“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 Peter 3:18)
Three verses before this one is a verse that is quoted often. I have seen it in print and heard it quoted or read several times just in the last two or three weeks.
“always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
(1 Peter 3:15)
I submit that the challenge of verse 15 is clearly answered in verse 18. What do you give as a defense for the hope that is in you? Here it is! The good news about what Jesus has done for sinners!
What a power packed few words is packed into this verse of Scripture!
The anointed one, the Messiah the Jews hoped for, the one prophesied that would come to save his people from their sins, the one announced by angels and called “God with us”, the one of whom John the Baptist preached saying “The kingdom of God is near!”, This One has come to bring sinners to God.
Jesus suffered “once” for “sins“. Never again would a daily offering be needed. When Christ cried from the cross the word meaning “It is finished” it was indeed finished. He had paid the awful price for my sins and yours. The indictment of sin blankets all of humanity, me and you and every man and woman. But that he died “for sins” means then that he died for everyone, because “ALL have sinned” and miss the mark of God’s righteousness. Now that is good news!
He was “the righteous for the unrighteous” in his suffering and dying. This is called in the seminary class room “penal substitution”. Jesus died “for” me and you, he died in our place. It should have been me and it should have been you. The “wages of sin is death” but Jesus died the death, the “righteous for the unrighteous”, “for sins”. Jesus paid your tab to an offended and angry God who hates sin! That is good news!
He suffered the beatings, mocking, being spit upon, having beard pulled out, and being nailed to a cross as a common criminal in shame outside the city “to bring us to God!” In our sinful condition we were apart from God with no way to get to Him. Separated from the Creator with no means to bridge the gap and our certain end was the wrath of God! But Jesus died for us, in our place, “to bring us to God”. That was his only purpose. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself”. This was his eternal plan, the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous, and by that one sacrifice we are reconciled to God, brought back to God. That is good news!
Jesus suffered and was put to death, but he didn’t stay dead. He was “made alive in the Spirit“. Just as promised, after three days he came out of the tomb in a glorified body perfectly fit for heaven or earth. We are promised immortality and a body like his. The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will give me a body like his because he died in my place, for my sins, and brought me to God!. That is good news!
When someone asks “What about this church thing? Why are you a Christian?” Here it is. It is the “Gospel”, it is the “good news” that Jesus has solved every mans two greatest problems, sin and death. Jesus has taken sin away forever and defeated death so we can be with God, sinless, forever!
Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel (good news about Jesus), for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16,17)
Here is the gracious offer, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. You can’t be good enough, we have already established that, (He was righteous, we were unrighteous). Your salvation is finished, the debt has been paid, do you believe God’s record about His Son? Then receive the gift!
Do a U Turn, change your mind about the course of your life and turn toward Christ, He is waiting for you. If you depend on Him to do what the gospel promises He will enable you to live a changed life, go public for Him by telling others and by reenacting His death, burial, and resurrection in the waters of baptism. It is the formal and symbolic way of going public for Christ. You are saying I am dying to my old way of life and I am being raised a new man who lives a life of love and service to Christ.
Perhaps you have long been a church member, maybe a preacher or teacher, but something has been missing. Have you ever put your whole trust in Jesus Christ? If not, I hope you will now. He will not always wait.