Explore the Bible Study: Always Ready

2:16 PM


We have all heard how everyone along the United States Eastern Coastline is being encouraged to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. Do you believe people take warnings about being prepared too lightly or too seriously? As believers, there is another preparedness step we should take. It is the readiness to share or demonstrate our faith. This is the focus of this week's Explore the Bible study: Always Ready as the apostle Peter provides instructions to us and the early church regarding being prepared.

Peter had a wealth of experience on this subject, some of it through the school of failure. As you may recall, he had failed the preparedness test early in his walk with Christ by denying he even knew Jesus. But, by the time this letter was written, Peter had become a leader and spokesman for the first Christians. He had become prepared and would speak boldly regarding his faith and the gospel no matter what conditions he faced, and he did it with wisdom and integrity.

It is out of these experiences that Peter exhorts his readers to be ready to share their faith, even if they might face suffering, knowing that their suffering would be for doing something good instead of doing evil.

Consider how you might incorporate some of the following ideas into your group study:

LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.

Introduce (Based on Explore the Bible EXTRA):
  • This last month was designated as National Preparedness Month. It is a month designated in the United States and sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help us prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural disasters and possible terrorist attacks.
  • How many of you knew that September had been designated for this?
  • How many people do you suppose took advantage of the time to review or consider how to prepare for natural disasters or possible terrorist attacks?
  • Surveys show that 57% of Americans have supplies set aside for natural disasters and 44% have an emergency plan.
Ask:
  • Has anyone ever experienced a hurricane? How did you prepare for it? Would you say that you were adequately prepared?
  • Has anyone ever experienced a tornado? Would you say you are adequately prepared if one were to hit your home?
  • Has anyone ever experienced a flood? How prepared were you for the aftermath?
  • Has anyone ever experienced an earthquake? Do you know the first thing you are supposed to do if an earthquake hits? (Drop – Cover – Hold On)
  • How many of you actually listen to the directions given by flight attendants regarding responding to accidents when flying? Do you look for your nearest exit so you can get to it in case of an accident?
LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.

1 Peter 3:13-14
  • Does Peter sound like he is looking through rose-colored glasses with the question he proposes in verse 13? (No; we have to look to verse 14 to understand he is not saying harm won’t come. But, even if we are “harmed” we are blessed.)
  • How are we blessed even if we are “harmed”? (The term blessed is the same one that Jesus had used in the Beatitudes: “Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:10). Blessed conveys the notion of divine favor or spiritual well-being. – ETB Leader Commentary)
Video Option: This is a story of Jim Elliot, one of a group of missionaries killed while trying to evangelize the Auca Indians in Ecuador. Let’s listen to the story and identify the blessings that came out of this suffering.

Testimony of Steve Saint; End of the Spear


  • What were the fears of the Auca Indians?
  • Did their fears cause the missionaries to back away?
  • What were the results?
  • What were the blessings of these missionaries' faith, even though they were harmed?
  • How do people express fear about the following: Death | Disasters | Terrorism | Disease | Climate Change | Loss of jobs | Economy?
  • Why can we live without fearing or being disturbed by what others fear?
  • How do people express their “fear” of Christianity today? How should we respond to their expressions of fear?
  • What steps can you take in order to avoid letting fear suppress the hope and faith you have in Christ?
Transition: After giving them these encouraging words, Peter gives them instructions that would help them live confidently in spite of the circumstances they might face.

1 Peter 3:15-17
Identify (List or underline in study guides): What are the instructions Peter gives his readers regarding how they should live? – Honor the Messiah as Lord of your hearts. | Be ready to answer questions about your faith. | Do this with gentleness and respect. | Keep your conscience clear.
  • How do we honor the Messiah as Lord of our hearts? How can that help us overcome our fears?
  • If someone were to ask you why you believe in Jesus Christ, how would you respond?
  • Do others' opinions of your faith cause you to become angry or sarcastic toward them?
  • How can you learn to respond differently?
  • Why is keeping your conscience clear important?
Reflect: Are you afraid to talk about your faith because of the way you act, the way you treat people, the decisions you make, or the language you use? Would your profession of faith be viewed as a sham based on your actions or attitudes? What do you need to do in order to clear your conscience? (Remember 1 John 1:9)

Emphasize: You can’t defend what you don’t have or aren’t confident in. Where do you stand with the Messiah as Lord of your heart?

Transition: Peter again, as he has done repeatedly in this letter, reminds them of Christ’s example, His suffering, and His authority which makes all he has previously said possible.

1 Peter 3:18-22
Peter had previously stated that, “if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed.” Based on verse 18, what were the blessings that came out of Christ’s sufferings? (Suffered for sin once and for all; He paid for our sins once and for all; He was able to bring us to God; He conquered death.)

Explain: Verse 19 -22 gives an additional picture of the results of the work of Christ.
  • He made a proclamation (ESV – He went and proclaimed; NASB – He went and made proclamation; KJV – He went and preached)
  • When someone makes a proclamation they are giving an official announcement; they are announcing something that is a matter of great importance.
  • The point that Peter is making is that the saving work of Christ is not only visible to those who receive Him but has been proclaimed before an audience of those who rejected Him. They know that Christ, God’s Son accomplished His mission of salvation; it has been proclaimed to them. They aren’t recipients but they KNOW who He is and what He has done!
Explain: Peter then uses the life of Noah and the building of the Ark to explain more fully the concept of baptism:
  • God used the ark to save Noah. God provided an “ark” for our salvation – Christ Jesus!
  • Peter reminds his readers that baptism corresponded or “symbolizes” or “is compared to” salvation. Baptism by immersion provides a picture of judgment, showing what we deserve: death and burial. - The flood was the water of judgment, because most humans perished in the water.
  • Baptism symbolizes our deliverance from our past lives into a new life in Christ. – As Christ has delivered us to that new life, the Ark delivered Noah and his family out of the flood and brought them to a new beginning; a new life.
  • Baptism symbolizes our salvation. Coming up out of the water symbolizes that we were saved from death and judgement. Noah and his family came out of the waters of the flood, saved from disaster.
  • Baptism serves as a reminder of Christ’s victory over death. The story of the ark continues even today to serve as a reminder of God’s power and authority over this world, so baptism should continue to reminds us of Christ’s saving power which He demonstrated through His resurrection.
Ask:
  • What does verse 21 say baptism demonstrates? – a pledge of a good conscience toward God.
  • What do you believe this means? (It outwardly demonstrates what a person says has taken place in their heart – they are forgiven and there is no longer enmity between them and God.)
  • How would you explain to a new believer the importance of baptism?
  • If someone is unwilling to publically proclaim Christ through water baptism do you think they will be prepared or even willing to proclaim Christ in any other way?
LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
  • Read: 1 Peter 3:22 again.
  • What does this passage communicate to you regarding being prepared to share and live our faith?
Consider:
  • Think about Christians in the news, in our community, or in our church, who need encouragement because of their stand for Christ. What could we do to help them?
  • Are you truly prepared to live your faith daily? What do you need to adjust in your life in order to become prepared?
Challenge: We can be ready to give an answer, we don’t have to fear, we can live a life that honors Christ, and we should proclaim Christ in our lives through our actions, our words, and yes, even through baptism because our Savior is in heaven, seated at God’s right hand, and all the angels, authorities, and powers are subject to Him. We don’t have to fear but we must be prepared!

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