I Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered [died] 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, 19 in which [the Spirit, in whom] he went and proclaimed [preached] to the spirits in prison, 20 because [when] 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. ESV
Truthfully, I sometimes ignore footnotes when I read Scripture but this short passage of two verses with four [footnotes] caught my attention.The footnotes have emphasized the intensity of their meaning and my curiousity.
We know “Christ [died]! We know Christ died as “the righteous for the unrighteous” We know Christ died for a purpose, “that he might bring us to God” We know Christ was “made alive in the spirit” We know THAT is [the Spirit, in whom] Christ [preached] to the spirits in prison, [when] they formerly did not obey
Now here’s where it gets interesting to think about. Whose “spirits”? What “prison”?Who me?
I knowJohn 6:44 No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.[AMPC] I knowJohn 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. ESV I knowJohn 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: ESV I knowRomans 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. [NASB]
That Spirit of Christ spoke conviction and truth to my spirit when I was imprisoned by self imposed ignorance, sufficiency and disobedience.
Yes, thank God it was me. Was it you too?
1 Peter 3:8-10 ESV, NIV, AMPC • 8 Finally, all of you… ESV-have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
NIV-be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
AMPC-should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble). • 9 Do not… ESV-repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. NIV-repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
AMPC-return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and
protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection]. • 10 For…
ESV-“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
NIV-“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
AMPC-him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).
I read through these three versions of I Peter 3:8-10.Then I starting looking for similar words, phrases and ideas in each version with the assumption that the repetition agreed upon by so many different translators at different times gives them meaningful emphasis. Finally all of you…Agree to focus your minds as one heavenly household on sympathy, compassion, love, and recognizing one another with tender hearts. Do not…miss your inheritance of blessing because of misinterpreting revenge and rebuttal as your right to justice For…only you can restrain your tongue and lips from convincing deceit that can keep yourself, and others, from being able to love, and enjoy life and see good days.
I Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. [ESV]
I’ve Been Healed – by Shirle Bedient circa late 1980s
It’s lonely Lord, with people all around when no one knows what’s really deep inside.Give me the courage not to hide my hollow life from you for by your wounds my lonely heart is healed. I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord for by His wounds I have been healed.
The guilt I bear is heavy on my heart.I want to hide my sin and shame from you.Lord, I’m not worthy but forgive me, show me once again that by your wounds my sins have all been healed. I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord for by His wounds I have been healed.
My spirit Lord is sometimes very low, for I forget just where my strength comes from.Remind my heart to sing your praises all of my days, for by your wounds my spirit has been healed. I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord for by His wounds I have been healed.
Earlier this Spring a little-known Gospel trio, The Followers, had their 40-ish reminiscence reunion and we recorded this song, from the “old” days. I hope you ‘ll listen to the audio file all the way to the end because it’s the very end that inspired the object lesson of this post. Many years have passed since I wrote this song but the lyrics still reflect truth; hiding, guilt and anxiety are realities of everyday life but “praise the Lord, for by His wounds” we can be healed. Jesus has given us access to an optional ending.“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” [and this is key] to guarantee every day our life could be “returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul…that we might die to sin…” That is the daily process the Lord has provided to teach us how to”live to righteousness.” That’s the reality that makes healing and laughter the “optional” ending to a life of hiding, guilt and anxiety.
I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. [ESV]
I learned the meaning of the Greek word “eleos,” translated “mercy” in reading my commentary resources for this post.Eleos also means pity and compassion so the Scripture could be read “but now you are God’s people; once you had not received pity and compassion but now you have received pity and compassion.”
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles:” remember why you’ve been chosen! You’ve been chosen to be a visible and undeniable display of God’s eleos, virtue and perfection.The powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God of the universe looked at your separation from Himself and rather than exercise His power to punish you, chose to trust the power of His pity and compassion to change you. You are chosen to be witnesses of that change: “Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may BY witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].” AMPC v12.
I Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.ESV
At one point in time I took daily devotional walks and would pick up a stone [mostly unremarkable] everyday to put in a jar at home as a reminder to me of the purpose of the walk.I’ve collected stones for many years now and they have become a visible part of my living room decor.Most are just plain stones I’ve either found or been given but there are some I’ve purchased because they’re polished and show the beauty of what is underneath their natural exterior.Both have meaning to me.And therein lies the reality that makes this Word live for me.
A stone is not like a book that’s known by it’s cover.The significance of a “living stone” is this: “in the sight of God,” He saw the beauty beneath your natural exterior and gathered you up from the rubble pile of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all slander, to be a “living stone” in His “spiritual house.” You were purchased and polished by Him and His Word to be a very visible part of “a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” …in plain sight.
I Peter 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you… 21awho through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [ [I Peter 1:17-21 ESV]
“Call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile…”My vague understanding of “exile” and it’s connection to fear has become more real as the days of coronavirus have turned into weeks and now months.Days have been filled with images and circumstances that must not be wasted.These days of isolation have not been meant as punishment but as protection to provide physical distance from the reality of death our eyes and ears have experienced.Distance doesn’t help much with emotional relief.Emotional relief requires more than man alone can accomplish.
“19 But he [God] paid for [ransomed] you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him for this purpose [emotional relief] long before the world began, but only recently was he brought into public view, in these last days, as a blessing to you.21aBecause of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in him alone.” [I Peter 1:19-21 TLB]
I Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” NASB
We’ve seen the reality of many people who’ve chosen to overrule their natural anxiety during this coronavirus.People in many places and many jobs prepared their minds for action, and with sober spirits were willing to do what they were called to do.Some have openly done that in the name of Christ but others have come forward out of an intuitive obedience and goodness they’ve not yet assigned to Jesus.But…they’ve revealed a greater truth that I don’t want any of us to miss.
Some might call that the human desire of goodness.I am only an observer but I see an impact on too many hearts to believe only human goodness is involved here.Hearts have NOT been been called out of familiar patterns of life by the power of an enemy virus but by the intuitive memory of their Creator.Our hearts in this exile are being reshaped by God, NOT coronavirus!
Our hearts have witnessed something about holiness that in our human ignorance we never expected to see.The power of holiness isn’t always clearly identified but it’s never absent.We’ve seen a deeper truth that still motivates the intuition of the human heart to respond.“…Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
I Peter: 1:10 The prophets searched carefully and tried to learn about this salvation. They prophesied about the grace that was coming to you. 11 The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets, telling in advance about the sufferings of Christ and about the glory that would follow those sufferings. The prophets tried to learn about what the Spirit was showing them, when those things would happen, and what the world would be like at that time. 12 It was shown them that their service was not for themselves but for you, when they told about the truths you have now heard. Those who preached the Good News to you told you those things with the help of the Holy Spirit who was sent from heaven—things into which angels desire to look. NCV
Walking through the Coronavirus pandemic has been like a daily reminder of exactly how a walk of faith begins.We’ve realized an awareness of needing to be saved.Circumstances have revealed our best efforts to live well are not powerful enough to make us feel safe without help and following certain guidelines. “Feeling safe is not proof you are safe…You can need to be saved and not know it. For example, if a jet taking off from the airport were losing altitude and heading straight for this sanctuary right now, you would need to be saved; but you wouldn’t know it unless someone came running in here and shouted what was happening.So you can see that feeling safe is no proof that you are safe.a”
“About this salvation:” “Salvation [soteria from soter = Savior] is a broader term in Greek than we often think of in English. Other concepts that are inherent in soteria include restoration to a state of safety, soundness, health and well being as well as preservation from danger of destruction.b“
“About this salvation:” salvation is the inheritance of a believer in Jesus Christ and Grace is the promised allowance for the expenses of life.That’s the “Good News.” Your life as a follower of Jesus Christ is now under a contract revealed long ago by diligent people writing on behalf of the Holy Spirit, “not for themselves but for you” today.Today…when many of us see “suffering” as never before, we need an outpouring of that allowance of “grace” and “restoration to a state of safety, soundness, health and well being as well as preservation from danger of destruction” because the expenses have been too great for us to handle without help.Come Holy Spirit!
Inheritance: property passing to those entitled to succeed Allowance: a sum granted as a reimbursement for expenses
I Peter: 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We are all are experiencing corporate grief right now.Many of us are fortunate enough to only experience it second-hand through TV coverage of Covid-19 but there are so many more who are terrifyingly closer to it.God bless them.God bless us all. Even from a distance we see the evidence of grief that impacts hearts in varied ways.We see the productive side through testimonies of determined sacrifice and service.We see tears of courage that will not bow to anxiety and loss.We hear real stories of creative compassion that finds ways to bridge the circumstances of isolation in life and death. We also see willful denial that balks at being told what we should be doing. We see angry protests redefined as personal freedoms. We see choosing risk over reality because it’s beyond the walls that isolate us in our own homes and neighborhoods. These are how varied the responses are that define corporate grief during this very real trial.
All the elements are in place right now for Jesus to redeem the evidence of our corporate grief and make it productive, not destructive. Grief that teaches us to put the other “person” back into “personal” lives. Grief that reveals Jesus to the hearts of those who love, serve, weep and mourn as well as those deny and protest.
Lord Jesus redeem our grief so that it will not be what defines our hearts, but what refines them.May it be “though you have not seen him[Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” May it be so!