Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 1, 2018
He has risen! As we being this morning, I want to take a moment and welcome our visitors this morning. We are glad you chose Cornerstone Church to worship the Lord this Easter. I hope you feel loved and welcome.
If you are not familiar with Cornerstone Church, I like to tell people that we are Christ exulting and Bible believing. We treasure Christ and treasure the truths about Christ that are found in the Scriptures. And every Sunday we do the same thing, we open up the Scriptures and we listen to what God has to tell us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This book is breathed out by God, which is just another way to say that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, if you want to hear from heaven, it is as simple as reading your Bible.
And that is what we do day in and day out at Cornerstone Church we open up the living, active, and unchanging Word of God and see what it says. Perhaps some of you heard this week, the Pope found himself in a little bit of a PR nightmare. Allegedly the Pope, during an interview, told a reporter that there was no such thing as Hell. Now whether he said this or not, I don’t know, but it sheds an immense amount of light on the problem of seeing the word of man as equal to the Word of God. Man can change their mind. One day claim there is a hell and the next day it disappears. One day claim that you’re saved by grace and the next day say you are saved by works. One day claim you can’t be absolved for sin for a particular sin and the next day you can. This is the shifting sand of man. But this is not the case for God’s word. Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” God's word does not evolve.
Now when we think about God’s Word, the Bible, what comes to your mind? Some of you would say Jesus. Others may say love. Still some of you would say judgment. And all of those answers would be correct.
But this morning I want you to think about the Bible as a book of promises, for that is what it is. From Genesis to Revelation it is full of the promises of God, and this morning we will look at two of those promises in our text today: mercy and a heavenly inheritance. So with that said, let us turn to our text for this morning, 1 Peter 1:1-10 and please stand in honor of the reading of God’s sacred Word.
Let us begin by recognizing that the Bible is a book written to Christians. We see this is the opening verse of 1 Peter. This letter is written to those who are elect, to those who are chosen by God. As it says, the elect as those who are sanctified by the spirit, those who obey Christ, those who have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, those who are being guarded by God through faith. This a description of Christians, those who have repented and placed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Therefore the promises in this book are for those who have trusted in the blood of Jesus to save them, and it is not for the world.
A Promise of Mercy
So with that said, let us begin by looking at the first promise, mercy. We see the word mercy in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” If you read this verse quickly, you may not catch that it is a promise, but it is, for the mercy is fully realized at a future event, the day of judgment.
The Greek word, which is the original language of 1 Peter, for mercy is eleos. At times the word Eleos is translated to pity. Eleos mean to show kindness toward the miserable and afflicted, with a desire to relieve them of their misery. And this is the correct way to understand the human condition, miserable and afflicted.
Many people don’t feel miserable and afflicted, but they are. The problem is that most people haven’t spent time pondering life. First, our lives are a vapor. On average, we will only live to be around 75 years old. That is not long compared to eternity. During those 75 years we will devote our lives to vanity. Many of us call this the rat race. This rat race of life will cause us to be whiners and complainers, longing for weekends and Holidays, which never live up to expectations. In addition, these 75 years will be marked by major tragedies such as cancer, divorce, losing your job, or losing a loved one. These tragedies will rock your world. In between those major events you will be riddled with the day to day stress of this life: sick kids, car trouble, family quarrels, angry bosses, etc. Job 14:1 says, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.”
Sure, TV and movies like to dress life up and make it look like something it is not. But let’s be honest, life is miserable. We are a pitiful human race. And the reason for this miserable condition is because of sin. When sin entered the world through the fall of Adam, everything fell apart. Creation was cursed, our relationships were cursed, and we were cursed.
But if that is not enough, because of our sin, and because God is Holy and Just we are guilty under the wrath of God. Nahum 1:2 says, “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” Because of sin, humanity is an enemy of God. And when will this wrath be poured out? On the day of Judgment.
We are told about this future day of judgment in Revelation 20, where every single person who has every lived will stand before a great and awesome God and give an account before him. And we are told that if you are not found in Christ, you will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity.
So is humanity in a miserable condition? Absolutely yes. We are a wretched pitiable people. But let us not forget where we began. Christians have been promised mercy. God looks down on our wretched estate and has compassion upon us. Perhaps one of the best sections that compares our misery to God's mercy is Ephesians 2.
Listen to what it says in Ephesians 2:1-7 – “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Those who have received the grace in Christ through faith have been promised salvation from this world and salvation from judgment. Christians have been promised “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
But how do we know that this promise of mercy will come true? Words are just words. What hope do we have that we can trust 1 Peter 1 and Ephesians 2, and all of the other passages that tell us that we can be forgiven through Christ?
A Promise of an Inheritance
Before we answer that question, let’s look at the second promise we see in our text today. Look at verse 4, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Not only are we promised to receive mercy, we are promised to receive an inheritance. What is an inheritance?
An inheritance is the reception of property, rights, or title as an heir. But whose heirs are we? Through faith in Christ we become heirs of God. Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” Through faith in Christ we are adopted into God's family. We are fellow heirs with Jesus. That is why we call God Father, for He is just that, The God of the Universe is our father. Therefore all that Jesus receives as God's Son, becomes ours in Christ through inheritance. That sounds pretty good, doesn't it.
Practically speaking, what does this inheritance of ours look like? Romans 8:18 says this inheritance is a glory that is not worth comparing to the things of this world. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says this inheritance as an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Psalm 84:10 tell us that one day experiencing this inheritance is better than 1000 days elsewhere. Psalm 16:11 tells us that the inheritance involves a fullness of joy and pleasures forever. Revelation 21 describes this inheritance as no more tears, no more mourning, no more pain, no more sin, no more death.
And not only that, we are told in our text that this incomparable inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” What is meant by this? These extravagant words are used to reinforce the security of our glorious inheritance. Our heavenly inheritance is a forever reality. This heavenly inheritance stands in stark contrast with Earthly inheritance that can be squandered, rust, erode, burned down, stolen, etc. The pure and perfect glory that awaits us in heaven is eternally unchanging.
Normally an inheritance vests when someone dies. So if this is God's inheritance, when did God die? He died on the cross at Calvary. At the death of Christ, all of the glorious inheritance was purchased, or transferred, or vested in God's elect. It is only by the death of Jesus Christ that we have any claim to the property, rights or title to Heaven.
And for those who have faith in Jesus Christ, it is being kept for you. It is awaiting your arrival. This is a promise of God, and this is, once again, what we look forward to. As it says in Romans 8, this is what we groan for. This is what he hope for, an eternal glory in the presence of our Father that does not compare to anything we could ever imagine in this world.
But, let us ask the same question we asked previously, how do we know that there is truly an inheritance in heaven being kept for us. How can we be sure that God is real, that Heaven is real, that the words of 1 Peter 1 are real, this entire book is real? There are many, many reasons that we can trust the Bible, but the preeminent reason is that our hope is not just words, our hope is alive.
A Living Hope
Look at verse 3, “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” Our hope is a living hope. Our hope is not just words on a page. Our hope is not just some old book. Our hope is alive, for our hope is in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” Him being Christ. It is through the risen Christ that we know that all of our sins have been paid in full and we have been forgiven. It is through the risen Christ that we know that the curse of death has been defeated. It is through the risen Christ that we will be delivered from the curse and returned back to the Garden of Eden.
This is why we rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for in the empty tomb we know that Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic. The empty tomb proves that Jesus is Lord.
And we know that the tomb was empty, for it was a historical reality. The resurrection of Christ is a fact that was prophesied in Old Testament. Psalm 16:9-10, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” The resurrection is a fact that Jesus predicted. Mark 9:31, “he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” The resurrection is a fact that hundreds of eye witnesses have confirmed: Mary, Peter, the 12, James, Jude, Paul, and over 500 people all at one time. And many of these people who saw the resurrected Christ were killed for their testimony. Which demonstrates that they are not making it up. For no one dies for a lie they know to be a lie.
Therefore this living hope that is anchored in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is also anchored in solid verifiable evidence. Evidence that has been preserved for us in the Gospel and the letters of the New Testament. And because of this we can say as it does in verses 8 and 9 of our text, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
He has risen!