HOW WAS THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THE DEAD?
The apostle Peter stated, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (I Peter 4:6). This verse ties in with the previous verses. Let us notice how the gospel was preached, then to whom, then when, then we can determine how.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb 1:1). These prophets were guided by the Holy Spirit in the message they delivered. Peter wrote, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21). Quite often the prophets did not understand the prophecy which they de- livered. Notice here, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (I Peter 1:10-11). These men were directed by the Holy Spirit (or the Spirit of Christ) when they spoke God’s word to the people.
When God purposed to destroy sinful man, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He was told to build an ark. Then Peter wrote, that Noah was “...a preacher of righteousness...” (II Peter 2:5). We are not given all the details of his preaching. But Peter wrote that Christ was “...made alive by the Spirit” (I Peter 3:18).Then the next three verses state, “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us...” (I Pet 3:19-21). In I Peter 1:10-11 we were told that the prophets spoke by “...the Spirit of Christ which was in them.” Noah was “...a preacher of righteousness...” (II Peter 2:5). Christ “by the Spirit” preached to those who were disobedient, “when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” There- fore, the Spirit of Christ was in Noah, preaching to the people of Noah’s day while the ark was being built.
“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead...” (I Peter 4:6). “The gospel was preached” (past tense) “to them which are dead” (present tense). The people of Noah’s day were alive when the Spirit of Christ was in Noah preaching to them, but were dead when Peter wrote. There is no second chance for the dead. Man’s relationship with God at the time of death, will be the same when he is resurrected.
Man in order to be saved, MUST be concerned about preparing now. Paul said, “...now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:20). ---Charles E. Burch