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God is with you, Part 2

1 Peter 1v3-5

New birth into a living hope

10th March 2017

Last week we looked at the first two verses of this letter, which form the introduction. Next, Peter writes:

1 Peter 1v3-5
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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 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.

Good stuff, isn’t it?

The first duty of a Christian is to bring praise to God, and that’s how Peter begins his letter. He offers praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should praise Him because he has given us new birth.

Every real Christian has had a new birth - a new start - a clean slate - a fresh beginning. This is much more than just repentance - choosing to live a different way, with a different set of values and priorities. It is that, but it’s much more. Every real Christian has become a different person. There was a moment in time when we changed. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, "No-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again".

That moment may be so long ago that you've forgotten it. You may have been so young that you were unaware of it, or your conversion to Christ may have been so gradual that you couldn’t identify the exact day you were saved. But there was a moment when you changed. At that moment, your sins were forgiven, you were adopted as a child of God, and the Holy Spirit came to live in you.

Now that’s worth praising God for!

Peter tells us, God gave us new birth into a living hope. And this hope is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is the Christian hope: Because Jesus is alive, even though He died, we know that we will be alive, even after we die. We will live for ever with Jesus our Saviour.

Our hope will never die, because its fulfilment in certain. Christ will come again, we will stand before the judgement seat of God, and we who believe will be welcomed into God’s eternal dwelling.

Our hope is sure. People can hope for all sorts of things. Some hope for a cure for their disease. That cure may be discovered before they die. Some hope for riches or luxuries. They may find them. I might hope for one round of golf when I don’t play a bad shot. That may happen, though it hasn't happened yet. But we who have been given a new birth, hope for eternity in heaven. We hope to see Jesus face-to-face. We hope to live there for ever. And that hope is certain. It will happen. Our hope will never die.

And our hope lives within us. It grows. It changes us. Here’s how it changes us:

  • Firstly, our hope purifies us. 1 John 3:2-3 says that "when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself".
  • Secondly, our hope makes us bold. 2 Corinthians 3:11-12, speaking about the glory to come says, "since we have such a hope, we are very bold."
  • Thirdly, our hope inspires faith and love in us. Colossians 1:5 speaks of "the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven".
  • Fourthly, our hope enables us to keep going when times are difficult. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 talks about our "endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
  • And fifthly, our hope protects our minds. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 describes “the hope of salvation” as “a helmet".

God guarantees us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. He’s already earmarked it for us. Things in this life can perish, spoil or fade. Food can go off. Clothes that looked great when you bought them can look dull now. But heaven lasts for ever. And, if you've truly put your faith in Jesus and in His redeeming blood, your inheritance in heaven will last for ever, and it'll be as fresh a million years from now as it will be on the day you arrive.

And your inheritance is kept in heaven for you – guarded, safe, guaranteed, by the God’s authority.

And you "through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." Not only is our inheritance being protected for us, we're being protected for it. If you're a real Christian, if God has given you new birth, then His power is shielding you, keeping you safe in the faith and in Jesus Christ. As Jesus promised in John 6:39-40, "…this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." God has chosen you and His choice is irrevocable. You will be kept safe until you die and go to be with Jesus for ever, or until He comes back to earth.

Peter speaks of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You and I know we're saved, but most people have no idea that were saved. They have no concept of what it means to be saved, or how we can be saved. They don't understand why Jesus came to earth. The idea that His sacrifice on the cross sets you and me free from death has never occurred to most people. Even the idea that Jesus is Lord hasn't really got through to most people. But these things will be revealed in the last time. One day, Jesus will come back, judge the living and the dead, and institute a new heaven and a new earth. Every knee will bow before Jesus, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, and every eye will see that you and I are saved through faith in His blood.

Marvellous, isn’t it? Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!