Read 1 Peter 3:13-22.

A. The country is being torn into pieces. How then should we live?

B. Unity is the most important thing. You are to be one in spirit. You are to love each other, have sympathy for each other, repay evil with good. This is your calling, that as Christ is blessing you, so you must be a blessing to others.

A. But there is so much hatred and division. How can there be unity?

B. Don’t return the hatred; be a blessing. Who will hate you if you are a blessing to them? Yes, it may be that a few will. But then Christ will bless you even more.

Let the spirit of Christ lead you in all that you do. Let your actions be consistent with his self-giving love. This may not be easy—it requires you to overcome your fear, to refuse to be intimidated, to return blessings for curses, to have complete faith.

A. Faith that Christ will protect me?

B. You will eventually die with Christ, and be raised, and see him face to face, so have no fear for what people can do. You will suffer in any case; might as well make it for doing good.

A. But what about all those people who hate and who are not reformed in this life? And what about Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims and animists and atheists and everyone who hasn’t heard of Christ, who hasn’t had the opportunity for faith?

B. Do you think that the end of life on earth is the end of life? It is not. Do you think that Christ’s atoning work on earth saves only those who lived after him? It does not. Do you think that you can see the spirit of people by their external words and works? You cannot.

Even before Christ, his saving work was preached by the Spirit. For example, in the time of Noah, Christ’s Spirit preached through Noah’s construction of the ark his salvation available to all. Eight people were saved at that time.

Those who died before Christ, and those who died not knowing Christ, and those who died with incomplete knowledge—that is, everyone—hears about his atoning work after death, when all things are revealed. Those who are his hear and rejoice. Those who reject him hear and flee.

A. Can Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims and animists and atheists then be saved?

B. Christ’s Name is all-important; his name is not essential. Those who know him and give themselves to him and to everyone are his; those who reject him and serve themselves remain alienated. When Christ is revealed to all, when he is preached to the dead, their hidden character is also made evident. Some indeed may be surprised by the verdict even in their own case—“when did I feed you or clothe you or care for you?”—“I never knew you.” But surely there will be great joy when Christ’s hidden saving work is revealed.

Sing: My hope is built on nothing less

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and