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,
4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (ESV)
God has given us a new birth. The idea of a birth has a number of implications. “Born again” tells us that we are a new person, belonging to a new family, and having new relationships. We get a new start in life. This new birth has been achieved through the resurrection of Jesus.
We have been born into two great things by God’s great mercy: a living hope and into an inheritance. In hard times we have a living hope. We live in a world that is often called hopeless. A hopeless world of despair is often how many people feel about life. The Christian, however, has hope that is alive and of immense value. We have something to set our eyes upon when life becomes full of suffering and difficulty. We have a hope that is not based on the futile things of this world. Our hope is not in this country. Our hope is not in its financial system. Our hope is built upon the resurrection of Jesus.
Part of this living hope is the inheritance that is promised for us. This is an inheritance that does not perish, cannot spoiled, cannot be defiled, and cannot fade. It is an inheritance untouched by death, unstained by evil, and unimpaired by time. This could very well be in contrast to the inheritance that Israel received with the land of Canaan. However, Israel’s inheritance became spoiled and defiled as the people were invaded and removed from the land for this disobedience. We have a great inheritance because it is not like all other physical inheritances. Our inheritance has an eternal nature so it cannot be taken away. It cannot fade away. It is not like houses and cars that fade, break, and ruin. This inheritance is permanent.
Further, our inheritance is reserved in heaven for us. This is one of my favorite images in the scriptures because reservations have come to mean nearly nothing today. You can have a reservation at a restaurant but that does not mean the table is ready for you. You can have a reservation at a car rental place but often they do not have the car you reserved. Reserved just does not mean much any more. But when it comes to our eternal inheritance, it is reserved by God in heaven. God’s reservations are good. When God makes something reserved for you, you can have confidence that your inheritance is waiting for you.
Not only this, we are guarded by God’s power through faith for salvation to be revealed in the end. No one can strip away your salvation. No one can rob you of the hope you have in our Lord Jesus and the salvation we are receiving. The only person who can stop you is you. No one can rob you of what you have except you. No one can steal your joy but you. No one can rob you of your hope except you. This is why we greatly rejoice, as we see in verse 6.
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (ESV)
Be joyful in the hope you have, even though you are distressed. Our lives, in view of the eternal inheritance and living hope we have, suffer for only a little while. I don’t think Peter has special knowledge that he is giving to these Christians that their suffering will stop soon. Rather, he is saying that even a life full of suffering is only a little while in view of the eternal inheritance.
But Peter is not ignoring the fact that they are suffering. Peter is not saying to just think happy thoughts and everything will go away. Everything is not just sunshine and flowers. Peter is not telling them to live a lie because he says that they are being grieved by various trials. But he wants them to be able to endure these various trial and maintain their hope.
Even though when suffer trials there is hope. First, our tested faith is more valuable than gold. Faith is not a valuable faith until it has been tested. Gold is not any good until the impurities are heated from the metal. Faith must be refined. Faith must go through heat. Therefore, we can say that genuine faith is faith that has experienced testing. Untested faith is good in theory. But we see what a person’s faith looks like when various trials fall upon a person. We want to have faith without suffering. But Peter points out that this is not possible. Faith must be tested so that it can be proven to be faith. Faith must endure tough choices, difficult times, and suffering.
Second, our tested faith results in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. When all is said and done, our suffering brings praise, glory, and honor to Jesus through our endurance. Further, praise, glory, and honor will be given to our faith when Jesus is revealed. We will be declared good and faithful servants because our faith has been tested and proven to be valuable.
So even though we have not seen him, we continue to love him and continue to place our trust in him. As we continue to endure suffering and trials, we are receiving the result of our faith through trials: the salvation of our souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what time or circumstances the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (ESV/HCSB)
Peter goes on to tell us that we live during a privileged time. The prophets searched and inquired carefully about when the Christ would come. The prophets wanted to know the circumstances surrounding the sufferings the Christ would endure and the glories he would receive. They knew that they were pointing to glorious days that they themselves would not experience, but we would. Even angels desired to understand and see these events unfold. We live in a great time, a privileged time, where Christ has came for us, died for us, and brought us forgiveness. We are not looking into the works of God as a mystery. God revealed his plan for us and given us the opportunity to enjoy those blessings.
Notice in verse 11 he speaks about the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. Jesus endured the sufferings predicted that would come upon him. Through his obedience and endurance he received the subsequent glories bestowed by God. In the same way, Peter points out that when we endure sufferings and trials, we will also receive the glory from God that follow.
You can endure suffering:
- Because you have hope
- Because you have an eternal inheritance
- Because genuine faith is a tested faith
- Because you obtain salvation through sufferings
- Because you are privileged to live during these days of Christ