Jesus came back to life after he died. In his new body, he spent time with his apostles and ate with them (Acts 10.41). Clearly this resurrection body was a real, physical body (though different in ways we don’t yet understand, cf I Cor 15.44). God the father used his power to bring Jesus back to life (Acts 2.32), and will do the same for us after we die.
The bible gives us some pretty clear information about where we’ll be going after we die, and it’s amazing. We have life now, and we don’t seriously question its reality. Death is just a blip from our perspective (cf I Cor 15.52). We’ll have life then, and it’ll be just as real. So where are we going? Our citizenship is in “the heavens” (Phil 3.20). For some reason, most translations have it singular — “in heaven,” even though this is dative plural in Greek. Jesus is going to come back from the heavens too (3.20). The plural form of ουρανος (“heavens”) is also found in Col 1.5, 16, 4.1; II Cor 5.1; Eph 1.10, 3.15, 4.10, 6.9; I Thess 1.10, Hb 1.10, 4.14, 8.1, 9.23, 10.34, 12.23, 25; I Pt 1.4, II Pt 3.5, and many other passages. It can mean “skies”, but in many contexts it means “space”. This makes perfect sense in light of II Pt 3.13 and Rev 21.1-2 (cf Is 65.17; use of παλιγγενεσια in Mt 19.28).
After our death, we’ll be given a body and source of life that cannot be killed (I Cor 15.42-49; I Pt 1.3-7). This applies to good people and bad people. The difference for good people is that we’ll get to leave Earth with Jesus, while everyone else will suffer forever. We want to avoid everyone else’s fate, so we do our best to follow God as he gives us constant forgiveness.
Names are hard. You can forget names, mix up names, and mispronounce names.
But there’s a subject in scripture that is described many different ways, and it is given multiple names. The word “gospel” appears 101 times in the Bible. Some have described this word as meaning, “a reward for good tidings.” The basic meaning of the word “gospel” is “good news.”
It is the good news about the benefits we receive from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fundamental facts of the gospel are the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These facts are found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Notice what else we learn about the gospel from this passage,
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
In this text we see what the gospel can do in the hands of a faithful Christian:
First, Paul preached this gospel.
Second, they received that message.
Third, they were standing in that message. That is, they were following the gospel.
Fourth, they were saved by that message.
Fifth, they would continue to be saved as long as they held fast to that message.
Sixth, these facts were true if they truly believed those facts.
Seventh, he delivered what he had received. He didn’t make-up this message. In Galatians 1:12 he explained, “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Eighth, what he delivered was of most importance which was that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (according to what had been foretold in the Old Testament).
Ninth, Christ was buried.
Tenth, Christ was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures – according to the Old Testament prophecies.
That is the gospel. That is what we are commanded to proclaim. So let’s share the good news with our lost and dying world.
The world’s most powerful engine is mind blowing. It stands 44 feet tall, is 90 feet long and weighs 2,300 tons. It’s capable of producing 109,000 horse power, and over 5,000,000 foot pounds of torque. To say this is a powerful engine is an understatement.
You can take the most powerful engine in the world and it pales in comparison to the power of God. This engine could never speak a world into existence, this engine could never raise someone from the dead, and this engine could never forgive sins and give us the hope of eternal life.
Paul would tell us in Ephesians 1:19-20, “…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.”
Notice Paul’s description of this power:
It is “exceedingly great”
It is shown toward those who believe
It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God.
Paul shows us how this power is given to those who believe in chapter 2:1-6. This power made us alive when we were dead. Colossians 2:12-13 tells us that those who were spiritually dead are now spiritually alive because of God’s power.
As Christians we must understand the power and might of God.
Do we understand what God could do to the world? Do we understand that God’s power is the only reason we are here today? Paul prays that we might know the power of God, and that that knowledge should shape our every thought and action here on earth.
For the next several weeks, I’ll be repeating the book of I Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today.
This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary.
I Peter – Part VIII
Our lifestyles were hostile to God, but he died for us anyway! Moral perfection died to save morally imperfect people. He wanted to bring us to God! He was killed physically, but his spirit was brought back to life. This is the form he had back in Noah’s day. Even then he wanted to save people who were about to face total destruction! God waited patiently for them to change, giving them chance after chance while Noah was building the ark. They died; in fact, only eight people survived that flood.
Water saved Noah and his family from those evil people, and water saves us from evil, too. We don’t bury ourselves in water to take a bath. We bury ourselves in water to ask God for a clean slate. We can only do that because Jesus was brought back to life, sat next to God, and was given total control of every supernatural force.
Mentally prepare yourself to suffer. Jesus suffered while he was human! When we suffer physically, it’s because we stopped doing bad things. As long as we’re alive, we’re not chasing the unhealthy passions humans have. We do what God wants. You used to chase those unhealthy passions! You craved all things bad, got drunk, partied without restraint, and practiced horrible things while worshipping fake gods.
Since you used to do this, your old friends are shocked that you don’t anymore. They hate you and mistreat you now, but they’ll have to answer to God. He’s going to judge everyone who’s ever lived. Remember, the hope for rescue that Jesus gave us was offered to people who aren’t alive anymore. Since everyone’s going to face God, everyone is given the chance to live like God wants.
When I get discouraged, I read a few specific verses. They will hopefully encourage you, too!
Philippians 3.20f: But we are citizens of heaven, where the lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Romans 8.1-4: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death…God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. In that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
I Corinthians 15.51-53: But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
II Corinthians 4.16ff: That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
II Corinthians 5.1-4: For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.
This week we will do a brief study of I Peter 3.17-22.
In verse 17, the emphasis in the original text is “doing good.” If it is God’s desire (this is emphasized) that we suffer, it is better (stronger, more prominent, more advantageous) that we suffer for doing good works than evil works. How much more powerful a message do we send when we come under fire for doing something that benefits others? If we suffer for doing something bad, we’re just another criminal. But to suffer in the act of doing something good – in context – is a far more powerful evangelistic tool.
In the following verses, Peter gives a powerful example of Christ’s focus on getting rid of sin. He put everything into saving mankind – including giving His own life – so that we could all have the opportunity to come to God. Even before the destruction of the world through the flood He made sure everything had the opportunity to hear about their spiritual state. Whether this was done through Noah and his sons or whether He had a more direct hand in this is immaterial. The point of the text is that the message got out to those who are “now in prison.” His goal was to bring others to God, even when it caused Him suffering.
Only those who did listen and obey – eight people – were rescued from evil by the waters of the flood. Notice that the Spirit does not record Noah’s ark as being what saved them! They were saved in the important sense by the destruction of evil. Our focus is not earthly.
Just as water saved Noah and his family from evil, water saves us from spiritual death. Being immersed in water is how we make a formal appeal to God for a clear conscience! Some translations render this, “A promise to God from a good conscience,” as if baptism is some kind of outward sign of an inward faith. This is not reflected in Greek; it is a conscience cleared by an appeal to God, because of the resurrection of Jesus. He has all power, so He can clear our record when we submit to Him.
Having all of this as a background, we have some motivation to keep our actions pure, suffer for doing good things, and understand that God’s power is what saves us. Peter gives many other phenomenal motivators for living a pure life, which we will look at in detail in the coming weeks.
Did you know that eating processed meats like bologna and pepperoni have been linked to memory loss? That’s a real bummer because most of the meat that I like is processed. I love Vienna sausages, hotdogs, pepperoni, and many other types of processed meat. Which might explain why I can’t remember names to save my life. It’s not just names, I forget about birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and a bunch of other important dates. But I’m not alone in this. Mankind as a whole tends to forget important events with the passing of time.
Which is exactly why God in His infinite wisdom commands us to remember a certain event every first day of the week. “The Lord’s Supper,” “the Lord’s Table,” “the Cup of Blessing,” “Communion,” and “the Breaking of Bread” each are descriptions used in scripture that refer to the act of remembering the body and blood of Jesus on the first day of the week. In the early church it was also called “the Eucharist” or “the giving of thanks” (Matt. 26:27).
What is the Lord’s Supper? Every week Christians observe it, and most of us know what it is. It’s a time to pause and think about the sacrifice of Christ. We do it every week and for good reason since we tend to forget important events. God commands us to participate in this act every week as a church so that we can always be thankful and remember what Christ did for us.
What can sometimes be an issue is that if we aren’t careful, it can be easy to let it turn into a mindless habit. What should we be doing during the communion?
Scripture gives us many different aspects of the Lord’s Supper that should be taken into consideration when we stop to remember the sacrifice of Jesus.
Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus commands us to “eat” the bread, and “drink” the cup. We are commanded to eat the bread which represents His body, and drink the cup which represents His blood.
As we fulfill the command to “eat” and “drink,” our minds must be completely engaged in a thorough remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice (1 Cor. 11:24-25). What do we think about during this time? The sinless and perfect life Jesus lived that made Him an acceptable solution for our sin problem. His willingness to go to the cross. The crucifixion. Specifically His body that was pierced and beaten, and His blood that poured from His wounds. Blood that has the power to forgive our sins. The burial AND resurrection because none of this would’ve meant anything if Jesus stayed in the tomb.
We should remember Christ’s right hand position in heaven that now gives us access to the Father. And we are to remember the common bond we now have as a church.
1 Corinthians 10:16 describes the Lord’s Supper as a “participation.” Paul uses the Greek word koinonia which means “a sharing or fellowship.” As a church we have fellowship in the blood and body of Christ. Verse 17 tells us that the “many are one” because there is only one body (Christ) that brought us together. We are united by the body of Christ.
The next time we observe the Lord’s Supper let’s be sure to dwell on these things; Remember every aspect of Christ’s sacrifice, remember where He is now, and remember the unity we now share with each other.
This song by the Gaithers was written in 1971 at the height of the Vietnam War. Also happening in this country was great civil unrest, school and public arena shootings, civil rights/suffrage/anti-war protests, political unrest, economic downturn, and concerns over the rising influence of communism. It was written during the Cold War when children had to do nuclear attack drills at school.
I never noticed how important the line, “this child can face uncertain days because He lives” was until seeing the year it was published. Those were definitely uncertain days.
Our time isn’t much different. I don’t have to elaborate on the stuff that makes our days uncertain – we’re very aware. We are able to handle what’s going on because He lives. No political unrest, civil disorder, threat of war, disease, or economic downturn can keep shut us down for good because He lives.
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He hold the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”
Nadezhda Khazina was born in Russia at the turn of the 20th Century. She met and married the famous poet, Osip Mandelstam, in Kiev, Ukraine, after the Russian Revolution and establishment of communism. The couple saw enough of that system of government to conclude it was destructive and harmful, so they railed against it as they had opportunity. Mandelstam had a wide audience through his poetry, and his 1934 epigram about Joseph Stalin was a work he called “his suicide note” and that has been described as his “sixteen line death sentence.” He was arrested, exiled, and died of exposure and neglect four years later. Nadezhda became even more active in crusading against the tactics used in the Soviet Union, then near the end of her life she wrote a two volume autobiography of her life and work: Hope Against Hope (1970) and Hope Abandoned (1974)(https://spartacus-educational.com/RUSkhazina.htm). What’s interesting is looking up the name “Nadezhda” or the more familiar form “Nadia”; the name means “hope.” In fact, Lois Fisher-Ruge wrote a book by that title in 1989.
Do you see the irony? Her name meant hope, but her life was full of hopes dashed and hopelessness in the midst of her struggle. But, she kept on working because of the hope she felt.
Peter writes 1 Peter to Christians who were going to see some seemingly hopeless situations in their lives. Some of them lived in Bithynia, a region whose governor, Pliny, famously bragged to the emperor Trajan at the turn of the second century about his pogrom of executing professed Christians for their faith. This was just about half a century after Peter writes this epistle warning of persecution.
Despite Peter’s warning about the testing of their faith in unfavorable circumstances, he frequently mentions not just the ultimate reward we see for faithfully serving Christ but also “hope.” Five times in the first three chapters, Peter mentions this hope. It’s a living hope caused by Christ’s resurrection (1:3), a complete hope (1:13), a hope in God (1:21; 3:5), and a reasonable hope (3:15). The world around them was hopeless; they lived without hope. They wanted to drag the Christians into that hopeless state, but Peter urges them to hold onto hope.
Our hopes are tested by times like these, by a world full of sin and iniquity. It’s easy to restrict our focus to this earth and this life. Peter’s words are for us, too! Do not be hopeless! You have Christ. Only those in Him have legitimate hope!