John 14:2, 6
1 Peter 3:8-22
Our preparation Scripture passage for this morning, 1 Peter 3:18-22 presents a very interesting comparison between those who enter into Christ and those who entered Noah's ark.
It also presents a comparison between those who don't enter into Christ and those who didn't enter the ark.
In essence we are talking about missing or not missing the boat.
But the background of our story really begins a little further back: in 1 Peter 3:8.
8. To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
9. not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
"Let him who means to love life and see good days
Refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.
11. "And let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12. "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
13. And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?
14. But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,
15. but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
16. and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
17. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
As we look at these verses, beginning at verse 8, we are presented with the age-old conflict of good versus evil.
But even more, we are being presented with an option, a free will choice, and we are being encouraged to turn from evil and do good.
Doing good is not limited to our families, or our church members or to our communities; it has not limit. It should extend to the whole of creation.
Even if the whole world around us is doing what is evil in the eyes of God, we are still to do what is good.
We are not to fear those who ridicule or slander us; we are to hold fast to what is of God.
For, it is better to suffer for being innocent than for being guilty.
As an example: There is a murder, and a person is found guilty and condemned to death.
When that person comes before God, the ultimate Judge, which is better: to have died innocently, having killed no one, or to have actually murdered someone and have justly died for that crime?
Obviously, to have died innocently.
Let's take a look at the following verses before us in more detail, beginning at verse 18, and see how they apply to us, just as they applied to the people to whom Peter first wrote.
18. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
Actually, one could say that this verse contains the whole gospel message.
Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world -- all of the sins.
And since all of us have sinned, this means that He has taken upon Himself our personal sins.
In essence, we might say that our sins nailed Him to the cross, that our sins were the hammer blows driving the nails into His hands and feet.
He was innocent. He was the only Just One during his days upon the earth and even to this very day. We are not innocent.
Jesus died for us, the unjust of this world.
And Jesus willingly did this because He loves us, and wanted everyone to have a way of getting into heaven, a place in which he made room for the unjust -- us.
Itís as Jesus told the disciples in John 14:2.
2. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you.
But even though this tells us that Jesus prepared a place for everyone, it doesn't mean that everyone will be there.
Note carefully that in verse 18 Peter emphasizes that Jesus "might" bring us, not that He "will" bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
This means that we have a part in His work upon the cross.
It's not enough that we nailed Him to the cross and that He paid our price. Through our faith and repentance we, also, must enter into his salvation work.
God's grace will save us; but, first, we must be Christ's: we must have entered in by faith and we must realize how bad our sins have been and the extent of God's love in doing what He did.
We must understand what Jesus said in John 14:6.
6. ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.
This is entering in to Jesus' work upon the cross: not by our works, but by His. We enter by faith.
Unfortunately, most people don't want to accept this. They keep trying to find other ways into heaven, and there are none.
As a result, they miss the boat.
This is the comparison which Peter makes: for he likens Jesus and His work upon the cross to an Ark of Salvation into which people must enter, very much like Noah's ark.
Everyone, except eight people and the obedient animals, missed that boat and died.
Peter tells us that prior to Jesus' resurrection, He witnessed to those who missed the boat.
19. in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
That is, in hell.
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.
Noah, in one way or another, must have preached to the people about their need to repent, and that God was going to destroy the world in a flood.
But they didn't believe him, or they didn't want to believe him.
They knew the truth, but they wanted to continue in their sinful ways.
And even though God gave them 120 years to believe and repent, they didn't.
They rejected God's offer.
No one entered in.
They all died, save eight people and the animals who listened to God's call.
We are saved by God's grace through our faith.
God's grace is always there; so, where is our faith?
Jesus testified against those in hell for their lack of faith.
As I was meditating upon these Bible verses, I thought about the Ark of the Covenant that was carried before Israel.
It contained the word of God, the Tablets, in order that the people would enter into those words and live by them, not because they were told to, but because they wanted to. That is the meaning of entering into the word.
It contained the Jar of manna, the bread of life that sustained them for forty years in the wilderness (Exodus 16:31-36), and it sustained them without causing the death of any living being.
Jesus is our bread of life, if we eat.
And also with the Ark was the rod of Aaron (Numbers 17:8-11).
It was a dead stick.
God caused it to bud and bloom.
He even made it bear fruit.
This rod is very much like us: we begin as dead in our sins, our faith in Jesus gives us life, and as we bud and bloom in His presence, we also bear fruit.
We must not miss this boat, either.
Peter also draws a comparison between our entering in -- our baptism -- and the floodwaters of Noah's day:
21. 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,
Let's think about this for a moment.
By faith, the waters can save.
We symbolically die in the waters of baptism. And this is most dramatically appreciated when baptism is by immersion.
In essence, we are demonstrating our death to sin.
We are then raised from that death, as we are raised from the water, and as we continue to rise, we join Jesus in His resurrection with a good conscience (a repentant spirit).
22. who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.
And this brings us back to the other side of the question: What happened to those who missed the boat?
They died in the water.
They died in the same waters that saved the others.
God, through Noah, offered the people a second chance, but of all the people upon the earth at that time, only eight accepted. All the others died.
Today, God, through Jesus, offers us a second chance through our second birth, through our belief and faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
Those who miss the boat, those who miss the saving grace of God offered through Jesus Christ, will die as those who missed Noah's ark.
The scary thought is whether those who enter falsely into the waters of baptism die in them because of their hypocrisy.
Every one of us has times in our life when we enter troubled waters.
But by faith, Jesus will always bring us safely through.
And even if we die, we live.
We are not to miss the boat.
We are not to miss the Ark of Salvation, Jesus Christ.
If you haven't entered in, do so now, before it's too late.
Do it now while the Door of the Ark is still open.
God loves us and wants us all to be with Him in heaven, forever.
The Ark is right here before us. Don't miss the boat.