The Great Exchange.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).

No matter the degree of suffering we may encounter as believers in Christ, it pales in comparison to the suffering Jesus Christ experienced on the cross. In paralleling what he has already said in I Peter 2:24, the apostle returns to the core truth of the gospel: the substitutionary atonement provided by Jesus Christ.

I Peter 3:18 is in harmony with several other passages of Scripture not written by Peter, but which also teach substitutionary atonement.

  • Romans 4:24-25: It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  • Galatians 3:13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
  • Hebrews 9:24-28: For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Peter also illustrates the truths he gave in 3:13–17. Christ provides the perfect example. He suffered for doing what was right in the eyes of God (2:14). His sinless and righteous life caused the unjust anger of evil men. However, He did not fear them but kept trusting Himself to God. Jesus Christ died in the sinner’s place, keeping a clear conscience (cf. 2:23). As a result, God gave Him tremendous blessing and reward in His own resurrection and subsequent exultation.

While our suffering for Christ cannot equal what Christ accomplished in His suffering on the cross for sinners, we can be so identified with Him, and therefore bring Him glory, when we suffer for His name. Take time at this moment to thank God for the opportunities to suffer for the gospel.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

A Clear Conscience.

15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame(I Peter 3:15-16).

When we follow the Lord’s instructions, such as set forth in I Peter 3:15, we stand before the Lord with a clear conscience. This is because we have done what He has asked. Peter uses the phrase “good conscience” to mean having a moral and beneficial sensitivity before God and other people. This clear conscience is a result of our obedience to God.

This brings us to Peter’s purpose clause in the latter part of vs. 16. God will be pleased with our gentleness and respect to people as we share the gospel, This results in a good or clear conscience. This will help us “when” we are slandered.

Slander (καταλαλέω; katalaleo) means to speak evil of someone (I Peter 2:12). This type of speech is intended to hurt the subject in question. Peter is preparing us for the time when we will be verbally attacked because of our commitment to share the gospel. Again notice that Peter does not say we might be slandered but that we will be slandered. It is not a question of if, but rather only a question of when.

Have people lied about you to others? Have they said things you knew were not true, but perhaps had no way of proving it? Have you experienced the pain of friends believing the lies about you, as told by others? What will happen when people slander us?

If we continue to maintain a gentle and respectful attitude and behavior when people slander us because of our commitment to the truth of God, God will put them to shame. People who dishonor us and our good behavior (anastrophe), God will dishonor.

Peter encouraged his readers with the fact that good behavior, gentleness and respect being but two examples, is their best defense against unjust punishment and persecution.

How have you been slandered recently? Was it by a once close friend? Be encouraged, my friend. God will make it right.

Soli deo Gloria!

Answering Questions.

15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (I Peter 3:15).

As we set about to honor in our hearts Christ the Lord as holy, and always being prepared to make a defense of the gospel, to whom are we engaging with our preparation to defend the gospel? Peter provides the answer in the latter part of vs. 15.

We are to honor and prepare to defend the gospel to anyone we come into contact with. Now, Peter does give us some qualifications as to whom this people specifically are. They could be anyone and everyone we meet. However, what they want to talk to us about is not the weather, but God.

First, they are people who ask (αἰτέω; aito) demand or plead to us for something. These are people who are asking questions with an urgency, even to point of being demanding. What could be so important? Where we got the great deal on our new car?

Second, for what are they asking? The answer to their question is a reason (λόγος; logos) or a verbal statement from us for the hope (ἐλπίς; elpis) or confident expectation we have within our souls regarding the salvation we have from God through Jesus Christ. That is what the phrase “the hope that is in you” means.

The tone of this statement is one of urgency. While it is certain that Jesus calls all believers to share the gospel throughout their lives (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8), He also calls us to be especially prepared for those who urgently want to know not only what we believe, but why we believe it, regarding how we as sinful people can become right with God.

These encounters may occur in a hospital room, a funeral home, or even in someone’s home where the urgent desire for an answer to their questions about the gospel of God is sought. We are not to dismiss the questions, or dare I say, put them off for another day. No! God calls us to be prepared for that specific moment whenever and wherever it may happen.

So, be prepared? How is your preparation coming along? Are you getting ready for that family gathering featuring burgers and bratwurst? How about your upcoming Christmas gatherings? Perhaps you should put the Bible on your list.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

God’s People.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:10).

It is always good to remember our responsibility to tell everyone what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is also good to remember to live a holy life before God and others in light of all we are in Jesus Christ. This is what the Apostle Peter reminds us in I Peter 2:10. God once again tells us what believers were and what they are now.

Once we were not a people. What the apostle means is that at one time we were not God’s people. In our unconverted condition we did not belong to God, but rather were His enemies (Romans 5:10) and objects of His holy and righteous wrath (Romans 1:18; Ephesians 2:1-3; Acts 3:23).

People do not want to hear this today. Unfortunately, not only do the unconverted not want to hear the truth of the gospel, but also there are many of God’s people and pastors who do not want to share the gospel truth of God’s wrath upon the unconverted. Salvation has become God saving us from poverty, an unfulfilled life or life’s problems, rather than from God’s judgment.

The gospel message declares that by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 2:8-10) God has made sinners His people. We belong to Him (I Corinthians 6:19-20). We are His possession.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,                                                                                          that saved a wretch like me.                                                                                                                 I once was lost, but now am found.                                                                                             Was blind, but now I see.

Thank you God, for making me your child.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Precious and Valuable.

7 “So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (I Peter 2:7-8).

Peter continues to quote from the Old Testament to explain the significance of Jesus being the cornerstone of our faith. He quotes Psalm 118:22 to support the doctrine that Jesus the Savior is the believer’s security and defense. He is our cornerstone. Therefore, He is precious and valuable.

But what about the unbeliever? What significance does Jesus have in being likened to a cornerstone? Quoting from not only Psalm 118:22, but also Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16, Peter explains that to the unbeliever Jesus is a stone, not of security and defense, but rather a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.

A stone of stumbling means an obstacle which causes offense and which implies opposition (I Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11). The reason why unbelievers stumble over the person and work of Jesus Christ is because in their heart and soul, they are His enemies (Romans 5:10) and objects of God’s wrath (Romans 1:18; Ephesians 2:1-3). Rather than being a comfort, to them Jesus is a curse.

It is ironic that for the past several decades, many churches seek to make the gospel as inoffensive as possible to the unbelieving community. Sin is seldom, if ever, mentioned and anything to do with the cross is removed: either in the church’s architecture or in the content of the worship service.

While believers must never be needlessly offensive when sharing the gospel, it should be noted that the biblical gospel will offend. To the sinner, the gospel is an offensive message. This continuing opposition signifies the sinner’s ultimate destiny (Romans 9:22-23; Jude 4).

When do you find yourself, if ever, tempted to downplay the offensiveness of the gospel message? To whom? Resolve never to give in to the temptation of “watering down” the truth of the gospel as others have done. Never be ashamed of the gospel nor the name of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17).

Soli deo Gloria!