1. What actions should we take in our family to be prepared for the unplanned or unexpected like a house fire or a severe weather event? (911, extinguishers, sprinkler systems, water hoses, important papers in a safe place, where to go in case of severe weather, if you have a safe room keep it supplied with water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, etc.)
(Consider having some of these emergency items on display.)
2. How does being prepared for emergency situations compare to being ready to defend your beliefs? (It takes work—preparation. Know what you believe and why you believe it, not just because your parents told you! Be able to back it up with Scripture.)
We need to be ready for whatever life throws at us in our families and other relationships. Someone may be watching you and waiting for a chance to ask you privately why you live a life for God. What a great opportunity to share our faith!
Ready to Defend! Read 1 Peter 3:13-17
1. What phrases did Peter use here to describe a believer’s response to suffering? (Do not fear or be disturbed; honor the Messiah as Lord; be ready to give a defense for a reason for the hope that is in you; do this with gentleness and respect; keeping your conscience clear.)
2. Do you think that people are shocked in today’s world when they hear about persecuted Christians?
3. Do you think believers are shocked or surprised when they experience persecution or oppression?
4. Read verse 15. Recall Peter’s denial of Jesus in Luke 22:54-62. How do you suppose Peter’s past influenced his counsel for sharing God’s hope with others?
5. How does Peter’s example encourage you about sharing God’s hope? (If Peter can be restored and become a great evangelist, anyone can be restored and share their faith effectively through God’s “Amazing Grace”!)
6. How does Peter’s example encourage you about sharing God’s hope?
7. What keeps us from being prepared to share Jesus with others?
8. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the greatest, how prepared do you think believers are to defend their faith in Christ?
9. How can focusing on God’s faithfulness to you in the past help you be bold in the future? (As we suffer for Christ, we get a unique opportunity to share our faith. The lost wonder how and why we persist.)
10. There is no honor in suffering for our wrongdoings and sins. But when we suffer for doing good, God blesses us. In the midst of suffering for Christ’s sake, why would a humble attitude rather than defiance in the midst of suffering for Christ’s sake make more of an impact on unbelievers? (Defiance is coupled with rebellion, so if we maintain an attitude of gentle submission when we suffer we continue to point people to Jesus.)
Point to Christ’s Work! Read 1 Peter 3:17-20a
When suffering because of cultural conflicts, it is easy to get distracted by important issues and forget what is most important. Peter pointed to the example of Christ, who suffered and yet was used by the Father.
1. Why is suffering for one’s faith a powerful witness to those who do not believe in Jesus?
2. How can a good or noble cause become a substitute for pointing others to Christ?
3. How can it become a vehicle for pointing others to Christ? (When we intentionally use it to share Christ with others.)
4. What clues can we take from Christ’s suffering to apply to our own? (Jesus suffered unto death, yet He never lost sight of His mission on earth. Likewise, believers can draw encouragement by keeping our eyes on the big picture, not just our present condition.)
Verse 19 is one of, if not the most difficult passage in the Bible to interpret. Papers have been written about its meaning and there is not a consensus, even among conservative scholars. What we can be certain of is what it does not mean. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. So when you read a passage that seems to say something that is contrary to everything else in Scripture, you can be certain that your conclusion is wrong.
This passage does not mean that those who have died without Jesus get another chance at salvation! That is a certainty because the Bible contradicts that everywhere else throughout Scripture.
So what is Peter trying to communicate? Perhaps he is saying that, wherever Jesus went, He was simply communicating the message of victory over death. If He went to Sheol, the place of the dead, or to prison where the fallen angels were held the message is still the same—I have overcome death and the grave. VICTORY!
A second plausible interpretation is that the spirits are humans to whom the pre-incarnate Christ witnessed through the preaching of Noah during the days when the ark was being prepared. These persons refused to repent and believe, so they perished and are now eternally condemned (in prison).
5. How does the story of Noah give greater understanding of what Peter is saying?
Display Your Faith! Read 1 Peter 3:20b-22
Like Noah, the Christians Peter addressed were a small, persecuted minority. Peter reminded them that God had spared Noah’s family, and He had not forgotten them either.
1. How can those who are suffering today be sure that God has not forgotten them?
Just as the ark was a reminder of God’s salvation, baptism also reminds us of the salvation we gain through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Just to be clear, Peter surely did not intend to mean that the physical act of baptism saves a person. Baptism does not remove the filth of the flesh, but it represents the pledge that a person has made by putting faith in Jesus Christ. It is an outward testimony of what has already happened spiritually to the new believer—Our old sinful nature has been crucified and buried and we have been raised to walk in our new spiritual life with Christ!
2. Why should we submit to baptism to symbolize faith in Christ? (Baptism is an outward picture of the wonder and magnitude of an internal transformation that started when we placed our faith in Jesus and continues with love, good works, and a verbal witness. Baptism symbolizes the transaction that takes place during salvation. We are cleansed of our sins and arise from the graves of our sinfulness into new creations alive in Christ.)
3. What is the significance of Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father? (It is a position of honor and authority!)
4. How does the authority of Jesus bring you comfort and courage to faithfully stand for Christ?
Summarize and Challenge!
We can face suffering with confidence, knowing that we do so to bring honor to God. All life situations include opportunities to point others to Christ. Christ died on the cross to secure salvation for all who are willing to accept Him.
Examine your life. If you have not accepted Jesus and would like to talk to someone about it, please let me know after class.
If you have accepted Christ, identify one person with whom you can share Jesus this week.
Prayer: Pray that we will all remain in a constant state of readiness to share God’s hope with others in all situations.