May 26, 2019
I Peter 1:3-12
A Heavenly Inheritance
Pastor Bryan Watson
Let’s open with a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, I praise You for the gift of Your Word, given through your servant, Peter. I pray that You will help me to preach Your word to Your congregation here this morning. Help me to speak only that which is true. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.
Last week, Pastor Dennis kicked off this series on the book of 1 Peter by introducing us to the fisherman, Simon, who became the “fisher of men”, the Apostle Peter.
As I was doing my own research on Peter, I came across an illustration of an important event in Peter’s life. Let’s bring it up on the screen now, and I’ll read the caption for you.
Pastor Dennis also took us through the salutation, or the introduction to Peter’s letter to the persecuted church in several specific regions of the Roman Empire. Today, we’re going to start working through the body of the letter, in Chapter 1, verses 3-12.
As I was researching this particular passage, I ended up listening through a sermon series by a highly-respected Bible teacher. It took him 6 HOURS to preach through these 10 verses. But fear not!!! I can do it in less than half that time!
Fair warning, however. You will need to listen closely. Peter’s letter is very deep in doctrine, and isn’t necessarily an easy read. I’m going to be breaking it down as best as I can, but even as I was rehearsing this with Lori, there were some parts that really felt like heavy lifting. So bear with me.
Turn in your Bibles, if you will, to 1 Peter chapter 1, and let’s get this show on the road.
Reserved Through the Resurrection
The first part of this passage, I call “Reserved Through the Resurrection.” Reserved Through the Resurrection. Let’s read verses 3 through 5.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Now, right off the bat, this passage is filled with spiritual meat, not milk. Here, Peter is referring to God as the Father of Jesus Christ. Up until this time, it was rare that God would be referred to as Father. He may have been referred to as the Father of Creation, or other such descriptions, but it wasn’t until Christ started referring to Him as “My Father” that the really personal, intimate title of Father, Abba, Daddy, was used. And then, only Christ used it, to emphasize that He was one with God, in the intimate relationship of Father and Son. In fact, the only time that Christ did NOT refer to God as “Father” was when He was temporarily separated from the Father on the Cross. That’s the only time. Otherwise He was always “Father.”
And Peter specifically says He was the God and Father of OUR Lord Jesus Christ, thereby extending TO US the intimacy of the relationship between God and man through the intercessor and mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, supporting Christ’s statement in John 14:6 that “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Peter then says that it was by God’s abundant mercy that He has begotten us again to a living hope. God is merciful! This “living hope” is eternal life, and it isn’t anything that we can earn on our own. It is entirely by His abundant mercy that we have this living hope. He has begotten us again. That is, we have a new birth, and a new nature, through His mercy. We could never do enough to earn this gift. That’s why it is a gift. Death is the wage that we deserve. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
How did God accomplish this? Peter says that it was through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It was through Christ’s victory over death by His Resurrection that death has been defeated for all who believe in Him. In John 14:9, Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.”
Peter goes on to further define this “living hope”. He calls it an “inheritance.”
Now, what is an inheritance? According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, an inheritance is “the reception of an estate by hereditary right”. It’s by hereditary right! As Peter has already established, the intimacy of having God as “our Father” has already been passed to us. Because of His grace and mercy, we can have a new birth, or be born again, into a new family: the family of God! And as children of God, we now have an inheritance of eternal life… which we didn’t earn and cannot buy. It is ours merely because we are children of God and He has chosen to give it to us as an inheritance. But an inheritance is something that also comes later; not now. And so to guarantee this inheritance, he gave us the Holy Spirit, as we read in Ephesians 1:13-14, “you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance.”
This inheritance is incorruptible. That is, it will not decay or rot or rust. From your earthly parents, you may inherit a painting, but sunlight or fire may destroy it. Or you may inherit a car, but rust will eat away at it. Or you may inherit money, but inflation will erode it. Or siblings will divide it. Or crooks could steal it. Or you may not even have an inheritance because your parents didn’t leave anything behind. But the inheritance from God is incorruptible.
This inheritance is undefiled. It is pure. It is not stained by sin or evil. It is holy.
This inheritance does not fade away. It is not a flower: here today and gone tomorrow. It is not a business that eventually runs its course when the next great thing comes along. Shares in 8-track tape companies probably aren’t doing so well these days.
This inheritance is reserved in Heaven for you. It is yours. It has your name on it. Nobody can take it. It is ready and waiting for you. Reserved, just like it says. There’s only one thing that can cancel your reservation… that is, if your heart stops before you have made the choice to accept it. Then you’ve got a problem. Don’t let it get to that point. Make your decision now while you still can.
Finally, Peter says that we “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation”.
If we belong to God, and have placed our faith and trust in Him, there is no outside power… no third party, that can take our inheritance from us. If we are kept by the power of God, then what power can possibly overpower that? Jesus says in John 10:28-29, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” If we are in Christ’s hand; if we are in the Father’s hand, then there is no more secure place to be!
Tested by Trials
The second part of this text, I call “Tested by Trials.” Tested by Trials.
Let’s read through verses 6 through 9.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
Peter says that “In ‘this’ we greatly rejoice.” What is the “this” that we are rejoicing in? It is the inheritance of eternal life that he referred to in the preceding verses. And in this we greatly rejoice. This isn’t just the general happiness that comes from a good cup of coffee on a beautiful morning. This is to be “exceedingly glad.” This is a joy that comes from fully understanding that our hope is not in this world, but in the life to come. And as Christians, with each day that passes we should be getting more and more excited about this because we are one day closer to receiving the inheritance.
But… but… Peter says, “though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,” Keep in mind Peter’s audience here. He is writing directly to the Christians who are being persecuted under Nero’s Rome. Killing Christians wasn’t good enough for Nero… there had to be some entertainment value to it, as well. And I will leave it at that. That is the audience that Peter is writing to, although indirectly, he is writing to us as well.
I’ve touched on this before, in my message about why Christians experience doubt, but the reality is that we are going to go through trials here. In this one short phrase, Peter teaches us several things about trials:
Trials don’t last forever. Peter used the phrase “though now for a little while.” A little while may seem like forever, but it is not. You need to press on. Eventually, the trial will pass.
Trials may serve a purpose. “If need be” indicates that there is some desired outcome for the trial. It may be that God is allowing it for some greater purpose that we aren’t able to understand. That is why I get so upset at these heretics who are pumping the false gospel called the Prosperity Gospel, trying to sell you your best life now, as if the real super-Christians all have private jets and big smiles with lots of teeth and no problems except having too much money. Guess what? I DON’T WANT YOU TO HAVE YOUR BEST LIFE NOW! I WANT YOU TO HAVE YOUR BEST LIFE IN THE NEXT LIFE BECAUSE IF YOUR BEST LIFE IS RIGHT NOW, YOU ARE IN A LOT OF TROUBLE!!! Trials may serve a purpose.
Trials come in various forms. They may be financial. They may be physical. It could be occupational. Who knows? We’re fortunate enough in this country that it is not likely to be a physical attack on our faith, but there are other forms of persecution. We need to understand that and be prepared for it. Later, in this very book, Peter tells us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
In this passage, Peter gives us some more insight into why we sometimes go through trials. He says it is so that “7 that the genuineness of your faith… may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. You see, it is through trials that the reality of a person’s faith is revealed. Anybody can have faith when everything they touch turns to gold and every move they make smells like roses! But our spiritual maturity is revealed when the darkness is pressing in. I long to have a faith like Job’s, when he lost everything 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
The problem is that the only way for me to know for sure whether or not I have that kind of faith, is to go through the trial like Job did. And quite frankly, I don’t want to do that.
And what is the purpose for this genuine faith? To bring praise, honor, and glory to Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ has a real compassion for broken people who reach out to Him in their brokenness. Mary Magdalene. The thief on the cross. The tax collector in the parable in Luke 18 who couldn’t even lift his eyes to heaven but begged for mercy. The Centurian who begged Jesus to heal his servant, but said that he wasn’t worthy to have Christ come into his home. Their faith in the midst of their brokenness brought real glory and true praise to Jesus Christ.
In the middle of that sentence, Peter describes this faith as “being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire”. Just how precious is a faith that is tested and proven by fire? Well, let me ask you this: You’re in the final stages of terminal cancer and the end of your life on earth will happen in the next few hours. I place before you a choice between faith in a loving God who promises eternal life to all who will believe Him, or ten million dollars. It’s door #1 or door #2, MAKE YOUR CHOICE. How many will choose the money? Faith is precious, isn’t it?
Referring to Jesus, this part of the text concludes with Peter saying to his readers, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
There would be nobody better than Peter to commend their faith in Christ although they had not physically laid eyes on Him. After all, they believe without seeing, and yet Peter, having been WITH Christ, and having witnessed the miracles, DENIED Him. Yes, Peter is more than qualified to commend them. In John 20:29, Jesus says, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
So, the main point of this second part of the passage is that we need to keep our eye on the prize. It is too easy to get distracted and discouraged by all the things going on down here. This life and its various struggles should NOT be our focus. Our inheritance should be our focus!
Predicted by Prophets
The final part of this text I call “Predicted by Prophets”.
Let’s read verses 10 through 12.
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.
This inheritance… this grace… was prophesied LONG before it came to pass on Calvary.
Numbers 24:17 – “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,”
Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
Daniel 9:24 - “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.”
Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
I’m sure you get the point. Isaiah 9:6-7. Malachi 3:1. 2 Samuel 7:12-16. Genesis 49:10. Genesis 3:15. Isaiah 11:1. And on and on the prophecies continue.
These prophets searched diligently. They cross-examined the writings of other prophets. They knew that salvation was coming, and that it was coming through a Messiah. But who would it be? When would this happen? They didn’t know! They were desperate to find out everything they could about this salvation. They knew that they weren’t writing for themselves, but rather for a future generation, who would read the prophecies and see their fulfillment and put two and two together. Peter tells us that the Spirit of Christ was in them when they wrote down the words. 2 Peter 1:21 tells us, “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
And we… WE are the ones who are blessed to live on the other side of the Cross, and to read the prophecies, and to see the fulfillment of the prophecies, and to understand this salvation that is available to us. But I ask you… what is it that WE concern ourselves with?
“I didn’t like the music today.”
“The preacher went too long again.”
“Sunday school is too early.”
“The butter tarts taste like mincemeat!”
Let me tell you something. These prophets? Some of them gave their lives trying to find out more about something that you and I take for granted. Folks, if our hearts are not in a state of worship over what God has done for us, then we need a heart transplant, quite frankly. After all, we are experiencing an inheritance that even the angels in Heaven long to look into. How awesome is that?
You know, maybe you are here today, and you’ve never embraced this inheritance that Peter is writing about. But you’ve heard the prophecies, and you’ve seen the evidence, and you are tired of holding out on an inheritance that is reserved for you.
Or maybe you’ve already placed your faith in Christ, but the fiery trials of life have worn you out and beaten you down, and you want to renew your faith but you just don’t know how.
I invite you to come and speak with me or Pastor Dennis after the service. We’d love to speak with you and pray with you. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
So come and find rest. Amen. Let’s pray.
Loving and Eternal God, thank You for Your word to us, today. Father, I pray that if anybody here today needs to put their faith and trust in You, that You will move their hearts to do so. Help us all to understand that time is short and uncertain, but that Your grace abounds to all who will receive it. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.