Sermon Notes & References

The Symbol – The Reality

1 Peter 3:18-22

August 4, 2019

18 Because Christ also once for all died as punishment on account of sins, the Righteous One on behalf of the unrighteous many, in order that He should give you admission to God; though physically put to death, yet spiritually made alive; 19 in which spirit also, proceeding, He preached to the spirits in prison 20 those formerly disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited patiently A. in Noah’s days of preparing himself an ark, into which a few – that is eight souls – were brought safely B. through water, 21 which also, a symbol as baptism, now saves you (not the taking away C. of bodily dirt D., but the request of a good conscience unto God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ; 22 who is by God’s right hand, having proceeded into heaven, while angels and authorities and powers have been made subject to Him. A. eagerly, expectantly; B. rescued; C. getting rid of, removal; D. muck, filth. (RGH)


A. Introduction

    1. Statements of Faith

    2. Expression of Spiritual Realities Footnote


B. The Two Asides

    1. Proclamation to Spirits (verse 18ff) Footnote

    2. The Symbol of Noah (verses 20-21)


C. The Seven Realities Footnote

    1. He Died (verse 18)

    2. He Died for Sins (verse 18) Footnote

    3. He Went to Imprisoned Spirits (verse 19) Footnote

    4. He Arose Again (verse 21) Footnote

    5. He Ascended into Heaven (verse 22) Footnote

    6. He Is Exalted at God's Right Hand (verse 22)

    7. He Received His Messianic Authority As the God-man (verse 22) Footnote


D. Conclusion

    1. Speculations

    2. Spiritual Realities

Endnote  1 Peter 3:18-22. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  The Symbol – The Reality


A. Introduction

    1. Statements of Faith

        a. you can find on our web-site our statement of faith

            (A)    though it is not ours alone, for we share it with others

            (B)    but rather that of our Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches

            (C)   which we adopted when the church was established

            (D)   but whose actual origins – for its points have had many authors – is no longer known

        b. such a statement is not written without due consideration

            (A)    for it forms a summary of key, Biblical teachings

            (B)    that have been briefly expressed to counter false teaching that has arisen over the course of church history

            (C)   such items being added as new heresies arise

        c. such a statement of faith is intended to be an assurance

            (A)    by people attending the church or its programs that nothing counter to the statement will be taught there

            (B)    any pastor who feels that he can no longer adhere to it is therefore obliged in good conscience to resign

            (C)   there was a young man serving in Awana who did not appreciate this, and would not agree to refrain from any contrary teaching – ‘but would teach the Bible’

            (D)   he failed to recognise how many cults and -isms have arisen over the past century or two by people claiming the same thing!

        d. a statement of faith provides a basis for steadfastness of believers and a unity among the children of God meeting in a local assembly.


    2. Expression of Spiritual Realities

        a. such a statement is not an expression of opinion or theories

            (A)    but is closely tied to the Scriptures,

            (B)    uses Scriptural language

            (C)   and in its original writing have had Scriptural references to each of the various points made

        b. as such it states spiritual realities

            (A)    not inclusively – only the Scriptures do that – but summarily

            (B)    notably, facts about such matters as

                 (1)    God: His nature and personality

                 (2)    Mankind: his origin and nature

                 (3)    Salvation: its source and components

                 (4)    Sin, Righteousness, Heaven, Angels, the Church, etc.

        c. there are a number of mini-statements of faith in Scripture

            (A)    we read one earlier in the service, Titus 2:11-14; some others

            (B)    Romans 10:8b–9: 8b … that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved…

            (C)   1 Corinthians 15:3–4: 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…

            (D)   1 Timothy 3:16: And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

        d. and these verses in 1 Peter under consideration today are such a mini-statement of faith


B. The Two Asides

    1. Some comments

        a. before starting, let us note that there are two asides in this list

            (A)    they are given by way of illustration

            (B)    in order to confirm the major points

            (C)   or to relate them one to the other

        b. in general, these are very brief, given without much detail

            (A)    references that were no doubt clearer to the Semitic way of thought

            (B)    but which have occasioned much debate out of all proportion to their importance

            (C)   and like other similar one-time-only references have been seized upon by cults and false teachers to support bizarre doctrines

        c. we shall attempt to deal with them briefly, explaining the symbol or illustration involved, without pressing the parable or analogy too far.


    2. Proclamation to Spirits (verses 18-19)

        a. verses 18ff – … Christ … put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,

            (A)    there is an event, which evidently took place between His death and His resurrection, while His body lay in the tomb

            (B)    I believe that translations such as ‘announced or proclaimed’ are better than ‘preached’ in this context

            (C)   there is no thought here of the gospel in this word

            (D)   but rather one of its root meanings of ‘herald, announce conquest

        b. as to the ‘spirits in prison’ – omit the translators’ addition, ‘now’

            (A)    it has reference to the disembodied spirit of those who have died

            (B)    and it seems that there is reference to the same event in Ephesians 4:8, “Therefore it says, “when he ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”“fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 68:18.

            (C)   this act by the spirit of Christ was required for salvation, especially of the OT saints, and for the coming gift of the Holy Spirit

            (D)   but on this we shall say no more this morning


    3. The Symbol of Noah (verses 20-21)

        a. verses 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.

            (A)    having made reference to the disembodied spirits, the illustration now turns to Noah’s family being brought safely by water

            (B)    what was death to the disobedient, became a means of floating the ark to give life to Noah’s family and all those in it

        b. the notable facts in this reference being

            (A)    the punishment rightly due to those who disobeyed

            (B)    the means of deliverance was designed & designated by God

            (C)   God willingly, perhaps even eagerly, put off the punishment of the wicked so that this chosen eight should be saved

        c. such salvation by water like the water of baptism says verse 21

            (A)    “And 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,”, or perhaps better, “the request (or, appeal) of a good conscience unto God

                 (1)    not simply being a physical act which would not cleanse even bodily, let alone spiritually

                 (2)    but rather a matter of obedience to an enlightened conscience

            (B)    and, lest anyone should take baptism to be a saving act

                 (1)    by which spiritual benefit results from a physical rite

                 (2)    the reality is specified as being ‘through the resurrection of Jesus Christ’ – the repetition of the word ‘through’ (as in the original Greek) linking this reality back to the symbol ‘water


C. The Seven Realities

    1. Some Comments

        a. These realities all are about the ‘man Christ Jesus’

        b. as Paul describes Jesus in His mediatorial work to Pastor Timothy:

        c. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5)

        d. and explains why the incarnation was necessary for our salvation


    2. He Died (verse 18)

        a. ‘For Christ also died for sins once for all’

        b. that Christ suffered, dying on the cross, is beyond dispute

            (A)    but other, having been raised from the dead, died a second time

            (B)    that was true of those raised by Elijah & Elisha, of Lazarus, others

            (C)   but Jesus died ‘once for all’; a singular event; one time only

        c. He died; he really died – He did not faint and revive again in the cool of the tomb or any of the other ways men have denied His resurrection

        d. He died; he really died – that is key to the next fact


    3. He Died for Sins (verse 18)

        a. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, …

        b. the phrase ‘for sins’ in the original is that used to describe an offering for sins – originally the sacrifice made for sins

            (A)    such a sacrifice had to be made with a perfect animal

            (B)    this animal was deemed to be a substitute for the sinner

        c. which is exactly how Jesus’ death is described

            (A)    He is the eminently Just One – ‘in him was no sin’ (1 John 3:5 AV)

            (B)    we are equally the unjust ones for which He died

            (C)   His death was a substitute for the death we all richly deserve


    4. He Went to Imprisoned Spirits (verse 19)

        a. this we have already discussed as one of the asides

        b. yet it is an important truth in its own right

        c. for, as we saw, it is intimately connected with salvation in its fullest sense

            (A)    first, as the completion of faith of the OT saints (as Hebrews 11:40 puts it, “because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

            (B)    and second, that it was preparatory to the spiritual gifts to God’s church (Ephesians 4:8)


    5. He Arose Again (v 21)

        a. ‘... through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’

        b. this truth was so important as to be key to apostolic preaching

            (A)    you find it key in the sermons of both Peter & Paul found in Acts

            (B)    and, at Athens, the Greek philosophers thought Paul "… seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities," —because he was preaching Jesus & the resurrection.’, ie. ton ihsoun kai thn anastasin

            (C)   for our justification results from the resurrection (Romans 4:25)

        c. moreover, His resurrection is the assurance of our own

        d. and, last week in looking at the preceding portion in Peter, we made the point that the coming resurrection is key in our own witness


    6. He Ascended into Heaven (verse 22)

        a. ‘who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven,’

            (A)    that resurrected Jesus ascended from this earth

            (B)    it was 40 days after His resurrection

            (C)   and, we are assured, “… This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

        b. back in verse 18 there is the phrase ‘that he might bring us to God

            (A)    is perhaps more literally expressed ‘lead us into the presence or unto the face of God’

            (B)    which includes the thought of His preceding us

            (C)   19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, …” (Hebrews 6:19-20)

        c. Jesus, having gone ahead, still leads His saved captivity unto God


    7. He Is Exalted at God's Right Hand (verse 22)

        a. ‘who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven,’

            (A)    here we come up against our human limitations

            (B)    in understanding that Jesus was both man and God

            (C)   that, as He never ceased to be God as He walked this earth

            (D)   so He now never ceases to be man in His heavenly abode

        b. which is one reason we made reference to that verse, 1 Timothy 2:5, which speaks of ‘the man Christ Jesus’ in the present tense.

            (A)    this is He – the Lamb in Revelation – who sits on heaven’s throne

            (B)    exalted to the highest place of honour – God’s right hand


    8. He Received His Messianic Authority As the God-man (verse 22)

        a. ‘… after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.’

            (A)    there is no distinguishing here between good and evil beings

            (B)    the terms here are used of both classes of spirits

            (C)   and this is a strong reminder that we fight a defeated foe

        b. Jesus is Christ, that is, Messiah

            (A)    He is the Son of God, but also the Son of David

            (B)    and it was to David, in a special way, that David’s throne be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16)

                 (1)    now, we know that according to the flesh it was not

                 (2)    in that sense it lasted only for a few hundred years

            (C)   but in David’s descendant, Jesus, of Nazareth, it has been

        c. that is what is being described here; as Messiah Jesus now reigns until time shall be no longer – for ever


D. Conclusion

    1. Speculations

        a. don’t get trapped by the ‘asides’

            (A)    yes, there are all sorts of interesting questions in these verses

            (B)    men like to speculate on such things

            (C)   certainly the false cults have a field day with them

        b. recognise such things in Scripture

            (A)    magnify God that His plan is filled with such detail

            (B)    leave it to His wisdom to work out their purpose into eternity


    2. Spiritual Realities

        a. keep a clear picture of the realities

            (A)    the important truths of Scripture are repeated over and over

            (B)    truths that will affect out eternal destiny

            (C)   like the multiple road signs warning of danger or construction

        b. for God knows how slow we are to pay attention to such warnings