Spirits in Prison

January 7, 2024 Preacher: Michael Clary Series: First Peter

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:18–22

 Good morning, Church. Well, I won't say Happy New Year, because we've already covered that ground.

But I will say, good to see all of you. My name is Michael and I'm the lead pastor here and we have been going through at last, in the end of last year, we were going through a series through the book of first Peter and we're resuming that series today. And the theme overall of the book is hope in the midst of suffering.

And today we're going to talk about a neglected doctrine. It's in Christian theology, it is neglected probably because for most of us it's unfamiliar and weird. And but it's, it's beautiful and glorious and hopefully by the end you'll, you'll see that. We are familiar with the doctrine of the ascension of Christ.

At the end of his ministry, he was taken up bodily to be with the father, but we hardly ever hear of the dissension of Christ. I'm not talking about the incarnation where God became man, but the dissension of Christ, which is spoken of in the Apostles Creed. If you ever read the Apostles Creed, there's probably a phrase that stands out to you as very odd.

Do you know which one I'm talking about? He descended into hell. What in the world does that mean? We're going to talk about that today. It's, it's a cherished doctrine. And even though it's unfamiliar to us, and might even strike us as weird, the saints of old cherished it, and that's, and it's important, it's, it's part of our theology, and that's why it's in the Apostles Creed.

So, this has been confessed by the church ever since the days of the Apostles Creed, so going back many, many centuries. So, today I want to explain this, and I want to explain it from our text in 1 Peter, which is one of the places where it is most clearly taught. Okay? So, let's dig in. We're in 1 Peter chapter 3, 1 Peter chapter 3, and we are picking it up in verse 18.

Let's listen to God's word. 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, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons were brought safely through water.

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you. Not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. This is God's Word.

Here's what I'll do. I want to start with a broad overview, and I want to tell you the, the general contours and outlines of all that I want to cover and then we'll go back through it verse by verse. So, you'll get it once as an overview and then you'll get it a second time so that that way it might be a little bit more familiar by the time we hit it a second time.

So, here's the, the lay of the land. The Old Testament teaches that the realm of the dead is this place called Sheol. New Testament references to it will be Hades, but Sheol is the realm of the dead. It is also referred to as under the world or under the earth, but it's all referring to this realm of the dead and the souls of every dead man and woman ended up in Sheol.

But Sheol was not a uniform experience for everyone. It was divided into compartments for different people. So, for the righteous Sheol was a place of comfort and rest. If you've ever heard of Abraham's bosom, that is a reference to Sheol, but in this place, that is for the comfort and rest of God's saints.

But for the wicked, Sheol was a place of punishment for sin. Now, Jesus taught this. He didn't teach it explicitly, but if you remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, do you remember that? And if you recall from the parable, he's talking about both of them in this place where Lazarus is comforted in Abraham's bosom, but the rich man is in torment, but the rich man is able to see Lazarus.

So, they're in a common place of the dead. They're in the realm of the dead, but one is in a place of torment and the other is in a place of comfort. There is a lowest part of Sheol. The lowest part of Sheol was reserved for rebellious wicked angels, spirits, evil spirits that rebelled against God. And scripture depicts this lowest part of Sheol as a dungeon or as a prison.

And wicked spirits are kept bound there until their final judgment. Now, when Jesus was crucified, his dead spirit Which was separated from his physical body. His dead spirit descended to Sheol. In fact, he went all the way down to the lowest part. And there, in this lowest part of Sheol, this dungeon, he proclaimed a message.

And the message was a victory to the spirits that were kept bound there. So, it is a message of his victory and their final defeat. And that's what he proclaimed to these spirits in prison. However, God did not abandon his soul to Sheol, right? God raised him up, and in, in so doing, he emptied Sheol of his, the souls of his saints.

And so, God, or Jesus, took the souls of his saints out of Sheol. At his resurrection, then, Jesus’ soul was reunited with his physical body. And then at his ascension, Jesus's glorified physical body was taken up into heaven. And now he sits at the Father's right hand, where he will remain until he returns in glory to judge the earth.

And Peter says, all that I just described is depicted in a dramatic form with a symbol of baptism. He says baptism corresponds to this. So, this story is dramatically reenacted every time we perform a Christian baptism. And it's a depiction of what Jesus accomplished. Now we are familiar with saying baptism depicts his death and resurrection.

Peter's saying it depicts his death, descent, and resurrection. It depicts more than what we commonly say. Alright, so that's the big picture overview of what Peter's talking about in this text. Now let's go through the text again slowly, and hopefully this will become clear to you as we move through it.

We'll start in verse 18. The point here is that the gospel is good news for humans. That's my first point. The gospel is good news for humans. Verse 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.

We'll pause here. God's greatest victories are often camouflaged as defeats. So, a lot of times whenever we see something that appears to be a defeat, God in his sovereign power is able to use those defeats and actually for those defeats to become his greatest victories. And the cross of Christ and the resurrection is the classic and the preeminent ultimate example of this.

So, the text here says that Jesus suffered once for sins. So, on the cross, Jesus bore the judgment of God against all human sin. So, he was put to death in the flesh. So, whenever he died, he died physically. His soul was separated from his body, and he entered into Sheol, which is the realm of the dead, which is where all dead human souls went.

And it says that he did this as the righteous for the unrighteous. So though Jesus was a righteous man without sin, he suffered for the sake of the unrighteous, which is those who are, I mean, it's every human being is unrighteous, but the, the death of Christ applied to those who believe in Jesus through faith.

But this was not the end. He was made alive. Made alive in the spirit. So, whenever Jesus rose, his spirit was reunited with his body, and he was resurrected from the dead. And in so doing he was his body was glorified now that his soul was resurrected. And the result is that he might bring us to God.

So, it is for our sake. Sinful humans are reconciled to a righteous God through faith in Christ. So, our sinful record, the record of our sin, is cancelled. It is nailed to the cross. It is imputed to Jesus Christ. So, in the death of Jesus, God judges our sin in the body of his son at his death on the cross.

But then the righteousness of Jesus Christ, his righteous perfection, his record is imputed to us. And God adopts us as his sons and daughters, and he grants us adoption and eternal inheritance. Now in the context of the book of first Peter, Peter is saying these things to make a point about the way we've approached suffering.

So, what he says here is to remind us that suffering is an essential part of the Christian life because suffering was an essential part of the life of Jesus Christ. So just as Jesus suffered to bring about his victory, so also our suffering for doing good will also be turned ultimately into a victory.

Now, there's another place where Peter teaches the same lesson and it's in the sequel to first Peter, which is the book of second Peter. And let me read to you the same idea, the same lesson about what Jesus did when he descended, but also the lesson about suffering. So, here's second Peter chapter or excuse me, this is first Peter three and I'll, I'll read the second Peter text in a moment.

So, here's 1 Peter 3:14. He's talking about, this is the verse right before the text that we're, we're looking at today. He says, but even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled. So, there's the lesson about suffering that will prompt what the teaching is that we've been looking at this morning so far.

So, since we as Christians, we are united with Christ, we can expect to experience the same kinds of hostilities that Jesus experienced himself. So, don't despair, right? Have no fear of them. Have no fear of them. That's, that's the application that he's driving home. Have no fear of suffering. We need not be afraid of suffering.

We need not despair of suffering. Knowing that God's greatest victories in our lives will often be camouflaged as defeat. So, whenever you suffer, it might feel or hit you in the pain of it as a defeat. But oftentimes, that pain, that suffering, that apparent defeat is the means that God will use to bring about a great victory in your life.

And that's what Peter is telling us here. Look to the suffering of Christ and the victory God won there, and see our own suffering in light of that. See our suffering in light of Jesus suffering and subsequent victory, and see our suffering as a result. It's a promise that in one way or another, there will ultimately be a victory that God brings out of that suffering.

And also knowing that our suffering is never final. So even whenever we suffer, or the people that we love suffer, or even we or the people we love suffers and dies, death is not final. The suffering associated with death is not final. Therefore, for us. The gospel of Jesus Christ and what he did and even his suffering is wonderful, good news.

It's good news. Jesus suffered and died and descended and was raised and he ascended. All accomplishing an ultimate victory. So, the gospel is good news for us. However, for the wicked spirits that are in these chains and prison, the gospel is nothing but bad news. They are utterly defeated, and that's what Peter's gonna take us to now.

So, the gospel is bad news for evil spirits. Now let's look at the text here. So, the next verse, Verse 18, just picking up the context, He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which, so the “in which” is referring to the spirit. He went in the spirit. He went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.

Because they formerly did not obey. So, there were rebellious spirits who did not obey. When was this? Well, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah. So, we're talking about evil spirits who did not obey at a particular time, a particular instance of disobedience. While the ark was being prepared, in which that is, in which a few, that is eight persons were brought safely through water.

That's Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives, eight people. This is a strange text. And it'll be, it'll get a little bit stranger as we go along. But We're tempted to scratch our heads and be like, I don't know what that means and just keep reading, right? But it may be like in your if you're going through the Bible reading plan You've got to Genesis 6, and you read the few verses, right?

Well, that was weird and you just kept going Well, I want this to make sense to you because Peter it made sense to him and it made sense to the people He was writing to and he expected that they were familiar with something to be encouraged by it and that encouragement would enable them Through faith in Christ and what he endured to suffer.

Well, that's the point. So what Peter is referring to is this story of Noah in the days of the ark when evil spirits rebelled. And that is in Genesis 6. So, it's way, way, way, way, way back at the very beginning of the Bible, before the flood, at the earliest point in human history. Just, you know, this, this very, very early time.

Okay, now I, I, I was, I mentioned this. This text in second Peter a moment ago, but I was out of I was out of order Here is the second Peter text where he tells the same story in the next chapter So here's second Peter. He said for if God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into hell and that's a reference to shield and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment If he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.

And then skipping a few verses ahead because this is a long sentence. If God did all of those things, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment. So, the story of the angels that rebelled in the days of Noah, God knows how to deal with sin and evil, and God knows how to rescue the godly from trials.

Right. And the rescue doesn't always mean we get out of it. The, the, the rescue often means that he carries us safely through it.

Now you might read these details here about angels being cast into chains. You might, I've just read Genesis six a few days ago. I don't remember that part. I don't remember anything about these angels being cast into this gloomy darkness. So why is it that in Genesis and how is Peter talking about it?

Well, that's where we'll go now. Peter is talking about a story that is true, even though it is not in the Bible. So, there are lots of things that are true that the Bible doesn't tell us about, right? I mean that's, that should be fairly obvious. But whenever we see a story referenced in the Bible that seems like we should know it, but we don't know it, that is a little odd to us and that's why there's some discomfort with it.

So, here's what, here's, here's my understanding of this. Peter cites true details of a true account that actually happened from a book that was available to and familiar to him but is not available to and familiar to us. And that book is called First Enoch. And the book is not authoritative scripture, although it does contain true accounts in that book.

So, God did not see fit by the spirit to include the book of first Enoch in the canon of scripture, but the book of Enoch does record true accounts from way back when. And Peter, by citing it here in connection to the experience of Jesus, he's telling us this actually happened, even though we don't have the original source material.

Now, one other detail, the book of Enoch was, had basically disappeared for hundreds of years, but it is now, it's like there's been copies and fragments of scrolls and so forth that have been discovered. So, the book that the reformers and the reformed tradition did not have access to, like Calvin and men in that time we now have access to this book.

So, we can see the original source of material Peter was drawing from. So that, that should not freak us out. It should not scare us. We're just saying like Peter read this book and the parts in it that he's referencing are in a true account. That doesn't mean the whole thing is true. It might be, but it's just, it's not to be taken as authoritative scripture.

So, what I want to do is I want, I want to backfill the account that Peter is referencing that is not in the Bible, but it is nevertheless taken to be a true account because Peter references it here. So, this is a quick snapshot of the first Enoch story, and I'll show you how it connects to the biblical storyline as we go.

So here we go. In the days of Noah, before the flood, we've already seen that. There was something that happened, that we've also seen referenced, that was extremely wicked, and extremely repulsive to God. So, let's, let's see what, let's, let's use the scripture to frame what we're discussing. Genesis six, one and two says this, when man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive, and they took as their wives any they chose.

One more verse. I'm skipping down to verse four. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of man. So, here's the sons of God. Here's the daughters of man. And they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

Now just reading it on face value, we're like, that's super weird. And we don't know what to do with it. And I've heard about this since I was a kid. And I've always just thought, I don't know what that's about. And I just kept going. But there, there's, there is an explanation for this that is, is true to scripture and is, is glorious.

But we have to, we have to do a little bit of homework to get there. This, these children being referred to here, that's the Nephilim. He's referring to the Nephilim and we'll, I'll, I'll tell you about them as we go along. So, verse two, he's, he talks about the sons of God. The sons of God is a reference to the spirits that were created to serve God.

And they formed an alliance with humans to rebel against God. So, sons of God are spirits created to serve God, but they formed a sinful alliance with humans to rebel against God. And somehow, we don't know how that, that, that it worked, but these evil spirits mated with human women, and they spawned offspring.

We see that right here in the text. We don't know all the details. We see that right here in the text. There's some unholy union between the sons of God spirit creatures and human women and so Wicked humans and spirits what they did what the nature of the sin was that they crossed a divinely established boundary God limits us to the human realm, the material realm.

God limits spirits to a spirit realm. We know that both exist, but we know that the touch points between the two are very limited and always needs to be done according to the way that God would have us do this. So, whenever a prophet in the Bible spoke prophetically, it is because God gave him access to something that, in the spiritual realm, he's able to see things from a divine, spiritual perspective and report to God's people what he saw.

So, but this, this is not the normal way that that we experience life. But there was this boundary that was crossed, and that was a sinful boundary. So, what happened was that each side wanted to experience something from the other side. So, the ancient marriages, a bride's family would receive gifts or compensation in exchange for sending their daughter in hand, her hand in marriage to them.

It was an ancient marriage. So, what was happening here is that evil spirits, they wanted to have sex with human women. I don't know how, but that's what we see here. They wanted to do this. Humans wanted forbidden knowledge. They wanted, they wanted to know the secrets of the spiritual realm. And so, as you, if you're familiar with the Bible at all, you, you know these things already.

You know there are things in the Bible that are forbidden because it is forbidden contact with the spiritual realm. Sorcery, witchcraft the there's magic. There's also things like psychedelics, the use of herbs and, and plants to, to be concocted in different ways that can, that can kind of open, open our minds in ways that are not just the trip.

It's like they, it seems as though these things really do, do grant access to, to spiritual things. And it's like, it's forbidden. It is exceedingly wicked, and it's forbidden throughout scripture. The ability to commune with spirits, the ability to contact the dead. Now, all of these things are things when you encounter them in the Bible, you're like, that's really weird.

You know, the story of the witch of Endor bringing up the spirit of Samuel, what in the world? Or the spirit of Saul, rather no, I'm sorry, it was Saul bringing up the spirit of Samuel. But it's like, that's a really weird story. And it was like, it was totally forbidden because not because it's just this thing that doesn't exist.

It's just a magic, you know, an illusion. It's a trick. It's like, no, they're real things. That humans can do to interact with and contact the spiritual realm that are forbidden Because God has divinely established a boundary Now his plan his goal and creation is to reunite and to establish contact between the two but in his time through his means But we do not control that But humans wanted to control it and so they were willing to give up their daughters in marriage to these angels who are offering Them this deal.

Hey, let us sleep with your women, take them as wives, and have children with them, and then we'll teach you some secrets. What I'm telling you now is attested in the book of Enoch, but also attested in many other ancient sources of other religions even. So, there were things that happened in the ancient times that is universally attested.

So, this, this blurring of the lines between the material and spiritual realms unleashed all kinds of evil. It was an extraordinarily wicked act. And then the offspring produced by these unholy unions are called Nephilim. We've seen them here and they are mighty men who were of old men of renown giants is, is the worst of the word Nephilim even the, another translation of that word would just be giants.

If you think giants, come on, Michael, you're crazy. Well, you know, the story of David and Goliath, right? Goliath was a giant. Goliath was descended from the Nephilim. So, this, it's not as crazy as you think. It's just a giant where you don't expect it to see it. But this is a, this is a real account that's in Scripture, and we take it seriously.

So, because of this, of this unspeakable wickedness, God declared something. So, Genesis 6:5, the Lord saw, this is the very next verse, the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. And that every intention of the thoughts of his heart's heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth and aggrieved him to his heart.

So, the Lord said, I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. For I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. So, in Noah's day. You probably know the story. God judged the earth with a flood.

He said this unholy alliance and the things that came as a result and the giants and all this, it's like this, this spawned a level of wickedness that human beings hadn't had not yet attained to yet, but it is beyond wicked. And so, God decided I want to destroy the entire earth. And so, he said the flood wiped out every living thing, but Noah and his family and you know, every kind of animal was preserved on the ark.

Along with this judgment was the judgment of the Nephilim. So, the, these creatures, these Nephilim, the, this, the, the giant, they were also killed in the flood. Now, we saw earlier that they were around also afterward. We don't know how that happened either, but even though they were all wiped out in this flood, somehow, they continued either this sin happened again.

But in this judgment, God wiped them all out. Now, since the Nephilim are not fully human, and they're not fully spirit, it's a hybrid, then there was a special kind of unique judgment that was placed on them, and their dead spirits were sent to Sheol in the lowest part. In the book of Enoch, it gives details of this.

But they were, when God judged the earth, the evil spirits were imprisoned in the lowest part of Sheol. Now, they, they thought that their punishment was too harsh. And so, they, they sought clemency by contacting a man named Enoch. So, if you, if you know this, the name Enoch, he's, he's got very scant mention in the Bible, but the time he is mentioned is very unusual and noteworthy.

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. He didn't die the ordinary way. He died in some, or he was, he was just, God took him. I don't know what that means. God took him. So, this guy named Enoch was known in the ancient world as a man who did not experience death the normal way. And presumably that gave him some ability, a special relationship with God, we see that.

But presumably some, some he was able to, to not, he's not confined to the realm of the dead the way humans that died were. And this is in scripture. So, what these evil spirits imprisoned under Sheol thought they could do was somehow contact Enoch, and somehow, they were able to do this. And they were to try to get Enoch to go to God and appeal to God for clemency to be released.

And so, this is where we'll jump off and pull in some of the details from the book of Enoch. So, in the book of 1 Enoch and I've read it and it’s interesting, but I've read this book. So, it's like, and you can access it if you were, if you're interested in this, it's not scripture, but it does contain true information.

So, in this book, he has a vision where he goes to God to present this request for clemency from the evil spirits. And here's, here's the thing just to stand out. God denies the request. And sends Enoch back to Sheol, back to the lowest parts of Sheol, to proclaim his answer. And that's, no, you're not going to be granted clemency, you're, you're under judgment.

That was Enoch's message when he went. So, he went as a prophet of doom, to these spirits in prison, at the lowest parts of the realm of the dead, evil spirits that rebelled, proclaiming to them, you are under judgment, you are defeated, you will not be released. All right, we'll pause here. This story is not familiar to us, but to Peter's original readers, this was something that he could casually mention, and they wouldn't know what he's talking about.

He's able to just kind of toss it in there as though, yeah, they know what I'm talking about here. So, it was familiar to his audience, and it was taken to be a truthful account to his audience. And so, he mentions it here to make an important point about Jesus. And that point about Jesus is the, is what I want to drive us towards because it should stir our hearts to marvel and worship.

The point that Peter is making is that when Jesus died, he descended to Sheol, he descended to the realm of the dead, which is what all spirits, all the souls of every dead human did. They all went to Sheol. Jesus being fully man, experienced fully. What in a human would experience. So, he went to the realm of the dead and being having to experience the worst that anyone could experience.

He went even to the lowest part. So, he went all the way to the lowest part of Sheol, but he was proclaiming a message. He was doing something similar to what Enoch did, which is what Peter is saying. And the message that Jesus delivered was the same message Enoch delivered, but this time it was final.

He's saying, I am here to declare victory over death, and to empty shield of all the souls of the saints. And take them out of here. I'm here to rescue them from the realm of the dead. And deliver them to God. To take them to where they belong.

Oh, there's a text I was going to read here. I don't have it in my notes. Let me, I'll read it to you from, from here. This is from Revelation 1:18. Revelation 1:18 says, when I saw him, this is John speaking, the prophet John, I fell at his feet as though dead, but he laid his right hand on me saying, fear not.

This is Jesus speaking now. Fear not. I am the first and the last, the living one. And I died. And behold, I am alive forevermore. And I have the keys of death and Hades, Jesus Christ said that in the book of Revelation. I have the keys to death and Hades, and he says that as the result of the fact that he died and was made alive again.

So, think about that. Jesus not merely died and kind of hung around in limbo for a while and then raised again. But while Jesus was dead, his soul, his spirit descended into Sheol, the realm of the dead, to go to the spirits in prison to say, you thought that this was a victory. You thought killing the son of God was going to secure your, your release.

So, you thought you'd won. Well, guess what? You haven't won. Because. I am God himself, and I will conquer the grave. I will be risen out of the grave, and in so doing, I will have totally overcome and defeated all the power of Satan's sin and the grave. So, death is defeated. I now have the keys in my hand of death and of Hades.

The whole realm of Sheol is mine now. I've beaten it. That's what he proclaimed. Jesus went to proclaim this message to those evil spirits who initiated this initial rebellion that plunged the world into chaos and rebellion, that even led to God judging the whole earth with a flood. The spirits who initially prompted that, Jesus went to declare them, you are eternally, forever defeated.

So, Jesus not only conquered death, he conquered this realm. And he went to the same Sheol, to the same spirits, to proclaim the same message, but only better. So, you know, if you're, you might, in like a gospel centered way, you might say this, Jesus is the true and better Enoch. Right? If you're, Jesus is the true and better Noah, he's the true and better Moses.

Well, Moses. Well, in this case, Jesus is the true and better Enoch. Who proclaims a, a greater and eternal victory. And a greater victory over death. So, this is the, this is what Peter is telling us. Look at what Enoch did and that is a, that is a precursor to what Jesus did in a greater and more ultimate way.

So, Jesus turned what seemed to be a catastrophic loss into an overwhelming victory. Christ conquered not merely death in the sense that he rose again. But Jesus conquered the concept of death, the realm of death. He come, he conquered the, the judgment that was, that was enacted then. Now there's one other wrinkle that we need to talk about here, and that is all this whole story is pictured in a drama of baptism, Christian baptism.

So, here's, here's the last two verses we'll look at. Baptism, which corresponds to this. What is this? That's the whole story we were just talking about with Enoch. So, baptism, which corresponds to the story we just referenced, now saves you. I'll get to that in a second. Not as a removal of dirt from the body.

It's not just a bath, right? Baptism, not just a bath. It's a symbol of the greatest story imaginable. It's, it's not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience. through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God. Who else is there?

With angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. So he is, he goes there having conquered everything. He's there supreme, and every spiritual being in all, in all of existence is now subdued and conquered through the resurrection of Christ. That's huge. So, whenever we, whenever we think of baptism, we typically think of it as a symbol of salvation, and it is accomplished through the death and burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Now, whenever Peter says baptism, which now saves you, I've known a lot of people that think, well, they say that you have to be baptized or you're not saved. So, you have to do water baptism. So, if you know, like Church of Christ type of people I've known a ton of these guys whenever, where I grew up.

It's like if somebody gives even a hint that they've committed their life to Jesus. They're frantically searching for water Because it's like it's like we got to baptize you right now because if you die Before you're baptized then you'll go to hell. That's not what Peter is teaching here, but this is their favorite verse He's not talking about Baptism the act of water baptism saving you the water itself has no saving effect He's saying the thing which baptism symbolizes saves you.

So, baptism is the symbol. It is the picture, the thing pictured and the thing symbolized does the saving. It's very simple, but sometimes people tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. So, Romans chapter six, three and four gives us and a little bit more insight into baptism. He said, do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ, Jesus, were baptized into his death?

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might walk in newness of life. So, Peter is saying the same thing that Paul is saying here in Romans, Christian baptism corresponds to this story of what Jesus did.

Peter just tells us more of what happened in his soul, in his spirit during the, the Holy Saturday, the, the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection. And it corresponds in two ways. There are two ways that baptism corresponds to the story that Peter's telling us. So, the first one is that baptism is a symbol of God's judgment for sin.

Baptism is a symbol of God's judgment. We've already seen it here. Do we not all, do not all of us know that those of us who've been baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? So, we're baptized into his suffering and his death. So, baptism is, it symbolizes first, a judgment of God for sin. So, God being just and righteous must provide justice for wickedness and sin.

So, there must be a judgment for God to be righteous. In Noah's day, God condemned the world for its sin, and both humans and evil spirits were condemned, and they perished and went to Sheol. And so, the entire globe underwent a baptism of sorts. It was baptized in a flood of judgment, and the flood was a symbol of God's judgment.

In the New Testament, Jesus, He was baptized with water early in His ministry. But he also underwent a baptism at the cross. God condemned his own son to atone for our sin. And Jesus spoke this way himself. Jesus says in Luke 12:50, I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished.

This was after his water baptism. He's talking about going to the cross. There's a baptism that he must undergo, and he's distressed until it's over with. He's dreading it. But he's like, I've got to do it. I have to, I have a baptism to be baptized with. So, baptism is a symbol of judgment. So, whenever Jesus, he was baptized into death and that included, Peter tells us about a descent into Sheol, which it's called Hades is also referred to as hell.

And that's why the Apostles Creed preserves this doctrine as he descended into hell. So Christian baptism for us, whenever we are baptized, it symbolizes our identification with an agreement with God's judgment for sin. So, whenever the believer is plunged into the water, it symbolizes their union with Christ and his death, his burial, and his descent into Sheol.

Baptism means that much, number one. Number two. Baptism is a symbol of God's, not only Jesus’ resurrection, but God's gracious redemption through Christ. So, God graciously forgives and redeems us from our sin. And so, in Noah's day, God rescued his people from judgment. So how did he do that? Well, Noah fell in favor in the eyes of the Lord.

We read that a moment ago. God patiently waited, Peter told us, in the days of Noah, while he built the ark, because he didn't want to destroy everybody right away, he wanted to save some people. So, God was gracious to redeem his people, and he carried Noah and his family safely through the baptism of judgment into safety in the ark.

In the New Testament, Jesus’ death and resurrection is like an ark. It is, it is like a vessel that carries his people to safety. So, the New Testament says countless times we are in Christ. And we can think of that as us, us being like in the ark, Jesus being our ark. Jesus is the true and better art, but Jesus is the ark, and we are in him.

Meaning that as he dies and as he descends in the shield, we are there with him because we are in him, and he does those things on our behalf. The righteous for the unrighteous, which is us. He does that to bring us to God. We saw in verse 18 earlier. So, God carries his people to safety, those who believe in Christ by faith.

So, whenever we're raised up out of the water, it's a symbol of victory that we joined with Christ in triumph over sin and death and Satan. We triumph over the evil spirits just as Jesus preached to them as the true and better Enoch. And this is why a lot of historic church baptismal liturgies include a specific renunciation of Satan and his works.

And we include that in our baptismal liturgy here. Okay. Let me conclude this and just circle around back to Peter's main point, which is about how we face suffering, right? God's greatest victories are often camouflaged as defeat. To the ancient mind, before the time of Christ, death was more dreaded than anything.

We dread it now, but they dreaded it in a unique way, because the deliverance from Sheol was not as clear to them how it would take place. It was a vague hope. But it was very dreaded. Everybody went to Sheol. And what did Jesus do? Jesus himself died. He descended to Sheol into the lowest part, and he proclaimed there to the instigators of the rebellion, his victory over all of it.

And then Jesus raised again, his soul raised to new life up from the grave, ascending to glory in a glorified body. And for those who belong to Christ, he accomplished these things in order to rescue us from that fate and bring us to God. Jesus suffered for righteousness’ sake, a good man, a righteous man, a perfect man who was reviled and despised by wicked men.

But God turned it around and his suffering and apparent defeat was the very means by which he brought about a complete and overwhelming triumph. And what initially appeared to the demonic evil spirits imprisoned in the lowest part of Sheol, what initially appeared as a great victory to them, ended up being a catastrophic, utter, absolute defeat.

So then, based on what we know Christ has done for us, and based on what he has promised that he will yet do to us, And based on the fact that we are saved by the thing signified by the baptism that we undergo, which is our declaration of our union with Christ and all of his suffering and all of his glory, we can be confident of two things.

Number one, we will never experience the worst of all possible outcomes. Jesus alone experienced that. God spares us. He knows how to rescue his people from trial. And number two, we can anticipate with utter certainty, the best of all outcomes, because that's what Jesus died to give us, to bring us to God.

And that's something that we can take comfort in. We can take hope in that. The next time Satan tries to shoot his fiery arrows of suffering at you, let's pray. Lord Jesus, it is mind blowing to consider what you endured on our behalf. And we thank you and worship you that you did it, that you were, you were willing to undergo the baptism of judgment so that you can, you could bring us to God and in your resurrection, we can have hope in our suffering.

So, we praise you now as we come to the table and we, we taste and drink the bread and wine of your suffering. Lord, I pray that you will stir our hearts to worship and ponder on these things as we consider just the magnitude of what you did. And we thank you that it is, you did this for our sake and that we do nothing to earn it.

We do nothing to deserve it. It is all a merciful gift of your grace because of your great love. And we give you all the glory and praise now. And we ask this in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

More in First Peter

February 4, 2024

Humble Yourselves

January 28, 2024

Shepherd the Flock of God

January 21, 2024

How to Suffer Faithfully