Christ, Our Substitute


Reading the Word

1 Peter 3:18–22 (ESV)

18 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, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 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. 21 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, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Understanding the Word

In this brief passage we find two statements that are often debated. The first is found in verse nineteen. What does Peter mean that Christ went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison? Does this mean he went into hell between the crucifixion and resurrection to preach? Does this speak of the proclamation of the gospel in the days of Noah? Is it speaking of something else?

The second is found in verse 21 where Peter says that baptism “saves you”. What does he mean by that? Does Peter mean this literally? Does the act of baptism save a person even though other places in Scripture say that salvation comes by faith? Or, is Peter saying that baptism points beyond itself as a sign of something else, which is what saves a person (i.e. “an appeal to God”)?

While these are important an fruitful questions to discuss and find answers to, let us not miss Peter’s main point: Christ suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring us to God.

Applying the Word

Jesus Christ has taken our place. He lived a perfect, sinless life and then offered himself as a sacrifice on our behalf. He took the punishment we deserve and in return, we receive forgiveness and reconciliation with God. As the hymn states:

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

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Honor the Emperor

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 2:13–25 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Understanding the Word

At first glance, this passage may not seem too surprising. Peter tells Christians that they ought to be subject to those in authority over them, whether it be governors, masters, or the emperor. This would have been quite shocking to Peter’s first recipients. Why? Because the emperor was Nero and he was persecuting Christians!

Peter reminds these believers that paying honor to the authorities is the will of God because by doing so it puts to silence those who would like to accuse Christians of evil behavior. In this way, Jesus is our example. He was falsely accused and tortured for doing no wrong, but he committed no sin in return. He honored the Father through suffering and left final justice in the Father’s hands.

Applying the Word

We all have authorities over us. We have parents, teachers, managers, supervisors, and government. Some of them are good. Some of them are not so good. Some we want to serve. Some we would rather not. We would rather complain and disrespect them through gossip, slander, and other attacks.

But how should Christians respond to the ones that are not so good? We should honor them. We should respect them. We should obey them unless they are instructing us to do something contrary to the word of God (Acts 5:27-29). When we do this, we imitate our Savior and we make the gospel visible.

Christians should be the very best students, employees, and citizens anyone could ask for as we seek to honor everyone in authority over us for the glory of God.

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A Royal Priesthood

Jesus fishReading the Word

1 Peter 2:9–12 (ESV)

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Understanding the Word

Peter urges these persecuted believers to remember their role in the world. They are a special group. They are are God’s own possession and are now distinct from the rest of the world. They are God’s people.

As God’s people, they are to proclaim the excellencies of the one who has given them new life. They are to proclaim the Good News of God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. They are to consider themselves as exiles and sojourners living in a foreign land as they await their true home: a new heaven and a new earth. They are not to return to their old sinful ways and they are to repay evil with good so that others may also come to glorify God.

Applying the Word

Have you ever seen a Christian bumper sticker? Perhaps it was a cross or a Jesus fish sticker. Have you ever seen one of those stickers on a car whose driver was behaving very un-Christlike? I have. I cringed at what onlookers must have been thinking.

Unfortunately, I have also cringed at some of my own actions as I have looked back. I have said things and done things that I regret because I was angry or tired or frustrated. In every case, I failed to live up to my calling as a representative of Christ.

Christians must not only proclaim the love of Christ to a lost world, but also live it out. We must live honorably in the world so that others might find their way through us. Let us not become a hindrance to another’s search for truth, but let us point them to Jesus through our words and our actions.

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The Cornerstone

1 Peter 27 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 2:1–8 (ESV)

1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Understanding the Word

Peter urges his readers to continue to grow in their salvation through the “pure spiritual milk” of God’s word. As they do, the result will be the putting away of their sinful ways (e.g. malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander).

The word of God, and specifically the gospel, leads us to Jesus Christ, the chosen and precious cornerstone of God’s redemptive plans.

Applying the Word

It is incredible to think that God loved sinful mankind enough to send his Son into the world for our redemption. When Jesus came, he was largely rejected and was eventually crucified on a cross. Yet, this was the plan of God all along. Jesus had to die for our salvation. The stone that was rejected was the cornerstone of God’s redemptive plans.

It is also incredible to think that God takes the sinful people that would require his Son’s death and uses them for his glory. He takes us and makes us into a holy priesthood that we might offer acceptable sacrifices to a holy God through Jesus Christ. Sinners who were once far from God and hopelessly separated are now redeemed and pleasing to him. What amazing grace!

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Sincere Love

Clasped Hands Comfort Hands People Adult Friends

Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:22–25 (ESV)

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Understanding the Word

Peter has previously encouraged his readers to look beyond their present circumstances to the hope they have in Christ. He has also instructed them to live holy lives as they continue to live in the world, even though they are surrounded by ungodliness and persecution.

Now, Peter tells these believers that their lives ought to be marked by sincere love for one another. Why? Because they have been born again through the living and eternal word of God. Love is the natural result of new life.

Applying the Word

Most Christians will acknowledge that we are called to love one another. But what does Peter mean by “a sincere brotherly love”?

That word sincere is the one that gives us trouble. The Greek word means “genuine” or “without hypocrisy”. The love that is being described is true love, not just superficial. Peter is not just asking his readers to play nice and get along. He is telling them to truly love one another. That means to take a genuine interest in the each other’s welfare and to work towards the best for each other.

How often do we fail in this area? How often are we content to pretend we are OK with someone when we know we are not? How often do we deal with another person by simply avoiding them altogether? Do we truly believe that is the love we are called to show towards fellow believers?

May our love be sincere as it issues forth from the new life we have been given through God’s word!

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You Shall Be Holy

1 Peter 116 [widescreen]Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:13–21 (ESV)

13 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. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Understanding the Word

The Apostle Peter writes this letter to a church that is facing persecution. He hopes to encourage his readers to stand firm in their faith by reminding them of the hope that awaits them.

What is he calling them to do? He is calling them to “be holy” in their conduct. Peter is calling this group of believers to live lives that reflect the holiness of their Lord. What does this mean? To be “holy” means to be “set apart” or to be different than the world around you. It means to do the right thing even when everyone else is doing something else. It means to live a godly life in the midst of ungodliness.

Peter then goes on to remind his readers that they have been ransomed from their former way of living through the blood of Christ. The price of redemption was great so how could they simply go back to living the way they used to?

Applying the Word

Christians today live in a world that is not unlike that of Peter’s. It is full of ungodliness. In fact, this has been the case since the fall of mankind that we read about in Genesis 3. Unfortunately, it is often easy for us to fall into the habit of doing things just like everybody else, especially when we believe we have been treated unfairly.

Think about Peter’s audience. They are facing persecution for simply being followers of Jesus Christ. Many have been imprisoned or even killed! You can imagine how these believers might want to respond to these things. They would like to fight back!

But that is not what Peter tells them to do. He tells them to live holy lives. In the midst of the injustice, they are to live lives that reflect truth, justice, and love for others. They are to do what is right in God’s eyes.

We are not to live like the world. We are to be like the one to whom we belong. We are to be holy just as He is holy.

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How Will This Work?

prayer-handsThank you for your interest in this project! I am excited about reading the Bible and sharing my thoughts with you. I am also greatly interested in hearing back from you in the comments section below or on Facebook.

You may be wondering exactly how this is going to work. Let me give you some details. Right now, our church is reading through the ESV Daily Devotional New TestamentSince I am currently reading along, that is where I will begin this project as well. So, for the remainder of this calendar year, we will be looking at passages in the New Testament. Starting next year, this will change as I adopt a different reading plan. I have not fully settled on what the reading plan will be yet (if you have suggestions, feel free to comment!), but it will differ from what I am currently doing and will include Old Testament passages.

The layout of each post will include the day’s reading, a short section on understanding what the text is saying, and another short section on how the text can be applied to our lives today. Remember: my plan is to post each weekday (Monday – Friday). The first post will be on Monday, October 9.

I sincerely hope this is beneficial to you and that you will feel free to offer your comments. Be sure to follow this page and/or the Facebook page so you know when new content is added! Also, if you know someone who may like this page, please share it with them!

What Is This?

Welcome to Shaped by the Word. This is an idea that I have been considering for a long time, but have only recently decided to take the leap.

What is Shaped by the Word? That is a good question!

Shaped by the Word is a daily (well, almost daily) Bible reading devotional. The posts that you find here will be specifically about what I am reading in the Bible and what I am learning in the process. I invite you to follow along!

I know there are other pages already doing this. I also know that I do not have any greater insight than the other people creating content on those other pages. So, why should you follow me? I do not have any great reasons. Some of you may know me and choose to follow for that reason. Some of you may follow because you have followed my other blog at Theologically Speaking in the past. And some of you may just enjoy reading and interacting with what I write. For whatever reason, I hope you will follow along and offer your thoughts along the way.

It is my intent to have new content each weekday throughout the year. However, please know that I sometimes run into circumstances that will prevent that from happening. So, when I fail, please forgive me and keep checking back!

I am looking forward to reading the Bible with you.