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Our Heavenly Inheritance

We are going to start a series where we walk through the New Testament book of 1 Peter.  It is clear that Peter’s main concern is persecution because each chapter deals with it and many of the other subjects are an encouragement to those enduring it.  However, today we are going to be dealing with the inheritance that we have in Christ.

Who Is Writing

In order to set the stage, we want to recognize that this is a letter from the apostle Peter.  Peter was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus that lived with him wherever he went.  Within this group Peter was one of three who were closest to Jesus.  In fact, Peter is actually a nickname that Jesus gave to him.  Some try to make Peter out to be the head Apostle and first Pope, however, it is clear from Scripture that this is simply not true.  In Acts 15 we do not see Peter presiding over the council and decreeing God’s will ex cathedra.  Rather we see all the apostles speaking what God has been saying to them and coming to a consensus about what the Holy Spirit wanted them to do.  Also, though Peter eventually ended up in Rome and was put to death there, he does not appear as the first Bishop of Rome, nor was he the instrument to raise up a church in Rome.  This is not to diminish Peter, but rather to clarify who it is who is writing.  He is an apostle of Jesus; one who was sent by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel to the world alongside of the work of other apostles.

Who Received the Letter

This letter was written specifically to believers who had been spread out from Jerusalem due to persecution.  Believers went many directions to many places.  Here Peter describes areas that are in what we would call central and northern Turkey today.  Though some try to say these are Jewish believers, I don’t believe that is Peter’s point in speaking of the “dispersion.”  Most early Christians were Jewish by the fact that it started in Jerusalem.  So clearly there are many Jews in this group if not most of them.  The dispersion is not a reference to the overall Jewish Diaspora that had been going on, but rather to the issues of Acts 8:4 when persecution of Christians by fellow Jews caused them to disperse and scatter into the surrounding nations.  What Satan meant for evil God meant for good.  Thus the Gospel was spread beyond Jerusalem at a faster rate than would have occurred under the believer’s own direction.

Peter reminds them that they are “elect” (literally chosen) by God.  God chose them according to his foreknowledge.  God knows in advance what men will chose and how they will respond and He made a choice.  He did not choose to save the strongest or the wisest, but rather to save the humble.  Thus even the strongest and wisest can be saved, if they will humble themselves.  God did not choose our works of righteousness but rather chose a path of salvation that required men to confess their sin, humble themselves before God and put their trust in His righteousness, specifically in Jesus Christ.  Remember that God  has chosen you to salvation and to an inheritance not because of your great works, but because of simple trust in Him. 

They are chosen by God “in sanctification of the Holy Spirit.”  Sanctification is when we are set apart by God for his purposes.  That sanctification has aspects that are immediate and some that are ongoing.  When we believe in Jesus we are separated from the world as God’s children and recipients of his favor.  However, as we follow Him, the Holy Spirit enables us to be separated from the ways of this world and the image of this world.

Next they are chosen by God for Obedience and for Service.  Part of Obeying God is to first believe on Jesus and then to pick up our cross and follow him.  In other words we enter into a life of dying to things that Jesus may live in us.  Just as Jesus was obedient to go to the literal cross, so God will call us to do many things that are like a cross to our soul.  We won’t want to die to certain desires and fears, but to obey God we will eventually have to learn.  We may be disciplined at times, but as a loving Father, we need not worry that he seeks to disqualify us.  On the contrary, he died that we might be his children.  Trust him!  The reason I said we are chosen for Service is because of the imagery behind the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.”  It is pointing back to the Old Testament sacrifices.  Anything that was going to be used for holy purposes, whether it was an altar, clothing, or a person like the priests, had to be sprinkled with blood from a sacrifice.  It represented that it had been cleansed and set apart for God’s work.  That physical lamb that was slain and the blood that was literally sprinkled on things point to the death of Jesus.  So, how are we metaphorically sprinkled with the blood of Jesus?  This is done by the Holy Spirit when we believe on Jesus as our substitute.  He died for me that my sins could be covered.   I believe an then God applies the blood to cover my account.

Peter’s Desire For Them

Peter ends verse 2 by praying Grace and Peace for them and that it be multiplied.  Clearly our greatest need is God’s grace, peace with Him, and peace from Him.  Though God’s grace and peace are already potentially multiplied towards us all the time, we do need to rest in that grace and peace.  If we allow our confidence to be undermined then we can lose our grip on His blessings.  Thus Peter prays that it will be in constant renewal and supply.

Peter’s Praise of God

God’s plan for mankind is truly magnificent.  It is not the plan we would have made for ourselves, but it is amazing.  Thus Peter blesses the Father because of His abundant mercy, which is a mercy that is inexhaustible.  If every soul on the planet repented today, God would have enough mercy to draw them all in and more.  However his mercy is not just abundant in quantity.  It is also abundant in quality.  Thus the next phrase, “begotten us again,” is a reference to the new birth or spiritual birth of John 3:3.  Simple mercy would be allowing us to be His slaves.  As you increase that mercy we can rise from slaves to friends.  But God’s mercy is so great that he adopts us into his family and makes us his children.  He spiritually births us into his family.  No, we do not become gods as some may claim.  But our Father is God and His Spirit does live within us, which is an abundant mercy.  We also have a “living Hope.”  It is living because Jesus who was dead is now alive.  However, it is also living in the sense that the Hope is lively.  It can’t be put down or quenched.  When satan tries to convince us that there is no hope, the hope we have in Jesus jumps up and sends him fleeing.  In Christ our hope cannot be touched by satan.  Even his death words can’t destroy the living hope we have in Jesus.  Lastly it is a living hope because it is the hope of eternal life that we have in our own personal resurrection by Jesus.  Thus the resurrection of Jesus becomes the assurance or proof that the Father will do all he has said he will do.  Our hope is a hope of life eternal.

But notice the reason God has given us spiritual birth.  In verse 4 we are born for an inheritance.  A divine inheritance has been created for those who are God’s children.  This inheritance is “incorruptible.”  That means it can’t diminish or be lost in the stock market.  It can’t grow old and die.  It is imperishable.  The next word to describe the inheritance is “undefiled.”  It is a clean and pure inheritance.  God didn’t steal it from anybody and it is not ill-gotten gain.  It is a righteous and pure inheritance that does not “fade away.”  How?  It doesn’t fade because it is kept in heaven for you.  Here things fade and luster is lost.  But our inheritance is just as shiny as the first day God made it.  Nothing, not even satan himself, can get near it to tarnish it.  In fact in verse 5 Peter says that even we ourselves are “kept by the power of God.”  This is a military picture of a spiritual guard that is placed upon us as his children.  This doesn’t mean Satan can’t attack.  It just means that his attacks are only as successful as we let them be.  That is why he couples the guarding power to our faith.  When we simply believe God in the face of every lying demon of hell then Satan can’t touch us.  Like Job of old we can lose everything and yet not, because our faith is in God.  “Though God slay me yet I will trust him.”

God has revealed the plan of his salvation.  But the day is coming when the heavens will open and Jesus will return.  And , in that day, his salvation will be revealed in all its power and glory!  This is our heavenly inheritance that we have in Jesus.  Amen.