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The Scriptorium

Preaching to the Dead?

1 Peter 4.6

6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that the might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

The Story: In this time of redemption and restoration Christians are called to preach the Gospel by their lives and their words, even though the people to whom they must preach are dead in their trespasses and sins, as, indeed, we also were at one time (Eph. 2.1-3). We preach to the dead because the Gospel gives life, as we have come to know, and we desire dead sinners to live in the newness of life we enjoy in Jesus Christ. The “also” in this verse suggests that the Gospel ought to be preached to those who are alive in Christ as well. We all need to hear the Gospel, over and over and over, so that we relish the grace of the Lord more and more, and nurture hearts of gratitude, praise, and service in His Name. Preaching the Gospel – Paul would say, speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4.15) – is thus to be a characteristic activity of believers during these days when the true light is increasing and the darkness of sin is being exposed and replaced by the Kingdom light of Christ (1 Jn. 2.8, 15-17).

The Structure: This is one of the primary reasons the Spirit of God was given to the Church – that we might be witnesses for Jesus Christ (Acts 1.8). When we are filled with the Spirit, Paul writes, we bear witness to one another by our lives and words (Eph. 5.18-21). Also, as the Lord gives opportunity, we bear witness to those around us who are not yet alive in Christ, calling them to repentance and faith so that they might escape the bonds of sin and know the true freedom of the sons and daughters of God. So why is so little of this kind of preaching happening in the Church today? Paul’s warning not to quench the Spirit should be heeded (1 Thess. 5.19), for it would seem that this is precisely what we are doing when our lives do not mesh with His agenda.

In what ways is the Spirit bearing witness through your life?

Each week’s studies in our
Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Endure Hardship: 1 Peter 4,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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