************ Sermon on 1 Peter 1:3-5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 11, 2021
1 Peter 1:3-5
Peter starts our Bible reading with a call to praise God. Why? The last time we looked at 1 Peter I said the key word of our Bible reading is "inheritance." Peter calls us to praise and worship God for our eternal inheritance. Remember what the inheritance is? It is salvation (vs 5). Or, as I said last time, our inheritance is God Himself.
Peter is writing to Christians who have been scattered by persecution, hostility, rejection, hatred. They have been blamed by Emperor Nero for the burning of Rome. The world can't tolerate them and is hostile towards them. Yet, in the middle of all this Peter tells them not to focus on themselves or their problems, but to focus on God. Don't look for sympathy, don't have a "feel sorry for me" approach; instead, praise God. In the midst of persecution, hostility, rejection, and hatred learn to praise and adore God. They may be strangers or aliens in the world, but their citizenship is in heaven and they are elect children of God. They may be losing their earthly inheritance but their eternal one is absolutely secure. So praise and adore God.
I The Reason for our Inheritance
A What is the reason for our inheritance? What is God's motive? Why does He even bother to give us an inheritance? The reason is "his great mercy" (1 Pet 1:3).
What is mercy? In mercy God withholds judgment and shows kindness. This means mercy is for sinners. It is what the tax collector asked for when he cried out, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner" (Lk 18:13). He cried out because he realized his miserable, wretched condition. What was that condition? That he was dead in sin. Cursed. Fallen. Hating God and man. "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Mercy is something we all need. We need mercy because we are fallen. We need mercy as miserable, wretched sinners. We need mercy because our hearts are corrupt, because our desires are wicked, because our tongues speak evil. We need mercy because we deserve God's judgment. The inheritance we deserve, the inheritance we have all earned, is the eternal flames of hellfire.
God's mercy is the reason we have another inheritance: salvation, God Himself. We don't deserve it. We don't earn it. But He gives us mercy in Christ. He grants and credits to us the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if we have never sinned nor been a sinner, as if we had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for us.
B Micah 7:18 tells us God delights to show mercy; He loves doing this. Psalm 25:6 tells us God's mercy is from of old; that is, it has always been and always will be part of His being. Ephesians 2:4 reminds us that God is rich in mercy; that is, it is abundant. Deuteronomy 4:31 tells us God is a merciful God; He will not destroy His people.
To Moses, God said, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy" (Ex 33:19; Rom 9:14). God is sovereign in His mercy. He doesn't have to show mercy to anyone. No one earns it. No one deserves it. Yet, He gives it to undeserving people like you and me.
In His mercy God gives us an inheritance. Are you thankful for this? Do you give Him the glory? "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
II The Reception of our Inheritance
A How do we possess our inheritance? How do we receive what God in mercy delights to give us? Notice the phrase Peter uses: "new birth." "In his great mercy he has given us new birth" (1 Pet 1:3). The inheritance becomes ours by new birth.
God, in mercy, causes us to be born again. He changes our pitiful condition. We were born in sin and dead in sin and God makes us born to new life. We can't do this. We can't change ourselves. God has to do this. As the prophet Jeremiah puts it,
(Jer 13:23; NIV84) — 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.
B How do you receive this new birth? It starts with the preaching of the Word. Peter tells us this in verse 23:
(1 Pet 1:23; NIV84) — 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.By God's grace, congregation, this Word is preached to you (vs 25). You hear. You believe. You are born again by an imperishable seed which never dies -- unlike the seed of human birth which has death built in. We who are dead are born again by the Word of God -- the Word about the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, rule, and glory of Christ.
Again, I say with Peter, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
III The Character of our Inheritance
A What is the character of our inheritance? First, Peter calls it a "living hope." This is in contrast to the hope of the world. If your hope is not in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is a dead or dying hope. The hopes and dreams of even the best of men die when they die. That's why the Bible says if your hope is only in this world, you are of all men most miserable (1 Cor 15:59). The Christian's hope is different. That's why Peter says to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Pet 3:15). The Christian's hope is living, not dying. Our hope never dies. Our hope will certainly be fulfilled. And we can look forward to it with confidence. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
B The second thing we can say about the character of our inheritance is that it is based upon the work of Christ. God has given us a living hope "through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet 1:3). Last week Sunday we celebrated Easter. At the heart of Easter is not the Easter Bunny or Easter eggs or chocolate figures. At the heart of Easter is Christ's resurrection. The hope of our inheritance is built on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In John 14:19, Jesus said, "Because I live, you also will live." In John 11:25, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." In 1 Corinthians 15:17, Paul writes, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
Christ and His resurrection is the basis for our inheritance. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
C The third thing we can say about the character of our inheritance is that it can never "perish." It is not corruptible. It is not subject to passing away. It will not decay. Nothing can ruin it. Not an invading army. Not moth and rust. Not fire and flood. Not a stock market crash.
Do you know what God gave to Israel as their inheritance? The land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. This was an earthly inheritance. Yet, I can't count the number of times it was plundered by invaders -- Moabites, Midianites, Philistines, Syrians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes & Persians, Greeks, Romans. The city of Jerusalem was demolished at least seventeen times throughout history. In contrast, we have an inheritance that will never be invaded, demolished, plundered, and devastated. Our inheritance is imperishable. It is a treasure that can never be stolen or destroyed.
To protect our earthly treasures we buy insurance, we use safety deposit boxes and fire-proof filing cabinets, we sign long-term contracts, we have alarm systems, a residential sprinkler system. You think you are covered. But it is all perishable. Everything in this life is perishable. Someday your new car will become a broken down old car, someday your new house will be torn down or need major repairs, and your stock market investments can disappear overnight. Do you remember the stock market crash of 2008? Until March 2020 it was the largest single-day loss in the stock mark. A number of people close to me panicked and sold everything and lost half of their retirement. It all decays. It all perishes. And, when you die you can't take any of it with you. As Job put it, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart" (Job 1:21).
The inheritance that awaits God's people is imperishable. It cannot be ravaged by an enemy, taken by a thief, destroyed by moth or rust or fire or flood. It can't be touched. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
D The fourth thing we can say about the character of our inheritance is that it can never "spoil." I hear that word "spoil" and I think of old cheese. More than once I have seen old cheese with wavy blue or green spots. I understand some of you like to eat this kind of cheese but as for me and my house we cut out the spots. Or, think of meat that has been left on the counter too long, especially chicken; the results of eating this are not good.
Some translations use the word "undefiled" here. Another translation is "unstained, unpolluted." Everything in this world is stained. Everything in this life is spoiled. Everything in this world has been touched by sin. But not our inheritance. Not our place in heaven. Not our place with God. It cannot be spoiled, stained, or cheapened in any way. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
E The fifth thing we can say about the character of our inheritance is that it can never fade. It will never grow old because it is eternal; it cannot wear out or lose its brightness, quality, or beauty. You know, flowers fade. Beauty fades. Paint and paintings fade. Printed photos fade. But our inheritance never fades. The glory and beauty of salvation never fades. Our new birth and living hope never lose their luster. And, someday we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Pet 5:4). "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
IV The Certainty of our Inheritance
A The last point I want to raise is the certainty of our inheritance. God gives us certainty about what is to come. He doesn't want us to fear that we will somehow lose it, that the world will destroy it, that Satan will steal it. "Don't worry," says Peter, "that persecution, hostility, rejection, and hatred will tear it from your grasp."
How do we know this? How can Peter be so certain about this? Look at verses 4 & 5: "kept in heaven for you ... shielded by God's power." The Christian's inheritance, your inheritance, is kept in heaven for you, shielded by God's power.
Kept. Reserved. Guarded. Shielded. For you. Who does the keeping? Who does the reserving? Who does the guarding? Who does the shielding? The verbs are what I call a divine passive. That is, the person doing the action -- the keeping, the reserving, the guarding, the shielding -- is God Himself. The King of the universe. The Almighty King. El-Shaddai. I AM. He is keeping and reserving and guarding and shielding the Christian's inheritance. You are "shielded by God's power" (1 Pet 3:5). Think of a shield that nothing can penetrate. If God is for us, who can be against us? Isn't that wonderful? "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
B And notice the where. Where is it being guarded? "In heaven." "In heaven." Is it in danger there? Absolutely not! Is it safe there? You bet it is! "In heaven," says Jesus, "moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal" (Mt 6:20). Heaven not only is safe, it is the safest place to be. How safe is heaven? Listen to what John writes:
(Rev 21:27; NIV84) — 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.Meaning what? Meaning no one in there is going to steal your inheritance. And, no one can get in there who would want to. Those who want to steal and destroy, all of them are outside of heaven:
(Re 22:15; NIV84) — 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.They are not in heaven.
Heaven will never be invaded, demolished, plundered, and devastated by an enemy. Never there can our inheritance perish, spoil, or fade. Always there the inheritance is secure. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
C You might wonder if this applies to you. You might wonder if you have an inheritance. You might wonder if yours is a living hope. You might think this applies to others but not to you. Verse 5 tells you to look for faith: "you who through faith are shielded by God's power." Your faith, your belief in the resurrected Christ, is proof that God is keeping, reserving, guarding, and shielding you and your inheritance. When God made you born again He gave you faith, He grows that faith, and He brings that faith to completion until the day of Christ.
Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe He was born of a virgin, suffered and died, arose from the grave, and ascended into heaven? Then, rest assured, the inheritance is yours.
(1 Pe 1:3–4; NIV84) — 3 In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,Though we live in a world of sin and trials, there is only one possible response: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
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