Sunday, February 08, 2009

Suffering And Response

Suffering And Responding

Intro.: Every three months we get here at the church copies of The Upper Room.

  1. A number of possible responses.

    • You could reach out and take it gratefully

    • You could just decide to not take it

    • Or you could take it and put it on your shelf and never look at it.

  1. Now your response The Upper Room doesn't make a big difference.

  2. But what if I told you that there was something of far greater value to pass out. Something that could change your life forever.

  3. The responses could be the same

    • You could reach out and take it gratefully

    • You could just decide to not take it

    • Or you could take it and put it on your shelf and never look at it.

  1. I want to examine the nature of that gift as we look at today's passage.

Read: I Peter 3:18-22


Trans: Let me start with a story about a man, suffering, and faith.

  1. In the year 1847, a doctor from Edinburgh, Sir James Simpson, discovered that chloroform could be used as an anaesthetic to render people insensible to the pain of surgery. From his early experiments, Dr. Simpson made it possible for people to go through the most dangerous operations without fear of pain and suffering. Some people even claim that his was one of the most significant discoveries of modern medicine.

  2. Some years later, while lecturing at the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Simpson was asked by one of his students, “What do you consider to be the most valuable discovery of your lifetime?” To the surprise of his students, who had expected him to refer to chloroform, Dr. Simpson replied, “My most valuable discovery was when I discovered myself a sinner and that Jesus Christ was my Saviour.”1

  1. Christ suffered for our salvation. [1 Pe 3:18] "For Christ also suffered 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, "

    1. During the past few weeks we have spoken about the role of suffering in the Christians life.

    2. As we looked at suffering, we noted that the one perfect person in the world also suffered.

    3. But it is important to not that this was not just an idea of mine – it also was in the thoughts of Peter.

    4. Some things to note –

      1. it is a one time thing. Christ suffered for our sins – it is done.

      2. Christ was punished for sin – remember the scripture, “The wages of sin is death.” [Rom 6:23]. But it was not His sin that brought His death. - it was our sin.

(Ill.) I don't think I would like to live in Texas. More people are put to death in Texas than in any other state of the union. In fact, half of the 37 executions held in the United States were performed by the state of Texas. The next highest were the four executed by the state of Virginia. There were 7 other states that had three or fewer executions.2 Though I don't plan on committing any murders, I really would not want to live in the state with the reputation for having more death penalty cases than any other. Now I know, that with only a few possible exceptions, those who were sentenced to death did commit the crimes with which they were charged. But, and here is the important point, Christ was sentenced not for His own crimes – but for yours, and yours, and yours, and mine.

      1. Peter says “the righteous for the unrighteous”, “the just for the unjust” depending on which version you are using. Max Lucado's favorite Bible is the the New Century Version – it puts it this way [1 Pe 3:18] "Christ himself suffered for sins once. He was not guilty, but he suffered for those who are guilty to bring you to God."

    1. Have you done things you don't want anybody to know about? Are there secrets that must remain hidden from even your closest friends? God already knows about them. He loves you – and he still died for you. He has accepted you. He has forgiven you.

  1. Baptism is the result of our acceptance of His suffering for our sin [1 Pe 3:21] "And that water is like baptism that now saves you—not the washing of dirt from the body, but the promise made to God from a good conscience. And this is because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead."

    1. Peter reminds us that he died not only for our sins, but also for those who died before he came – notably those who died in the flood when God saved eight individuals to repopulate the earth.

    2. But out of the flood, Peter connects to our Baptism.

    3. As Methodists, we believe that there are two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper.

    4. As we see here, baptism is tied to the death of Christ – it happens once.

    5. And it happens because we choose to be baptized – the church practices baptism in response to Christ's great commission: [Mt 28:19-20] "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

    6. Baptism is not what saves us – it does not wash us free of the sin, the dirt (as Peter calls it). But it serves an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a prayer – acknowledging what God has done through the cross of Jesus.

(Ill.) A certain man thought that by being immersed he could find salvation. A friend of his had quite a time explaining to him that it was not so. But this man insisted that, as water would purify the body, so water consecrated by a minister or priest would purify the soul. Finally, to demonstrate that baptism did not mean regeneration, the friend decided upon an object lesson. “Here,” he said. “I take an ink bottle, cork it tight, put a string round the neck, and drag it through the river. How long will it take to clean out the inside?” The answer was obvious, “You will never in the world clean it out that way.” We must understand once and for all that no outward act will ever cleanse us within. Repentance is an act that takes place within us, while baptism is an outward act that demonstrates to the world what has already happened in our hearts.”3

    1. When we were baptized, we acknowledged Christ's death as punishment for our own sins. If we were baptized as an infant, our parents were making a promise to raise us to appreciate the love of Christ and within the church. When we joined the church we acknowledged that Christ's death was for our sin.



1Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.


3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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