The title of our series is called “Hope for the Living: Growing when the going gets tough.” Peter, in writing to first century suffering Christians, is trying to help them in the midst of it. He is going to help them not just to survive through it, but thrive. He wants them to see their obstacles not as stumbling blocks to their faith, but stepping stones to victory. The amazing thing was that the hardest trials for these believers were still yet to come. These Christians will be accused for starting a fire they did not commit by the Emperor. Things are going to get more serious and Peter is preparing them to thrive when it does. This means for us that even if you are not going through a trial right now, you will need these truths to hold on to when, not if, they come.
He began by helping them understand their identity in Christ. Our entire lives flow from how we perceive ourselves to be. He’s going to return to that again because they, like us will need to be reminded of who and whose we are again and again. Then he bursts out into praise because of salvation and all of its benefits. He cannot contain himself. He starts his letter by giving us four reasons to praise God in the midst of suffering:
I. He has brought us into a relationship that is real (v.3a-b)
What makes life livable, pain tolerable, and disappointment endurable is to know deep in your soul that God’s mercy is so infinitely great, causing you to be born again! This is what he says right off the bat. God, you have been so merciful to me! I am going to need that mercy—that movement in your heart that caused pity for me when I first got saved—now as well, as I go through this pain. Thank you even when I am in this fog, I can hold on to this truth, that you have made me alive!
II. He has infused us with a hope that is living (v.3c)
God did not just “father” us and cause us to be born again and left us as babies on the street, aimless, clueless and hopeless. Actually, quite the contrary! He gave us, maybe a better word, infused us with living hope. It is living because the object of our hope is living, Jesus Christ. So there are no hopeless situations, just people who have grown hopeless about them.
Let me just say here that living hope needs to be cultivated. The Enemy of our souls, our flesh and this world all work toward bringing despair and hopelessness to our soul. We will not always wake up full of living hope. There is no automatic button that turns on living hope. Biblical hope we said is not a “hope so,” but it is the confident assurance that God is going to do good to me and fulfill every promise He has made. But this has to be a habit that is cultivated. It needs to be a choice in my heart that says, “My best days are ahead of me. Life isn't all in the rearview mirror for me now. In Christ I've got some things I'm looking forward to - not just in this life, but in the life to come.”
Peter now gives us two more reasons to praise God in the midst of our trials. Thirdly,
III. He is keeping for us an inheritance that is secure (v.4)
Look at 1 Pet. 1:4. Peter talks about an inheritance. Jot these six things down about secure inheritance:
a) It is a gift
There are two results of the new birth: the living hope (1 Pet. 1:3), and our inheritance, as shown here by the use of eis, meaning “into.” So, in other words, poor and persecuted believers, this is what you are “born into:” a living hope and a secure inheritance. This is not something you worked for or earned. This is the Father’s gift. God gives His gifts to everyone, but the gift of His inheritance is only reserved for His children, those who have been born again to a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3).
The word for inheritance is used 14x in the New Testament. Paul says, “if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). In other words, we are not just lowly citizens of the new heavens and the new earth, we are co-owners! So when Jesus is showing you Heaven, and you say, “this is a nice pad Jesus!” He’ll says, “It’s yours too!” You will not be thinking about an Ipad or Ipod then! Eph. 1:11 says “in Him we have obtained an inheritance.” In Colossians 1:12 Paul says “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you [because we were not qualified before] to share in the inheritance.” Do you give thanks for that? Have you ever given thanks for that?
We might think of an inheritance as property that a son or a legal heir receives upon the death of his father that is written up in a will. But in the New Testament, this word expresses more like the legal claim which the heir already has on the property even while the father is still alive. You may remember the prodigal son asking his father for part of the estate that already “belonged” to him (Luke 15:12). Commentator I. Howard Marshall says, “To have something as an inheritance, then, indicates that we are already named in the will as those who are appointed to inherit it and that, in a sense, our name is already on it. Peter is under lining the fact that the content of the living hope is already destined for us.” What a great gift!
b) It is glorious
You may remember that in the Old Testament, Abraham was promised the land as his inheritance (Gen. 12:7). It was called the Promised Land. The Israelites waited a long time for it. They were going to be blessed “in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess (Deut. 15:4). When they were wandering in the wilderness, this was what kept them going that “God is going to keep His promise. The wilderness is not forever. There is a land flowing with milk and honey waiting for us!” The inheritance of land was the major source for increasing one’s wealth, social status, and security.
But for New Testament Jewish believers, thoughts of the earthly land were not always joyful. The prosperity of the land was dependent on the people of Israel keeping the Law. When they didn’t, it was always subject to invasion. It was not safe and secure. Outside armies would come and destroy the land. Also, God said when they started worshipping idols, they “have polluted the land with your vile whoredom” (Jer. 3:2). Canaan was not only destroyed by invaders and polluted by its inhabitants; it was also parched with drought in God’s judgment.
Just to go a tad deeper here, you might remember that when the Israelites came to the land, one of the tribes did not get a portion of land as their inheritance. Do you remember which one? Levi! (Num. 18:7; Josh. 13:32). And what was God’s reason for this? They were priests and God was their inheritance. Now check this: 1 Pet. 2:9 says we are a royal priesthood. So the God who is the very possession of the priests of Levi is the possession of the royal priesthood of Christ as well! God is our very inheritance! How amazing is that! Praise God!
Notice, then what Peter is saying about their new inheritance. What’s this inheritance like Peter? Well, I don’t know if I can tell you what it is, but I can tell you what it’s not. He uses three adjectives here and he uses them to say that our inheritance in Christ is far better and far glorious than any earthly inheritance, including the earthly land that Israel so longed for.
Perhaps he is remembering what Jesus said in Matt. 6:19-21: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (emphasis mine) or from Luke 12:33: “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys” (emphasis mine). Perhaps Peter is “thinking of the change in his own perspective from a life absorbed with fishing nets, a leaky old boat, and some stinky fish and the salt to pack them in, to a life of bigger and grander and greater things.” Peter heard Jesus teach about a better treasure stored in heaven, where no moths are there to eat the robes of glory, no rust to corrode the crowns of gold, and no thieves who can break into the city of God.
c) It is death-proof
He says this inheritance is imperishable. The King James Version says, “Incorruptible.” Peter likes that word. It is found seven times in the New Testament and three of those times are found in 1 Peter (1:4; 23; 3:4). It means not subject to death and destruction. I may die before I can obtain and enjoy a human inheritance. I may be the heir to billions, but it won’t do me a bit of good if I die. But this inheritance is death-proof. It is unlike Israelite’s earthly inheritance that came and went. It is free from death and decay. It is death-proof!
I love being a homeowner, but one of the frustrating things about it is that everything is perishing! Just last week the springs on our garage door broke. We are thankful for the Brewers with their help with our perishable possessions. But here Peter is saying that we will not be needing a handyman in Heaven to fix broken things there. You are not going to get up there and think, “Man, how much is it gonna cost to fix this?” It is indestructible and imperishable. By the way, the Bible uses this same word in 1 Cor. 15:54 to describe our new glorified bodies. That is great! Because our bodies now are dying and soon will end up under six feet of dirt. I feel sad for those in Hollywood and other places with botox and tummy tucks and facelifts and everything else. They are trying so hard to hold on, whether it is possessions or your body, it is all in vain. Praise God four death-proof, imperishable inheritance!
d) It is sin-proof
In addition, our inheritance is undefiled. This word is used four times in the New Testament and it describes that which is unstained or unpolluted. All of creation is stained and polluted by sin (Rom. 8:20-22) and longing and groaning for redemption (Rom. 8:22). Sin mars and spoils the beauty of God. I remember growing up the first thing my dad would say whenever we got something new was “Don’t spoil it.” Sometimes we hear people say, “It was nice until you got your hands on it!” Sin spoils. Has sin spoiled some things in your life? In Heaven, we will never have to worry about sin spoiling anything anymore. It is sin-proof.
e) It is time-proof
Fifthly, he says our inheritance is unfading. This is indicating that unlike flowers that wither and have to be tossed away (cited later in 1 Pet. 1:24) this inheritance is eternal and will never wither. One author says, “The sweetest flowers fade and are thrown away as they become nauseous to sight and smell. But there is an abiding freshness, a constant verdure, a perpetual bloom, an unceasing fragrance, a permanent sweetness in this eternal inheritance, so that it is never flat or stale, but remains ever the same, or rather is ever increasing in beauty and blessedness, as more known, believed in, hoped unto, and loved.” Heaven will never reach its peak and start to fade. It will always retain its capacity to bring joy, delight, beauty and physical appeal. So in a nutshell, our inheritance is “untouched by death, unstained by evil, and unimpaired by time. Our inheritance is death-proof, sin-proof, and time-proof.”
f) It is divinely guarded
Lastly, our inheritance is divinely guarded. Look at the last phrase of 1 Pet. 1:4: “kept in Heaven for you.” Other translations say “reserved” (NASB). The word “kept” means means “guarded” or “watched over.” The tense is a “perfect passive participle” which conveys the idea of the already existing inheritance being carefully guarded in heaven for all those who trust in Christ.” God is the one who has been keeping this for us. Peter is looking at his readers and saying, “While your enemies might destroy all that you have in this world, there is a reward that no force on earth can touch. Look beyond your trouble to this inheritance and have hope in the darkest times.” It’s got your name on it and no one will take it from you or bump you in line like they do on Black Friday and take it from you! This investment tops anything your retirement plan can offer. God makes all the payments, gives you daily interest, and keeps a huge escrow account for you in Heaven.
I like what Wayne Grudem says, “The ‘inheritance’ of the New Covenant Christian is thus shown to be far superior to the earthly inheritance of the people of Israel in the land of Canaan. That earthly land was not ‘kept’ for them, but was taken from them in the exile, and later by Roman occupation. Even while they possessed the land, it produced rewards that decayed, rewards whose glory faded away. The beauty of the land’s holiness before God was repeatedly defiled by sin (Num. 35:34; Jer. 2:7; 3:2).”
Have you ever gone hiking or traveled to some place you never gone before and finally you look out to see maybe the most beautiful of mountains or the most beautiful of waterfalls or and you gasped and said, “Wow.” After a while you get tired of it, your feet hurt, your hungry and you want to go home. But imagine having an endless capacity, total contentment and complete satisfaction to enjoy God and what God has prepared for us!
But before we get there, God here is growing us here to be mature children to take care of the inheritance there. John Macarthur gives this illustration: “Imagine a child prince, just a child. Before his years of maturity and adulthood he is limited in his understanding. This child prince cannot really grasp what he will inherit because he's the son of the king. He doesn't understand the enormity of the inheritance. He really has no comprehension of what he will become and what will become his. Consequently he does not think like a king, he does not act like a king, he does not behave like one who has an immense inheritance.
He will some day come into possession of a noble estate, but he does not live according to that nobility. He is not truly kingly. Although his inheritance will be rich, although it is filled with tremendous honor, although it is sweeping in its vastness, the child prince doesn't understand it. And he may even throw silly little temper tantrums over some earthly bobble that means nothing in comparison to the unlimited inheritance he will some day receive.
The child prince is held under strict discipline. His parents are concerned to discipline him, probably more strictly than they discipline any of their servants because they want him to get to the place where as a king he will be under control and will properly deal with that immense inheritance that is his and not treat it irresponsibly. So the child prince is probably more sharply corrected and more strictly disciplined than anybody else in order to fit him to the behavior that will suit his inheritance and his kingly estate.
As the child grows up he begins to understand little by little what the inheritance really means. And he begins to come to grips with what it's all about. He's just like we are. We're like a child prince. We are heirs of God though it does not yet appear what we shall be. We are heirs of God though we don't fully understand what we will inherit and the things which God has prepared for those who love Him are for the present time hidden from our eyes. And like children, we often throw those silly little temper tantrums because we can't get something in this world that we think we want. And we fuss and fume like a child when we don't get our way. We put too much of our attention on the menial things because we don't understand our inheritance. And, the Lord disciplines us more than He disciplines those who aren't His children, is that not true? Because He is in the process of fitting us for the nobility of our inheritance that we might be mature sons, able to behave in a way consistent with our inheritance.”
We praise God for the trials as God is using them to make us grow for the inheritance prepared for us! Let us make sure most of all that what we are living for is worth what Christ has died for!
Now you may be thinking, “That is nice that God is keeping an inheritance for me, but what if I don’t make it?” Jot this last reason to praise God in our trials:
IV. He is keeping us for Heaven that is yet to come (v.5)
So not only is this inheritance kept for us, we are kept for it as well! I love this! Look at 1 Pet. 1:5. It is not us holding on to Him, but Him holding on to us. We are kept by God’s power from doing anything to forfeit or be severed from this glorious inheritance!
Parents, you understand this. “Hold on to my hand,” we would say to our kids as we crossed the street. And they would. But if, out of forgetfulness or fatigue or distraction, they loosened their grip, it wouldn’t matter because, although they thought they were holding our hand, in reality, we were holding theirs—and we would never let go. Aren’t you glad that even when you let go of the Lord’s hand, He doesn’t let go of us?
Peter gives a double-locked security for believers. First, our inheritance is protected (1 Pet. 1:4); second, we are protected. Like a safe within a safe, nothing could be more secure.God’s power is His sovereign omnipotence that “guards” us. This is a different word than the word “kept” in 1 Pet. 1:4. The picture here is that of a fortress or military camp. They are within. Outside the evil forces are assaulting them. But on the perimeter is the overwhelming force of “the power of God.” It is he who protects them.
It is not that God prevents us from suffering or trials or pain, but in the midst of it, He keeps us going. God is like a like “a soldier guiding and protecting people as they move through hostile territory toward the freedom of friendly lines.” The present tense emphasizes the continual nature of this shielding.
Now how do we experience this guarding or shielding? Notice “through faith.” That is our part. Faith is here understood as “continuing trust or faithfulness.” God will protect his people by his power as they wait to come into their inheritance, but what is required of them in the meantime is faithfulness to their Lord Jesus Christ. God’s omnipotent, protecting power and the believer’s perseverance of faith always work hand in hand (cf. Dan. 6:1–23). A little faith is enough, as long as it is in a big and mighty God!
How long will you have to persevere? Until this “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Salvation here means “rescue” or “deliverance.” He is talking about when our salvation is complete. Remember salvation has three components: A past component where the penalty of sin is removed. This is called justification. It has a present component where the power of sin is continually broken. This is called sanctification. Lastly, it has a future component where the presence of sin is extinguished. This is called glorification. He is talking about the future component here.
Notice it is “ready.” This means it is complete and already waiting for your arrival. The word revealed here means “to take away the veil or the cover.” Jesus will remove the veil when he returns to grant us salvation full and free. Everything is set. The curtain is about to go up. It is just awaiting the signal. It will be revealed in the last scene of redemptive history, where Christ will judge the godless and reward those who believe.
Four reasons to praise God in the midst of our trials:
He brought us into a relationship that is real, infused us with a hope that is living, He is keeping for us an inheritance that is secure and keeping us for a Heaven that is yet to come. Jon Courson shares this illustration as I close:
A young man who was being hazed by a college fraternity was taken to a secluded spot where he was told to hold on to a knot at the end of a greased rope as his fraternity brothers lowered him into a dark well. Thinking they would pull him up after a few minutes, he was terrified to see them tie their end of the rope to the bar across the top of the well, leaving him suspended in midair.
This can’t be! he thought as he called for help. But none came. As he approached the fifteen-minute mark, his arms aching unbelievably, and his shoulders feeling as though they were on fire, he started to cry. Finally, after about twenty-five tortuous minutes, able to hang on no longer, he let go—and fell two inches—just as his fraternity brothers had calculated.
Isn’t that just like us? “Where are You, God? I don’t know if I’m going to make it,” we cry. We fret, blubber, and scream until we finally let go. And guess what we find. We discover that our Solid Rock, Jesus Christ, was there all along.
A bunch of us have burning shoulders and aching arms for absolutely no reason. We’re trying to hang on through our own efforts, by our own spirituality. We get disgusted with ourselves and worried we’re not going to make it. If we would just let go of the rope and rest in what Jesus did on the Cross of Calvary, we would realize it’s not our puny efforts that will see us through, but the power of God. This is what Peter is telling the believers who, no doubt, were wondering if, when the temperature rose and persecution came down, they would be able to hang in there. “I want you to know something,” Peter said. “You have an inheritance waiting for you that can’t be taken from you. You are kept by the power of God, and He is committed to seeing you through. All that remains for you to do is believe.”
Pastor Sam Storms says, “When we get to heaven there will be nothing that is abrasive, irritating, agitating, or hurtful. Nothing harmful, hateful, upsetting or unkind. Nothing sad, bad, or mad. Nothing harsh, impatient, ungrateful or unworthy. Nothing weak, or sick, or broken or foolish. Nothing deformed, degenerate, depraved or disgusting.
Nothing polluted, pathetic, poor or putrid. Nothing dark, dismal, dismaying or degrading. Nothing blameworthy, blemished, blasphemous or blighted. Nothing faulty, faithless, frail or fading. Nothing grotesque or grievous, hideous or insidious.
Nothing illicit or illegal, lascivious or lustful. Nothing marred or mutilated, misaligned or misinformed. Nothing nasty or naughty, offensive or odious. Nothing rancid or rude, soiled or spoiled. Nothing tawdry or tainted, tasteless or tempting. Nothing vile or vicious, wasteful or wanton!
Wherever you turn your eyes you will see nothing but glory and grandeur and beauty and brightness and purity and perfection and splendor and satisfaction and sweetness and salvation and majesty and marvel and holiness and happiness.
We will see only and all that is adorable and affectionate, beautiful and bright, brilliant and bountiful, delightful and delicious, delectable and dazzling, elegant and exciting, fascinating and fruitful, glorious and grand, gracious and good, happy and holy, healthy and whole, joyful and jubilant, lovely and luscious, majestic and marvelous, opulent and overwhelming, radiant and resplendent, splendid and sublime, sweet and savoring, tender and tasteful, euphoric and unified!
Why will it be all these things? Because we will be looking at God.” I can’t wait!
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