Introduction: What is our anchor to hold on when we face trials in life? How is your faith when the going gets tough?
Well, this morning I want to give you the key to endure difficulties in life: Remember our eternal inheritance.
1 Peter 1:3-5 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter is writing to a church that is undergoing persecution, hostility, and rejection. On July 19, 64 A.D., the great city of Rome was consumed by a holocaust of fire. Once the fire hit Rome, it consumed the place. It could leap easily across the narrow streets and consume the wooden buildings. The first three days and nights the fire spread rapidly. Before the fire was checked, it had consumed most of the homes. The Romans believed that their emperor, Nero, had himself set their city on fire. They believed that he did it because he had this incredible lust for building and he built a Grand Palace in the area that was cleared by fire.
Historians tell us that he was rather charmed by the flames, and some even say that Nero played violin when Rome was burning. So their resentment was bitter and it was deep and it was deadly. And Nero realized that he had to redirect the hostility. He had to have a scapegoat to blame for this and so he chose a group that were known as Christians. And he spread the word as fast as he could that they were the ones who set the fires.
You see, Christians were already hated first of all because they were associated with Jews and there was a very virulent anti-Semitism in Rome. In the second place, Christians were seen as those who would not fully cooperate in emperor worship and those who rejected all the other gods of the Romans and so they were hated for all of those reasons. And also, Christians were always talking about a day when the world would dissolve in flames. And it was very, very fitting to easily blame them for a fire.
As a result of this accusation, under Nero the persecution against Christians began. Tacitus, the Roman historian, reported that Nero rolled Christians in pitch and then set them on fire while they were still alive and used them as living torches to light his garden parties. He served them up also in the skin of wild animals, set his hunting dogs on them to tear them to pieces. They were also nailed to crosses.
In order to lift the believer’s spirits, peter is writing to them. Peter reminds them in the letter that it’s to be expected because they are foreigners in the earth. They are citizens of heaven. They are children of God. They are living stones. They are a holy priesthood. And they are a people of God’s own possession.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Peter then is calling for jubilant worship, for enthusiastic joy, no matter what may be going on around them.
It’s a very hard time for them, and yet in the middle of it Peter says your focus has to get off the problem and onto God. Stop looking at what’s going on around you, and start looking at who‘s in charge above, namely God. So in writing to these persecuted Christians, he calls for praise, and he calls for adoration to be given to God.
What a tremendously important thing it is, in the midst of adversity, in the midst of trials, in the midst of tribulation, trouble, persecution, hostility, disappointment, anxiety, to learn to praise God. And if things down here are falling apart, be confident that things up there are absolutely secure.
What is the reason we Christians praise and worship in the midst of trials? We praise God for our eternal inheritance in heaven. 1 Peter 1:3-5 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Now the key word is “inheritance.” You know what that word means, it’s that which is passed down to you from your father, it’s that which you receive as a gift, a legacy given to you because you are a member of a certain family. It is not something you really earn. It is not something you buy. It is something you receive as a gift because of the family you were born into.
What is our inheritance?
In the OT, God promised them an earthly inheritance. It was originally promised to Abraham and they waited and waited and finally Israel had an earthly inheritance, the land of Canaan. Just as the earthly people had an earthly inheritance, we spiritual people have a spiritual inheritance, heaven.
1 Peter 1:5 ….coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. Our inheritance, he says, is the fullness of eternal salvation. The word “salvation,” by the way, means “rescue” “deliverance.” And here it indicates that full eternal deliverance and rescue that has not yet been revealed.
a. Past Salvation.
There is a sense in which salvation is past.
Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. We were saved when we believed in Christ.
b. Present Salvation.
There is a sense in which salvation is present. We are continually being cleansed from all sin. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Philippians 2:12 ….continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
We have been saved in the past tense, our sins forgiven and we’ve been given eternal life. We are continually being saved, rescued, and delivered as we move through this world of sin, and God keeps on cleansing us.
c. Prospective Salvation.
Salvation is also future. We will be completely fully forever delivered from sin and judgment in the fullest sense in the future. And that’s our ultimate eternal inheritance.
Romans 13:11 The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Hebrews 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
We have salvation from the past. We hold it in the present. We yet are to inherit it in the future.
That’s a call to praise, a call to worship to God who has granted us salvation. And do you realize that you will spend all eternity forever, and the occupation of all of that eternity will be to praise God for your eternal salvation? You will never grow weary of it. Your rejoicing will never be diminished. And yet here on earth we find it very difficult to worship God? We have no voice, we have no heart of worship, and have no praise when we come to God.
Our praise and worship is a little bit of a taste of what we’re going to do forever, Praising God for His eternal salvation given to us, His children, as an inheritance.
Now, as we think about worshiping God for our eternal inheritance, Peter gives us elements of that inheritance which elicit praise.
Elements of our eternal inheritance.
1. Source of our eternal inheritance.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The very fact that we are praising God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, indicates to us that God is the source.
So the source of our inheritance is none other than the true God, the God who is revealed in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God in His love has chosen you and chosen me to be the recipient of eternal salvation.
2. Motive behind the our eternal inheritance.
What is the motive for God calling us?
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope…..
It was mercy that did it. Our salvation and eternal inheritance came out of the heart of God because God has an attribute called “mercy.”
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Ephesians 2:4-5 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. Praise and thank God for his mercy.
What is mercy? Well, “mercy” is a word that makes reference to a person’s miserable, pitiful condition In Mark 10 blind Bartimaeus comes to Jesus and shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mercy was a reflection of a miserable, wretched, pitiable condition of man.
That is precisely the condition of sinners. We need mercy. We need someone to show compassion toward our pitiful, wretched condition as sinners. 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 dead in trespasses and sins. It is being cursed. It is that pitiful condition of the sinner damned to hell, unable to do any good thing at all, and unable to change the course of his life by himself.
And that’s what’s behind salvation. God looked at you and had compassion, isn’t that wonderful?
Exodus 34:6 The Lord God, merciful and gracious.
Psalm 108:4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens…
Micah 7:18 You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
Lamentations 3:22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.
God’s mercy He gives to whomever He will. God said in: Romans 9:15 I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” Out of His compassion and mercy God has chosen to grant us eternal salvation.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies.
The source of our eternal inheritance is God and the motive is mercy.
3. How do we appropriate our eternal inheritance?
God is the source, and mercy is the motive, how do I receive it? How do we make it ours?
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope….God’s mercy needs a means to dispel our wretchedness of sin. And the means that mercy chose was the new birth. And so, God, because of His mercy, caused us to be born again. To change our condition, He had to give us a brand new birth, because we were born in sin. We were born dead in trespasses sin. We had no life in us.
The prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 13:23 Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.
Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
So there has to be a change in your nature. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! You become heirs of God by new birth, spiritual birth.
You’re an heir already, even before you were a Christian. You’re heirs of wrath: Ephesians 2:3 Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. That’s an inescapable eternal inheritance. But God has saved us from that and given us our eternal inheritance in heaven. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 …and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
When you come to Christ, and put your faith in Him, there’s a total transformation, a new birth.
1 Peter 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:25 And this is the word that was preached to you.
By God’s grace the Word was preached, you heard the Word, God activated faith in your life, you believed, and you were born again by an imperishable seed which will never die. That’s the new birth. You have new life.
The new birth is very clear in John chapter 3. When Jesus encounters Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, a man of the Pharisees, highly esteemed member of the Sanhedrin. He came probably thinking what else he can do to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Jesus says to him: John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. Lord Said, “Nicodemus, as old as you are, as much as you know, you’ve got to start all over again.”
That’s what God wants to do in the life of a sinner when He places His mercy upon that sinner. That’s what salvation is, it’s new birth. And you get a new nature, and a new heart, and a new spirit, and a new love, and a new power that results in a new walk and a new obedience. That’s what it is.
But how does that new birth take place? John 3:14-15 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He said, “Nicodemus, here’s how you receive this new birth. You look to the Son of God who is lifted up, and you believe in Him. And by believing in Him, the new birth occurs.” And He used an illustration that Nicodemus would understand from Numbers 21. Because of the rebellion and because of the unfaithfulness of the Israelites, God sent poisonous snakes to bite them?
And do you remember in that they began to cry out, “We have sinned. We have sinned. We have sinned.” They acknowledged that this was the justified judgment of God on their sin. And then God said, “Put up a pole with a serpent on the pole and tell the people that if they’ll look at that serpent, they’ll be healed.” Looking at that serpent acknowledged their sin, and it acknowledged the desperation of their condition, and it acknowledged that God had provided a means to deliver them from the snakes. It was a turning from sin and acknowledging that God had lifted up a means of deliverance.
And Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, “If you want new birth, turn from your sin, ‘We have sinned. We have sinned. We have sinned.’ And look to the means which God has lifted up to bring you deliverance. This time, not a wooden pole, but a cross. And not a snake but the Son of God.”
It was a turning from sin to see the Savior. And the deliverance was not a physical deliverance from snakes, but a spiritual deliverance from the snake, Satan, the serpent.
How does that new birth take place? By looking at the Son of God lifted up on a cross and believing in Him.
What is the result of the new birth? 1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The result of the new birth is a living hope. We are “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” We have a living hope.
The world knows only dying hopes. All the hopes and dreams of men will die when they die. That’s why the Scripture says, 1 Corinthians 15:19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. You’re a miserable person if your only hope is in this world because it will all die. Death cuts the nerve of all hope.
But we have an undying hope. We have a living hope, a hope that never dies. A hope as Peter says in 2 Peter 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. That’s our hope, an eternal hope. That is the hope that sustains us.
It is because of that hope Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” How can it be gain to die? Because then your hope becomes reality. To die is gain, to gain the glorious sight of God, to gain the glorified presence of Jesus Christ, to gain an uninterrupted fellowship, to gain our eternal inheritance. Death is gain because we gain a room in heaven’s glorious splendor.
What has given us that eternal hope?
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Our receiving this inheritance is by the new birth, which gives us this living hope in the coming of that inheritance, and that hope is built on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Jesus said John 14:19 Because I live, you shall live also. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He then proved it by raising Lazarus from the dead to demonstrate that indeed He was life and resurrection. Then Jesus rose from the grave on the third day. Jesus said, “Whosoever believes in Me shall never die.”
So, the inheritance, then, has as its source God, as its motive mercy, as its means new birth.
Conclusion: Aren’t you glad that God has given us an eternal inheritance? So, no matter what difficulty or trials we go through, we have a blessed hope, we have our eternal inheritance in heaven. Have you received your eternal inheritance? You can just believe in Jesus and accept him into your heart to receive it. For those who are already saved, our eternal inheritance should elicit praise to God.