1 Peter 1:1-5 April 23, 2017
“Our sure Hope – Eternal Inheritance”
by John Steensma
God has given us promises, but you just can’t expect all the promises that God has made to you for heaven to necessarily show up here on earth. Any sensible Christian understands that. Don’t expect more than this life can deliver. But in the life to come….now that is a different matter. The bible makes clear that your joy will be made complete.
Peter writing this epistle because he is writing to scattered Christians, persecuted. There was a tremendous rejection of Christianity, tremendous hostility toward individual believers. It’s was very hard time for them, and yet in the middle of it Peter says your focus has to get off the problems you face and onto God. Stop looking at what’s going on around you, and start looking at who’s in charge – above, namely God.
And if things down here are falling apart, be confident that things up there are absolutely secure. So, while you may not be the friend of the world, you are the child of God. While the world may reject you, God never will. While you may be losing your earthly inheritance, your eternal inheritance is absolutely secure. So, get your focus where it belongs, that’s Peter’s message.
Of the election of believers, the Apostle here speaks of its origin, its progress, and its consummation. He views it as a process which must extend through the whole life and connects its various stages with the Three Persons of the Trinity.
St. Peter’s special aim, the edification and comfort of the soul. That result comes from the inward experience of what each Person of the Godhead is to us, and on this, the Apostle has a lesson. He makes plain for us the share which Father, Son and Spirit bear in the work of human salvation.
Peter outlines for us in this doxology in verses 3-5, the elements of our salvation which he calls our inheritance, and it should elicit praise and more praise and more praise.
The source of our inheritance is none other than the true God, the God who is revealed in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source. And that is to say that, that salvation which we have received, He gave to us.
Would you notice, back in verse 1, Peter says to those who reside in the various countries as exiles, pilgrims, strangers, aliens (NASB) that, in verse 2 are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” And Peter reminds his readers and us that we are what we are in Christ because God as the source has chosen us and chooses us before in eternity.
This God who is the source of our salvation is the God who is one in essence with the Son, the sovereign Jesus, the God/Man, the incarnate one, Christ the anointed King, the one who came to redeem his own chosen people. John 15:16 says “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last “
What was the motive? Why did He do it? And it tells us in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again (NASB) “ – to obtain an inheritance – kept in heaven for you.” In Titus 3:7 “…. so that having been justified by grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. “ It comes out of the heart of God because God has an attribute called “mercy.”
It was mercy that did it – by His mercy that He redeemed us, that He washed us, that He…… regenerated us.” We came heirs (same word as inheritance). And we can be thankful that the eternal God has the attribute of mercy.
What is mercy? Well, “mercy” is a word that makes reference to a person’s condition, a sinner’s miserable, pitiful condition. That is why, for example, in Luke 18:13 , you have a tax collector coming to Jesus and saying out of misery, physical misery, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” David in Psalm 51 cries out the same thing.
The mercy takes us from misery to glory. The gospel is all about mercy. It’s all about God’s compassion toward people in a miserable condition. And what is that miserable condition? It is being fallen. It is being dead in trespasses and sins. Jer 17:9. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure”. The very fact that we’re alive is mercy on our pitiful condition. And then for those who know and love Him, His mercies are new every morning. Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sins and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
It is His mercy that caused Him to give you an inheritance. And this great saving mercy of God is free. It is abundant. It is eternal. Can you be thankful to Him? Can you be thankful enough to so live as to bring glory to His blessed, dear name? And this mercy does lead to obedience. Those who he justifies, he sanctifies. And all those he sanctifies he also glorifies.
The third point. How do we appropriate this? You say, “God is the source, and mercy is the motive, how do we receive it? How is it appropriated to us? How is it make ours? How does that mercy touch us?”
It says, “According to His great mercy – ” verse 3 “ – He has caused us to be born again.” Mercy had to have a means to effect what it longed to accomplish. Mercy had to have a means to eliminate misery. And the means that mercy chose was new birth. A supernatural new birth.
We were born dead in trespasses and sins. We had no life in us. We were alienated from the life of God. That condition of misery could not simply be touched up. There has to be an eternal make over, of our hearts and minds. A make-over of the sinner is necessary to be able to even seek Christ.
Rom 8:7 states….“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” So there has to be a change in your nature and that’s why the Bible says if you’re in Christ, you’re a new creation. That’s mercy…..you become heirs of God by birth, new birth, spiritual birth. You are an heir of salvation.
You might look at it in contrast to grace. When God gives us mercy, it is to change our condition. When God gives us grace, it is to change our position. One takes us from guilt to acquittal. The other takes us from misery to glory.
You realize, don’t you, that all hope that men and women have in other than Jesus Christ is a dead or dying hope. The world knows only dying hope. At best, all the hopes and dreams of men will die when they die. That’s why the Scripture says, “If in this world only we have hope, we are of all men most – ” what? “ – miserable.” You’re a miserable person if your only hope is in this world because it will die. They all die. Death cuts the nerve of all hope. Death ends all hope.
But, Christian, we have an undying hope. But Christian, we have been made alive. We have a living hope, a hope that never dies, a hope that comes to complete and total, final glorious, eternal fulfillment. That is our hope. A hope as Peter says it in 2 Peter3:13, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” That’s our inheritance, an eternal inheritance. That is the sure inheritance that sustains us and by his wonderful Grace … through His marvelous promise in Christ he will fulfill.
In John 14:19 Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” And what a wonderful thing, He then proved it by raising Lazarus from the dead to demonstrate that indeed He was the Resurrection. And He said, “Who ever believes in Me shall never die.” A hope that never dies. And all of that is ours through the new birth, through regeneration, the transforming power of God.
So, the inheritance, then, has as its source… God, as its motive… mercy, as its means ….the new birth. The necessary new birth.
In verse 4 we are given the 3 elements of this inheritance. And this is the heart of this doxology. It says we will because of the new birth “an inheritance that can – ” 3 things “ – never perish, spoil, or fade.”
This should give us great joy to know that we have an inheritance which, first of all, is imperishable. Aphthartos means basically “not corruptible, not subject to passing away,” or “not liable to decay or passing away.” But beyond that, it has been used in secular language, secular Greek, to speak of a very interesting concept, and that is to refer to something that was unravaged by an invading army.
That’s an interesting thought. If you take that thought back to the Old Testament, you will remember that when God gave to Israel their inheritance, the land of Canaan was the inheritance. “I will give you this land, the land that flows with milk and honey,” and so forth. They had, then, an earthly inheritance, but many, many, many times that earthly inheritance, Canaan, was plundered by invading armies, plundered by enemies, ravaged by enemies. And the holy city alone, Jerusalem, was devastated and leveled at least 17 different times throughout history. Just a side note……God’s promises are always contingent on obedience and Israel was disobedient over and over.
Old Testament inheritance, the land of Canaan, was an earthly inheritance. Now for the spiritual Israel the New Israel….we have an inheritance that will never be ravaged, plundered, devastated. It’s imperishable. Your inheritance is the universe. A fortune that can’t be diminished; a treasure that can never be taken away from you, stolen, robbed, plundered.
The second word is “spoil”. Amiantos means “unstained, unpolluted.” Unstained with sin, evil, decay. Everything in this world is defiled. Everything in this world is stained. Everything in this world has been touched by sin. Everything in this world – do you get this – is defective, everything.
Everything fails sooner or later. That’s why the Bible says in Romans 8, the whole creation groans waiting for its adoption, waiting for the glorious manifestation of the children of God. To be released from the bondage of decay. The creation is stained. It is defiled. I mean everything and it is because of sin, it’s sin. All earthly inheritance what ever it is is defiled. But Some day it will be paradise restored.
All the best of this earth according to Paul is dung, rubbish, manure. But not that treasure which is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, he says in Philippians 3:7-9. “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.”
The passing worth of knowing Christ….that’s an inheritance that is not stained and not defiled in any way.
The third word he uses is as the New American translates it “will not fade away.” It’s usually used of flowers that decay, that wither and die. And it suggests to us here that we have an inheritance that will never lose its supernatural life or beauty. Heaven will never fade or grow old.
You see, the kingdom of heaven has no decaying elements. Why? Because it has no sin. Nothing perishes. Nothing is defiled and nothing fades away. All the taint of sin can’t touch it because in heaven we are in a state of sinlessness. Satan himself can not touch you.
The last point that Peter makes, and a rich one, is the security of our inheritance. You know, you’d say to yourself, Well, it would be wonderful if we could enjoy this inheritance, if we could really rejoice and bless God. But I’m afraid I might lose it. How do we know we won’t lose it? How do we know that somebody won’t come and take it? How do we know I wont reject it on my deathbed. Maybe I can lose my salvation!
Peter answers that self doubt. He wants us to enjoy our inheritance without that fear. So in verse 4, at the end of the verse, he says, using the NASB “Reserved in heaven for you.” Did you catch that? Somebody might say, what happens if I somehow fall into sin and I forfeit this, or again even lose my salvation? But Peter says it is “reserved in heaven for you.”
The word “reserve” means to guard. It’s guarded in heaven. That is a very safe place! And the idea of it – the actual Greek construction – means the already existing inheritance is presently and always will be under guard in heaven, presently being and continually being guarded for you. Wow.
Beloved, may I tell you by the mercy of God, God our gracious God, who saved you and me when we did not deserve it, that He has granted salvation to us by the new birth, an eternal salvation, which is reserved in heaven and cannot under any conditions ever be plundered? It’s secure. And as you serve the Lord Jesus Christ here, and as you live a life of adoring praise and worship with fellow saints as God delights, you continue to add to the reality of that treasure and the joy of eternal heaven. You are investing in eternity. You are protected. You are protected!! John 10 28/29. says that no one can snatch you from the hand of God.
He who has gone before us to make it ready said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” The Apostle has made choice of his proposition advisedly. He says, on your behalf; for your own possession. Our inheritance is where Christ has gone before us, in heaven, as Himself has taught us, John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
Can God disinherit us? A million times NO. It is reserved in heaven for you. Bless God that in spite of your weakness and in spite of the struggle of life, this unchanging inheritance is in a lock box for you, not for somebody else. Safely in heaven in the holy presence of God, not subject to any assault, any plunder, that’s what Jesus said, didn’t He, in Matthew 6? “Lay up treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal.” This is the eternal security of the believer. This is the preservation of the saints….. We are protected?
What are we protected by? The power of God, the omnipotence of God, the sovereign almighty power of God, continual military divine protection. “Who are protected by the power of God through faith.” That’s your part and God works that in you. Phil 2:12-13 —continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, That phrase is the seen world. Now the unseen world comes in the next verse 13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Your continued faith in Christ is the evidence of God’s keeping work. God didn’t save you apart from faith and God doesn’t keep you apart from faith. When God saved you, He cemented that faith in you, and as He keeps you, He increases that faith. So we are kept by the power of God and the power of God works through faith. What an awesome reality.
You are protected, personally protected by God. Romans 8 “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” there is no higher court than that. How does God justify his people….by the resurrection from the dead. Roms4:25…Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Jude 24 says, “He will keep you from stumbling and present you faultless.”
You see Christians, this preservation of the saints does not depend on our own will but on God’s unchangeable decree of election, flowing from his voluntary, unchangeable love. That which is brought forth from eternity past is brought forward into eternity future.
It rests on the effectiveness of the grace and blood intercession of Jesus Christ, on the indwelling Spirit and the indwelling seed of God (regeneration) in his saints. And saints alone. This is truly an AMAZING GRACE