1 Peter 3 v 17 - 22

Peter states some very important facts concerning being a Christian here: 1. Baptism is a symbolic act, a symbol of what Christ Jesus has done in us by His death and resurrection and in giving us the gift of faith. It is not an act which cleanses us, but a symbol of what Jesus has done in us. 2. Where is Jesus now? He is before His Father's throne in the place of honour- Hebrews 1 v 3- and, we are told elsewhere, still in human form-Hebrews 10 v 19-22 and forever interceding for us-Hebrews 2 v 17. We are accepted by God, because His Only Son stands before Him to represent us- 1 Timothy 2 v 5. 3. The suffering and death of Christ was a once for all thing: that is, His death was effective for all who have lived since and even BEFORE He died! 4. If you have spent time in either an Anglican or Catholic church, you may well know the Apostles Creed and in it are the words: 'He descended into hell' speaking of the period of time between Good Friday at 3 pm when Jesus died and some point very early in the morning of Easter Sunday. That part of the Creed is mainly taken from the verses here, 19 and 20 and Acts 2 v 27. These are some of the most difficult verses to understand in the whole New Testament. Firstly, we must acknowledge that the words of the apostles creed are incorrect. The other passage we must look at is Psalm 16 v 8-11 NIV from which the verse in Acts quotes and that makes it clear that Jesus descended into Hades, not hell. Now Hades in Jewish thought was the place where all the dead went and hell is the place of the punishment of the wicked. Hades was a shadowy sort of place-not inviting, but it wasn't hell! We have lots of references to it in the Old Testament, it is also called Sheol. However, at some time in the intertestamental period the common idea of Hades began to fade and a more positive idea of where we go when we die was formed, which Jesus supported and embellished. Remember, however, that those like the Sadducees didn't believe in an after life at all. This makes Job's cry all the more powerful: ''Even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!'' I think I should leave it there and recommend that you continue your studies elsewhere if you are interested to know more, or contact me with your questions. Only to say in ending, that to me it is a take it or leave it situation, your Christian faith does not rely on acceptance of this idea, just as it definitely doesn't rely on an acceptance of the belief in 'Young Creation'!

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