Questions and Answers - Part 5

Questions and Answers - Part 5

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15, James 4:17, Romans 7:7
In this continued series on questions sent in by listeners, the first question asks, "Please explain 1 Peter 3:18-20 regarding the spirits in prison." Another question, "Granted that Saturday is the seventh day of the week ... how do you account to the fact that so many millions of people observe Sunday?"
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Today we will be answering questions sent in by some of our radio listeners. Here is an interesting question which has to do with the condition of man in death. "Please explain I Peter 3:18-20."

So we read these verses and find Peter speaking about the death of Jesus, "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; By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." There has been considerable misunderstanding of these verses of scripture. It has been preached that Christ actually descended into the lower regions of the earth and preached to lost souls that were in prison there in some purgatory or limbo. Friends, this is very far from what the text actually says. Let's look at it closely now and get the real message of these verses. It says Christ hath once suffered for sin that He might bring us to God being out to death in the flesh. But quickened by the spirit by which also He went and preached. First of all, notice how Christ preached to those spirits in prison. He did it by the Spirit, and that is capitalized in your Bible, it actually refers to the Holy Spirit. So whatever Christ did in preaching during this period of time, He did it through or by the Holy Spirit.

Alright, with that in view, let's ask this, "When was the preaching done?" Well, it plainly says in verse 20; when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing. So the preaching was actually done while the ark was being built. During the preaching of Noah to that antediluvian world. Now, one more question. "To whom was the preaching done?" Well, it says here the spirits in prison. Throughout the Bible we find this terminology used in describing those who are bound in the prison house of sin. What Peter is telling us here is simply that Christ through the Holy Spirit was present while Noah preached, Christ was there through the Holy Spirit to speak conviction to their hearts and appeal to them to come into the ark. Friends, there is absolutely nothing here which indicates that Jesus departed from the body during the time He was dead to go to any subterranean place to minister to wicked spirits. The three questions are clearly answered in the text itself, that He preached by the Holy Spirit, He did it while the ark was preparing, and He did it to the spirits in prison or to those individuals whose sinful lives were bound in the prison house of sin.

Moving on to the next question now, "Granted that Saturday is the seventh day of the week and that the commandment of God requires us to observe that day, how do you account to the fact that so many millions of people observe Sunday instead of the true Sabbath?"

Friends, I wish I could understand the reason for this. Of course it is not our assignment to interpret the reasons for people's actions. I ceased long ago trying to analyze the reasons why people do certain things in the field of religion. I suppose that a great deal of it is attributable to tradition and the popularity of a cause. Apparently, in this case, multitudes were born into a society which simply accepted things as they were and Sunday-keeping was a part of the social routine. Unfortunately, millions of Christians have never bothered to inquire into the reasons of their own faith and practice. They are willing to accept the practices of their contemporaries and of those who have gone before them. Most of these same people also accept the word of the pastor on Sunday morning without any question or personal investigation. What a sad commentary this is on the condition of true religion in America today.

1 Peter 3:15 tells us, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." Friends, this is the command, that we ought to be able to answer when people ask us, "Well, what do you believe?" We should be able to give an answer right out of the word of God. Do you know that most people can't even give any kind of reasonable explanation for the hope that they have. You ask, "Why do you belong to a certain church?" They just shrug their shoulders. Maybe they say it is because of some particular belief that the church holds. But when you ask them what it is, they can seldom tell what the church believes, much less what they personally believe.

This matter of Sabbath and Sunday observance is one of the most perplexing, perhaps, in the Christian churches of today. The average Sundaykeeper has no idea at all as to why he observes that day as a holy day. He certainly has never read any Bible texts that would intimate that it should be done. There is no such scripture in all of the Bible. The commandment of God throughout the Old and New Testament is for the keeping of the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday, of course. We very well know that Sundaykeeping did come into existence after the apostles passed off the stage of history completely. But what a tragedy that it came through human agencies that were not ordained of God to make any such change in His divine law. The keeping of Sunday today is based purely upon the traditions that passed down through the centuries from this unauthorized change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Bible prophecy actually predicts that such a change would be made. Even the power that would attempt the change is identified in the scriptures. If you would like to get that information in its entirety, why not drop a card or letter and ask for the booklet entitled, "The Beast. The Dragon, and The Woman."

But, now let's get back to the question that was sent in. "Doesn't it prove something to see all the vast majority of people following Sunday instead of the Sabbath?" Friends, it doesn't prove a single thing about the right or wrong of it. If we came to any conclusion it would probably have to favor the minority group. Because throughout the ages, the majority has certainly not been on the side of truth. From the beginning of human history it has consistently been the small minority who represented right and true position. Even the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States upheld state laws requiring rest on Sunday does not determine any truth about Sunday sacredness.

In the days of Noah, there were only 8 people against all the rest of the inhabitants of the world, who held on to the true faith. Throughout the days of the Old Testament we find only a remnant who dared to be different enough to follow God's true plan. In the days of the New Testament and down through the centuries since that time, we find that the majority have generally been wrong and, often times, persecuting the faithful few. Jesus said, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth to life and few there be that find it." He even asked this daring question, "Will there be faith in the earth when the Son of man cometh?" Apparently, there will not be very many people following the self-denying path of truth as laid out in the word of God. So if we are looking for those who are following the right way, friends, we will certainly not be looking for the vast majority.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." The only way we can possibly determine what is right or wrong is to search it out in God's word. To look at the people will simply confuse and mislead. There is only one right way and that is the way Jesus walked. There is only one final authority, and that is the holy Scriptures. We are not even concerned on this broadcast of what people are doing and saying about issues. We are greatly concerned about the teaching of the Bible on these things. We do not preach to entertain the people, or to make people feel particularly good or comfortable. The plain word of God will always have a sharp cutting edge, and unless it brings conviction of truth and transformation of life, it is not really accomplishing its purpose.

Let me say this though, the great problem in evangelism has always been to make people act on the truth. It is not hard to convince about the truth of God's word. The Bible is amazingly clear and simple. Its message is logical throughout. Even during great evangelistic crusades we are able to convince hundreds and thousands of people concerning the special message of truth for this hour. But when we ask how many people are going to obey the truth that is now known and understood, very few are willing to respond.

What a strange thing it is that multitudes actually pray for the truth to come to them. For years they may intercede before God, asking that they might come to know the truth of the scriptures. Then when God answers their prayer and brings them a knowledge of these things, they are often not willing to walk in the light of it. This is particularly true of the Sabbath question. I have had scores and scores of people to confess that they do believe Saturday to be the true Sabbath, they cannot deny because the word of God is too clear and explicit on the subject, but these same people often hold back from making their decision to keep the Sabbath. They find it inconvenient and difficult to make arrangements in their home, or with their job, or their social life. They seem to feel that their own convenience is much more important than obedience to the Ten Commandments of God. Friends, never make the mistake of thinking that we can avoid the claims of God's holy law. Don't ever believe for a moment that God is not particular about us obeying His commandments. "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." James 4:17.

We are also told in 1 John 3:4 that "Sin is the transgression of the law." Paul makes it clear that the law spoken of here is none other than the Ten-Commandment law. He said, "I had not known sin except the Lord said, thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:7. So the breaking of God's Ten Commandments constitutes sin.

James says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." James 2:10, 11. So summing up the answer to this question, we can say that the vast majority of people are keeping Sunday simply because they have accepted the tradition of their ancestors without any question and without investigating as to whether it is right or wrong. Secondly, the people who do look into it and understand that Sunday is not the Sabbath of the Lord, often do not have the moral conviction to deny their own convenience in order to follow the command of God. May I say finally, though, that the religious leaders and teachers who have comforted people in their disobedience of the fourth commandment will have to give the most solemn answer in the judgment for this mistake. Multitudes of these ministers do understand that Saturday is the true Sabbath of God, but they are not speaking about it. They have even dared to tell people that God will accept the substitution of another day for the fourth commandment. A fearful weight of accountability has been assumed by such teachers. As watchmen on the walls of Zion who did not blow the trumpet to warn of transgression and spiritual danger, these shepherds will be called to give an account.

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