saying, “Some folks think they are good really good people. Let’s suppose that a person only sins three times a day: A sin in the morning, a sin during the day and a sin at night.

*Sounds like a pretty good person! But if that person lives to be 70 years old, they will commit 76,650 sins in their lifetime.” (2)

*And Church: That doesn’t count leap years! -- We are the unjust.

-But here in vs. 18, we see Jesus’ perfection.

2. We also see His purpose for suffering.

*Verse 18 tells us that: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. . .”

*You surely won’t get to the Heavenly Father without Jesus! As the Lord said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And Jesus wants to bring us to God.

*What a glorious trip it will be for all who trust in the Lord!

-But that trip for us home to Heaven came at the highest cost.

-It was Jesus’ purpose for suffering on the cross.

3. But here in these verses we also see Jesus preaching.

*Of course Jesus preached during His earthly ministry. But here in vs. 18-20, we see something very different. And we are going to spend a good while on this preaching, because it’s a difficult passage of Scripture.

*Peter said:

18. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

19. by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,

20. who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

*The mystery in these verses is about preaching to the spirits in prison. And the mystery centers around:

-Who the “He” is in vs. 19.

-What He preached.

-Where He preached.

-And who He preached to.

*Some people believe that Jesus went to hell to preach salvation to those who were lost. But that cannot be true, because it is contrary to the rest of Scripture.

*Another view is that the “He” in vs. 19 refers to the Holy Spirit, who spoke through Noah when he preached during the building of the ark.

*My view is that the “He” in vs. 19 is talking about Jesus, and vs. 18-19 could read this way:

18. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

19. by whom also (Jesus) went and preached to the spirits in prison,

*To see why, I think this is the answer to the mystery we have to answer two questions.

[1] The first question is this: When saved people in the Old Testament died, where did they go?

*We tend to think they went to Heaven, but I don’t know of any Scripture that tells us that. On the contrary, let’s look at evidence that saved people did not go to Heaven before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ:

*The Gospel of John makes this statement just before Jesus began His earthly ministry: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18)

*Then in John 3:12-13, Jesus said this to Nicodemus:

12. “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

13. No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

*Well, if Old Testament believers didn’t go to Heaven, when they died, where did they go? Jesus tells us in Luke 16. There a saved beggar died, and in Luke 16:22, Jesus said: “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom.”

*In this same passage a lost rich man also died. And starting in Luke 16:23, Jesus described what happened to the lost man:

23. And being in torments in Hades (the KJV says “hell”), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’

25. But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.

26. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

*The Old Testament believers went to Abraham’s Bosom. It was a temporary place of rest for them. But the only way the Scripture all fits is if before the resurrection of Jesus there were two sections in hell: One section for the saved who would be rescued by the crucified and risen Savior. The other section was for the lost.

[2] This explanation makes more sense when we answer the second question which is: Where did Jesus go when He died?

*In Luke 23:43, Jesus said this to the saved thief on the cross: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” We hear that, and we assume that Jesus was talking about Heaven.

*But remember what Jesus said to Mary after He rose from the dead. At first she was overcome with sorrow, because she thought someone had stolen the Lord’s body from the empty tomb. She also thought the Risen Lord was the gardener. But when Jesus called her name, she grabbed Him and held on tight. But in John 20:17. Jesus told her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

*Also listen to part of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. Peter talked about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then starting in Acts 2:25, Peter said:

25. For David says concerning Him: `I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken;

26. therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh will also rest in hope,

27. because You will not leave my soul in Hades (again the KJV says “hell”), nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

28. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in Your presence.'

29. Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

30. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,

31. he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

32. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

*The only way I can make all of this Scripture fit together is for Paradise and Abraham’s Bosom to be the same section in Hades or hell. It was the place of rest for saved people before Jesus ascended back into Heaven.

*Across a great gulf in Hades was “Gehenna,” the place of suffering fire for the lost. The lost rich man from Luke 16 was in “Gehenna.” This word is found 12 times in the New Testament. One example is Luke 12:5, where Jesus said: “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

*This word “hell” is “Gehenna.” And the name came from the Valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned. In the latter years of the Old Testament Kingdom, the Valley of Hinnom was also the place where idol worshipping Jews burned their children as a sacrifice to the demon-god Molech. And the fires of Gehenna never went out.

*Right after Jesus died on the cross, He went to the “Paradise” or “Abraham’s Bosom” side of Hades. And in vs. 19, Peter says that Jesus preached. But what did He preach? -- Well, He preached a message like Abraham preached in Luke 16: Judgment for the lost; rest and resurrection for the saved.

*Jesus also preached victory over Satan, sin and death! That’s why Colossians 2:15 says: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

*Ephesians 4:7-10 adds another piece of the puzzle. Here Paul said this to followers of Jesus Christ:

7. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

8. Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.''

9. (Now this, "He ascended'' what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

10. He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

*The picture is of a victorious army in parade, putting its captives on display. But Albert Barnes tells us that in the same parade were the captives who have been rescued from the enemy. So when Jesus ascended back into Heaven, He took all of the Old Testament believers in Abraham’s Bosom with Him. (3)

*And that gets us to today, when all Christians can say what Paul said in 2 Cor 5:6-8:

6. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.

7. For we walk by faith, not by sight.

8. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

*Just as soon as we leave this body in death, we go to Heaven to be with the Lord! Christians, we need to realize that life is much better on the resurrection side of the cross. And it’s all because of our wonderful Savior!

-But here we see Jesus preaching.

4. We also see Jesus’ power to save.

*Who were the lost people Jesus preached to in vs. 19? -- Verse 20 tells us that they “formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, 8 souls, were saved through water.” Then in vs. 21, Peter said: “There is also an antitype (or '“figure” in the KJV) which now saves us. . .”

*The idea behind that word “antitype” or “figure” is a thing formed after some pattern, a thing resembling another thing, or its counterpart. In the Bible, an antitype is “somebody or something foreshadowed by or having striking similarities to an earlier person or thing.” (4)

*And in vs. 21, Peter said: “There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

*Some people think Peter was talking about water baptism saving us in this verse. But the Believer’s Bible Commentary reminds us that the only people who got saved in Noah’s day were the people who weren’t in the water.

*So Noah’s Ark was the antitype or figure of Jesus. “The ark was the only way of salvation. . . -- The ark was the place of refuge. The ark went through the water of judgment; it took the full brunt of the storm. Not a drop of water reached those inside the ark.”

*And the ark is a picture of Jesus: He “bore the fury of God's judgment against our sins. (And) for those who are in Him there is no judgment.”

*And the saving baptism here is not water baptism. In vs. 21, Peter points out that all water baptism can do is wash away the filth from our external flesh. Believer’s Bible Commentary suggests that the baptism Peter meant was Christ’s baptism of suffering on the cross. (5)

*We have to remember that “baptize” does not always mean “to submerge in water.” It means “to submerge.” And Jesus’ baptism into suffering was on the Lord’s mind in Luke 12:50, when He said: “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”

*Also remember that when we believe in Jesus, we are born again by the Spirit of Christ as He comes to live in our hearts. But at the same time, the Holy Spirit “submerges” or “baptizes” us into the literal, spiritual Body of Christ.

*Paul put it this way in 1 Cor 12:12&13.

12. For as the body is one and has many members (or parts), but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. . .”

*This is the only baptism that can save us. And it’s all because of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus has the power to save us! And Noah’s ark in vs. 20 is a picture of the Lord’s salvation for us. Have you gotten in the boat?

*In John 10:9, Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” Evie Megginson explained that Jesus said He was “not just ‘a door,’ but ‘the door.’

-There was only one door in the Ark.

-There was only one door in the tabernacle.

-And Jesus is the only door to Heaven.” (6)

*Only Jesus Christ has the power to save us! -- And His power to save was absolutely confirmed when Jesus rose from the dead. This is a vital part of Peter’s message in vs. 21-22:

21. There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

22. who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

*How can we ever get a clear conscience before God? -- How can we ever get over the shame of our guilty consciences? Peter says in vs. 21 that Christians get “the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

*Again the Believer’s Bible Commentary explains that “a clear conscience is inseparably linked with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection tells me that God is fully satisfied with the redemptive work of His Son. If Christ had not risen, we could never be sure that our sins had been put away. He would have died like any other man. But the risen Christ is our absolute assurance that the claims of God against our sins have been fully met.” (5)

*Robert Bruce surely knew this power of the Lord’s resurrection. He was a long-ago king of Scotland who died in 1329. Just after breakfast on the day Robert Bruce died, his eyesight failed. He called for his Bible and asked his children to put his finger on Romans 8:38&39:

38. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

39. nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

*When this was done, Robert confidently said, “Now, God be with you, my dear children. I have eaten breakfast with you. And I shall eat supper with my Lord Jesus Christ this night.” (7)

*With those words of confident faith, Robert Bruce went straight to Heaven, saved by our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ!

CONCLUSION:

*Tonight in our closing prayer, let’s praise God for our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ, and ask God to help us do all we can to reach more people for Him.

(1) Words: Robert Grant, in Christian Psalmody, by Edward H. Bickersteth, 1833, alt. This version is a reworking of lyrics by William Kethe in the Genevan Psalter of 1561. (Source: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/w/owtking.htm)

(2) Adapted from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Richard Wilson

(3) Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible - Ephesians 4:8

(4) www.bing.com/Dictionary

(5) “Believer's Bible Commentary” by William MacDonald - 1 Peter 3:9-22 - Edited by Arthur Farstad - Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Copyright 1995

(6) SermonCentral sermon “The Door to Abundant Life” by Evie Megginson - John 10:9-11

(7) Adapted from the Gray and Adams Bible Commentary (Zondervan) - Romans 8:39

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