18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Intro: He walked down the sidewalk toward the study. This 83 year old Veteran from the Vietnam War. He had met one of our members at the Target who told him to come and visit Pastor Hering at Divine Peace. We talked for almost an hour. Then he said it. “How can you be so positive and hopeful about the future?” You see there were many things on his heart. Maybe some of the same things on your heart.
- It is the Christmas season and how are we going to afford all the nice things we’d like to do this year?
- There are new diseases popping up all the time and people are dropping like flies—I can I survive?
- I don’t know if we’re going to be able to keep our house?
- I keep hearing teachers and professors talk about the world around me that goes against what I believe. It sure isn’t any fun when people poke fun at me for what I believe!
So what is it that keeps you so positive and hopeful? Well, we’ve entered into the Advent season when we look to the skies for hope because we know Jesus is coming again. That’s why the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pet 3:15).
Are you ready to give a reason for the hope that you have? Perhaps you already have your answer in mind. That’s great. But following the Word of God before us today Peter gives us a great outline to follow so we can give a reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Peter outlines for us exactly what’s involved so we are ready to meet God at any time. So, let’s take each point, almost like boards for constructing an Ark and let’s
Build Our Advent Ark….
The boards: Death, Descent, Rising, and Reigning
When you hear “death” you might be thinking of a board that is decaying and rotting. But, here is the beginning of God’s Advent Construction Project: “ For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” Do you see? If you were going to give a reason for the hope that you have you can start right here. In this short sentence Peter captures all of God’s promises made throughout history. You could tell the story! Go ahead – start sawing….. Adam and Eve failed, creation was ruined, God chose a nation from which the Messiah would come to save the world. Jesus was born, lived and died. Yes, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous” Not many times, but once. No more payment is necessary. This is a foundational board in our Advent Ark. Here’s why. Have you ever said, “What can I do to get back into God’s good graces after what I just pulled?” or “How could God still love a sinner like me?” Then quit making yourself god! Christ Jesus suffered once for all. It was “the righteous FOR the unrighteous!” It isn’t “to show the righteous what to do to become rightous!” It is all about being done! This board is a solid exchange between Jesus, the holy one, FOR in place of all of us unrighteous ones. You can I can confess, “Alone and apart form Christ I am ruined. With Christ who was FOR me, I am declared holy!” And listen to the results: “to bring you to God!” Jesus saved me by his death and he brought me to God and made me an heir of heaven.
And that’s exactly what the Lord did for us. Listen: “In it [the Ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.” So Noah built the Ark, his family entered the Ark and were saved by the water that lifted the Ark up above the destruction of The Flood. In the same way through the waters of baptism, the work that Jesus did on the cross (FED) his suffering, his death and his burial all became mine. These foundational boards in the Advent Ark surround us as God’s people so that we can be so positive and hopeful in a world gone bad. Our Advent Ark built by God through his Word and the sacrament of baptism gets us ready to give a reason for the hope that we have.
Our next Board: Descent
“He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” When Jesus was born he was as much God as he was before the creation of the universe. However, when he was born he didn’t make full use his divine power. … sort of keeping it under wraps. In this state of humiliation he had complete control and allowed himself to be captured, tortured, crucified and buried. Then Jesus did something spectacular. Some time between Saturday 6 pm and his first appearance to the disciples on Easter morning Jesus “Descended into hell!” What is this all about? Let’s say you and I were at war. I have my soldiers on my ridge and you have yours over on your ridge. We could meet in the valley and fight to the death. Or, as kings of our troops, you and I could agree to meet to fight it out—winner takes all. After a brief battle you win and I lose. All my soldiers have to drop their weapons and you tie us all up to lead us back to your city. Then to show everyone that you are the winner you parade me around the city proclaiming your victory. Listen as Paul describes what Jesus did to give us the second board of our Advent Ark: “He forgave us all our sins,14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col 2:13ff). Jesus came and defeated Satan, broke his stronghold on us and proved it. Jesus came alive on Easter and the very first thing he does in his state of Exultation is to go into enemy territory for his victory proclamation. He didn’t go to give them a second chance. The Greek is very clear, he went to make a proclamation, to preach (knrissow).
Jesus’ descent into hell is another board in our Advent Ark that we receive at our baptism. “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you.” Now you’re ready the answer the question, “How can you Christians always be so cheerful and happy in a world gone bad?” Jesus descended into hell to proclaim his victory over sin, death and the devil. This all became mine through my baptism!
Board #3 Rising
“this water [the Flood] symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” For conversation’s sake, let’s say Jesus had died to pay the penalty for all our sins, but had remained in the tomb. What questions would you have? Let’s see: “Death gets its power from sin, and sin gets its power from the law. So, if Christ is still dead, does that mean he’s still not done?” Do you get it? When Jesus died he mixed the cement. When he descended into hell he poured it around Satan’s feet. When Jesus rose from the dead the concrete hardened around Satan’s feet and we were set free! How did this happen? Jesus died and rose and in our Baptism it all became ours! “not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” Our baptism is not a shower to clean off mud. It’s isn’t an outward symbol, but it is an inward action. Try this. You’re home with your brother and he breaks mom’s favorite vase. When mom and dad get home you’re not worried, right? You have the pledge of a clear conscience to your parents. You wouldn’t want your innocence to be merely symbolic! You’d want the real deal. That’s exactly what the Greek says. You have the answer of a clean conscience to God. Why? Because Jesus rose from the dead, another board in your Advent Ark that saves you. I’m saved because Jesus rose. And the power of his resurrection saved me. No wonder I can be so hopeful and positive in a world gone bad!
Board #4 Reigning
When Jesus ascended into the clouds of heaven 40 days after Easter he didn’t do that to sit back in his eternal recliner to watch the world spin out of control. No, “Jesus Christ,
22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” How does that look in your mind? Let me help you. “33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Yes we can have hope in a world gone bad. Yes, we can be positive when the world is collapsing all around us? Is it marriage, family, children, job, health, economy, politics or even death itself? Yes – because we have our Advent Ark build by Jesus Christ himself. And all of these blessings belong to everyone who has been baptized through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, while we rejoice in our Advent Ark sailing on to eternal life with Jesus in heaven. The devil himself will be attacking us with his waves of destruction. Is it the attacks of television and computer? Your baptism sails safely through. Is it meaning in life through paycheck? Your baptism sails safely through. Is it forgiving and trusting those who have hurt you? Your baptism sails safely through. Is it living in a world that’s gone bad? Your baptism sails safely through. Is it an 83 year old veteran who has lost all hope? Let’s be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have! You are a Christian with hope and positive outlook because you are safe in Jesus’ Advent Ark. Amen!