AN INHERITANCE AND A HOPE THAT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD!
1 Peter 1:3-12.
ILLUS.: Every week, twice a week, millions of people in the UK pay £1 – 2 for a piece of paper with a few numbers on it. With those numbers they hope against the odds, about 6million:1, to win a jackpot of millions of pounds- a small/vain hope.
Fortune/treasure – the thing many hope for – it is the possibility of these being attained that keeps people going.
Peter assures us that Christians have both of these – certain hope and certain inheritance.
ILLUSTR: Jean Paul Sartre- French Philosopher – profound influence on Western thought – esp its rejection of Christianity and God.
Play “NO EXIT” gives his own version of hell
1 Man & 2 Women – doomed to a room that seems to hold no
torment BUT must be in the same room together forever with no
sleep and without eyelids.
MAN – pretends to be a hero of the revolution – in reality he was
killed in a train crash after betraying his comrades.
WOMEN – even more sordid lives
In the forced intimacy of the room all their hidden secrets wrung
out. Nothing can be hidden / nothing can be changed.
Prepares us for his famous line – HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE.
BUT Moral of play is one of doom – YOU ARE YOUR LIFE AND NOTHING ELSE.
Sartre destroys hope – makes us think. Imagine if “All I could ever hope to be is what I have been rather than what I’m meant to be or hope to be!.
Sartre’s image falls short of God’s judgement and we are exposed not just to the lidless eyes of other sinners BUT to the all-seeing gaze of God.
Sartre reminds us how desperately we need hope!
The passage before us VV. 3-12 One long sentence. Peter praising God for his salvation. New birth is a gift – majestic hope of final salvation – joy in spite of suffering because of the final expectation – privileged to see what the ancients longed to see but couldn’t.
1. GOD ESTABLISHES OUR HOPE IN CHRIST V.3
We speak of ‘cherished hopes’ or ‘fond hope’: “Where there is life there is hope”!
BUT these hopes/dreams we have are often so fragile/so often short-lived.
ILLUSTR: Peter a good example of short-lived hopes. When Jesus dies on the cross his hope was lost. His dream of a conquering Messiah in tatters. His denials & crowing rooster a constant reminder of his hopelessness.
BUT Jesus did not stay dead- Peters dead hope became a living hope – his hope was reborn when he saw the living Christ.
SO Peter’s hope – is not a HOPE SO – he has seen the resurrected Chris – it is sure – a SURE HOPE , a hope that holds the future
in the present because it is anchored in the past .(Clowney)
Implications for us:- – Christ lives : we live IF we are united to him in new birth.
– when Christ rose we rose!
– Christians hope is as sure as Christ’s resurrection.
– Jesus didn’t only make salvation possible : He made it
Resurrection of Christ – historically more evidence for this than any other ancient event of time.
SO we have this sure/certain HOPE/EXPECTATION.
HOW CAN WE BE SO SURE?
* Our hope is anchored in the past : Jesus rose!
* Our hope remains in the present : Jesus lives!
* Our hope is completed in the future : Jesus is coming!
2. GOD MAINTAINS OUR HOPE ; OUR INHERITANCE V.4-5
ILLUSTR: Picture the scene – Multimillionaire has died- reading of the will is called and all concerned are gathered. All expecting to receive part of the fortune.
-What a shock IF at reading it is discovered that in fact he was bankrupt – inheritance hoped for is gone!
-What if a beneficiary hears that she has been left £100,000 and shock of it causes heart attack and she dies too.
Our spiritual inheritance NOT so tenuous.
Our heavenly inheritance is kept for us AND we are kept for it!
Peter had heard Jesus teach about ‘storing up treasure in heaven where moths didn’t eat, rust didn’t corrode and thieves didn’t steal’.
* also understood OT – people of Israel – as strangers in Egypt/wanderers in the wilderness still had sure promise of “promised Land” as if they held the title deeds.
* We have title deeds to our heavenly property. We , like Israel of Old, are pilgrims – strangers/aliens en route to Promised Land.
*Title deeds- promise of Jesus – “ I am going to prepare a place for you.”
– Gift of Spirit – “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance
NB. v5. “Ready” God’s gift of salvation is complete – it doesn’t need finishing touches.
ILLUS.: It is not a self-assemble salvation that comes in a flat-pack from MFI or Ikea….. it doesn’t need sanding and varnishing.
It is complete – we don’t need to add anything..
As we study this it becomes clear that “our inheritance” is not some material possession or physical place BUT God himself.
OT – God to the Priests.
20 The LORD said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. (NIV)
As OT unfolds it becomes clear that this is true not only of the priest but of all true Israel.
NB that Christians are now “priests” – “… a royal priesthood ….” 2v9.
If we have Christ — we have everything!!!!!
Romans 8:32 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (NIV)
WE ARE KEPT FOR OUR INHERITANCE.
Not only is our inheritance kept for us BUT we are kept for our inheritance.
NB that it is kept “… through faith…”
God keeps his finished salvation for us and us for our salvation BUT not against our will. We are not chained up or locked in a cage. It is through Faith – a faith which is a gift from God – because it is not our achievement but God’s. Nevertheless we have to exercise that faith by obedience.
3. JOY THROUGH TRIALS IN CHRIST OUR HOPE. v6-9.
The Christians to whom Peter was writing were suffering because they were Christians – it was an insulting nickname in those days!! It was a new sect – outsiders were suspicious – they were accused of being cannibals -(eating the body and body of the Lord – communion) – they didn’t celebrate the pagan festivals or worship the Roman /Greek gods or the emperor – for these and other reasons they were persecuted.
Over and above the persecution they also suffered the normal trials and difficulties of life that are the common lot of all humans.
Few if any Christians in the West are persecuted for being Christian – we are protected by the democracies under which we live. That is not true for Christians in other counties – Islamic, China etc…..
We may not suffer the kind of persecution that Peter’s readers faced BUT as a general principle those who are faithfully obedient to the claims and commands of Jesus Christ in the midst of an unbelieving world will find opposition to their ideas and their practice.
This raises the question??…. Is the lack of opposition / suffering that we enjoy, due, at least in part, to a lack of nerve on the part of the church to challenge our contemporary world with the message of Jesus.
Peter’s readers suffered because they had the results of salvation in their lives — their Christian living grated against their contemporary culture.
I am not saying that we should go out of our way to invite suffering — but maybe it should and would be more part of our lives than it is IF we were bolder in our Christian living.
Because we don’t face physical persecution it doesn’t mean that we can’t face opposition ….
ILLUS.: may in business or politics a Christian will be opposed or sidelined because of their strong Christian stand.
Standing for Christian principles and values on a personal level may bring opposition at another level.
ILLUS.: A footballer, who is a Christian, and whose team-mates seem more intent on getting drunk and womenising rather than playing football may well find himself being ostracized because he doesn’t enter into their activities.
(being careful not to be judgemental and holier-than-thou!!!!)
The two central themes of this passage are Salvation and Suffering and Peter links them very carefully. The Christians suffered because their message and lifestyle gave complete and sole allegiance to Christ as Saviour.
The Christian message is offensive – it was in Peter’s day – it is today!!
The world in which we live is pluralistic – Pluralism, simplistically, is that all beliefs (religious or otherwise) are equally valid and no one has the right to claim that their belief is exclusively the right one let alone that others are wrong.
We must be tolerant of everyone’s viewpoint and consider them to be equally valid.
Therefore there is no need for salvation – we will all get there in the end –
[ wherever there may be!!!]
It is so easy therefore for the Church to become involved in socially significant ministries – because that is comfortable – and neglect the centrality of salvation which is not popular.
ILLUS.: Think of salvation as the hub of a wheel and all the ministries of the church as the spokes reaching out to society which is the rim — children’s clubs, youth, homeless, counselling, care of the elderly,……… the moment these ministries (spokes) become dislodged from the hub the life of salvation can no longer flow to our society.
It is much easier for us to talk about the Church’s activities – people accept that the church is there to provide clubs for children and the elderly, to provide a wedding and funeral service- to help the disadvantaged ….. BUT it takes nerve and backbone to talk about the need of salvation –
We are afraid of what other will think – we worry about whether or not the message will be palatable – we fret about our acceptance — often these things are more important that the gospel we claim to believe!!!
We settle for the comfortable way — the path of least resistance.
Somehow as Christians we have this idea that God is there to make is comfort and bless us — we forget, or don’t even know that suffering and trouble and opposition is part of being a Christian. We want to experience the benefits of salvation, the resurrection power without experiencing the cross….
Don’t we read the scriptures..
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)
We so easily claim verses like …..
Philippians 3:10 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection …………
….we like the idea of experiences the resurrection power in our lives but we are prone to forget the second half of the verse….
…..and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (NIV)
ILLUS.: Fraser’s e-mail d/d 2/5/98 … “ … some of the MEDAIR team here still find it hard to deal with the death of one of the girls last May ( she drown at Loki). I reckon it is in these times when life sucks and the world deals us a bad hand, that the reality of our relationship with Jesus comes through. I sense more and more that if I want to experience the resurrection power of Jesus in my life, that I am going to have to go through some ‘crucifixion’ experiences. Our culture (even our Christian culture) seems to prize comfort and blessing, and does all it can to save us from hardships and pain. I am slowly learning through some of the painful time to crawl up into the father’s arms and pour out my heart to him.”
Do we want to know Christ? Do we want to know the kind of power in our lives that raised Christ from the dead??
Q> Are we prepared to go the way of the cross or do we always choose the easy comfortable path!!
ILLUS.: Song by Chris and Laura Christensen – about God calling Abraham – for a purpose – to build a people for himself – Christians are by faith children of Abraham and God has called us to give our lives to bring others into the family of God …
Why should we his servants
leave our comfort zones
Take up our cross
Lay down our lives for others
Because we’ve seen a vision
Of God’s great family
And we must find our sisters and our brothers.
Have we grasped this vision of what God is doing in the world – and what he wants to do in us and through us?
OR as AD said a few weeks back are we content to just believe! Salvation is not about having a ticket to heaven!! It is about being a disciple – submitting to the Lordship of Christ – following his agenda. AND that agenda will always grate against the culture in which we live. If life for the church is plain sailing then it is likely that she has assimilated too much of the prevailing culture!! It is tough to stand out as different to the contemporary lifestyle and philosophies of the day.
ILLUS.: young people at school, college and university – pluralistic philosophy is accepted as the norm – no one believe that we are accountable to God and need to be saved!!!!! We are simply the products of Evolutionary Determinism – “I am the way I am because of my genes // Behavioural determinism – “I am the way I am because of the way I was brought up — it is my parents fault” // environmental Determinism – “I am the way I am because of the environment in which I live – if I have more, a better job and lived in a better area I would be a better person”
It is extremely difficult to hold Christian beliefs under such circumstances!!!
Trials / suffering / difficulties are part and parcel of the Christian’s life!!
BUT Peter says we are to rejoice …. in the suffering?? NO!! in the salvation that is ours
“In this..” or “in WHOM” — i.e. in Christ – our salvation is wrapped up in him!!
Yes we may suffer – we will suffer!! BUT there is reason to rejoice……
- our hope in Christ points us beyond the trials. Our troubles last only for a little while; our hope in Christ is forever.
- our joy is strengthen through the very suffering that we endure. Peter says that God keeps us for glory by faith. Our faith must continue through to the end of life’s pilgrimage. IF our faith is going to last it must be purified and stress-tested. Gold must go through the furnace. (v.7). Trials and suffering should not surprise us or cause us to doubt God BUT rather God sends/allows trials to strengthen our trust in him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our confidence in SELF and drive us to Jesus. Fire does not destroy gold it only removes the impurities – that what God wants to do in our lives!!
- when Jesus comes he will bring more than an end to suffering; he will bring his reward of blessing. Our trials are never forgotten by God…
8 you record my wanderings: you put my tears into your bottle: are they not in your book? (nKJV)
2 Corinthians 4:17 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (NIV)
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (NIV)
- a supreme reason for rejoicing in spite of suffering is not the glory that we will receive BUT rather that we will share in Christ’s glory. our sufferings don’t earn us the glory we will be given. The praise glory and honour v.7 may well be what God receives from our proven faith rather than what we receive. In any case IF we receive any crowns of glory it will be our joy to cast them at the Saviour’s feet.
Revelation 4:10 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: (NIV)
4. GOD’S PROMISES OF HOPE ARE FULFILLED IN CHRIST. v10-12
OT foretold the coming of the suffering conquering Messiah – they had a blurred picture of his first and second coming. BUT it becomes clear that he must first suffer and then enter his glory.
NB that is it is the Spirit of Christ v.11 who instructs the prophets – he is not simply that one of whom the prophets speak BUT he is the one who speaks through the prophets about himself.
A strong principle of suffering and glory comes through in the NT. The Messiah had to suffer and then enter his glory. That pattern has profound meaning for the church.
Our suffering is not a sign that Christ has betrayed us or that he is no longer Lord … rather it is a sign of our fellowship with the risen Lord who first suffered for us.
Don’t think that the joy of salvation is only future and that it is all suffering now — NO! Peter whole point is that we can know the joy of salvation inspite of the trials — but the future joy will be even more glorious.
BUT we can have fulness of joy NOW …..
1 Peter 1:8 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (NIV)
are filled present tense.
Jesus has come – the Holy Spirit has been given – the kingdom of God has already come. Our hope is realised – we know Christ. BUT because Jesus is coming again the Kingdom of God is yet to come – the goal of our faith is still future.
God’s salvation is full and complete – although there is a greater fullness to come – there is more than enough to fill us with inexpressible joy now.
We need to accept / trust / by faith to enjoy the fullness of God’s gift …
ILLUS.: man from working class back ground won world cruise – after few week and many wonderful ports and sight struck up a conversation with another passenger, who remarked, “I haven’t seen you before – I see most people in the dining room”. REPLY “Oh I can’t afford to eat in the diningroom – I have some crackers and cheese and a few biscuits and eat in my cabin!”
Response from the fellow passenger “But don’t you realize the food is included!”
Are we enjoying the fullness of all God wants to give us / do through us and in OR are we content with biscuits and cheese alone in our small corner!!
God grant us the faith to receive from him all he wants to give us!! hope and joy in the present — inheritance in the future!!
AN INHERITANCE AND A HOPE …… THAT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD!
1 Peter 1:3 – 12.
1. GOD ESTABLISHES OUR HOPE IN CHRIST. v3.
– Our hope is anchored in the past: Jesus rose!
– Our hope remains in the present: Jesus lives!
– Our hope is completed in the future: Jesus is coming again!
2. GOD MAINTAINS OUR HOPE: OUR
– Our inheritance is kept for us.
“…an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you…”
– We are kept for our inheritance.
“…who through faith are shielded by God’s power …”
3. JOY THROUGH TRIALS IN CHRIST OUR HOPE. v6-9.
– Trials / suffering are part and parcel of the Christian life. Matthew 5:10-11; John 16:33.
– Knowing resurrection power comes via the cross. Philippians 3:10.
– We can rejoice in our salvation despite trials:..
- Our struggles are always temporary.
- Our hope in Christ points beyond trials.
- Our joy is strengthened through the very sufferings we endure.
- Jesus’ return will bring more than an end to suffering; it will bring his reward of blessing.
- We will share Christ’s glory.
4. GOD’S PROMISES OF HOPE ARE
FULFILLED IN CHRIST. v10-12.
The OT prophets spoke of Christ AND he was the one who spoke through the prophets about himself.
– Suffering / glory principle runs through scripture.
“…Messiah had to suffer AND THEN enter his glory …”
– Our sufferings/ trials are NOT a sign of betrayal BUT a mark of fellowship with our risen Lord.
We can rejoice in our salvation NOW,
despite struggles, in the knowledge
that the best is yet to come!