BORN INTO AN INHERITANCE
1 PETER 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Have you ever found yourself in that place that we call "under the circumstances?" It is that place where everything seems to cave in on you, where everything you touch crumbles to ruin, and where everything for which you have worked falls apart like a house of cards.
Peter was a man who had learned to live above his circumstances. He had learned that all of the persecutions and problems and pitfalls that surrounded him paled to insignificance when compared to the glory that is to come. Because of this, he does not begin his epistle bemoaning the terrible persecutions or the scorn of unbelievers or the sorrow over lost loved ones. Quite to the contrary, he begins on the most positive note possible. He begins by looking at God.
I cannot help being reminded of the incident where Jesus walked on the water with Jesus. Throughout the storm and the wind and the waves, Peter left the apparent and somewhat questionable safety of the boat and stepped out onto the raging abyss. By faith he stood upon the seething flood until he shifted his gaze from the Lord to look at the storm around him. It was only then, when he took his eyes off the Lord, that he began to sink.
I like to think that Jesus grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and hauled him, coughing up half the sea, back to the boat.
Now these many years later, Peter has learned his lesson. Even though he is surrounded by the raging of governors and kings, he does not allow his steadfast gaze to wander from the vision of the Lord.
THE BLESSING OF THE NEW BIRTH
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).
Peter is going to talk about the new birth, but before he does that, he first talks about the One who brought about the new birth. He begins with a blessing that is directed toward God. The word used here for "bless" is the Greekeuloghtos. It literally means, "to speak well" of someone. It is a description of praise. Peter begins his epistle by praising the Lord and speaking well of Him.
God is blessed throughout the Bible. He is blessed by Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20 -- "Blessed be God Most High") and He is blessed by the 24 elders in Revelation 5:13.
Why is God blessed? We can answer this question better when we rephrase it to ask: Why should we speak well of God? The answer is because God is good. We do not worship the false gods of the ancient world who were full of all of the sins and failures of the men who worshiped them. The God of the Bible is a God of goodness. He si the God of righteousness and justice. He is also the merciful and gracious God. He is the God who is good.
There are a lot of things that point to the goodness of God, but the best evidence of His goodness is that, in accordance with His mercy, He has caused us to be born again.
THE FACT OF THE NEW BIRTH
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope...(1 Peter 1:3).
With these words, Peter introduces the subject of the new birth. What is the new birth? It has become very popular in certain circles to speak of being "born again." What exactly does this mean?
The new birth is the bringing forth of a new and divinely created life into the soul of the believer.
Jesus told Nicodemus in a private interview that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). People cannot enter Godís kingdom unless there has been a change in their lives. Such change cannot come through human effort.
Outward reform is not enough. You can take a pig out of his pen and dress him up like a sheep. You can bring him into the house and wash him and perfume him. You can even give him sheep lessons and teach him to go, "Bahhhh." You can do all of these things, but all you will have is a pig.
You can wash him, baptize him, get him to walk down an aisle and join a church and even give his testimony, but this will not change his nature. The reason that he is a pig is not because he acts like a pig. Rather the reason that he is a pig is because he was born as a pig. He had a pig birth and now he has a pig nature.
This illustrates the need for the new birth. Outward reformation and change will never make a difference in what you ARE. If you were born as a son of Adam, then you are a sinner with a sin nature. To enter into Godís family, you need to be born into that family through a new birth.
God does not save you by cleaning up your old life. Instead He decleares you to be legally dead. At that point He can start over.
Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin;
When Christ died on the cross, you were legally considered to have died with Him. When He was buried in the tomb and sealed with the stone, you were reckoned to have been in the grave with Him. And when He arise from the grave, you were declared to have risen with Him into a new life. This is why Peter can say that our new birth is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1:3).
THE MEANS OF THE NEW BIRTH
...God...has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).
The means of our new birth is nothing short of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our living hope depends upon this. Because He lives, we also live. The reason we know that we shall one day rise from the dead is because He was the firstfruits in rising from the dead.
Donít miss the implications of this. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He is just a mere man and you have no hope for the future because you are still in your sins. If you want to study this further, look what Paul had to say about it in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19.
The good news of the gospel is that Jesus DID rise from the dead and was attested by witnesses. Because He rose from the dead, we have a "living hope." No other religious system in the world has this. Mohammed and Confucius and Buddha and Charles Darwin and Joseph Smith and Charles Russell are all dead and in their graves. None of the followers of these men can legitimately lay claim to a living hope because their founders are still in the grave. Only in Christ do we see that monument to the destruction of death -- the empty tomb.
THE GOAL OF THE NEW BIRTH
...to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:4).
The new birth has a clearly defined goal. The goal of the new birth is to obtain an inheritance. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the heir to the universe. God has appointed His Son to be the heir of all things.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
There is coming a day when Jesus will come into His inheritance. There is coming a day when the earth will be taken from the domain of evil men and given to the Son. But that is not all. We have also become a part of Godís family and, as such, we will also enter into this inheritance.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Having been born into the family of God, we are now legal hears of God. This is a position that we share with our elder brother, Jesus.
ē We have been crucified with Him.
ē We died with Him.
ē We were buried with Him.
ē We rose with Him.
ē And one day we shall reign with Him.
Peter tells us three things about this inheritance into which we have entered.
1. This Inheritance is IMPERISHABLE (1:4).
You will not be able to squander and lose this inheritance as did the Prodigal Son. Neither will all of the forces of Satan be able to destroy it.
These Jews to whom Peter is writing have seen what it means when a country is spoiled by an invading army. They had seen towns and cities overrun by the Roman legions and left in ruins. The nation of Israel had suffered such a fate in the days when first the Assyrians and later the Babylonians had carried them off into captivity with their homes destroyed and their people in chains.
This will never happen with the inheritance that we shall one day receive. Not all of the legions in earth or in hell shall be able to overcome the One who protects our inheritance.
2. Our Inheritance is UNDEFILED (1:4).
These Jewish believers lived among pagan unbelievers who indulged in every sinful and immoral practice known to man. There was no place on earth to which the Jew could go to escape such defilement, for every nation had been similarly corrupted.
The same is true today. We live in a world that is tarnished by sin and there is no place on earth that has not suffered the consequences. That is why you will never find the perfect church. No matter where you go, you will find the same problems of jealousy, hypocrisy, greed and conflict. And if you ever do find a perfect church, donít go there! You would ruin it.
The inheritance that we have been promised is free of such defilement. God has promised that there will be no sin permitted within its boarders. That is why it is necessary for you to be born again. It is so that you will be qualified to enter this undefiled kingdom.
3. Our Inheritance WILL NOT FADE AWAY (1:4).
When the Greek athletes competed in the Olympic Games, they did so in order to receive a prize. The prize consisted of a fresh olive wreath that would be placed upon the head of the winner. Such fame was fleeting. The winner could take that wreath home and place it upon his mantle. Within a short time, that wreath would fade and crumble until it was eventually thrown away on some garbage heap. The inheritance that will one day come to us will never fade or lose its luster.
Now I want to ask you a question. Where is this inheritance that we shall one day see? It is RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU (1:4).
On the night before His death, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them. There is coming a day when He shall return, bringing His glorious inheritance with Him.
This inheritance is RESERVED. The term is used here with the Greek perfect tense. This refers to an action that took place in the past with results that are still in effect. Peter uses this to indicate that our inheritance has been reserved in the past with the result that it is still secure today.
God planned your inheritance long before you were ever born. He made provision for it even before the creation. It has been set aside for you from the beginning of time.
I can imagine these Jewish believers saying to themselves, "Peter, it is all very well that we have such promises for the future, but what about the trials and persecutions through which we are going here on earth? You are telling us about the blessings of the sweet by and by, but what about the nasty here and now?"
Do you have that kind of problem? You are a Christian who has seen all of the promises for he future, but you need something today. If this is the case, then there is a message here for you who are protected by the power of God.
THE GUARDIAN OF THE NEW BIRTH
...who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).
Peter says that you are protected. The Greek word that he uses here (frourew) is one that is used to describe the military action of forming a garrison or a guard. It is used in this way in 2 Corinthians 11:32 when the governor of Damascus called out the guard and posted it around the city in an effort to capture Paul.
Here is a tremendous truth. God has built a garrison around you for your safety and protection. Nothing is permitted to approach you unless He has first carefully examined it and allowed it to enter.
This is important for you to know. Someday you are going to find yourself in a situation where everything in your life seems to be falling apart, where every plan that you have made for the future has been shattered and where there appears to be no hope.
When things look to be at their darkest, you will be tempted to think that God has abandoned you. Donít throw in the towel. God has not forgotten about you. Your name has not been lost due to a computer error. Though you may not be able to see it from your vantage point, you are still being protected by the power of God. Keep the faith. Keep believing.