What does Peter mean when he talks about Christ preaching to the spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3:19)?

To understand this text it is necessary to read the entire passage (1 Pet. 3:18-22). Verse 18 reveals that Jesus the divine Son of God who was put to death for our sins was "made alive" through the power of the Holy Spirit. Verse 19 makes a transition and declares that it was by this same Holy Spirit that Christ spoke to the spirits in prison. When did he preach to these spirits in prison?

Who are the spirits in prison? Verse 20 tells us! In the days of Noah, the hearts of men and women were only evil continually. They were in bondage to evil spirits. The same Holy Spirit which raised Jesus from literal death appealed to men and women possessed by evil spirits who were spiritually dead in the days of Noah to bring them to spiritual life. The Spirit of Christ spoke through the prophet preaching the gospel to men and women trapped in spiritual prisons (1 Pet. 1:10-12).

The mighty power of the Spirit opens the prison of sin so the captives go free (Isa. 61:1). 1 Pet. 3:21 makes the illustration even clearer. The experience of the flood is likened to baptism. Just as the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death to life, just as the Holy Spirit led Noah's family into the ark, preserving them from death and leading them to life, so the Holy Spirit works awakening spiritual life, convicting men and women of sin, providing power for a changed life and leading them through the waters of baptism.

In Noah's day, the Spirit led men and women from death to life.Today the Spirit delivers men and women from Spiritual prisons leading them from death to life all because of the mighty power of the resurrected Christ.

What does the Bible teach about re-incarnation?

Re-incarnation is based upon two premises, neither of which are true. First: human beings purify themselves through their own righteous acts. Second: There is an immortal soul which survives bodily death.

The Bible teaches that salvation is through faith in Christ. (Eph. 2:8, Rom. 3.24-31) Death is a sleep until the glorious resurrection (1 Thess. 4:15, 16, 1 Cor. 15:51, 54). There is no second chance after death (Heb. 9:27). Now is the time for salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).

What does Rev. 6:9-11 mean when it describes the souls under the alter crying with a loud voice saying "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood?"

Personification is a common Biblical method of describing situations with symbolic language. After Cain killed Abel, the Lord said to Cain, "the voice of your brother's blood cries to me from the ground (Gen. 4:10). Was Abel's blood really speaking? No! Not literally. The language communicates God's faithful loving, tender concern for His martyr Abel and Cain's accountability for his sinful act.

According to Heb. 12:24, "The blood of Jesus speaks better things than that of Abel." It communicates forgiveness, mercy, and redemption. Certainly the blood of Jesus is not literally speaking. The language communicates God's message of redemption. In Rev. 6, God clearly communicates that He has not forgotten His faithful martyrs through the centuries.

Their blood symbolically cries out for God to bring justice upon their persecutors and to reward the faithful ones with eternity. In the Bible, the word soul often means "person or people" (Rom. 13:1, Ezek. 18:4, Acts 27:37). It also means life (see Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 4:19, Matt. 10:28). Thus Rev. 6:9 could read, "the lives of those people martyred for Jesus, symbolically like Abel's blood, cry out from the ground for justice." There will be a final judgment and God Himself will set all things right!

Doesn't Paul imply that an individual goes directly to heaven at death by stating that he "desires to depart and be with Christ" and "death is gain" (Phil. 1:21, 23)?

The Bible does not contradict itself. Paul doesn't state one thing in one place and another someplace else. The apostle is clear. At the Second Coming of Jesus, the righteous dead are resurrected to receive their eternal reward (1 Thess. 4:16, 17, 1 Cor. 15:51-54). In Phil. 3:20,21 the apostle points out that "our citizenship is in heaven from whence also we look for the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ who shall change our vile body that it might be fashioned like His glorious body."

Again his desire is the Second Coming of our Lord. Writing to his friend, Timothy, the apostle declares from this same Roman prison, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). Paul longed for the return of Jesus when he would see his Lord face to face and be ushered into eternity.

Yes, death is gain! For the apostle it meant freedom from the pain of a weary body, deliverance from the bondage of a Roman prison, and security from the temptation of Satan. To Paul, death was a sleep with no passage of time. The next event after closing his eyes in the sleep of death was "to depart and be with Christ." Since there is no conscious passage of time from death to the Second Coming, for Paul, death meant closing his eyes in sleep and waking up to be with his Lord.