Summary: God urges us to consider four elements of the Lord’s victory: 1) His triumphant sin-bearing, 2) sermon, 3) salvation, and 4) supremacy.
On the events of this week, John Piper noted: All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This is a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.
The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that I am a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.
The word “bridge” does not occur in the Bible. There may be two reasons. One is that God doesn’t build bridges, He caries through seas. His people must pass through the deadly currents of suffering and death, not simply be removed.
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you”.
1 Peter 3 18-22 talks about the triumph in suffering. It talks about how Christ has triumphed over death and hell and the message that this suffering has for us. It talks about God’s grace, the triumph illustrated in Baptism, and the salvation found only in the sacrifice of Christ for those who believe.
God urges us to consider four elements of the Lord’s victory: 1) His triumphant sin-bearing, 2) His triumphant sermon, 3) His triumphant salvation, and 4) His triumphant supremacy.
1) HIS TRIUMPHANT SIN-BEARING 1 PETER 3:18a
1 Peter 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, (ESV)
This section of scripture has been called by most commentators including historic greats like John Calvin and Martin Luter, as being the most difficult to interpret.
As such I want to confine my illustrations to what is exactly pictured and deal with the weighty subjects alone.
The conjunctions also and for point Peter’s readers back to the previous passage (3:13–17) and remind us that we ought not to be surprised or discouraged by suffering, since Christ triumphed in His suffering even though He died an excruciating death, and that of the most horrific kind—crucifixion.
This week has also seen the death of Korean missionaries. Al and Sue are off to minister to the people of Cuba and preparing a Honduras group. Most believers will not die as martyrs, but even when they do, that death is the wages of their sin
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)
So Jesus suffered/died for sins in that He was “offered once to bear the sins of many”
Hebrews 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (ESV) (cf. Rom. 8:3; Heb. 10:5–10).
The phrase of Christ suffered once for sins translates the word hapax, which means “of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition.” For the Jews so familiar with their sacrificial system, that was a new concept. To atone for sin, they had slaughtered millions of animals over the centuries. During their annual Passover celebration, as many as a quarter million sheep would be sacrificed. But Jesus Christ’s one sacrificial death ended that insufficient parade of animals to the altar and was sufficient for all time (Heb. 1:3; 7:26–27; 9:24–28; 10:10–12), as He took the punishment due the elect and bore it for them, thus fully satisfying God’s righteous judgment.
Thus, in Christ’s substitutionary death, He suffered the righteous/just for the un righteous/unjust. As the perfect offering for sin, He willingly (John 10:15–18) and in accord with the Father’s redemptive purpose from before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 13:27–29; cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8) took upon Himself the entire penalty due the unrighteous (2:24).