PHBC September 20, 1998

Series: First Peter, Ser. #58

EVERY TRUE PREACHER CAN BE ASSURED HE IS PREACHING BY THE SPIRIT WHEN HE PREACHES THE WORD OF GOD


Scripture: I Pet. 3:18-4:7

TEXT: 1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

INTRO: In this message I will be dealing with a portion of Scripture which has been the subject of a lot of speculation. Taking a cue from Dr. J. R. Graves I confess that I once held and preached that this had reference to an intermediary place where the souls of the saved were kept until Christ died. This idea had a good deal of acceptance among folks who had read Graves' book, The Middle Life.

IF I had still held that position before I started the preparation of this message, I would have been forced to change it by studying for this sermon. Having held that position at one time, I approached this study with some concern. But, since on Wednesday night I had used a verse that fits right in with this, my mind was already working in the right direction. That verse was Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

I. THE PREACHING OF GOD'S MEN IN ALL AGES HAS BEEN BY AND THROUGH THE SPIRIT OF God

A. It is a matter of wonder that Jesus so closely identifies with his preachers when they declare the word that it is as though he is himself doing the preaching. 1 Peter 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.

1. When his churches were being persecuted it was as though he himself was being persecuted. Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

2. In Revelation he is presented holding the seven stars, or seven pastors of the seven churches, in his hand. Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

B. It is in this identity with his people, and in our text, with his preachers, that Christ, by the Spirit, went and preached to the folks during the days of Noah.

1. It was the Spirit of Christ in his prophets when they were prophesying and diligently searching to learn of the salvation that was in Christ.. 1 Peter 1:10-12 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

2. It was the Holy Spirit that moved the prophets along when they were proclaiming writing the inspired word. 2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

3. It was by this same Spirit that the gospel has been preached to those who are now dead. 1 Peter 4:6 For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

4. It was by his spirit that God testified against Israel when they sinned. Nehemiah 9:30 Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.

5. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

C. From the first prophet and preacher of God that ever walked this earth until today, when one of his men preaches his word, it is the Spirit of Christ in him by whom he preaches. 1 Peter 3:19-20 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

D. Those prophets knew the meaning of the words of the old hymn which says, "All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down."

II. THE PRISON WHERE CHRIST PREACHED BY THE SPIRIT THROUGH HIS PROPHETS AND PREACHERS

A. Our text makes special reference to those who were in prison before the flood.

1. It was by the Spirit that he preached to these souls who were in the prison of darkness and sin.

a. Men in that time long ago were in a prison of wickedness. Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for manís sake; for the imagination of manís heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

b. It was through the preaching of Noah, whatever form that preaching took, that Christ preached by the Spirit to the wicked, imprisoned sinners in that day. 2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.

c. By his life through the Spirit, Noah so lived that his actions were a condemning message to those around him. Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

d. By his Spirit, Jesus also preached through Enoch in those days before the flood. Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

B. Men who are in the bondage of sin have always been looked upon as being in prison.

1. Those in Noah's day were in prison to sin as we have already seen.

2. In his prophecy of the coming of Christ Isaiah uses the figure of a prison, among other things, to describe man in his unregenerate state. Isaiah 42:6-7 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

3. Again Isaiah uses this prison terminology. Isaiah 49:8-9 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

4. Once more he uses this same idea in describing the terrible state of the lost. Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

a. Please note here that it is by the Spirit that this is proclaimed.

b. By the Spirit he is anointed to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

C. David uses similar terminology to describe the state of the lost. Psalm 107:10-16 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. 13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. 15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

D. When Jesus actually came into this world in his incarnate state he identified those to whom he was to proclaim liberty as being in prison. Luke 4:18-21 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

E. Paul spoke of those who are in the bondage of sin being the captives, or prisoners of Satan. 2 Timothy 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

F. Christ used similar language to describe those to whom Paul was to preach. Acts 26:17-18 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

G. The bondage and captivity of his people was the reason for Christ's incarnation. Hebrews 2:14-15 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

H. This imprisoned state of the sinner is called darkness, spiritual darkness. 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

I. Paul calls it the power, or kingdom of darkness. Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.

III. MEN ARE IN THE PRISON HOUSE OF SIN AND ONLY TRUTH AND CHRIST CAN SET THEM FREE

A. As we have already seen Jesus is the one who sets the prisoners free from their prison of sin.

B. He preached this message to the religious leaders of Israel. John 8:32-36 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abrahamís seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

C. David proclaimed the same message in similar language. Psalm 146:7-8 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners: 8 The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous.

D. This is why Jesus became man so that he might deliver his people from the bondage of sin. Hebrews 2:14-15 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

E. The law said we should be in prison and there we were until we were made free by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

F. Each and every one of his born again, blood-washed saints are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and where the Spirit is there is no more bondage and prison; there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

G. The law which sentenced us to prison is a yoke of bondage and we should not be entangled with such a yoke. Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

IV. THIS TEXT CONFIRMS AGAIN THE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES

A. Peter declares that Christ was preached by the Spirit through the prophets.

B. In his second epistle he declares that holy men of God spake as they were born along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

C. David declared that he spoke by the Spirit of God. 2 Samuel 23:2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.

D. Zacharias prophesied by the Holy Spirit and indicated that since the foundation of the world God had spoken by the mouth of his prophets. Luke 1:67-70 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.

E. Jesus confirmed that David spoke by the Holy Ghost. Mark 12:36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

F. Peter confirmed that David spoke by the Holy Ghost. Acts 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

G. Peter confirmed that the prophets spoke God's words when they preached Jesus. Acts 3:18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

H. Paul declared that Isaiah spoke for God. Acts 28:25-26 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive.

I. Paul confirms that the Scriptures are the words of the Holy Ghost. Hebrews 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice.

CONC: Ever since the fall in the garden, men have been in bondage by nature. Sin is an offense against the law of God and carries a terrible prison sentence. All our lifetime we were subject to bondage. We deserved to shut up in prison and eternally punished with God's most severe punishment. But, God sent his son to break down the doors of our prison house, destroy the keeper of that prison, Satan, and set us free through the same Spirit that raised up Christ from the dead. This is the same Spirit who indwelt all of the prophets, the spirit of Christ, and by whom they preached to men in prison. May I say to any present who are yet in that prison house of sin, John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

If you are already saved, you ought to thank God who has delivered you from the power of darkness and has translated you into the kingdom of his dear Son. You ought to thank Christ who came and took on himself flesh and blood such as ours that he might deliver us from our lifelong bondage and imprisonment. You out to thank the Spirit by whom Christ was preached to you. Christ has always been preached by God's preachers by the Spirit of Christ who was and is in all of God's people.

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