PRAISING GOD FOR OUR INHERITANCE
1 Peter 1:3-5
Peter starts this passage praising for God. The first three verses (verses 3-5) are a doxology, which means a word of praise.
When Peter says “Blessed be..God”, it is a praise. It is not the same as when God blesses us by adding something to us, because we cannot add anything to God. He is self sufficient and perfect.
But it is a way to say “praise God”. It is also a way of saying, may his name be blessed, or honored, on earth because of who he is and what he has done. That is probably why the NIV translates the word as “praise” rather than “blessed”.
Peter praised God for our salvation. There are three things about our salvation that he praises God for.
First, God gave us salvation according to his great mercy. (3)
Mercy means not getting what you deserve. It is the showing of forgiveness to those whom you have the right and power to punish.
God has the right to punish us, because we all sinned against him and deserve death. (Romans 3:23; 6:23)
God certainly has the power to punish. Revelation 20 shows us a graphic picture of God defeating Satan and casting him and all of God’s enemies into the lake of fire and sulfur.
But those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ are relieved from the consequences of our sin because, in his mercy, God sent his son Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul wrote “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins…”
Since our salvation is a matter of God’s mercy, it is not a matter of our work or righteousness. No one can work his or her way into heaven.
As Paul wrote, “for by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight…” (Romans 3:20)
To his praise, God acted in mercy, not judgment, toward those who believe in his Son, Jesus. He caused us to be born again. It was his initiative.
No one can take credit for being born. No one can take credit for being born again.
Second, we believers are born again to a living hope. That hope is not that we will live our best life now, as Peter makes clear in verses 6 and 7. It is that we will live our best life in eternity.
Hope, as the New Testament uses it, is not a wish. It is a firm belief in something to come in the future that is so great and so much better than this life that we can even endure suffering and hardship for Jesus.
Our hope is eternity with Jesus. We endure suffering now because know it is temporary and eternal life is forever.
This hope comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (3) As Jesus was raised from the dead, so will all who are in Christ. Because he was raised, we can believe we will be raised as he promised.
1 Corinthians 15:22-23 says:
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ”.
Our hope is a living hope because it comes to us through a living savior, Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, but was raised to life. As Jesus told the Apostle John in his revelation, “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore…” (Revelation 1:17-18)
Jesus Christ is our living hope in the sense that he is eternal and gives us eternal life.
Third, this hope of eternal life is an inheritance. It is something we receive in the future because of our relationship to God.
Just as you might inherit money from you parents because you are their son or daughter, you, as a believer, inherit eternal life because you have been born again and adopted into the Family of God.
We are God’s children. We call him “Father”. And we are brothers and sisters of his Son, Jesus. Since we are children of God through and with Jesus, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:15-17)
Our inheritance is eternal life. We first inherit heaven. When we die, we go to heaven to be with the Lord. Then, when God makes all things new at the end of this age, we inherit life in the new creation described in Revelation 21, all of which will belong to us.
Peter tells us this inheritance is kept for us in heaven. (4) We do not keep it ourselves. That is why we cannot lose our salvation. If we could lose our salvation, we would.
But God keeps it. Peter says we are those who are guarded by God’s power through faith. (5) We place our faith in Jesus and he keeps our salvation for us. No one has the power to take it, or us, from him.
Not only can we not lose our salvation, it cannot be diminished in anyway. Peter uses three words to describe this. Our inheritance is
These are not three different types of salvation, but three ways of saying the same thing.
Created things all disintegrate. Have you ever gotten something out of the fridge to cook, but had to throw it away because it was molded or rotten? It was perishable.
But God is not perishable. He is the immortal God (Romans 1:23) He does not die or decline. Therefore, he can keep our salvation imperishable.
It is also undefiled. When you defile something, you take something sacred or good and corrupt it with something bad or profane.
In the Old Testament, a man who entered the sanctuary when he was ceremonially unclean defiled it. Jews would not enter the house of a Gentile because they believed it defiled them and they could not go to the temple or celebrate one of the feasts.
Our inheritance is also unfaded. When I was young, each time you washed your clothes, they faded a little bit. Soon, they no longer looked new. You could recognize a poor person by their faded clothes. But our salvation does not fade.
No matter how long you live, your salvation and eternal life will be as beautiful and glorious as on the day you were saved. No matter how long this age lasts, the age to come will be as perfect and beautiful as it would be if this age ended today. And it is because the eternal, all powerful, God keeps it.
Peter also pointed out that, although we were saved when we believed, the full measure of our salvation will be realized, or revealed, in the last time. (5) When Jesus returns and God makes all things new, we will see the full measure of what God has for us.
Even our imaginations are not good enough to picture what God has for us. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says:
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”.
This living hope, this inheritance, this eternal life, causes us to rejoice. (6) “Rejoice” means to feel and to express great joy or delight. Let that sink in and convict you for a moment. Your salvation should cause you to feel and express great delight.
Rejoicing in salvation is important. On reason it is important is that it helps us endure suffering and disappointment. Peter said his readers rejoiced even though they were grieved by various trials. Those trials tested the genuineness of their faith. (7)
It is easy to have faith when things are going well. It is more difficult when you suffer. When we suffer, we are tempted to question God for not relieving our suffering. When we are persecuted, we are tempted to deny our faith to stop the persecution.
The test of true faith is enduring in faith until the end. When we persevere in faith despite trials, it shows that we have true faith. Our faith will even be strengthened, for we have seen God faithful to us and know we can be faithful to him.
It will also bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus returns (the revelation of Jesus Christ in verse 7). It will bring him glory as those who have believed in him are gathered to him. And we will share that glory and reap the reward of a faithful life.
Another reason we rejoice is that our trials are brief compared to our eternal inheritance. Peter said “now for a little while”. Believers look past trials in faithful anticipation of eternal life.
Peter acknowledged that his situation was different than his readers’. Peter knew Jesus in the flesh. He knew him intimately as a follower and friend. He saw him transfigured in glory. He saw the resurrected Jesus.
But, Peter’s readers never saw Jesus in person. Peter marveled at their faith: they loved him and believed in him. (8). They rejoiced with this inexpressible, glorious joy.
We are in the same situation. We have not seen Jesus, but we have heard of him through the witness of the apostles and those who preached to us, and through the Holy Spirit opening our hearts to him.
So today I call you who believe to be filled with joy.
But for you who have not placed your faith in Christ, know that you cannot have this joy without Christ. I call you to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.
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