“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of 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 is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Peter begins his letter by giving thanks to God. Wayne Grudem, in his commentary, writes that he “…echoes a frequent Old Testament word of praise to God (Gen 14:20; 24;27; Ruth 4:14; 1 Sam 25:32; 1 Kgs 1:48; Ps 28:6; 31:21; 41:13) and changes it so as to praise God with a name he never revealed in the Old Testament, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God, through his mercy, has given us new birth into a living hope and into an inheritance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! There is so much to unpack here. But let’s first start with mercy. What is mercy? Mercy means withholding the punishment that is justly deserved. Charles Spurgeon said, “No other attribute could have helped us had mercy been refused. As we are by nature, justice condemns us, holiness frowns upon us, power crushes us, truth confirms the threatening of the law, and wrath fulfills it. It is from the mercy of our God that all our hopes begin.”
Next, let’s look at the relationship of God the Father and God the Son. Better yet, let’s look at the Trinity! I’ll bet that got your attention. The Trinity is a hard concept to understand. I just finished the chapter “God in Three Persons: The Trinity” in the systematic theology book I am working through. I am reading Wayne Grudem’s and completing the workbook that goes with it. While the Trinity is something we will never fully understand here on this earth, we can understand this. 1.God is three persons. 2. Each person is fully God. 3. There is one God. This is a very difficult concept to grasp, and many cults have formed out of a wrong understanding of the Trinity. I’ll see if I can explain a little. Each person in the Trinity is distinct and has a different role, but they are one God. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” All three are present at creation. God the Father planned creation. He foreknew everything (1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:29-30). God the Son created the world (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17). And the Holy Spirit sustains creation. He was hovering over the surface of the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2). Grudem, in the systematic theology book, explains it this way. “So we may say that the role of the Father in creation and redemption has been to plan and direct and send the Son and Holy Spirit…the Father directs and has authority over the Son, and the Son obeys and is responsive to the directions of the Father. The Holy Spirit is obedient to the directives of both the Father and the Son.” He goes on to explain that while they are completely equal in deity to God the Father, they are subordinate in their roles.
I want to take just a minute here to cover something I see happening in the church today. I am sure it is nothing new. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done: there is nothing new under the sun.” We tend to want to isolate one of the persons of the Trinity and make them more important. Let me explain. The Hebrew Roots movement that is growing in popularity puts emphasis on God the Father and the rules given in the Old Testament. In order to please God, one must observe all the laws of the Torah. Next, we have the Word of Faith, Bethel, New Apostolic Reformation type churches who emphasize the Holy Spirit over the other two members of the Trinity. There is an overemphasis on signs and wonders. People are searching for new, exciting, supernatural experiences. And lastly, we have those who claim they just want Jesus. It might be those in the progressive wing of the Christian Church. They want the Jesus they have created, not the one connected to the Old Testament God. Or it could be someone who doesn’t want to go to church, but claims they are a Christian. Orthodox Christianity, historic Christianity has become so rare! It is so important that we know what we believe so that when false ideologies and teachings come up, we can identify them and stand firmly on God’s Word!
Now back to the passage. Let’s look at what we’ve been given. We’ve been given a new birth into a living hope through the power of the resurrection. God the Father sent God the Son to redeem us. Because of that, we have hope! This is more than wishful thinking. It is the strong confidence that God is going to do what he promised. Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Being born again has two goals. The verse reads “…he has given us new birth into a living hope…” and an inheritance in heaven. One is for now, the other is for later. We are born again here on this earth. The commentary in the Gospel Coalition describes it this way. “This hope can be described as ‘living’ because it produces the fruit of a transformed life.” Our lives are transformed in the here and now. Paul uses many examples of taking off the old self like a set of clothing and putting on the new.
The next part of the hope we have is the inheritance. This inheritance is described by Paul in Ephesians 1:11-12. “In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will, so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory.” He also writes about it in Colossians 1:12 “…giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light” and 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” He uses three adjectives to describe this inheritance. It is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Imperishable means that it is not subject to decay. Undefiled means that it is not stained by sin. And unfading means that it will not grow dim or lose its glory. I am reminded of Jesus words in the sermon on the mount. He tells us, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
The last part of the verse says that we are being guarded by God’s power through faith. We are being guarded for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. Grudem writes, “If God’s guarding has as its purpose the preservation of believers until they receive their full heavenly salvation, then it is safe to conclude that God will accomplish that purpose and they will in fact attain that final salvation.” God keeps his promises! If God is guarding it, you better believe it is safe!
The readers of Peter’s letter were going through persecution and suffering. He begins his letter with words of encouragement reminding them that this is not their final home. They have hope that through the resurrection of Jesus, they have an inheritance waiting for them in heaven. And we do too! Things have been pretty easy for us as Christians here in America, but they are going to get harder. We need to stand up for what we believe to be true. Peter’s letter is so relevant for us today.
Grace be with you!