February 20

1 Peter 3:18-22

“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison…” vss. 18-19

As early followers of Jesus reflected on his sacrificial death, it seemed absurd to believe that he had suffered only for the living. Instead they began to teach that after his death, he had gone in the spirit to proclaim the good news to the dead. Later generations of believers then included this teaching in what came to be known as the Apostle’s Creed. Initially they had described this as a descent into hell, which is nowhere attested to in scripture. For that reason some have begun using the phrase, “descended to the dead” in the Creed and have looked to these verses from Peter as their prooftext. This correction is a reminder that the salvation we have in Christ Jesus is by no means limited to the living–what happened in Jesus is for all and none are excluded. Not even death is a barrier to the overwhelming and universal love of God. For those who have lived with heavy hearts as they’ve worried about loved ones who have died without having come to faith in Christ Jesus, this is the best news ever. The Creator who gives life will never abandon us–and there are no exceptions!

Thought for the Day: How do I feel about taking hell out of the Creed?

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