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Suffering for Christ - Part 1

Good Morning Beloved,

It's always so good to have all of you here
Thank you for joining us today.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word today
open our hearts and minds to Your message to us
as we study the majestic triumph of Christ 
We just thank You for His model is our own confidence in suffering
Though we may not suffer unto blood, we may not suffer ultimately 
but whatever suffering may come as we live a godly life in an ungodly society
the hostility, persecution, misrepresentation and lies may come against us 
in whatever challenges and difficulties we may find in our families, place of work
because we are in the midst of unbelievers, those who resent Christ and our testimony 
whatever the setting may be, when we stand up for Christ and our belief in Him

Lord, help us to realize that though it may seem in this moment 
as if the sinners are triumphing over the righteous, that the final victory belongs to Christ
Remind us that even in our unjust suffering a triumphant day awaits
may find comfort in our suffering, may it become the testimony that turn a sinner's heart to Christ may we endure our suffering as Christ did with a spirit of confidence committing ourselves to You who will deal with the unjust fairly and justly, as we count it a privilege to have the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of glory resting upon us, that we would be an example to those who stand back and watch as Your grace stills our soul, even in the midst of difficulty.  May all of our suffering be triumphant. Remind us, we not only triumph over sinful men, but we also triumph over sinful spirits.  As we show the world the example of our Christ.  
Father, we thank You for all that Christ's suffering means to us 
in His precious name we pray

"For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.
In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him."
I Peter 3:18-22

Today's Message: Suffering for Christ - Part 1

Open if you would, your Bibles to I Peter chapter 3. As we move forward in our study of this magnificent section of Scripture that God has brought us to, and blessed us with, I Peter chapter 3, we now examine a new section of teaching in this great epistle, that is verses 18-22, this is concluding section of this third chapter, brings us to the study of Christ's suffering, and Christ's ultimate triumph of His suffering. And, quite frankly, I'm not sure how long it will take us to get through this particular section of Scripture, because, I believe it is of great importance, and great truth.

And, I also feel, that it's message, is extremely relevant today, given the view of modern culture and society, on the church, and those who live a godly life. And I feel so incredibly to be here, in my position, called upon to teach this wonderful epistle. It's such an incredible honor and privilege.

So allow me give you a little background. As is often stated in our ongoing study of this great epistle, that Peter's recurring theme throughout, is simply living in the midst of suffering, living in the midst of suffering. All the way through the epistle, is his great example is Christ. So, if you want to know how to view suffering, all you need to look at Jesus Christ. And, you will remember, in chapter 2, verses 20-21, he talks about the fact that when you suffer, you must endure it with patience for this finds favor with God. And he then says, "For you've been called for this purpose since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps." So when you and I suffer, or when any believer suffers for doing what is good, what is right, if we want to get a true perspective on that, we need only to look at Christ, as He is our model of suffering for righteousness sake.

Then, in chapter 4, verse 1, Peter returns to the same theme, "Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin" And again, we see, that we will suffer in the flesh, Christ is our model, therefore, we are to have the mind of Christ.

And, in that same chapter if would you notice verses 12-13, in which Peter writes, "Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory."

Then in chapter 5 verse 1, again, "Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you." So, on a several occasions in this epistle, Peter's theme of suffering turns to Christ. And Christ, therefore becomes the model for how the believer endures suffering for righteousness’ sake. Now obviously as Peter was penning this epistle by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was writing to believers who were in exigent difficulty. They were enduring some very hostile persecution. In fact, back in chapter 1 and verse 6 he says, "You rejoice in this,though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Then, in chapter 2 and verse 12, he says, "Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation" In verse 18 he says, "Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly." And, of course, they were already experiencing that.

In chapter 3 and verse 9, assuming that they will receive evil, they will receive insults, they are not to return evil for evil nor are they to return insult for insult. In verse 13 he says, "And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good?" Again, implying that there were people just waiting to do harm to these believers. In chapter 4 verse 14, he says, "If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." In verse 16 he says, "But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name." In verse 19 he says, "So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator."

So, over and over again he is addressing their suffering. In chapter 5 verse 10 he says, "Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little." And so we see, the theme then is one of suffering.

And in midst of suffering for doing what is right in an ungodly and hostile society, we must keep our focus on Christ.  Christ shows us how to deal with unjust suffering. We've already learned that when He was reviled He did not revile. When He was given evil treatment, He did not give it back. When He suffered He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to the one who judges righteously. We are to respond to our trials in the way in which Christ responded to His, quietly, confidently, graciously, trustingly committed Himself to God. Beloved, that's how we are also to respond.

But there is something more to be added to this picture. And as we begin our study today, we'll be examining that in our text. Not only does Peter encourage us to respond to trials the way Christ did, but he wants us to see that Christ triumphed in His suffering and we may also triumph. That's the message of this passage. It isn't just having a stiff upper lip, bear it, hold on, it isn't what you really would like, it isn't perhaps the best, but you can slug it out. It isn't that at all. It is that there is triumph, there is victory, there is conquering in the midst of trial. And, beloved, that is nowhere illustrated as graphically as it is in the case of Jesus Christ. And so we learn then not only to have a right attitude in our suffering, and that is one of committing ourselves to the just God who is our God, but to anticipate that through our suffering we will be triumphant. There will be something triumphant that will come from our suffering. That is Peter's intent here in verses 18-22. So do not become discouraged, there is the potential of great spiritual victory, in our suffering.

Now we closed last time with a look at verse 17. So let's pick up there and transition into today's text. Verse 17 reminds us that there are two kinds of suffering for the Christian. You can suffer for doing what is right, or you can suffer for doing what is wrong. And it is likely, all of us will suffer at one time or another. So you may choose which kind of suffering you want. You can choose to suffer for doing what is wrong, and if you suffer for doing what is wrong, you suffer at the hands of God for God will chasten you. If on the other hand you suffer for doing what is right, you suffer at the hands of men and God will protect you. So make your choice. In the society in which we live there will be pressure to compromise our beliefs. When we compromise and live the worldly life, you will suffer. Though we will not suffer at the hands of men, we will, however, suffer at the hands of God. So if you choose to be obedient no matter the cost and live a godly and virtuous life, you may suffer at the hands of men but you will be protected and blessed by God. That's the simple choice you make. You will likely suffer in this life; choose the nature of your suffering.

Let's get started, allow me to read verses 18-22, in I Peter, chapter 3: "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.
In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him."

Now as I read this over, that is so typically Peter, I often find myself smiling, in my mind and  frequently becomes evident on my face. Peter is unlike Paul. Paul is very well ordered in his thinking.  He's very logical, he's very sequential, he's very reasoned. Peter tends to be less reasoned, and somewhat less orderly. He seems to be a bit tangential. He says something and shoots off on something else and then on something else before finally returning to where he started. That's exactly what he did here. What he wants us to understand is at the beginning and the end of the section; he wants us to understand that Christ died for sins and He died unjustly, He died the just for the unjust. He didn't deserve to die. But even in being treated unjustly, would you please notice that He triumphed through the resurrection and is at the right hand of God and all those demon beings who were part and parcel of His suffering are now subjected to Him. That's the point. The point is that Christ, even though suffering unjustly, triumphed in that suffering. That's the message here. That's the message. His point here is very poignant and very clear. He suffered unjustly. He suffered for doing what was right and God caused Him to triumph, a marvelous and glorious truth.

Peter says He suffered death in the flesh, death for sinners, but He was alive in the Spirit. And as a living Spirit, He immediately was able to go and proclaim His victory to the spirits in prison. Right at the cross, while His body was dead, His Spirit was alive and already He was proclaiming the victory. That should give us great hope in our suffering. That should give any believer who endures suffering for righteousness’ sake a great confidence that God sounds a tone of victory in the midst of that difficulty.

As we examine this wonderful passage, I want to illustrate to you four areas in which Christ triumphed. It was a triumphant sin-bearing, a triumphant sermon, a triumphant salvation and a triumphant supremacy. Four areas of triumph. To more completely understand the immense richness of this section, we certainly will need to spend some time on it. However, Peter will plunge us into the deep, I believe, more deeply into the cross work of Jesus Christ than we are ever thrust anywhere else. This will likely be the deepest dive you will ever take mentally and spiritually into what is actually going on at the death of Christ. There is such a richness here, which is matched only by the difficulty of the text. And frankly, if is understandable that it would be difficult, because it deeply takes us into the deep and mysterious. But by the time we have come back up, it is my hope and belief, that we will be gloriously encouraged and blessed by this message and our lives enriched. This passage, in every possibly conceivable way, demands the absolute best from the interpreter, it demands the best from the preacher, it demands the best from the hearer, for if we are to grasp the triumph of Christ's sufferings, not only for their sake, that is the sake that we might know those great triumphant realities, for our sake that we also may understand our triumph in Him. Martin Luther, in his commentary on Peter, wrote of this text, "A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means." So, as you can see, it's not an easy text.

The first point, I want to illustrate, is a triumphant sin-bearing, a triumphant sin-bearing. Verse 18, "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm." I'd like to make note, that just reading this text, demands a moment of silence, to just allow it to settle in our minds. "Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust in order that He might bring us to God." Beloved, no matter how one tries to interpret that text, it's message is very clear: Christ was unjustly executed. He was without sin. Pilate was dead right when he said, "I find no fault in Him." The Jews fabricated lies about Him. They had to pay off and bribe false witnesses to bring about the illegal execution. Because there was no sin in Him, He was the just, the righteous, dying for the unjust, the unrighteous. But in spite of the fact that so many of us are grateful for, He suffered. And not only did He suffer but unjustly, yet, He triumphed in that through His suffering He has brought us to God. And there is sort of underlying in the heart of Peter, is the reality that even a believer while his suffering is not substitutionary and it is not redemptive, the suffering of a Christian could be the tool by which someone might be brought to God when they see how we handle that suffering. So there's even an example there that we can follow, which example was clearly pointed out and delineated in chapter 2 verse 21 and following.

Now, as we closely this great statement, I want just to unpack several features of the sin bearing of Christ. So bear with me here. Number one, it was ultimate. The suffering of Christ was ultimate. It says this, "For Christ also died." I'd like point out the word "also" here. What is its implication? The implication here is this, the "also" means in addition to somebody else. Who else is Peter talking about? He is talking you and I, he's talking about all believers. He's been talking about the fact that you will suffer for doing what is right, but keep this in mind, Christ also suffered. You shouldn't be surprised then if you suffer. In other words, our Lord in asking you to be willing to suffer for righteousness sake. And He is only asking you to do what He was also willing to do. Do you it? He was the just when He suffered, he suffered unjustly. And His suffering, first of all, was ultimate. What do you mean by that? Simply this, for Christ also, and what is the next word? Died, I don't know about you, but that's what I would call ultimate suffering, wouldn't you? Suffering unto death. You really can't suffer any more than that. In fact, the writer of Hebrews reminds the people to whom he writes in chapter 12 that they haven't suffered yet unto blood, chapter 12, verse 4. They hadn't suffered yet unto blood.

So, in other words, though you have suffered, it was not ultimately.  You haven't had to give your life. Christ also died. Many of the manuscripts, ancient manuscripts of this particular portion of Scripture use the word "suffered." In fact, when those people who operate in what is called lower criticism, that's simply a title for people who deal with the manuscripts, when they compare the manuscripts that say Christ died with the manuscripts that say Christ suffered, they really cannot make a decision as to which way is best so some of the Bibles say "Christ died," and some of them, say, "Christ suffered." And that's fine because the words are interchangeable in terms of their meaning anyway. So the implication here is that Christ suffered to the point of death. He gave His life. Therefore, He suffered ultimately. The ultimate suffering is to be murdered for righteousness sake. He's not asking anyone in this life, or in the church of which He is the head to do anything that He Himself has not done. So in terms of suffering, because the most that any martyr could ever do would be to die.  Christ has done that. His suffering was ultimate. Do we understand that now?

OK, so then we'll start to build on that, His suffering was related to sins, to sins, however, not His own. His suffering was related to sins not His own. And if you want to know why I am saying it like, because that is what it says. Christ also died for sins. When a believer is unjustly treated, when you and I suffer criticism, abuse, hostility, persecution, or when some Christians in some parts of the world suffer even to death, it is related to sins, not their own. There's a sense in which they are suffering because of the sins of other people, right? The sin of hatred, the sin of animosity, the sin of hostility, the sin of anger, the sin of jealousy, the sin of envy, the sin of murder or whatever. So there's a sense in which even when the believer suffers for righteousness sake, we are suffering because of other’s sins against us. So it is in the case of Christ. He suffered for sins, not of His own, so He suffered in a very different way.  They weren't His sins, they were the sins of others. Peter’s point is that Christ endured the same kind of suffering that he calls Christians to bear. Christ was righteous, but suffered in behalf of those who were unrighteous “that he might bring them to God” suffering with a redemptive purpose. That is the point that Peter is making.

Chapter 2 verse 22 says, "He committed no sin." He lived His entire life without committing a single sin.  He never had an evil thought. He never said an evil word. He never did an evil thing. Now, allow me take this a step further. He never even thought anything that wasn't perfectly holy. He never spoke a word that wasn't perfectly holy. And He never did anything that wasn't perfectly holy. And yet, He suffered for sins, though He Himself committed no sins. Yet, it was sins that put Him there. In fact, there's a sense in which this phrase, "died for sins," is used in the Scripture to speak of a sin offering. It is so used in Romans 8:3, it is so used in Hebrews 10:6 and 8. He suffered as an offering for sin. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. The atonement for sin was laid out in the Old Testament, God said because of your sins you must make an offering. And God required the death of an animal as a symbol of the need for someone to die to cover sins. And so, Jesus Christ in His death died for sins. He covered our sins.

Then, there's a third element about His triumphant sin bearing, not only did He die, not only did He die for sins, it was, He died in a unique way. And  what I mean by unique is, once. Something that is unique is set apart, there's nothing else like it. And the death of Jesus Christ was not only ultimate suffering, it was not only related to sin as He died for sins as the sacrifice to atone for sins, but, thirdly, His death was unique. How is that? "For Christ also died for sins once," that is utterly unique, hapax in the Greek, is once. It is also referred to as hapax legomenon, literally means having been recorded as occurring only once. This passage that we study today is the clearest in Scripture.

In verses 19-20, it says, "In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water." Obviously, this talks about the dead as being in prison. And the only people specifically mentioned were the people who did not obey during the time of Noah. You must admit that this is shaky Scriptural grounds on which to build a whole point of doctrine.

Christ died once. Do you think that was something new to the Jewish people who had slaughtered as many as a quarter of a million lambs at one Passover and then repeated it every year, and who had offered sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice, and now all of a sudden Christ dies once? Once, once and it was sufficient for all.

Hebrews tells us that. In Hebrews 7:26, "For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens," Now listen to this, "He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself." And that is why the New Covenant is better than the Old. That is why Christ's sacrifice is more significant than any other sacrifice. It was once and for all. It never requires repeating. It was enough. The ultimate sacrifice.

Then Hebrews 9, as the writer explores even more of this majesty of the priestly work of Christ, in verse 24 he says, "For the Messiah did not enter a sanctuary made with hands (only a model of the true one) but into heaven itself, so that He might now appear in the presence of God for us." Did you catch that? Verse 25, "He did not do this to offer Himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another." As the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood, that is not his own, otherwise he would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world, but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  He did it once and it put away sin.

So Christ, says verse 28, "so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." One death was completely sufficient to provide the atonement for sins. He was unlike any other sacrifice, it never again needed to be repeated. Beloved, may I just add something here, this is what is so desperately wrong and gravely in error about the Roman Catholic mass, which sacrifices Christ over and over and over, again and again. Any viewpoint that necessitates a renewed sacrifice of Christ is an attack on the singular uniqueness of what He accomplished on the cross that day. There is no ongoing blood being poured out in heaven either. There is no further work needed of Christ. He did it once. It was all inclusive, it was comprehensive. It was ultimate. The English says in your Bible, as in mine, "once for all." And that is implied in the hapax, once for all. Therefore, it was comprehensive.

The suffering of Christ was ultimate. The suffering of Christ was for sins. The suffering of Christ was unique, having never to be repeated. The suffering of Christ was so comprehensive, it covered the ground of sins thoroughly and completely. The sacrifice of Christ for sin was not limited like the Old Testament. In fact, Old Testament sacrifices were limited to a certain person, a certain family, a certain nation, a certain time. Not so the sacrifice of Christ. He wrought satisfaction to God for all who would come to Him.

In John chapter 6, I just call your attention to those marvelous words in verse 37 and following. "Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." And He came to provide a salvation for all who would come to Him.

Beloved, this is such a marvelous reminder, that the death of Jesus Christ was not only ultimate, not only in behalf of sins, not only unique, not only comprehensive, but, fifth, it was vicarious, it was vicarious. This wonderful phrase, "the just for the unjust," really sums it all up. The righteous for the unrighteous, the sinless for the sinful, that's the essence of what he's saying. Jesus Christ, who was without sin, took the place of sinners. Please, turn with me, if you will to chapter 2:24 and recall what we studied there. "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins,
we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds." The sinless one in the place of the sinful. In II Corinthians chapter 5:21, it says, "He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." that's what the Greek says. He made the one who knew no sin to be sin. "He made Him sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Again, in that great Hebrews 9:28, says, "so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." The just for the unjust; He took our place, He bear our sins. By chance, do any of you remember when Peter was preaching in Acts 3, he called Christ "the Holy and Righteous One." I admit, I truly love that, the Holy and Righteous One. He says to the Jewish people, "But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this." Wow, what an indictment.

Christ took the judgment that belonged to us. He was the ultimate and perfect full and final sacrifice for sins. What do we learn from Him? That unjust suffering at its most extreme point can also be triumphant. Even though an ultimately worthy and just One was dying for unworthy, unjust sinners, even though He didn't deserve to die, and we did, He triumphed through it all. Beloved, that is a powerful, powerful statement of truth.

And that brings me to the sixth and the capstone, the suffering of Christ was purposeful. It was purposeful. It was not only ultimate, it was not only related to sin, it was not only unique, it was not only comprehensive and vicarious, it was purposeful, it was triumphant. "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm." What a great statement! Jesus Christ gathered up on the cross that day all our sins, He endured the God-forsaken darkness of death for us, separation from His Father and He opened for us the way to God. Symbolically, God demonstrated that when He rent the veil in the temple from top to bottom and threw open the Holy of Holies for immediate access to everyone. No more separation, no more priesthood, we're all the priests of God, we all have immediate access. He brought us to God. He satisfied God's just penalty for sin, required by the law and opened the way to God.

He is our pioneer. He is the one who blazes the trail. This was the purpose, the Triumph Purpose of His death toward us, our reconciliation to God.

The word "us," that He might bring us to God, the elect. That He might bring us, the chosen, the elect, into union and communion with God. The verb there, "In order that He might bring us to God." It's a purpose clause and the verb "to bring us" is a technical word often used to denote introducing someone, or providing access for someone, or bringing someone into a relationship. That's what the word indicates. It's a marvelous word, prosagngus, I know, a funny word, but that's the word. If used in the substantive form or the noun form it means an introducer, or a giver of access, someone who brings you into the presence of someone else. And in a king's court, there would be a prosagngus. That person would be the one who was approached if you wanted to see the king, and if you convinced him you had just cause, he would introduce you to the king. Jesus is the official introducer. He's the official giver of access. In fact, He said, "No man comes to the Father but by Me," In John 14, He said, "I am the way." It was Jesus Christ who came, He said, to show us the Father, to lead us to the presence of God. He's the only way.  He's the only source of introduction.

In Acts 4:12, do you recall what it says "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it." Beloved, there is no one else to introduce you to God, no one else can do it, no one.

Some years ago, I recall having a conversation with someone, who said, "You know, I want to say how glad I am that the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize because he is God's representative on the earth who brings men to God." Look, I don't mean to burst your bubble here, but the Dalai Lama doesn't bring anybody to God. Neither does Buddha, Vishnu or Durga, Mahavira, Brahma, Shiva, Coatlicue or Allah anyone else except the Lord Jesus Christ. "No man comes to the Father but by Me." Only Christ is the introducer.

His suffering was triumphant in the fact that He suffered as a sin-bearer, and He accomplished triumphantly the goal of that sin-bearing, which was to bring the elect to God, reconciliation with God. This is a marvelous truth, marvelous truth. For those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, they are ushered into the presence of God, to be reconciled to Him. Jesus is no fairy godmother. Jesus is not a super psychiatrist. Jesus is the one who introduces you to God. He is the agent of reconciliation for all who come to Him.

You say, "Well how do you come to Christ to have Him introduce you to God?" Well, you have to come with a sense of your sin, a deep desire to be forgiven and a longing to have relationship with God. That's the gospel message. The gospel message is that you're a sinner and I'm a sinner. And if we will turn from sin and come with a heart that desires to know and be reconciled to a holy God, then Jesus Christ will introduce us to God. That's His sin-bearing triumph. And it has to be a wonderful thing to think about, just contemplating it that when Jesus was dying on the cross and even God turned His back and Jesus said, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" and the disciples had forsaken Him and fled except for a few faithful ones at the foot of the cross, and the...the whole earth became dark and it was a terrible horrible indescribable scene of rejection, hostility, sin and all of that, that in the middle of that He was triumphing because He was accomplishing the atonement, the bearing of sin that would allow Him to bring us to God. And so, the suffering of Christ was a triumphant sin-bearing.

In Closing....

Now, I don't have the time needed to develop it, however, I just want to whet your appetite a bit. At the time of the death of Christ there was also a triumphant sermon. I'd like you to direct your attention to verse 18 again, "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm," Now just stop there.

It would have been enough if He had just triumphed over sin. But He also triumphed over spirits in a most incredible way. You have to understand this, that the death of Jesus Christ involved the full force of the demons of hell and Satan himself. They were trying to snuff out and crush His life to such a degree that it would forever eliminate Him. And in the very midst of His dying, though He was put to death in the flesh, His living Spirit went to those spirits and preached a triumphant sermon to them. It's one of the most, if not the most, dramatic scene behind the scenes of the death of Jesus Christ. One of the most frightening, shocking, troubling scenarios imaginable lays behind this whole thing as described in verse 20 as occurring in "the days of Noah."

This is classic Christian doctrine. In fact, it is included in the Apostles’ Creed which says, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, He suffered, died and was buried, descended into Hell, and on the third day rose again and ascended into Heaven.” In recent years the phrase "descended into Hell" has been changed to "descended to the dead," as it is in many hymnals.

To understand this second and marvelous triumph of Christ, you've got to understand, the whole presentation of this does not just stand for its own sake, but for our sake. And what Peter is saying to us that when we suffer we should suffer triumphantly, as Christ did. There's a sense in which even though we suffer unjustly, there can be a triumph in that suffering because if we go through it with the right spirit and the right attitude, it could lead to the salvation of others. And while we suffer, it may seem as if the demons of hell are winning in victory, and Peter, desperately wants us to know that the truth is that if we suffer for righteousness’ sake and commit ourselves to the keeping of a faithful Creator, we will not only triumph over the sinners, we will triumph over the spirits, too.
And that, is a marvelous and powerful truth we've been given in this section of Peter's epistle.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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Brian Monzon Ministries

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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