THE GOSPEL PLAIN AND SIMPLE
If I were to be charged with presenting one verse of Scripture that would adequately express the entire essence of the gospel, it would be 1 Peter 3:18, 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. In this one verse the believer will find all that he needs to encourage him in faithfulness to Christ in the face of suffering (the message of I Peter). In this verse the unbeliever will hear all that he needs to bring him to faith in Christ, if the Holy Spirit is pleased to give him life.
The need of every person under his Creator is seen in this verse. The phrase, that he might bring us to God, indicates that there is a separation between God and man. We cannot bring ourselves to God. We cannot bridge the gulf that separates us. If we are ever to come into the presence of God in peace, it will be because someone else brings us.
It is clear in this text that sins have caused this separation. For Jesus Christ to bring us to God it was necessary that He suffer for sins. We learn from Isaiah 59:2, that our iniquities have separated us from God and our sins have hid his face from us. Sin, introduced by Adam in the beginning of creation has separated the human race from God. Death was the evident result of sin (Romans 5:12). As a result of the sin of the first Adam, the human race was declared sinners (Romans 5:19). God views every child born into this world in Adam. In Adam all die (1 Cor. 15:22).
God looks upon the human race and sees only sinners. Every descendant of Adam is full of sin. God sees no good in any of us. This is powerfully expressed in very clear, and even graphic terms in Romans 3:10-19. The following phrases are given as description of the human race: none righteous, no, not one; none that seeketh after God; none that doeth good, no, not one; their throat is an open sepulchre; destruction and misery are in their ways; no fear of God before their eyes; guilty before God.
We are separated from Him and He from us. It is our sin, clear and simple, that has placed an infinite gulf between us. There is no way that unjust human beings can come into the presence of absolute holiness. He is just. We are unjust. We need someone who is able to bring us to God.
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust. Sins must be taken out of the way if the unjust might ever be brought to God. The message of this verse is that Jesus Christ suffered to deal with this very need. Jesus’ sufferings included many things, but the one thing needful was His suffering on the cross. He was put to death in the flesh. The eternal Son of God became flesh that He might die. Wicked hands took Him and nailed Him to the cross.
It was for sins that He was put to death. He had no sins. He was just. He is the righteous one. The just suffered for the unjust. He was taking the place of unjust ones as He hung upon the tree. He became our substitute! What every believer in Christ deserved, He took upon Himself. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21).
This suffering was done once by Christ, never to be repeated in any form. There is no more suffering for sins by those who are in Jesus Christ. He suffered so that sinners might enjoy everlasting life and peace with God.
The Christ of God, the very beloved Son of the living God, suffered for sins in order to bring us to God. We, who were by nature enemies of God, are reconciled to God by Jesus Christ. Sins are gone and we are made just, or righteous, because of Jesus Christ!
There is one more essential gospel point that is made in this verse. We know that His sufferings were satisfactory because he was quickened by the Spirit. Romans 8:11 tells us that the Spirit raised Him from the dead. Christ was raised again, has gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God (1 Peter 3:21,22). He has gone to His Father, preceding all those who will follow Him in the resurrection to come. He will bring us to God! We have a glorious hope because of Him.
It is important to see that all the essentials of the gospel are found in this statement of Scripture. There is nothing else needed to bring a sinner to God. He has done it all. It is finished. Sins are removed by Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
The question for every soul who hears this message is what will you do with it? How will you respond? Peter speaks of those in Noah’s day who were disobedient under the preaching of Noah. God was longsuffering, waiting 120 years before destroying the earth by water. Only 8 souls were saved. Will you continue in disobedience to the gospel call to repent and believe in Jesus Christ? Your sins are separating you from God. Christ suffered for sins to bring believers to God.
Peter is writing to saints, those who are called the elect (1:2). He is encouraging them to press on in hope of the glory that awaits them because of Jesus Christ. Do you have this hope? If you are in Christ you do. In Him sins are removed and there is nothing that can prevent you from God’s presence. What blessed hope and peace for every believing sinner! May these thoughts sway your heart away from living according to the lusts of this flesh and toward denying yourself to live for Him who loved you and gave Himself for you.