Sermon on 1 Peter 1:3-9
Text: 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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 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, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Generally speaking, most of us have days that get us down. Things don’t go the way we expected them to. People seem to be doing their level best to foul up the plans we have for that day. We, also, have days that are scheduled, but we don’t look forward to them. Perhaps it is something as minor as a trip to the dentist, but we still don’t look forward to them. Each of us has at least some forbidding about the future, simply because we don’t know what’s going to happen. This morning, the apostle Peter reminds us that THE CHRISTIAN HAS A REASON TO LOOK FORWARD 1. To Eternity’s Blessings Due To Easter and 2. To Each Day’s Blessings Due To Easter.
Note the reason that the Christian can look forward: “Due To Easter.” Easter is the only reason a Christian can have hope. If we did not know of and believe in the events of Easter, we would have no reason, whatsoever, to look forward to anything. Christ’s resurrection assures us that all of our sins have been forgiven. When Christ rose from the dead, he proved that he had won the victory over sin. It proves to us that we can trust in him when he said on the cross, “It is finished.” All of our sins of lying, stealing, using inappropriate language, and whatever other sins we have committed were all paid for. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be sure that all of our sins were paid for. We can and do look forward to eternity, because of Jesus’ resurrection.
Peter says in verse 4 that we have been born into God’s family and, because of this, we have “An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” We are familiar with the term “inheritance.” This is received, usually, by members of the person’s family. All of us have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. Peter describes it as one “that can never perish, spoil or fade.” It cannot perish. It will not decay. It will not come to an end. We are told that it will not spoil. There are so many beautiful things to look at, such as a flower, but its beauty is only fleeting. Sooner or later, most things will spoil. It also says that it will not fade. Many beautiful clothes will fade after awhile. The brilliance of their colors leaves and, after awhile, the clothes end up in the rag bag.
This is not the case with the inheritance from our heavenly Father. The robes that we wear will never fade, because they have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus. They will never lose their brilliance. We will be in the Lord’s presence forever. What beautiful pictures of heaven are found in the Bible, especially in the book of Revelation. For example, we read in Revelation 7:15-17, “They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” This promise of God makes us look forward to eternity. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that heaven waits for us at the end of our days.
Sometimes, doesn’t the promise of heaven seem almost too good to be true? We see so much pain and suffering around us that it is hard for us to imagine what heaven is like. What assurance do we have that this waits for us? In verse 8, we read, “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.” When we hear these words, we cannot help but think of the story of Doubting Thomas. Remember how, when the other disciples told him that they had seen Jesus, he declared he would not believe it until he saw Jesus for himself and touched the wounds in his hands and side. A week later Jesus again appeared to his disciples. He turned to Thomas and invited him to touch the wounds and to stop doubting and to believe. Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Note how closely Jesus’ and Peter’s words match. No, none of us has physically seen or heard Jesus. However, the Holy Spirit has created faith in our hearts. Through that faith, we hear Jesus as he speaks to us. Through that faith, we travel to the foot of the cross and see Jesus suffer and die for our sins. Through that faith, we go with the women to the empty tomb and hear the angel say, “He is not here; he has risen.” (Matthew 28:6) Because of this faith, as Peter says, we love him and trust in his promises. The Christian has every right to look forward to eternity’s blessings due to Easter.
Yet, what about today? Many unbelievers charge us with having our heads in the clouds, always talking about eternity. They ask, ‘What good is your belief in the everyday world? It sure doesn’t seem to make you immune to the problems of today.’ In unguarded moments, we might ask ourselves the very same thing. What good does it do to believe in Jesus in my day to day life?
The Christian does have every right to look forward to each day’s blessings due to Easter. Look at verse 3, where Peter writes, “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.” Does that sound like a man down in the dumps? Yet, remember that he was writing to people who were undergoing a persecution for their faith. Later, we read, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12) Peter was writing to encourage these people in the face of some hardships that they were facing. He tells them right away, “God has given us a new birth.” That is something that happened in the past and the effects of this continue to the present day. You are God’s child. God is your heavenly Father. The almighty God has chosen you to be his own, and he promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) With that in mind, we see that we have no reason to doubt God’s love for us. God loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for us. Surely, he will take care of us the rest of our lives.
Why, then, does our heavenly Father allow trials, tribulations and heartaches to enter our lives? Peter writes in verses 6&7, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” All of these things are for the benefit of our faith.
Peter uses the picture of gold in verse 7. He reminds us that our faith is of greater value than gold. Indeed it is more valuable, for, even if a person were able to acquire all of the gold in the world, he could not save himself. However, the smallest childlike faith in Jesus as the Savior from sin gives life in heaven. It is also more valuable because, as Peter reminds us, gold “perishes.” Gold can be destroyed or stolen. Someone can steal all that we have. No one, however, can steal our faith from us. As long as we believe in Jesus, we cannot be robbed of our faith. As a matter of fact, Peter tells us that we are “shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (Verse 5) Indeed, our faith is more valuable than gold.
Peter also uses another picture of gold to describe what happens to our faith when trials come our way. He speaks of gold being refined in the fire. Before you have pure gold, you must use a hot fire to melt it, so that all of the impurities might be removed. It takes quite a bit of heat to melt the gold, but it is done so that it might be purified. The same holds true for the Christian’s faith. Again, Peter says that “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith . . . may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (Verse 7 ) God, at times, does allow the heat to come up on us, in whatever form he might choose, whether it be financial troubles, illness, death, etc. However, he does not allow these things to happen to destroy us, but to remove impurities from our faith and to make it even more pure and valuable. Gold ore may be valuable, but its value increases dramatically after all the impurities are gone. So, also, our faith is valuable, but it becomes all the more valuable when it is unhampered by all of the things of this world. So, when trials come our way, we are not to think that God is out to get us. We know that God is in control and uses all things, good and bad, for our benefit. In this way, we can see that even the worst days are blessings from God, for they bring us closer to him. We are close to him, because of Jesus’ resurrection.
So many people live in fear of the future. They think they can protect themselves by building financial safety nets or by buying plenty of insurance. Many people, sinfully, waste their money on astrologers and other mediums, hoping to get a glimpse into the future. We don’t have to worry about these things. Due to Christ’s resurrection, we can look forward to each and every day, confident of our loving Father’s protecting, caring hand. Due to Christ’s resurrection, we can look forward to eternity’s blessings. Since this is true, go forward each day, confident that the Lord who loved you enough to save you eternally, will be with you until you enter your inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. Amen.
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