Freedom House Church and Healing Centre

The Gospel Clearly Declared

The Gospel Clearly Declared

18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.(Peter 3:18-22 NASB)

Hello Friends,

Do you know what is so amazing about this letter by Peter? The absolute confidence he has in the finished work of Christ. And, because of that assurance, he is able to boldly proclaim the truth of the gospel, not only because his life was so radically transformed, but because he was an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ! Under the influence of Holy Spirit, this unschooled ordinary fisherman pens some of the best theology in all of scripture. The passage before us is absolutely filled with truth, doctrine, theology, and an assurance that what he is writing he believes with all his heart. It is a creed that transcends time and reveals the complete victory of our glorious Savior and Lord!

First things first, he unpacks the cross of Jesus – the atoning work of the Anointed Lamb of God. He died for sins…our sins; yours and mine. He paid the penalty that we deserved for transgressing against a Holy God. That is the primary reason He came…to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). God became man in the flesh, to bear the sins of all of humanity in His flesh – the wages of sin is death…He had to die- be “put to death in the flesh”. His atoning death was a one-time event. No need for continual or yearly sacrifices…it was “once for all” – the perfect Lamb sacrificed perfectly for imperfect people (Read Hebrews 9 & 10 for further revelation). “The Just for the unjust” – perfect, holy Son of God died for a wretched sinner like me. He knew no sin, but became my sin and your sin on the cross (2Cor. 5:21). The Father placed all of the world’s sin on Jesus, and killed His Son instead of us – oh, what mercy; oh, what grace!!! What was the purpose of the Son of God’s death? “To bring us to God” - reconciliation to the Father; to change our status from sinner to son (and daughter). Because of Jesus, we can go boldly into our Father’s presence - into the throne room (Heb. 4:16; Heb. 10:19-22).

Some time between the cross and the resurrection, Jesus went down into the prison where the evil spirits who were awaiting the judgment to come were being held. They were disobedient angels (spirits), mentioned in Genesis 6:1-6 (called sons of God), rebellious angelic beings who tempted humanity to engage in gross sin. Jesus went and proclaimed His victory to them, and that their judgment was guaranteed. {Please note that many inaccurate translations exist that say Jesus went and preached the gospel to departed human spirits…the Greek does not allow this, for many reasons. He proclaimed His victory, not the gospel (a different word). There is no second chance after one dies to accept Christ as some teach.} Scripture supports that there is a holding place for sinning angels (Jude 6; 2Peter 2:4) – not hell, but Hades, even Tartarus (Greek word used in Jude 6). These angels will be thrown into the lake of fire once they are judged at the end of the age (Rev. 20). It is fascinating what Paul says in Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” Friends this is such an incredible picture! The King of Kings who overcame sin and the grave, just before He burst forth from His tomb, went and announced to the demonic realm, His victory and their defeat. He came to destroy the works of the devil (1John 3:8)!!! This was the glory of His earthly ministry – casting out demons, pushing back the darkness, setting people free from the stronghold of the enemy. Can I just say that He commanded His disciples to carry on the work by empowering them with His authority and power to continue to drive back the Kingdom of darkness (Luke 10).

Verse 20 is a very sad verse. Eight people out of all the people on planet Earth were saved from the flood – the judgment of God. It has been calculated that the Ark took about 75 years to build…people had 75 years to repent before the flood hit (see ). God is patient, not wanting any to perish (2Pet. 3:9). Sadly, people would rather continue in their sin than turn to God for salvation. Many choose the broad way that leads to death, and few choose the narrow way that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14). Good News...there is salvation to those who enter the ark, even Jesus!

Peter uses the flood in Noah’s time as a symbol of baptism. It is well understood that the Ark represents Christ who recues us from the judgment of God – safe in Him, we are sheltered from God’s wrath. It is also true that the waters of judgment are where one dies to sin – they represent death. Baptism is where the believer dies to sin in the death of Christ, and is raised to newness of life in Christ’s resurrection (Romans 6:1-14). Verse 21 has caused lots of confusion over the centuries. Baptism does not save, it is just an external expression of an internal reality. However, it is commanded as a demonstration of allegiance to King Jesus, and the terms of the new covenant, which includes membership into the church of Jesus Christ. That’s why Peter clarifies it by adding the caveat, “not the removal of dirt from the flesh” (external washing), but an internal cleansing of the heart (with the heart and mind one pledges an oath and agreement to the terms of the new covenant – to be regenerated by the Spirit of God, a washing and rebirth (Titus 3:5) and to obey the gospel of righteousness – to adhere to the word of God and do right). Baptism identifies us with the risen Jesus for whom we now live. It is His resurrection life that is our life and power to live for God.

Finally, Peter ends this creedal passage with the ascension of Jesus, exalted to the highest place, far above all angels, principalities and powers. “From the cross, to the grave, from the grave to the sky, Lord we lift your name on high” – Jesus is resurrected King - victorious King - ruling King! (See Ephesians 1:18-23) In Christ, His victory is our victory, and we are raised and seated with Him in the heavens (Eph. 2:6).

The full Gospel is preached in today’s passage in Peter. You wonder why Peter was such a transformed person in the book of Acts. It is because he lived in the reality and power of the risen Christ who resided in him, and in Whom he resided. Peter really understood the work of Jesus – his cross, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. He appropriated the full gospel to his life and “turned the world upside down”. May it be our testimony also that we, in the power of the risen Savior, declare the good news of Jesus Christ to the world by our life and deeds. Jesus is alive and He lives in me! How awesome is that! May I bring glory to His name!

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