Summary: Why must we suffer for doing what is right?
Suffering For The Sake Of The Savior
Back in April Noman Masih, a 14-year-old Pakistani boy was burned alive by a group of Muslim youths, he later died from his injuries. Noman was targeted because he admitted that he was a Christian. Before he died he said "I have neither enemies, nor a dispute with anybody in the area I live. My tailor master asked me to go to the nearest market for some work and, on my way, a few men stopped me, asking my name and religion. I gave them my name and identified my religion as Christian. It was Friday at prayer time and not many people were on the road". The boy added: "Suddenly they started beating and abusing me. I tried to rescue myself, however, I couldn't. One of them threw kerosene oil and the other set me on fire. With the help of the locals around I managed to stop the fire, however, I became unconscious". Masih suffered burns to 55 percent of his body, and despite the hospital's efforts he died from his injuries on Wednesday, April 15.http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-boy-was-set-on-fire-and-killed-by-pakistani-muslims-for-his-faith-in-jesus-watchdog-group-confirms-138447/#TfLCLDSD4zswhKOd.99
It is estimated that over 100,000 Christians are killed because of their faith each year. There is no way for us to know the vast number of Christians who are persecuted and harmed physically all over the world. In North Korea alone an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians live in concentration camps, prisons and prison-like circumstances under the regime of leader Kim Jong-Un". Christian suffering is as old as the church itself.
Chuck Swindoll said that "Jesus... the perfect God-man, was mistreated, hated, maligned, beaten, and finally nailed cruelly to a cross. He suffered awful consequences, even though He spent His life giving and serving (1 Peter 3:17–18). One thing is certain: if people treated a perfect individual that way, then imperfect people cannot expect to escape mistreatment. If mistreatment hasn't happened to you yet, it will." (http://www.insight.org/resources/devotionals/suffering-for-doing-what-isright.html#sthash.XnnmrbZW.dpuf)
I Peter has much to say about suffering. Here in chapter 3 Peter focuses on suffering for doing what is right. We can understand suffering for doing what is wrong. But is can be hard for us to wrap our minds around the concept of suffering great harm for doing what is right. I hope as we walk through these verses today you may better understand the purpose of Christian suffering. This evening I want to consider the thought "Suffering For The Sake Of The Savior"
This text contains two of the most complex verses in the entire new testament. - 1 Peter 3:18 ¶For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
If you read 5 different commentaries on these verses you will most likely get 5 different explanations as to it's true meaning. I have read dozens of commentaries on this text. I have also read and listened to several different sermons from some men whom I have a great deal of respect for. I would like to share two separate views from two of the most respected theologians and pastors of our day. There is one view that is held by Dr. John Macarthur: Among Christians there is almost zero debate concerning the crucifixion and resurrection. But there is a wide range of opinions as to where Jesus went in-between His death on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday. We are told in I Peter 3:18-19 that He descended into the place of bound demons Jesus went to that place where the demons are bound until they will eventually be cast into the lake of fire. As the demons were celebrating the fact that Jesus was dead Jesus showed up among them and crashed their party. In the midst of them He declared his triumph of evil and His victory over death. ......I like Dr. Macarthur's explanation!
There is another explanation of this text that comes from a different Pastor that I have great respect for.... John Piper: He says: I take (this text) to mean that Jesus went to preach in the days of Noah to people who, because they rejected that preaching, are NOW in prison awaiting final judgment. Many (like Piper) have the view, that in the days preceding the flood, that 120 year period, Jesus preached through Noah. The message was delivered to many but only 8 souls were saved. The rest of them were "disobedient".
I can see validity in both points of view, but I can't tell you which is correct. In fact, it is entirely possible that both are wrong. So...WHAT DO WE DO WITH THIS TEXT?!?! We focus on what we do know! We do not get distracted by things that we cannot fully comprehend. The Devil loves it when Christians get distracted and argue and debate theology. But scripture was not given to us to satisfy our curiosity. The purpose of scripture is to glorify the Risen Christ and to change our lives. When we get bogged down on what we cannot fully explain, we miss out on the Majesty of our Master. Though this is a complicated text, there is still much benefit in what we can comprehend.