Once again, 1 Peter is about dealing rightly with the persecution and suffering that goes hand in hand with the Christian life. And by the way, if you are not a Christian and are wondering about the last statement, Jesus was very straightforward about the goodness, joy, love, peace, forgiveness, and blessedness of following Him, but also about the opposition of the world, too. No healthy person loves suffering, but as a Christian it is a reality. It’s a reality for the non-Christian, too, but the world doesn’t talk about that too much for obvious reasons.
Anyway, how about more good encouragement about living the Christian life in an effective, righteous, and courageous way?
Baptism saves you — 1 Peter 3:20
I really can’t just skip over this one, but I didn’t have time for it yesterday. As an evangelist I often hear objections to the necessity of baptism from those who are “faith only” oriented, e.g., baptism doesn’t save you! While technically true that the ACT of baptism doesn’t save (the blood of Jesus saves), it is still true that in the same way that it is said that faith saves, baptism also saves. Baptism is necessary as a natural deed of faith and is the very point at which our sins are forgiven us and considered paid for in the blood of Christ (Acts 2:38 and 22:16).
Like the ark of Noah saved Noah and his family, so also baptism saves us — was it really the ark or was it God or was it Noah’s faith in God? The answer is yes to all of these from a certain point of view, but it was God who told Noah about the flood and commanded him to build the ark. Noah believed God and built the ark and loaded it with animals and got on it himself. Thus, all of the above are true, Noah’s getting on the ark being the final point at which they were saved from the rising and deadly flood. So also with the Gospel of Christ, the faith of the believer that moves him to action, specifically baptism — they all save him, baptism being the point at which they were saved.
They are surprised — 1 Peter 4:4
This and the next section that I’ll talk about are about surprises. The world will be surprised at you, when you refuse to join them in sin. It’s so much fun! What are you, dead? (Well, actually, yes.) So finding themselves “passively” judged (the Christian needn’t say anything for the sinner to feel judged) by their own sin and the Christian morality and righteousness, they malign (NASB) us — make fun of us in an attempt to goad us into joining them. Peter, however, reminds us that we’ve already tried that route — and we all know that didn’t work out well for us.
Do not be surprised — 1 Peter 4:12
So, Christians don’t need to be surprised at the the trials and tests that will come their way. Yet, we are! We raise our eyes and hands in questions like, as if to say “What did we do wrong?” Peter is simply trying to get us to remember that this is the way things are and will always be, so long as we are still in this world. Don’t be surprised. This is not to advocate for some sort of “Christian pessimism” — Christianity is about hope and joy — it is just to say that we needn’t think something strange is happening, like God forgot us, or God is necessarily angry with us, or God fell asleep at the switch, or… In war, we shouldn’t be surprised that there are people shooting guns at us, or that bombs are going off, or that we might get wounded, or that we might lose a buddy, or that the enemy will try to make things hard for us. When such things happen in war, there isn’t anything weird going on; it’s war! And in the Christian’s life, when persecution happens, there isn’t anything weird going on; it’s spiritual warfare.
Follow your leaders — 1 Peter 5:1
This command in this letter isn’t merely gratuitous encouragement out of the clear blue, it has a real purpose. One way to make sure that you don’t fall away and that you know what to do in the midst of the “battle” is watch and obey the leaders. Their spiritual maturity will be helpful, if we’ll ask for guidance. Watching their own example can be really helpful.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.