Victorious on Appeal

21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. 1 Peter 3:21-22

How many times have you heard after someone’s conviction in court, that the decision will be appealed? In God’s courtroom, in the matter of one’s conscience, only one legal strategy will work; to appeal on the basis of Christ’s resurrection.

The question when claiming to possess a good conscience is this, “Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus?” Nothing else will meet God’s stringent requirements. Nothing else will actively cleanse one’s heart. By the way. we’re not on trial in the court of public opinion.

Baptism is our testimony that this faith transaction has occurred. It’s done in a public court for all to witness. Going forward, once saved, as Peter learned, “full immersion” is not necessary, just a washing of the feet, perhaps. John 13:10

At the risk of mixing metaphors, we’ve got a “hot-shot” lawyer to get us off, Jesus, who argues not only the letter of the law, but is the law. He waltzes past all authority, angels and powers at the highest level to assume his place at the right hand of God.

Not only can we obtain a good conscience from him, but the confidence in knowing that we’ll always win our case on appeal. Hand’s down.

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Judgment Day is A-rolling Around

19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1 Peter 3:19-20

There are many interpretations of the meaning of verse 19. In the context of suffering, and with the reference to Noah in verse 20, it’s interesting to observe that Noah and seven others “were brought safely through the water,” following 120 years of persecution as the ark was built.

During this time, like Christ, Noah proclaimed a message of pending judgment and available salvation to his persecutors and detractors (just get in the boat!). These lost souls now await final judgment “in prison.” This interpretation fits the ideas in the passage and doesn’t cause us to wildly speculate (this is a devotional blog, not a multi-volume commentary!).

The main teaching is God’s extraordinary patience, in this case, fixed at 120 years.

We don’t know what our “grace period” is right now, but it too is for the purposes of our proclamation of Christ’s victory on the cross, like Noah, and like Christ. This is because there will come a day with the rains come and the water rises. Actually, to be perfectly biblical, water won’t be used the next time around, but fire!

So, as the old African-American spiritual warns, “judgment day is a-rolling around.”

All aboard?

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Tapped for Service

17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:17-18

This is pretty heavy stuff, from here to Chapter 4. But there’s some low hanging fruit to grab onto. The rest we can get to when there’s time to break out the ladder.

First, it’s not a problem for us to do wrong. When we do, suffering to some degree follows. But to suffer for doing right–that’s when we know what we’re doing meets God’s specs–we know such an occasion has been wrought by Him. Of course, while potentially more painful, this kind of suffering is much better. Why? Because it’s always good to be in the center of God’s will, good times or bad. It’s also an honor to be tapped for service.

It’s important to keep in mind when it comes to suffering, we don’t have to be burned at the stake to suffer for him. We do so even when we simply stand up for what is right. This may happen when other Christians cower, who can’t be enlisted because their consciences aren’t clear. And we may even suffer at the hands of other Christians whose cover has been blown by our righteousness.

Second, this kind of suffering is Christ-like, since he was definitely just in his suffering. His quintessential act on the cross was only necessary once, to bring us to the Father. We suffer for the same purpose. To bring others to the truth. He cared enough to die for us. We should care enough for him to exemplify his love where the rubber meets the road.

These out-of-body experiences are only possible because, we too, are alive in the spirit, for what can mere man do to us?

33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Romans 8:33-34



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Star Witnesses

13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 1 Peter 3:13-17

Christians will always draw the world’s ire and fire. Behind it all is Satan, who vehemently hated, and hates, the One we follow.

Since Christ’s spirit is within us, we can fully expect to be slandered, reviled and intimidated, as Jesus was, for His name’s sake. It goes with the territory.

Like Jesus, we don’t fire back, but respond to persecution with gentleness and reverence. This strategy seems odd, but it’s textbook for those in Christ.

Further, through it all, we continue to act righteously, keeping a good conscience. This may do nothing to win us any friends, but it will register in the minds of our accusers as authentic.

Christ’s strategy, as relayed through Peter, is for us to provide a vivid contrast to the world. This contrast is heightened by persecution.

Ultimately, millions upon millions saw the purpose of Jesus’ suffering in light of his resurrection. Now we suffer as he did, but to a far lesser degree. But in our case, we’re here and he’s not, and the world can see what a truly “resurrected” person looks like.

In return for the heat we take, we obtain His blessing and full protection. At the same time, we further his kingdom and see it grow firsthand.

So, our counterintuitive behavior under attack begs a huge question. What person would act this way under such pressure?

Well, it’s all about getting us onto the witness stand. There we tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God. There, we give our reason for the hope that is within us.

Why else are we here?

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Cross Fit

10 For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12

Everyone these days, especially baby boomers, are looking for ways to stay young. Someday they’ll be saying 80 is the new 70. The main route to healthy vibrant living is staying in the fitness culture for as long as you can. Regardless of age, this lifestyle requires self-discipline and hard work. Actually, it involves some pain too because the workouts need to be serious to get you anywhere. If you were advising someone on what you’ve got to do, you’d surely say you must carve out time, you must push yourself and you must be consistent, all involving self-discipline.

Here Peter offers similar spiritual advice for leading a holy lifestyle. You must tame your tongue. You must turn from evil. You must do good. And you must seek out and pursue peace. Here the goal is not a lower heart rate, or a new pant size, or bragging rights, but winning the Lord’s approval, and to stay on speaking terms.

This is really the type of “cross fitness” in which you should be engaged!

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Returning the Favors

9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

We’ve inherited a remarkable blessing, should we not be extending blessings as well? Remember the story of the debtor forgiven of much who did not return the favor? Matthew 18:27

We should be eternally grateful for what has been done for us, which should work its way out as blessing all those with whom we come in contact.

How can we give out blessings? A kind word. A helping hand. A smile–don’t underestimate just one little smile!

In general, deference, magnanimity, cheerfulness, and hopefulness.

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