Tuesday, June 28, 2011

REMEMBER THE END OF ALL THINGS IN NEAR!


REMEMBER THE END OF ALL THINGS IN NEAR!

1PETER 4:7                                                    
But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
Harold Camping was right when he said that the end of the world order is coming. And for this we must commend him that at least he is not oblivious to the end as many are but he is living bearing in mind that the end of this age is so near. However, he was wrong in giving it a date. For sure, if there is something very clear, in as far as the coming of the Lord is concerned, is that the date is unknown. Therefore, if there is a day when you should be sure that the Lord will not come it is the day when men have shouted ‘Christ is here.’ For He cannot come on such a day as he has told not to believe them. Therefore, when you hear him give another date, a he has done, mourn that he has spoiled yet another day for the coming of our Saviour. On the other hand, when you hear of such a date, then pray “I wish that it would be true”. We should yearn and crave for the day of the coming of our Lord and so we are to pray, “Come O Lord Jesus Come! Maranatha!”
The End is drawing!
 “The end of all things” as put in this passage, reminds us of the idea the final termination of the present order of things. For this reason, we are called upon to be sober and watchful unto prayer. This is the way for the one who expects all things to be withdrawn. Our conduct now is to affect future events.
The end is when all things shall either be done away with or transformed beyond all imagination. When there will be eternal judgment. This is the time when death shall be swallowed up in life and time will be no more. It is the time when both the earth and the heavens will be dissolved and everything therein completely consumed – the earth disappearing in a twinkling of an eye and the heavens being rolled up like a scroll, ushering a new order of things, with a new earth and new heavens.
Many people will dismiss you out rightly saying, “Forget it! I have heard that before. Jesus and His Apostles had the same song. However, two thousand years have gone by and the end has not come yet.” So what does it mean when we say the end is at hand? Was Apostle Peter mistaken about the end? I don’t think so because this statement shows that Peter expected the end in some sense to take place shortly. Soon after he wrote this epistle something very remarkable in the Jewish order took place. The temple in Jerusalem and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, exactly as the Lord had told them in Matthew 24:1,2, 15-25. He had warned them that before the existing generation would die there would be no stone that will be left unturned in Jerusalem and this is exactly what happened – the Jewish economy was ended.
Now this was a remarkable incidence in the story of redemption because it closed the curtain for all Old Testament arrangement. There was no longer a temple to take sacrifices because the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World had died. His death was once and for all and had completely paid the penalty for all the sins of His people.  
As it is so clear in the Bible all the major events in God’s great salvation plan culminated in the atonement – death and resurrection of the Lord. So we should not expect an anticlimax whereby there will be a need for the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple and the return to offer animal sacrifices. If that were the case then the value, the merit and the meritorious work of Christ would no longer be vicarious. That idea that there would be a need for the re-building of the temple in Jerusalem is completely foreign to the plan of redemption because its dissolution was a milestone in marking the end of the old Jewish economy ushering a new Covenant order that led to the admission of the Gentiles into the household and commonwealth of God.
Pushing aside all these contention let us ask ourselves what we are to do now that we have been born in these last days – between the first coming of the Lord and His second (and final) coming of the Lord. We are to bear in mind that the end of all things is nearer because our final salvation is nearer than we first believed (Rom. 13:11). Brethren the great Day is coming! There is no question that this is the last hour! (1John 2:18)
Here we are told that the end is hand. Therefore, the question that we ought to ask ourselves is what manner of persons ought we to be? How are we to conduct ourselves in godliness? What lifestyle best suits the pilgrims to heaven? What sort of talk best suits the heavenly bound person?

1.   We Are To Be Sober

While with anticipation we await the glorious appearing of our great Saviour and God Jesus Christ, we should be clear and sober minded. This is the exhortation in this epistle:
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1Pet. 1:13)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1Pet. 5:8)
It is still there in 1Thessalonians, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (1Thess 5:6)
This is to say we are to avoid being involved in frenzy preparations. For example, a few years back, the adherents of the House of Yahweh in Rift Valley confined their followers in underground embankments as they waited for the end. Others have burnt themselves to death in a church building! What utter nonsense? Christians on the other hand, ought to consider any claim of the end in light of the Word of God – they soberly engage their minds with self-control. So you are to be self-controlled in your effort to wait upon the Lord.
Sobriety must be exhibited in all you do – whether in eating, not to be a glutton, in wealth not to amass for yourself perishable wealth here on earth and have it as your treasure for then there your heart will be and you might lose it to thieves, moth and rust! Sobriety is to be exhibited and evidenced in what you read – read only what is edifying – not fiction novels which only make your blood hot and leave your heart bankrupt. Moderation is needed in what you watch in TVs otherwise you will be left a covetous person. Moderation and self-control are to be seen in every aspect of a Christian.
Temperance in drinking, abstinence from undue use of alcohol and drunkenness because not a single drunkard will enter the kingdom of God. This is because drunkenness is the work of flesh and kicks out the Holy Spirit from His temple because we are told not to be drunk with wine that leads to debauchery but instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
We are to be conscious, alert in mind and so act cautiously and prudently like men not like kids. We are in full possession and exercise of our senses. When faculties are rational then we can adorn the gospel, bringing honour and glory to the Lord and immeasurable profit to our neighbours.
We are to think soberly by not thinking of ourselves more than we ought (Rom. 12:3) and especially for the pastors and those aspiring to this noble office. They are to be sober-minded, self-controlled (1Tim 3:2,3). Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1Tim. 3:11). Christian wives are to continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1Tim. 2:15)
These exhortations call us to be prudent seasoned with practical wisdom so that we are able to rightly deal with both temporal and permanent things, visible or invisible, present or things eternal. Sobriety calls us to beware of mistaking shadows for realities and realities for shadows as an experienced preacher has said.
When we are morally sound-minded, we will discover it in the way we think, feel, and act in this present evil age. We will discern when to flee sin or when to resist it. We will know how to deal with the good and the evils of this world so that for those of us who have wives, we live as though we did not have them. Those with money as though they were broke, those who are mourning as if they are not because they look forward to a place of peace and fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord, soon coming to take us. Those with education as if they knew nothing because the education is only useful for this life – after glorification we will not know in part but in full. Those who are rejoicing are to live as if they are mourning because the joys of this world are shadowy, short-lived and deceiving and will soon be over but instead look forward to the sovereign rejoicing found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2.   We Are To Pray

What is prayer?
Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God [Psa. 62:8] for things agreeable to his will,[Rom. 8:27] in the name of Christ,[John 16:23] with confession of our sins,[Dan. 9:4] and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.[Phil. 4:6]. This is the way the Shorter Catechism defines prayer. It is the expression of one’s state of mind and heart, thought and feelings to the Lord.
Prayer is a very important aspect of Christian’s spiritual life and more so bearing in mind that Christ is coming. The characteristic already highlighted of a self-controlled and sober mind is integral part of an unhindered prayer. Prayers require effort and we should be willing to give our time towards it, as it is a requirement for a Christian who desires to lead a life that is pleasing to God and man. It through prayer that e vertical relationship with God is established and this brings to force the horizontal relationships with men.
The Lord Himself urges us to pray like this in Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Therefore, we ought to always pray and not give up.
The many exhortations to prayer are not just words but promises. Promise not only to listen but also to provide. For we are to be anxious of nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to make our requests known to the Lord and He shall give us His own peace, unknown by men, to reign in our hearts and minds in His son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
In this passage, we are told not just to pray but ‘to watch unto prayers’. This assumes that you do pray so that without prayers then it would be that you are not connected to your Father and His Son and so you are not a Christian. But assuming that you pray, then what is the manner of your prayers? You are called upon to pray severally, i.e. ‘prayers’ as it is indeed in plural. To pray as regularly and fervently. To pray with understanding and in spirit. To pray intensely as one who cannot live without prayers.
To be watchful unto prayer then may either mean that we are to be watchful while in prayer or to be watchful in order to pray. Does it refer to the overnight prayer meetings called Kesha? There is no evidence that this refers to overnight prayer meetings. This is not to say that keshas are wrong – I love the attitude behind kesha because these people exhibit a lot of exertion in prayer. But I mean that this passage does not refer to the night vigil prayer meetings.
The point here is that we are to be vigilant when we pray so that we fit opportunities to prayer and avoid anything that might be an obstacle to one’s prayer life. Having agreed that we are to be watchful in prayer in light of Christ’s second coming, then we ask what are the things that we should be alert about?
We should be alert to circumstances in the political world and pray that the Lord may use those situations to advance His Kingdom in preparation of His coming. Two men, an unbeliever and a Christians watch the news together yet the Christian must look at things prayerfully. A Christian may hear the reports from Sudan and say there is a mission field for taking the gospel and worldly man says, there is a business opportunity for me to invest my money!
We are to be vigilant of the worldliness of mind and heart that creeps in silently to destroy our souls. We are to pray knowing that if we regard iniquity in our hearts, God will not hear us (Ps. 66:18). We are to be aware of the sort of prayers we pray so that we are not just mentioning words without thinking. We are to engage our faith, our mind and our spirit in prayer, so that it is without wavering because he who prayers doubting will not receive anything from the Lord.
We are to be watchful in prayer in terms of the results we are expecting. After prayers do you expect God to answer? Or when the prayers are answered, do you shout in disbelief, “I can’t believe this!” We are to be like prophet Habakkuk who after praying said, I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me,”(Hab. 2:1)
A Christian waits upon the Lord expecting answers to his prayers so that when they are answered in affirmative, he is thankful and praises the Lord and when the answer is negative, then he is gratefully patient for the Lord to give better than what he requested from the Lord who works out everything to our good.

So how are we to pray?
I think the answer in the Shorter Catechism is better by than what I may offer. Christians are to ask these questions in regard to any prayer they offer:
·         Am I directing my prayers to God? [Psa. 62:8]
·         Am I praying for things agreeable to His will?[Rom. 8:27]
·         Am I accessing the Father in the name of Christ?[John 16:23]
·         I am coming with confession of my sin?[Dan. 9:4]
·         Am I thankfully acknowledging His mercies? [Phil. 4:6]?
In conclusion, prayers is the means to achieving the end of our faith – the redemption of our souls. We are to be watchful and vigilant waiting for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are You Done With Sin Yet ?


ARE YOU DONE WITH SIN YET?

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (1Pet. 4:1-6)

Introduction

The suffering of Christ is our model and inspiration especially when we suffer in Christ. We are called to examine our lives by considering the suffering of Christ. This is because Christ serves as an example for us in suffering. Therefore, we are to arm ourselves with the same mind just like we are to have the same of humility of Christ in Philippians 2. The result of having this mind of Christ in suffering is that it produces such a life that we are done with sin completely at the time of glorification. This is because when believers are willing to suffer for the sake of their faith in Christ, the nerve centre of sin is severed in their lives – although believer will never be completely free form sin as long as they are in this life (James 3:2; 1John 1:8). Therefore, it means that sin will no longer be their delight. The Christian who identifies with Christ must be prepared to endure physical suffering (4:1,13  16; Rom 8:17; 2 Cor. 11:23-29; Phil 3:10; Heb 10:32-34;Rev. 2:10. May we only suffer because of Christ. 

The emphasis of this passage is that we should be willing to suffer for Christ to avoid sinning. We are to think of our lives in terms of what we were and the time we spent on sin, what Christ has done for us and the means given for us to live lives worthy of the gospel.

1.  You Spent Enough Time In Sin

We are to arm ourselves with the same  way of thinking  like Christ. The conduct we are to pursue is described in verses 2b-5. It is both negative and positive. Considering the time you spent in sin before you became a Christian or the time you are wasting in sin, in case you have not trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. You are to leave the life of sin in which you once lived. You are to realize that things are different from the way they were because then you did the will of men and now God’s will. 

It is good and important for Christians to be conscience of the sort of lives they used to live prior to their conversion and the kinds of thinking they are to have now that they have been saved. This way they will not be conceited or proud. This way they will keep in touch with their Saviour who saved them. Paul severally reminds his readers about their previous state; Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: ... And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1Cor. 6:9-11)
Again he tells them, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light “(Eph 5:8); “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins”(Eph 2:1). “… remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Eph 2:11-12)
 
Once and again the Bible gives a list of sins and here Peter gives such a list;
·    Living in debauchery – multiple acts of unbridled lust and lawlessness – with a complete disregard for any restraint
·         Lust – all evil desires of immorality
·         Drunkenness – overflowing with wine leading to lack of sobriety
·         Orgies – a nocturnal and riotous procession of half-drunken and frolicsome fellows who dance and engage in all sorts of immorality
·         Carousing – drinking party, giving opportunity of excesses
·        Detestable idolatry – worshipping creature instead of the Creator (Exo. 20:3; Deut. 5:7) Breaking the most sacred law of God, opening the floodgates of all sins. Compare this list of sin with that in
1)     Rom. 13-14
2)     1 Cor. 6:9-11
3)     Gal. 5:20-21

Christians are not obey the sins by the desires of the body, yielding their members as instruments of unrighteousness but instead are to fight with sin in order to kill and completely subdue it. Christians are to walk in the newness of life as evidenced in their godly living. Already a lot of time has been wasted in sinfulness and a lot of damage done – they are to flee from all sinfulness.

However, note that the world is shocked that Christians do not engage into the sins that they love and delight in doing (Acts 12:20). This makes the world to be offended and so they insult, persecute, malign/slander and abuse believers because they do not participate in their foolish sins. 

Positively, Christians are supposed “to live to the will of God.” Christian is to be guided by the Will of God, which is good, pleasing and perfect. It is the will of God as He has revealed it in His Word that is to be the rule and reason of our conduct and faith. His decree (secret will) cannot direct us because we do not know it but the revealed will is for us to obey and to instruct others to do the same. Remember that it is those who do the will of the Lord who shall enter into His kingdom because His kingdom is of righteousness, holiness and joy in the Holy Spirit. Remember that your life is brief on earth!

2.Christ Redeemed You From Sin

May I point out to you who is Jesus Christ. He is the long promised and long awaited Messiah. The divinely appointed Person to atone for the sins of God’s people. Therefore, He is the divinely qualified and accredited Saviour of His people who was revealed in the fullness of time, born of a woman under the law to save those under the law (Gal.4:4). He was subjected under the cruelest of all human violence and suffered so severely that He died and was buried.
His suffering was for our sins because He did not have His own sins (2:22). He was made sin and a curse for our sake. This means that He suffered as a substitute for sinners – the righteous for the unrighteous (3:18). We all like sheep had gone astray we all had turned everyone to his own way of sins and the Lord laid the iniquity of us all because we read that, He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.. (Isa. 53:6,5)

So that by His death the legal requirements of the law were completely met – the wrath of God was satisfied and God’s full displeasure was poured on Him. He was able to make an end to sin by making reconciliation for sins. Therefore, His sacrifice was propitiatory for our sins so that He was able to bring us to God. Sinful, vile, distasteful, depraved and guilty men were brought to God through Christ’s vicarious death on the accursed tree. We can now enjoy the blessings of God without any hindrance. We can participate in being the partakers of heavenly blessings by being in Christ. 

Although these sufferings led to the death of the Saviour, death could not contain Him and so after three days He resurrected and bought all His people. He was also exalted to the highest – the right hand of God on His majesty and everything put under His rule.  Remember that you will give an account of your life before Christ as a judge!

3.  The gospel Was preached to you

Have you wondered why we do not get tired of preparing a sermon for you every time? and do you wonder that you are not tired of hearing the gospel preached to you? we preach the gospel to every time we have an opportunity given to us by the Lord because preaching is a means through which godliness is born and nurtured. Never ever get tired of hearing the gospel truth if you want to grow by leaps and bounds in faith. Go where sermons are preached, take time to listen to sermons but them and listen to them. the preaching of the Word is edifying do not get tired.

This is what we read in verse six, “For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” The point being made is that the preaching of the gospel was being done even to those who are dead and it yielded fruit. This is because through it, many were saved. Even now those who hear the gospel being preached are saved because it guides people to live not just in the physical (because it is short-lived, soon the body is old and dead) but to live in the spirit the way God does and the way in which He would like us to live. This way, though we may die and are separated from this body, yet we live and are not subjected under His wrath.

Please remember that soon you will give an account before God. Therefore conduct in  a such a manner that shows you understand that such a time awaits you. Do not be like the worldly people who do not care what happens tomorrow. They are  the most pitiable for they are swept along by sin the destructive forces of evil. At the end of life they must stand before their Maker, who is not their redeemer but Judge (Heb 10:31).

It is judgment that awaits all those who sin and have no desire to be saved from sinfulness. They are going to face the full wrath of God because of their obstinate unbelief and sinfulness. Shall we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and find hope and everlasting life?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ARE YOU A GOOD WITNESS OF CHRIST IN SUFFERING?


ARE YOU A GOOD WITNESS IN SUFFERING?

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, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1Peter 3:18-22)
Please consider the question before you this evening - Are you a Good Witness in Suffering?
Generally we not very good witnesses of our Lord to our shame. We are, every now and then, shaming our Lord, His gospel and His church in our conversation with people. Our relationships with such people such our landlords and landladies, our customers and our clients, our employers and employees, our parents and children and so forth. We struggle to establish godly relationships with others.
If this is the case, how about when we are under threats and dangers? How much more when our reputations are at stake? How much more when our careers are threatened? How much more when our families are endangered?
How do we conduct ourselves in suffering? It might be mental or physical torture. It might be in times of misunderstanding or when we have been falsely accused. It might be that time when nothing seems to work and everyone seem to be working towards your downfall. Do we provide good witness then? Do we conduct ourselves in a godly way? Do we adorn the gospel then?
This passage is one of the most difficulty passages in the Bible and so many would not want to deal with it. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit I would like us to consider this passage for our lessons because Peter himself concedes that there some things that are difficulty to understand (2Peter 3:16) because Scripture is not equally clear in all parts. We have three truths in reference to suffering in this passage of Scripture that I would like us to consider:
1.      We must suffer
2.      God is near us suffering
3.      God is patient with us
We will consider each one by one.
1.  We must suffer
We live in this world of sin with so many enemies fighting against us. We have the evil powers that are out to extinguish the light of God’s Word in our lives. Our responsibility is resist the devil and fight with the spiritual weapons given us by God. There is the world so full of sin and wickedness that it is pulling all its resources to force us to conform to it. We are to resist and flee from its enticements and pleasantries. There is the enemy within – our own bodies that is so happy to be in the world that for us to be any different then we have to fight forcefully.
It is this background that makes suffering for us inevitable. We suffer because this world has nothing to offer except suffering and so we are to look at the means provided in the Word to eschew these terrible suffering. Let us consider three witnesses in the Bible:


a)     First of all let us look at Christ’s witness in suffering
We are told that ‘Christ also suffered’. Why did Christ suffer? For Himself? No! for sinners, the unrighteous! Christ died one time for the sins of His people and this was enough and final so that there was no need for a repeat of his atonement. This means that His atonement was completed for us who have believed in Him.
Now this is the point concerning suffering, if Christ Himself was not exempted from sufferings in this life, though He had no guilt of His own and could have declined all suffering if He wanted, who are you not to suffer? Why should you be excused from suffering which God Himself subjected to Himself?
The reason for Christ's suffering was the sins of men – Christ suffered for sins. The sufferings of Christ were a true and proper punishment for the sake of those of those the Father had placed in His hands. In this punishment their sins were expiated because it was an atoning sacrifice that extends to all sin for all time.
In the case of our Lord's suffering, it was the just that suffered for the unjust. He substituted himself in our stead, and bore our iniquities. He who did not  know sin suffered instead of those who did not know any righteousness. The merit and perfection of Christ's sacrifice were such that for him to suffer once was enough. The authorized sacrifices in the Mosaic Covenant were repeated from day to day, and from year to year; and for each person, but the sacrifice of Christ, once offered, purges away all sin for His people, (Heb. 7:27; 9:26, 28; 10:10, 12, 14).
Notice that Christ’s suffering accomplished something that was greater than the suffering itself. His suffering brought us to God! Through His suffering we were reconciled to God though we did not merit an inch of it! What a joy to know that Christ has not only given us access to God but has also brought us to God for all time in order that we may come to His glory of eternal life! And this is what we read elsewhere in the Scripture:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:13). “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph 2:18)”… in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” (Eph 3:12)
“… and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb 10:21-22).
Christ has not hidden His witness for He bore it publically and was even chronicled under His superintendence. He also appointed those who were to proclaim it in all times. He used the prophets like Noah and other Old Testament prophets who testified to the world so that they would not be lost. So let us consider the witness of Noah.
b)    Secondly consider Noah’s witness in His day
Noah was a good witness in his day was good. During his time the wickedness of his contemporaries had broken all the scales of perdition. The example of Noah is presented here whereby he was the preacher of righteousness (2Peter 2:5) to a wicked generation. But as a result there are those who believed and obeyed Christ but those who continued in disobedience and unbelief, punished in the waters of the flood.
Noah was Christ’s agent for preaching to those who were in the prison of ignorance, and disobedience who lived in his time and who at the time of writing this letter were dead. He faithfully preached to them for 120 years as he steadfastly built the ark. Christ went and preached, by His Spirit striving with them, and inspiring and facilitated Noah to implore them, and preach righteousness to them, as 2Pet_2:5.
Both Jesus and Noah faced great oppositions and would have reasons for not providing good testimonies in their conduct before the world. However, they both were approved witnesses so that the effect of their witness was salvation of souls either by the ark or by Christ’s body. Let us always know that our witness is always rewarded.
Now, if God didn’t exempt Christ from sufferings, why should Christians expect it? If He suffered, to expiate sins, why should not we be rejoice and be content when our sufferings are only for discipline and correction, but not for expiation? If He, though perfectly just, why should not we, who are all criminals? If He once suffered, and then entered into glory, shall not we be patient under trouble, since it will be but a little time and we shall follow Him to glory? If He suffered, to bring us to God, shall not we submit to difficulties, since they are of so much use to quicken us in our return to God, and in the performance of our duty to him?

2.  God is Near Us Even in Suffering
God considers our situations and circumstances and deals with us accordingly. It is reassuring to know that He did not just banish those who sinned during the time of Noah to live in their disobedience. He went after them and raised up Noah who had His Spirit so that His Word was proclaimed to them.
It is therefore clear that when we suffer, God is near us. We ought to always take Him seriously in the promise that He has given us that He never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5) because this is our confidence in Him. We might feel left alone by God like the way Jesus felt on the cross – but that is just the feeling because God will always uphold His promise to keep it. God will not leave us at any point – He is ever near us to protect you.
How are we to conduct ourselves in suffering? What are we to do to make His presence more real to us?
a)    We are to pray when in suffering. Jesus Himself prayed to His Father. These are some of His prayers: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34)"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" (Luke 23:34, 46)
God heard Christ’s prayers in agony.  Are we to find a better example on how to witness in suffering than from our Lord? It is Him who prayed for His persecutors that God may not put their sins in their account but instead in His own account. He prayed that His spirit may be in His Father’s hands and this is what we are to do – leave the Lord with everything and trust that He will act in accordance to His promise because He is a faithful promise-keeper. It is from the example of the Lord that Stephen learnt and He also prayed for those who killed Him (Acts 7). Prayer is an effective witness and those who us it find comfort from God who is the Father of all comforts (2Cor.1:3)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2Cor 1:3-4)
b)     We are to remind ourselves of the promises of God in His Word. Many of those who have gone through the persecution and have come out victorious, though in death, are those who had taught themselves how to trust upon the Lord and to take Him seriously at His word. God will keep His word and this is what we are always to remember that He is always faithful, because He cannot deny Himself (2Tim 2:13). We has said that though we may go through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us (Psalm 23:4). It is the promises of God on which we are to stand because they cannot fail.
c)      We are to depend on other Christians. First of all the reasons why we go through these difficulties are so that we may be able to strengthen others when they would be in the same sort of afflictions. So these afflictions are not just for our own discipline but also for the profit of others.  So then if that is the case, we are also to depend on other believers to advice and comfort us when such times arise. We are to run to bear in mind that there are those who have gone the same experiences and so seek them for their counsel and fellowship. It is during these times that we are strengthened by others.  Please bear in mind that there are people who are going through hard times and seek to be of encouragement to them. Don’t wait for them to come to look for you complaining that they are not open. Go to them and tell them that you understand what they are going through and that you understand having gone through the same in the past and they will open up and share their woes with you.
Because God is near us why should not be the best witness there can be? During the persecutions under the Bloody Mary Tudor in the 16th Century two men, who believed and preached the Christ of the Bible, Hugh Latimer (Bishop of Worcester, and Master Ridley just about to be burnt at stake, the former encouraged the latter, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall light such a candle by God’s grace in England as I trust, shall never be put out.”

3.  God is Patient With Us
Everything we have depends on one thing – that Christ has brought us to God by His meritorious death and made us righteous. This shows how much God is willing was willing to give to us. This also marks the gravity of God’s patience with us. God is patient with sinners – look at His patience with sinners of Noah’s day.
The problem is that people think that God is slow to fulfill His promise when He is showing patience towards them. It is that God does not wish any to perish in sin but that they should reach repentance (2Peter 3:9). God does not deal with us the way we deal with others – he is a patient and gracious God. He acts at the right time – without haste or delay.
There is a witness we bore in baptism. There is a comparison between salvation in the ark and baptism because in both believers are saved through waters of judgment. There still remains a question how does the baptism save because we read that “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you”
§  Baptism represents inward faith because the inward reality is expressed in outwardly by the symbol of being immersed into water.
§  Baptism is one’s appeal to God for the forgiveness of sins
§  Baptism saves only if it is grounded on the resurrection of Jesus Christ – its union with Christ that is represented in this symbol so that the reality is obvious – just as Christ’s triumph over death and the devil so is a Christian’s victory over sin being in Christ. After the humiliation of Christ there was a total grand exaltation so that He was exalted to the highest to sit at the right hand of God the Father, every under His rule.





Let us then consider the difficulties in this passage. This passage is difficult because of the Roman Catholic background and so it raises the following questions in the minds of the readers:
1.       Who are the spirits in prison?
§  Unbelievers who have died?
§  Old Testament believers who have died?
§  Fallen angels?
2.       What did Christ preach?
§  Second chance of repentance?
§  Completion of redemption work?
§  Final condemnation?
3.       When did He preach?
§  In the days of Noah?
§  Between His death and resurrection?
§  After His resurrection?
There are varied interpretations of this passage whereby some different views have resulted as follows:
View 1: When Noah was building the ark, Christ in sprit was in Noah preaching repentance and righteousness through him to unbelievers who were on the earth then but now spirits in hell. (My view, first proposed by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo) 
View 2: After Christ died, He went and preached to people in hell, offering them a second chance of salvation.
View 3: After Christ died He went and preached to people in hell, proclaiming to them that He had triumphed over them and their condemnation was final. (Orthodox Lutheran Theory)
View 4: After Christ died , He proclaimed release to people who has repented just before they died in flood, and led them out of the imprisonment (Purgatory) into heaven. (Roman Catholic)
View 5: After Christ died (or after He rose, but before He ascended into heaven), He travelled to hell and proclaimed triumph over the fallen angels who had sinned by marrying human women before the flood. (Selwyn, Dalton and France, cf. their commentaries – this view is very common today). something to note about this view is that its materials to support it is an extra biblical book called 1 Enoch!
P/S: For further examination of this passage I would highly recommend Wayne Grudem’s commentary on 1 Peter by IVP, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries.