1 Peter 3:18
Posted October 16, 2014
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…
Last week in 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 we learned that the gospel (or good news) was a simple message: Christ died for our sins. This week Peter picks up where Paul left off, laying out more clearly what it was exactly that Jesus accomplished on our behalf on the cross. The ESV Gospel Transformation Bible commented:
Here is one of the richest, clearest, and briefest New Testament summaries of the work of Christ. Theologians describe the heart of the gospel as penal substitutionary atonement. Jesus paid the penalty for sins (penal) as a substitute in our place (substitutionary) to undo the effects of our sin and restore us to God (atonement, literally “at-one-ment”). This is precisely what we find in this verse: Christ “suffered once for sins [penal], the righteous for the unrighteous [substitutionary], that he might bring us to God [atonement].” Penal substitution is the fundamental heart of the gospel. The other benefits of Christ’s work all flow from this. Because of the work of Christ proclaimed in the gospel of grace, we are restored to God. The wreckage we have introduced into our lives through sin and failure and error is canceled. All is forgiven, and one day we will be with Christ in the new earth, in perfect joy.
May this short yet profound verse continue to stagger us with its weight and implications! The perfect Son of God, the sinless One, who deserved nothing but praise and glory and honor and worship suffered for wayward sinners who deserved nothing but death and judgment and wrath and separation. He did not suffer purposelessly, but rather with a goal: to bring us to God. The Bible teaches us that while we are all born in God’s image, we are also born separated and at odds (enemies) with the God of the universe. God Himself, through His Son, by the work of His Holy Spirit, makes a way for us to find a home in Him again. What a miracle! What a joy! May ours hearts be led from these theological truths in to wonder and awe and worship and delight.
Jesus brings us to God.
Song, Mix & Production by Latifah Phillips.
Artwork by Jonathan Lindsey.