Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Suffering In The Body Of Christ

Temple Baptist Church - 8-16-2017
1 Peter 3:13-22


A.  Tonight, I want to re-emphasize the imperative of interpreting Scripture within its context.  Over the next few weeks, I want to look at 3 things that can be so easily misinterpreted by taking them out of their context. The context begins with the word “Finally” in verse 8. 

B.  The Holy Spirit, through the Epistle of First Peter, ties several things together showing both a New Testament example and an Old Testament example of obedient children of God persecuted by the disobedient children of God.  If taught separately, they can lead to confusion.

1.  How to get along with others in the body of Christ.  Verses 8-12.

2.  Spiritual persecution by those within the body of Christ.  Verses 13-18.

3.  An Old Testament example of the disobedience of the spirits in prison.  Verses 19-20.

4.  The ordinance of Baptism explained by the example of the ark in Noah’s day.  Verses 20-21.

C.  The Last two weeks, we looked at how to get along in the body of Christ.  By loving right and living right.  Tonight, I want to look at persecution within the body of Christ.  Suffering is a normal part of our lives.  Peter will deal with suffering more than once in the epistle because it is a sorrow that affects us all in one of four ways.

1.  There is natural suffering.  All of mankind has sorrow and all die.  From the womb to the grave, we find this truth to be evident.  Job probably said it best. 

Job 5:7  Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

Job 14:1-2  Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  (2)  He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.  (This is the result of the fall, not one of personal sinfulness.)

2.  There is the suffering of chastening.  Every born-again believer experiences this as we continue to live in a corrupt body. 

Hebrews 12:6-8  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  (7)  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  (8)  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  (This a result of personal sinfulness.)

3.  There is the suffering of the Christian which we will deal with in chapter 4.  Those who choose to live a godly, separated life bear the reproach of Christ.

1 Peter 4:16  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

2 Timothy 3:12  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

4.  There is the suffering of the believer within the body of Christ.  This may sound wrong to some but I want to take our verses for tonight and interpret them within the context.  Again, the context begins with the word “Finally” in verse 8.

D.  The context has been how to behave toward others within the church! 

1.  We are to be united.  We are to be of the same mind within the body.   We certainly cannot unite with or be of the same mind as the world.

2.  We are to love right.  We are to have compassion on each other within the body.

3.  We are to speak right.  We are to speak lovingly and truthfully with those within the body.

4.  We are to live right.  We are to hate evil and live a consistent, godly life within the body.

5.  We are to react right.  When others do or say things that hurt or harm us, we are not to get even or speak evil.

E.  These things speak of our relationship with each other, not with the world.  Now, let us look at these verses considering our context. 

F.  First, let us look at the New Testament example.

The New Testament Example.

1.  You would not expect to suffer at the hands of God’s people!  Look at verse 13.  We fully expect to suffer at the hands of the world.  They hated Christ and they will hate us but, when we do good, we expect God’s people to be glad.

2.  Look at verse 14.  “But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake.” The words “but and if” tell us that this is not always the case and should not be the norm but there is always the possibility.  The reason for suffering is living righteously.  We are positionally righteous but this refers to practical righteousness.

3.  This shows us that some believers will not live righteous lives and will mistreat those who do.  The reason for this is that we unbiblically compare ourselves with our peers.  If I know that I am not right with the Lord, I naturally do not want to be around those who are because of natural comparison.  I had rather run with the crowd who live as I live.  I am not talking about living in gross sinfulness.  I am talking about not living a life of biblical separation. 

4.  Those who live righteously are often called legalistic by others who are saved.  Separation is not legalism.  Legalism is following the law for righteousness.  We are not legalists, we are separatists. 

5. “Happy are ye” does not mean that we relish persecution for righteousness.  It means to have a godly satisfaction.  We are not to be conformed to this world because we have been transformed by Christ but the phrase “be not conformed to this world” shows us the possibility of doing so.

6.  We are not to be intimidated by them or fear them.  They are the ones not right and their behavior unrighteous.  We are to sanctify the Lord in our hearts: to put Him above everything and everybody!  We are also to be able to tell them why we try to live a separate life for Christ.  We are to be able to give them a scriptural basis for our separatism.  There are somethings that people do which have no biblical basis.  Where we stand must be in line with the Bible.

7.  Their accusation must be found unjust and out conscience clear.  We must live with the person that we face in the mirror each morning.  We do not want to be pharisaical in our deportment.  We want to live as close to Christ as we can because He paid for our redemption with a great price and our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.

8.  It is far better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong.  Make sure you stand on biblical ground and be loving to those who do not.

The Old Testament Example.  Verses 17-22 are important verses and must be interpreted within their context.  The Bible is not really that hard to understand if you take the time to rightly divide it instead of looking for the effortless way out and grab a book or commentary.  Most good men get into trouble when they quit studying and start copying or reading men’s work.  Otherwise, you might just be biblically ignorant enough to believe:

a.  The Angel Theory of Genesis 6.

b. Believe that the ark is a figure of salvation. 

c.  And think that water Baptist is essential to salvation. 

1.  The context has not changed!  Peter is telling the believers scattered how to interact with each other. (verses 8-16)  Peter is also assuring those who are obedient believers that they will suffer peer pressure and persecution from the carnal or worldly believers.

2.  These saved Jews were very familiar with the Book of Genesis so these verses that follow were well understood.

3.  The context is obedience verses disobedience.  The few verses the many.  In our day, the few are saved and most are lost.  Also, the few are obedient to God and most have become disobedient.  I love to quote Richard Rawles: “Walking at a guilty distance from God.”  As it was in the days of Noe, so it is today.

4.  Here are the verses that we quote every week during Prayer Meeting.  Matthew 28:19-20  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  (20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

a.  Teaching them to observe what?  “ALL THINGS … COMMANDED YOU!”  If we teach that, we become “legalists” to the carnal or worldly crowd because they do not want to “observe all things.”  This is a command of our Lord to those who are saved.

b.  “Observe” – to guard, to keep, to hold fast, to preserve.  Hebrews 2:1  Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.  (Things are slipping quickly away as traditional churches have gone contemporary and sound doctrine is no longer taught.)

c.  Back to our context.  The obedient are those who observe all things in the Bible and endeavor to live clean, godly lives for the Lord.  Separated unto Him and separated from the world.

d.  The disobedient are those who refuse to observe all things and have conformed to the world instead of being transformed by the renewing of their minds through the Bible.

4.  Noah was obedient, a preacher of righteousness and suffered for well doing.  (verse 17)  A man who chose to be upright in his generation: or to marry within the godly line of Seth called the “sons of God.”  He suffered at the hands of the sons of God who followed the ways of the world.

5.  There is a lot of confusion as to who these “spirits in prison” are.  The “spirits in prison” were the disobedient “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.”  These disobedient, worldly sons of God suffered for evil doing and died in the flood.  (verse 17) For 120 years, they heard the preaching and saw the godly example of Noah yet failed to obey and get on the ark.  They no doubt used peer pressure and persecution to change Noah to no avail.

a.  Prison, i.e. captivity.  I have no problem with the term.  Jesus did not preach to angels nor did He descend into the fires of hell and preach to lost souls.  He went to Abraham’s Bosom! 

b.  To explain those prisoners or captives, I want to refer to 2 verses—one in the New Testament and one in the New Testament.

Ephesians 4:8  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (In the New Testament, the Bible refers to Abraham’s Bosom as “captivity” and kept the saints “captive” when He resurrected with them.)

Psalms 68:18  Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea,for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. (In the Old Testament, the Bible added a phrase to the above verse.  This verse ties with 1 Peter 3:19-20.)

c.  What was their disobedience?  Be obedient and get on the ark or be disobedient and remain with the rest of the world.  Get in or get out?

d.  What was their punishment: death by drowning.

1 Corinthians 11:30  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep(Chastening that brought death.)

1 Corinthians 10:5  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  (Chastening that brought death.  Moses also died without crossing Jordon.)

6.  Baptism and Noah’s ark are tied together in our text. 

1 Peter 3:21  The like figure (an analogy or resemblance) whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: (Any student of the Bible understands that baptism has nothing to do with salvation.  The Bible clarifies that in these verses when it goes back to the Biblical type of the ark and Noah.)

a.  What is water baptism?  It is obedience to God’s command.  Baptism is the first step of obedience to the Lord.

Matthew 28:19-20  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  (20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

b.  Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousnesswhich is by faith.  (Two things here need to be looked at.)

1)  “Saving of his house.”  Noah did not spiritually save anyone.  He saved his family physically from death through obedience to God.  There are no verses of Scripture that say Noah’s family was just or saved.  There are no verses that say that all who died in the flood were lost.  Noah’s family was safe.  The ark is not a type of salvation, it is a type of safety through obedience.

2)  “Became heir of the righteousness.”  Noah was rewarded for his obedience to God while the disobedient were chastened.

Conclusion:  Here is the “bottom line” of our context of suffering within the body of Christ.  God commands all His children to be obedient to the Word of God and to love one another. 

a.  Today, there are more disobedient children of God than obedient ones and that is the analogy that Peter is giving.  Noah’s day was characterized by the messianic line of Seth joining the worldliness of the ungodly line of Cain. 

b.  The word “Christianity” has become an oxymoron.  To be Christian is to be like Christ, not like the world.  If you live godly in our day, you are out of step with the mainline churches and they will make you the bad guy and punish you to some degree for it. 

c.  But, God will protect and reward the righteous and the disobedient will eventually pay the price.

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