Login

Blessed Saints - 1 Peter 3:8-22

This is a sermon by Peter Birnie from the Riverside Church service on 4th July 2021.

Click here to read the bible passage. Click here to use smaller text.

An audio recording of this sermon is available.

Click here to download and save for future listening

1 Peter 3 v8-22 “Blessed Saints”

Intro

“Mr Noah built an ark the people thought it was such a lark, Mr Noah pleaded so, but into the ark they would not go. Down came the rain in torrents and only 8 were saved” That was a Sunday school favourite where I grew up in rural Northern Ireland and I always felt so sorry for Noah as I thought of the people around watching him build this massive boat in a place with no coastline and then laughing at his warnings to come join him.

 

But actually, when you read Genesis 6-9 you don’t hear of Noah’s interaction with his neighbours and the writer of Genesis doesn’t tell us how the people around reacted to him. What is described though, is the terrible state that sin had put the world in, Genesis 6v5 says; “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Sounds awful doesn’t it – even worse it sounds familiar (Here and now)! And then we are introduced to Noah in 6v9; “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” God explains to righteous Noah that God is going to sort sin out and clean up the world with the terrible judgement of a flood but also that he is offering a grace-filled rescue from this proper response to sin and rebellion, a rescue involving wood and nails!   

And Noah, this shining jewel of righteousness amongst the muck of so much violence and corruption and evil, Noah is massively blessed because he is key to this plan of salvation. So although Genesis doesn’t tell us whether or not Noah invited others to safety (apart from his wife, sons and in-laws), it is pretty safe to assume that blameless Noah would have been desperately trying to persuade those around him of God’s coming judgement, and equally safe to assume that those around him would have at the least laughed at him and probably more likely hated him for his righteous life, frightening words and strange actions. (In fact, the apostle Peter himself, in his second letter, calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness” and so we can know this to be true.)


Why begin with Mr Noah and his ark? It is because as well as Noah ultimately pointing forward to Jesus (who would ultimately save humanity from God’s ultimate judgement also using some wood and some nails), Noah is also the perfect example of the sort of life that Peter has been describing in our sermon series so far. The different life, the strange life, the blessed life we are to live as citizens of heaven. If you are a Christian, that is, if you have come to Jesus for forgiveness from sin and for a new life of following him, then you are to be Mr Noah for your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and each other. And we as a church family are to shine with the same blamelessness and righteousness of Noah even though the people around us might laugh, scorn or even hate. We are people blessed with full salvation and so we are key to the salvation of those around.     

1) Be Noahs with each other (v8-12)

So in verses 8-12 we, the church family, are to be Noahs with each other. This is not always going to be easy, after all we are just a bunch of saved sinners who battle with selfishness and pride and grumbling so trying to live blamelessly is a bit of a tall order. But with the new life Jesus has won for us and the Holy Spirit at work within us, people around should be able to say 2 big things about us; ‘Have you seen those Christians – they love each other so much’ and ‘Have you seen those Christians – they so quickly forgive each other.’

 

The positives of our witness are so very positive. Last week I talked about drinking a glass of cool clear water compared to forcing down a glass of warm dirty dishwater – verse 8 puts this ice-cold crystal clear water in the hands of someone who has been lost in the desert for days. In this polluted, violent, proud, selfish world where 1 mistake on social media or 1 small comment can make you public enemy number 1, Christians are to be like-minded, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble. CC Riverside is to be a place where a young person (or any person) can come and admit they have been captive to a whole pattern of sin and failure, and instead of being condemned or cancelled they will be treated gently and carefully, they will be led back to Jesus and the cross and the narrow path with such love and sympathy and compassion that it is obvious we are all united in our need of Jesus.

 

Humility is primarily admitting our need and the gospel culture of CC Riverside that we must pray for and each one of us must play our part in is a culture that says, ‘get back on the ark with us and be safe, we will help you in your problems’. This is a gospel culture filled with Noahs who are desperate to lovingly meet one another’s needs and ultimately to bring them to the one who always meets all of their needs, our saviour Jesus Christ. A gospel culture in which every part of our words and behaviour as a church family shouts out “Come to Jesus and be safe.”        

The negatives of our witness are to be so positive as well. It is difficult to think that verse 9 might be still talking about how the church family treat one another because we would hope that evil and insult and so on would be far removed from our practice and relationships in the church (and perhaps Peter is thinking about outsiders here). However, since Peter deals with opposition from outside later on in the chapter, and since in reality church members do sometimes fall out with one another, it is right to allow these verses to prepare us and our church culture for times when Christian relationships threaten to break down.

Peter is uncompromising – there are simply no circumstances when a Christian is justified in responding with sin when they are treated sinfully. We are instead to repay evil with blessing. (Unique – SA story) That is how to stop a fight, that is how to prevent a friendship being broken, and that is how to ensure that the church family remains united and undamaged, both in how we function and in our witness to the estates around.   

To be serious about loving each other (as broken people) and to be able to really forgive anyone (but especially forgiving Christians who have hurt you) is a really really difficult thing to do. It is very hard to be a Noah when you are hurt. But again in 1 Peter we have this repeated phrase about our new identity “to this you were called” and then we have another wonderful resulting “so that.” V9b “To this you were called so that … you might inherit a blessing.” And Peter immediately quotes from Psalm 34 to describe this blessing, a beautiful Psalm that David wrote when he was in so much danger from Saul that he had to sacrifice his dignity and pretend to be insane to escape.

And the blessing David describes that comes from a life of blamelessness, this life of costly love and painful forgiveness and generosity is the blessing of God himself. God’s eyes are on the righteous and his ears hear their prayer. If that doesn’t sound incredible to you then it is because you don’t know enough about who God is. When I as a father am at my very best, my kids really feel the benefit of my eyes being on them and my ears being opened towards them. I will see things that they will like and give it to them (ice-creams, dvds, advice, support, sympathy etc), I will hear what they ask for and do stuff that is even better (Can we go to the green and kick that slightly deflated ball about? Let’s go to Beresford park and stop and buy a new ball on the way.) Me at my best! David writes a Psalm about God our Father who is always at his best and who sets his eyes and his ears upon his beloved children. The more we realise how loved and provided for we are by God, the sooner we will live as Noahs with one another.

2) Be Noahs to all those around (v13-18a)

 

And we are also to be Noahs to all those around us (v13-18). Living lives of love, forgiveness and generosity even to our opponents in this society might save us some trouble as Peter says in verse 13; “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” And it is true that this is sometimes the case – our relationship with Parkstone school is in many ways a testimony to that. But in truth, the more we live as blameless Christians, the more likely it is that other troubles will come our way. So Peter says this in verse 14; “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” The blessing of belonging to God will allow us to live as Noahs even when the people around do think it is such a lark to oppose and persecute. Don’t resent this Peter says, instead be prepared for it;   

 

Be prepared for opposition by realising that Noahs don’t need to fear people when we revere Christ. That means making Jesus number 1 in your life. People who have Jesus as Lord also have him as saviour. When the one who died and rose again is your Lord and Saviour there really is nothing to fear. Sin and death are the greatest enemies and Jesus triumphed over them. The people around us are right to be a fearful people, but we Christians have the almighty God as our protector (I love Matthew 9 v 25 – Jesus raises a girl from the dead and yet it is such a small deal for him that it gets 1 verse!). Don’t fear men when this power is at work in you and for you!!!

Be prepared for opposition by having your own salvation story ready and on your lips. We heard Dave answer a few short questions today – are you ready to do just that the next time one of your family members or friends or neighbours begins to get frustrated with your love for Jesus or your commitment to his people? Christianity is true and though people don’t like it, that doesn’t rob it of any of its power. Every other world-view fails where the gospel stands, so remember that you are a Noah standing by the open door of the Ark inviting people to come and be safe. As you listen to sermons and talks, as you hear other people’s testimonies in church, as you read helpful books, work on how you can tell your story of salvation to the people around you that need to hear it and might be saved by it.  

Be prepared for opposition by being gentle, and full of respect and integrity. The gospel we preach is one of grace, forgiveness, and peace with God paid for by the most brutal and violent of deaths. We see other humans as hugely valuable yet in great danger of God’s righteous judgement. So we are to foster the sort of gospel culture amongst us that means we are firm on gospel convictions but filled with a compassion for the lost -  we will speak as Noahs, holding out boldly the gospel that tells people they are sinners in need of forgiveness and change, and we can put up with the wrong things they may say about us as a result, because it might just lead to being ashamed of their slander and coming to join us in the kingdom of God. They might get on board the lifeboat. Being prepared in these ways will lead to new Christians being made. Be Noahs to all those around.    

3) Know that Noahs are blessed and Vindicated (v18-22)

 

And know that Noahs are blessed and vindicated (v18-22). In verse 18 Jesus Christ suffered so terribly (completely righteous one being put to death for completely unrighteous people) and yet was completely vindicated when he walked out of that tomb – verse 22 tells us he is now reigning at God’s right hand. That is vindication. Yes, he had to put up with suffering for a time, but he did it for the joy that was set before him and now he reigns and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  

 

Verses 19-21 fascinate some people – and there are different interpretations that you can go away and wrestle with if you want and if you think it is valuable. But for me I think the point is quite a simple one – Just as Jesus Christ was vindicated, so also Noah was vindicated. The message that the Triune God preached through Jesus Christ (repent and be saved), is the same message that the Triune God preached through Noah (repent and be saved) (verse 19 ‘after’ or ‘in which also’ footnote). Though this righteous man lived in a world twisted by and filled with sin, though he lived for God when everyone else lived for self, though he preached righteousness when everyone else swore by rebellion, though he may well have had to put up with much opposition and suffering, Noah was saved. He was right. He was vindicated.

 

And we will be vindicated too. People who are saved and baptised can constantly point back to our baptism as a wonderful testimony of the reality and certainty of our salvation (if you haven’t been baptised and you are a Christian please speak to me because you should get baptised and we want to have a service soon!) Our baptism reminds us that we too have an ark that has saved us, and it is a cross-shaped ark.

Maybe your unbelieving husband thinks you are a bit enslaved by this religion thing. Maybe your boss at work dislikes you because you spoke up for Jesus. Maybe friendships at school or with your neighbours are really difficult because instead of gossiping and tearing people down you want to point people to the one who is the way the truth and the life. Press on living as a Noah, seek strength and encouragement and joy in the family of God, and be prepared for whatever difficulties will come your way because Jesus is right and his opponents are wrong, Jesus is reigning in heaven right now, and one day we look forward to the ultimate vindication of the clouds tearing and Jesus returning to bring his exiled children home.    

 

 

1 Peter 3 v8-22 “Blessed Saints”

Intro: Mr Noah built an ark.

 

1) Be Noahs with each other (v8-12)

 

  • The positives of our witness

 

 

  • The negatives of our witness

 

 

  • The difficulties of this witness

 

 

  • The blessing of this witness

 

 

 

2) Be Noahs to all those around (v13-18a)

 

Be prepared for opposition;

  • Don’t fear people but revere Christ

 

 

 

  • Have your salvation story ready

 

 

 

  • Be gentle, respectful and full of integrity

 

 

 

 

3) Know that Noahs are blessed and Vindicated (v18-22)

 

Jesus Christ is vindicated!

 

 

  • Noah was vindicated

 

 

  • We will be vindicated

 

 

 

Live as Noahs now and look forward to the future!

Copyright information: The sermon texts are copyright and are available for personal use only. Sermon media provided by Newland Media. If you wish to use them in other ways, please contact us for permission.