Lesson 9
I Peter 3:15-22

E-Mail - Henry Mahan

(Vs. 15) "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." (Lev. 10:3.) God is essentially, infinitely, and perfectly holy. We do not MAKE Him so; but we DECLARE, PROCLAIM, and REGARD Him to be our Holy and sovereign Lord in two ways.

"Be ready to give an answer." When a person asks you to tell him why you believe your sins are pardoned, why you believe that your name is written in heaven, and why you believe that you are not under condemnation but hope to reign eternally with Christ, be ready always to give him a scriptural answer. It is because Christ Jesus is your RIGHTEOUSNESS before the law, Christ Jesus is your JUSTIFIER by His blood, and Christ Jesus is your MEDIATOR before God's throne!

Give that answer in a humble fashion, for we are what we are by the grace of God. Give that answer with "the fear of the Lord," being careful that He gets all the glory for your blessings. Give that answer courteously and respectfully; it may be that the person is a true seeker.

(Vs. 16) If we are going to profess before men that we are the sons of God, if we are going to lay claim to a part in the family and body of Christ, let us make sure that we have a true INWARD communion with Him. It is with the heart that man believes unto righteousness. They may slander you, revile you, and ridicule you; but if your relationship with Christ is genuine, you will be vindicated (Matt. 5:44). In behaving humbly and graciously before your enemies, you will cause them to be ashamed of their attitude and conduct toward you.

(Vs. 17) All things are ordered by the will of God (Dan. 4:35), even the sufferings and afflictions of His people (which is the reason these afflictions should be borne with patience). So if it is the will of God for you to suffer for righteousness, it is certianly better than suffering for evil, as all men shall who know not God! (Phil. 1:29; II Tim. 3:12.)

(Vs. 18) We can approach this verse from two directions.

1. CHRIST, OUR EXAMPLE. If we as believers (sincere and honest in our faith before God and before men) are ridiculed, misunderstood, and called upon to suffer unjustly, remember that Christ, the Just, Holy, and sinless Son of God, was despised and hated of men. He suffered not for His sins but for our sins, that He might bring us to God, that He might fulfill God's eternal will.

2. CHRIST, OUR REDEEMER. God is holy, righteous, and just! He will in no way and under no circumstances clear the guilty. His law must be honored, and His justice must be satisfied. If God chooses to justify and forgive us, He must do it in a way consistent with His holiness and righteousness. This is why Christ came, why He obeyed the law in the flesh, why He died on the cross, that God might be just, holy, and righteous in the display of His love and mercy (Rom. 3:19-26).

(Vs. 19) Christ was put to death in His human body; but He was raised from the dead by His Divine nature, by His eternal Spirit. Christ existed in His eternal nature and Spirit before the worlds, before Abraham, in the days of Noah. Christ (by His Spirit and nature in which He became our surety, our representative, by which He was raised from the dead) preached to men who are now in the regions of the damned. The gospel of God's Lamb is NO NEW MESSAGE. It is the Word of faith in and by the Spirit of Christ that all the prophets preached (Acts 10:43; Rom. 1:1-2).

(Vs. 20) Christ (by His Spirit) went in the ministry of Noah (the preacher of righteousness) and preached to those wicked, disobedient people. Noah preached and built an ark before their eyes. This was not just Noah alone, but the Spirit of God speaking, warning, teaching!

(Vs. 21) The baptism of a believer is a picture or figure like the ark of Noah. The family of Noah went into the ark and were shut in by God, representing a burial. They were covered by water from above and beneath (immersed in water). They came out as in resurrection, delivered from death and judgment which claimed all others. When a believer is baptized, it is a figure of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection and of our death to sin and self, our burial with Christ, and our being raised with Christ to walk in newness of life. It is not baptism that saves but WHOM baptism represents! It is not the cleansing of the flesh, but a living union with Christ in the heart (I Cor. 1:17-18).

(Vs. 22) Christ is seated on the right hand of God; and all angels (good and bad), all authorities, kings, governors, rulers, demons, power in heaven, earth, and hell, and all flesh are subject to Him (John 17:2; Matt. 28:18).

Henry Mahan is pastor of
Thirteenth Street Baptist Church
Ashland, Ky.