Christ’s Power Prepares Us for Judgment Day
1st Sunday in Advent
Christ’s Power Prepares Us for Judgment Day
1. Over sin
2. Over Satan and hell
3. Over death
4. Over all things
Text: 1 Peter 3:18-22
“Santa is coming! Santa is coming!” The little children in the movie shout with endless glee. Tossing and turning in their beds, they can hardly stop squiggling and squirming knowing that when they wake up in the morning, there will be presents waiting for them.
Yes, the moment the tryptophan of the turkey wears off, Americans are gearing up for Christmas. Santa is coming! But though Christmas has been commercialized and confused by the myth of Santa, there are still many that prepare for the real meaning of Christmas.
Millions of Christians around the globe not only did Black Friday shopping and Christmas light hanging this last weekend, but they also set out their manger sets. They hung angels and Bethlehem stars. They listened to Bing Crosby sing Oh Come, All Ye Faithful. They cleared their schedules for the children’s Christmas services and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship. (Because after all, Christmas Day is on a Sunday this year so everyone will certainly come this year.) We are in full prepare-mode now—Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!
But while we eagerly wait and prepare for the celebration of Christ’s coming to this world, we dare not forget that this is an event of the past. So during Advent we prepare carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly prepare for Christ’s second coming. Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!
This morning Peter tells us how we can prepare and be ready for Jesus to return and for Judgment Day. Quite simply Peter says, Christ’s Power Prepares Us for Judgment Day.
The writer to the Hebrews writes many warnings and encouragements about the coming of Jesus on Judgment Day. As he warns about those who sin and turn away from God, he writes something in chapter 10 that has been etched into my mind. He says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Have you been keeping up with the 60 Day Bible Challenge? I know there are some still pushing forward to read the Bible in 60 days. Twenty-six days in, I’ve read all the New Testament and I’ve gone back to the beginning of the Old Testament. Reading over Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus again, I have to agree with the comments that several others have shared with me the last few days. God is really serious about sin.
It only takes a few chapters of Exodus and Leviticus to figure that out. God had very strict laws for his people. Even what we would consider minor offenses were punishable by death. Imagine today if God still demanded that all who failed to uphold the Sabbath Day would be stoned to death! Or examine the rules for purity in those Bible books sometime. If someone was ceremonially unclean, that person had to be ostracized for seven days. A sacrifice needed to be made. Blood needed to be sprinkled on the altar. Sometimes the priests would symbolically take some of the blood and wipe it on their right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe. And as you read the other rules for sacrifices in the Old Testament, it becomes obvious that those priests were slaughtering animals and sprinkling blood all day every day for the sins of the people.
Now consider once more that verse from Hebrews. “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” God is serious about sin. He demands death and bloodshed as payment for sin. Indeed, how dreadful it would be to fall into the hands of Jesus the living God and judge of all on the Last Day! How dreadful it would be to stand before him knowing that death and bloodshed needed to happen yet to pay for our sins! How dreadful it would be to know that the wrongs of our lives have separated us from God for all eternity!
How dreadful Judgment Day would be, if it were not for Jesus. You see, Christ’s Power over sin Prepares Us for Judgment Day. Listen to Peter in the first verse: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
The Lord did not change over the years. God still is very serious about sin. God still demands death and bloodshed as payment for sin. The difference is that Jesus Christ became our sacrifice of death and bloodshed for sins. He died for sins once for all. What power! By the Old Testament sacrificial rules, we would need to slaughter animals over and over and over again as payment for our sins. And those animals couldn’t really remove all sin. But Christ did. The righteous one died for unrighteous people. He died for sins once. One death for all people. That was enough. That paid for your sins and mine. What power! By that death in our place Christ brought us close to God.
So if ever you wonder about your sins, if ever you wonder about your status with God, if ever you wonder about what Judgment Day will be like for you—just ask yourself this question: Are you a human being? Of course you are! Well then Christ died for you, because Christ died for all! Christ’s Power over sin Prepares Us for Judgment Day.
You say the words almost every single week. Perhaps they slip through your lips without notice now. Regularly we join together to say, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, he was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell.”
It’s such a little phrase. It often escapes our notice. In addition, there are very few Bible verses that talk about Jesus descending into hell.
But Peter does talk about Jesus’ descent into hell right here. Listen to what he says, starting in verse 18: “He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit, through which he also went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago.”
Jesus died physically. He was buried in a tomb. As Peter says, “He was put to death in the body.” But on the third day Jesus rose from the dead in a much more glorified and spiritual state. As Peter continues, “[He was] made alive in the spirit.” No longer was he humble. No longer was he hiding his glory. No longer was he suffering.
So on that Easter morning, sometime before he started appearing to people, Jesus descended into hell. It was at this time that Jesus, “Went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago.” Those who disobeyed the Lord and ignored him in the days of Noah (as Peter gives an example of), and all others who have rejected the Lord since, go to spirit prison, which is hell. On Easter Jesus descended into hell. He didn’t go to suffer any more. He didn’t go to pay for sins any more. He said, “It is finished” on the cross. He didn’t go to give them a second chance, either.
Rather, Jesus went to preach and proclaim to those in hell that he had won. He went to herald his victory. He went to glory in his triumph over Satan and his domain. Jesus proclaimed that he had won! (So next time you say those words on Sunday morning you can actually say them with excitement—“He descended into hell!!”)
What power! Christ not only has the power over sin, but also the power over hell. Thus, Christ’s Power over Satan and hell Prepare Us for Judgment Day!
Falling into the hands of the living God was a dreadful thing back in the days of Noah. God warned sinful mankind that they had 120 years left. But no one listened. They didn’t listen when they saw Noah building a massive ark. How dreadful it was to fall into the hands of the living God when he swept every one and every thing away with his destructive floodwaters.
Yet God used that very same water of the flood to spare Noah and his family and save them from death. Listen to Peter, starting in verse 20: “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.” God mercifully spared Noah and his family with that water.
Peter makes a connection then from the water of the flood to the water of baptism. Through the water of baptism, God also spares us and saves us from death. Listen to what he says: “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the answer of a good conscience before God.”
Baptism isn’t some simple rite or ceremony. Baptism isn’t the washing of dirt off your body like you’re taking a bath. Through baptism God washes away your sin. Through baptism God gives you a clear conscience with which you can stand before God and answer to him on Judgment Day. Peter says it very clearly here: “Baptism now saves you also.”
You see, baptism connects you to Jesus. Peter continues, “It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” When we were baptized, we were connected to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This means that when we were baptized we were gifted with forgiveness, life, and salvation. What power! What power over death that Jesus has and that he conveys to us through his Word, through baptism, and through the Lord’s Supper! Thus, Christ’s Power over death Prepares Us for Judgment Day.
One of the hardest parts of our faith as Christians is just that—our faith. We put our trust and our hope in someone that we can’t see or touch. Maybe you’ve thought before, “If only Jesus were here—if only we could see a little miracle here or there—then it would be so much easier to believe in him and his power!”
But just because Jesus ascended to heaven and can’t be seen visibly anymore, that doesn’t mean Jesus is sitting on a chaise lounge watching to see if the Green Bay Packers actually go undefeated this season. (And unlike many of my friends from Wisconsin seem to think, Jesus is not a Packers fan.)
No, Jesus’ powerful work and activity still continues today. Listen to Peter in verse 22: Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” We have a similar expression still today. Someone who is our “go to guy” we call our “right hand man.” So Jesus, who has conquered all our foes including sin, death, and the devil, now sits at God’s right hand. He is in the place of power and authority. He has all angels, all worldly authorities and powers, and especially all his enemies under his feet and in submission to him.
That means that Jesus has power over everything and to do anything. That means that Jesus can heal our diseases, if he wills. That means Jesus can help us with our problems, if he wills. That means that Jesus will protect us. That means that Jesus will provide for us. That means that Jesus will give us the power to defeat Satan and his spiritual forces until we join him in heaven. What power! Christ’s Power over all things Prepares Us for Judgment Day.
It’s fun to get “in the holiday spirit,” as they say. We started a little early here at Christ the King, too. But as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ coming into this world to save us, we also prepare daily for Jesus’ second coming to save us.
For unbelievers covered in guilt and sin, it will be a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But for us who believe, we are ready! We are prepared for Jesus to return! Christ himself has made us ready! He did so with his mighty power. By his power over sin, over Satan and hell, and over death he washed away, removed, and saved us from our sins. By his power over all things he daily watches over us and cares for us.
Yes, Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming! But we are ready!
Posted on November 27, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged 1 Peter, 1 Peter 3, Advent, Baptism, Church, Conscience, Death, Hell, Infant Baptism, Judgment Day, Santa, Santa Claus, Sermons, Sin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.