Trash or Treasure?A fellow by the name of Craig Randall drove a garbage truck to Wendy’s restaurant where he pick up their trash. One day he got a surprise that he did not expect. One day when he stopped at Wendy’s, he rummaged through the garbage and pulled a contest sticker off a cup and he won a free chicken sandwich. The following week he found another cup and figured, “Hey, I’d like to get some free fries to go with my free chicken sandwich.”
When he pulled the sticker off, it read: “Congratulations! You have won $200,000.” Someone who had eaten in the restaurant hadn’t taken the time to pull off the sticker before throwing it away. To one person it was trash. To another, treasure.
The riches of God’s Word many times are like that. We can read it and occasionally we come across a real treasures. I’ve seen that in 1 Peter 3.
In our text today in 1 Peter 3, I believe I found more treasure that many of us may overlook when we read through these verses. In the context so far the apostle Peter has been instructing his reader that we should remain faithful and do our best to endure persecution that comes along with being a Christian. In our last lesson I discussed what Peter had to say in chapter 3:15-16 where he said, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
The people he wrote to were being persecute and abused because of their faith in Christ. It wasn’t easy to live the Christian life. Many had already lost their lives and loved ones because they put their faith and hope in Jesus. People were suffering for doing the right thing. Here in the text Peter goes on to write down something wonderful yet mysterious, and herein lies our hidden treasure for today. Let me read this to you starting with verse 17.
“It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” NIV The NLT put translate this verse like this, it says. “17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”
You mean to say that God wants us to be punished for doing good? I don’t think God necessarily wants us to be punished for doing good, as much as He doesn’t want us to be doing wrong or evil and getting punished for that. Would you rather see your child given a hard time because they told the truth or because they lied? I don’t want my kids to be persecuted at all, but if they are I hope that it’s not because they have done something wrong.
The sad reality is, some people are going to persecute us and give us a hard time whether we are in the right or wrong and Peter goes on to give us a perfect example of that in the following verses, he writes,18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,”
As one reads over this, we read that Peter again lets us know that Jesus Himself was not doing anything evil yet He was persecuted. Even Jesus was not exempt for getting in trouble for doing the right thing.
But as you read into this verse and the next, there is so much more revealed; hidden treasure. Did you see it? He said,“18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,” The NLT says it this way; “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” NLT
There are 2 precious jewels that I see here:
#1) His trials and death had purpose. All that He endured and went through was ultimately meant to bring us safely home to God. What can be any more precious than that? Even knowing that our love one’s who loved Christ are now safely home with God.
#2) Even though He was put to death, this text clearly indicates that He was raised to life in the Spirit. Some versions say that He was raised by the spirit. Now there is a big controversy as to whether the text says that Jesus was raise ‘in’ the or ‘by’ the spirit. Unfortunately, based on my understanding, the original Greek text does not contain either word, but was added in translation based on context.
I lean more toward those who feel that the text implies that Jesus was, ‘raised to life in the Spirit’ .
In his commentary scholar and former professor Dr. Guy Woods discusses significance in his commentary on 1 Peter. Here is what he writes on the subject. “Two things are affirmed of the Lord in this statement; #1) He was put to death in flesh, #2) He was made alive in spirit. In death and in spirit are locative and indicative of the sphere in which the action occurred. The meaning is, the sphere of death, for our Lord, was in the flesh; the sphere in which He was made alive was in the spirit. (The point is) death affected only His flesh.
The spirit alluded to in this verse is, therefore, that inner part that stands in contrast with the flesh – the divine spirit which Jesus possessed which all men possess, was not affected by the death which He suffered.
Why should it be asserted that in this spirit He was made alive? It should be remembered that it was Peter’s purpose to show that though Christ suffered death, this, far from terminated His existence or destroyed His influence, it merely enabled Him to be energized, brought to active life in the realm of spirit. His spirit, instead of perishing in death, was clothed with renewed and enhanced powers of life. At death, this spirit passed into a new sphere of existence, hence was said to have been made alive”
In laymen terms, Jesus’ body died, but as we know it was not the end for Him, nor is it for us when our physical body stops functioning. I believe the moment after He took His last breath on the cross His spirit was released into a new and greater realm, a spiritual realm, one which we understand very little about, one which defies of time and space. (On the cross Jesus told God ”Into your hands is commit my spirit”)
I believe Peter wanted to reassure those Christians it did not end there on the cross. As a matter of fact the moment after we take our last breath, we likewise enter that eternal spiritual realm without skipping a beat. Do you remember what Jesus told the faithful thief on the cross in Luke 23:43? He told him that “today you will be with me in paradise.” Not in a 100 or 1000 years, but rather that very day; in fact just a few hours later. (In Acts 7:54-60 Stephan told the Jews as they stoned him that he could Jesus stand at God’s right hand)
Just because your body dies it doesn’t mean you die dead; part of you does die; the flesh. But the rest of you enters a realm of wonder and majesty, that is if you are a Christian.
Do you remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus? In that Parable which Jesus told we read that the both died, but that wasn’t then end of the story. One went to paradise, signified by Abraham’s bosom, and one went to a place of suffering. (Luke 16:19-31)
In our text Peter even indicates that Jesus did something after He died on the cross and came alive in the spirit. Listen to what Peter says next concerning what Jesus did.
“He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19 through whom (or ‘in which’) also He went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. “
So what exactly did Jesus do in after He died in the flesh and was made alive in that spiritual realm? Again, commentators are divided over what Peter is saying here. Most agree that rather than preaching to these individuals mentioned here a better phrase would be that ‘He went and made a proclamation to them.’
Exactly who they were, there are many opinions.
– Some say, the fallen angels which Jude talks about.
– Some say He went back in time to speak to the disbelievers during the time of Noah.
– Some think Jesus spoke through Noah.
– Some think Jesus went and talk to those individuals who drown in the flood who are now in Hades.
I don’t think anyone actually knows who He talked to, when, or even what He said. I sure don’t. But the encouraging point that Peter is making here is that even though Jesus was persecuted and put to death for doing what was right, that is not the end. It wasn’t for Him and it won’t be for us. Isn’t that good to know! There inlies our 2nd treasure seen in this text.
As an added bonus we also have a brief discussion on Baptism and its significance. He writes, “In it (that is the ark) only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledgeof a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand —with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”
Over the years I have read and heard people down play the significance of water baptism. Some say that it is an outward sign of something that has already happened in one’s heart. One should do it because Jesus got baptized and He said we should do it as well. I even heard one lady say that if it was good enough for John the Baptist and Jesus, it was good enough for her; but if you arn’t baptized for some reason you can still be saved without it because you are saved before you do it. But what does Peter say in this text? The water that cleansed the world and save Noah and his family is symbolic of baptism that now saves us. Isn’t that what it says?
In Acts 2, Peter told the believing Jews when they asked what to do when they realized that they were lost in sin, that they needed to repent and be baptized “for the forgiveness of their sin.”
When I read this I can’t help but believe that something happens in the baptismal water because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Even Jesus said in Mark 16:16“ Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Ananias told pertinent Paul in Acts 22:16“Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”
And then in Romans 6, Paul himself later wrote that when we go down into the water and we are buried, something dies, but when we come up and out of the baptismal water we are raised to a new life; we are born again.
What did the flood do back in Noah’s time. It washed away and destroyed all the sinful disbelievers. When Noah and his family exited the ark they entered a world cleansed of sin and began a new life. It was like they were born again or had a new beginning.
Now here is something very important. Peter does not say that Noah and his family were saved by water, nor in water, nor from water, he said that they were saved through water. That is, water was the means through which God exercised his saving power because of what Jesus did on the cross.
Likewise, baptism saves now, not because it is the savior, rather it is the medium or the instrument through which God exerts Hissaving power. Because of what Jesus did on the cross.
In 2 Kings 5:1-14, when Naaman was led finally to dip in the river Jordan to be cleansed of his leprosy, he did not attribute the miraculous healing to the muddy water, rather he recognized that it was God who healed him. Yet it was not until he entered the water and dipped himself that he was cleansed.
Likewise, when one is properly and intelligently baptized today, we need to recognize the fact that the power of forgiveness does not reside in the water, but rather in God because of what Jesus did.And baptism is something we must do to receiving salvation from God’s hand.
I’ve made a careful study of this over and over for the past 3 decades and what I keep coming back to is that the Bible teaches that a person is not forgiven or delivered from their sin until they allow Jesus to personally remove them, or circumcise away, while buried in baptism.
In Colossians 2:11-13 it specifically says, “11 In him (Jesus) you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,] not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature] God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,”
This verse is saying that Jesus cut away (or ‘circumcised’) our sin from us when were are burried in the baptismal water.
You are not save when you first believe in Jesus. Those sins just don’t disappear if you offer up what is called the Sinner’s Pray. There is no such prayer in the Bible and that’s not what the Bible teaches. Our sin is removed when we trust in Jesus, and accept Him as the new Lord of our life and then allow Him to remove our sin in the waters of baptism. That’s why Peter said ‘baptism now saves us.’ It’s because of what Jesus did on the cross and what He does to us if we have the faith to enter that water.
Thus the act of baptism becomes an act or a pledge of a ‘good conscience’ knowing we are doing what God desires us to do.
So the gems in today’s text: Death is not the end. It was not the end for Jesus and it will not to be the end for us as well. So Peter is encouraging those of his time and ours, keep doing what is right, what is good, what pleases God, even if we are persecuted. And #2, don’t worry what others think because Jesus died so that He could bring you safely home to God.
And concerning baptism; for the life of me I just can’t understand why so many people are confused and argue about it. It is something the early Christians understood and had no problem doing in response to faith in Jesus. Thousand obeyed Peter’s call to repent and be baptized in Acts 2 because they saw why it was so important. I hope you do as well because God has a wonderful treasure just waiting for you.
If you have not done a serious study on baptism I encourage you to do so. Do you want to take a chance that you weren’t baptized properly, or for the right reason? I have personally re-baptized people who had been baptized 2 or 3 times earlier in their life but then wanted to make sure they really did it for the right reason; not as a baby, not because it just seem like the right thing to do. Rather doing it because we trust that Jesus will save us from our sin.