Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Our Indestructible, Incorruptible, Imperishable Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

“…born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:3–4, NASB95)

Verse 3 speaks of the first of several blessings we have from God, with the greatest being that we are born again. And, this being born again means that we have a future which is our living hope because Jesus Himself conquered death by His resurrection from the dead. His life means that our life is an absolute certainty. We are not fools because we have believed in a foolish dream. We are blessed by God because He has sent for us our certain Savior and the life which He gives. We have a hope that will not pass, but prove itself more and more sure every day until it is fully realized in His presence. This was the first cause for praising God or blessing Him that we find in verse 3.

As we move into verse 4 we find another cause for praise, and that is an inheritance that He has set aside for us. My dad spent a lot of time studying genealogy, and in that study, he came across many fascinating truths about my ancestors—or those who came before me. He found many good people who did notable good things. He found others that lived hard and honorable lives. And, he found some who might be spoken of as that dark one that we would like to keep in a closet. I think this is true for most of us. Our history is a mixed bag. But then again, the same is true of every single one of our lives. From our human perspective, we all have done some measurable good and some measurable harm. None of us are perfect. And, from God’s perspective this is absolutely true. The Bible tells us in very straightforward terms in verses like Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, not even one;” (Romans 3:10, NASB95)

Among the stories (as vague as it is in my mind) is one of a relative who was married, and rather than getting divorced he left his wife and married another. When word of his death spread, both wives came forward to lay claim to his estate. I’m told that the battle with the attorneys was so intense that by the time a settlement was reached, debts were paid, and his vast holdings were divided, there was little left for those he left behind. What had seemed like a nice inheritance was lost. It went right through their fingers, and was gone before they ever could lay hold of it. Stories of inheritances lost or squandered are widespread. Bumper stickers on RV’s joke of parents spending their children’s inheritance while for others the hope for generational prosperity has dwindled in an ever changing and challenging economy and struggle to provide for the present. What we have here in the way of possessions is temporal. Thet may or may not endure our death to be passed on to our children, and I think we all realize that an earthly inheritance is an unreliable hope.

But God tells us the inheritance that He has for us is not subject to any of these things. We are told that we have our hope to obtain an inheritance that “is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, [which is] reserved in heaven for you [us]….” There are four things we are told here about this inheritance. First, we read that it is “imperishable.” It is absolutely incorruptible. It is not subject to decay. It is permanent and will never become any less than what it is. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not 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 do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21, NASB95) He compared the things we set aside and treasure here as that which is subject to decay or theft.

I have many things from my parents. Among them are a couple of my dad’s Navy uniforms with all of their insignia. These are two uniforms that my dad wore while he served our country. They signify a time of dedicated service. But they are sitting in a bin. They will not be worn again, and for all intent and purpose they have no purpose other than remembrance. As I look at them now I can see the signs of age. I can see the little holes that came from moths getting at them. I can see the yellowing of the white fabric as it has become tarnished over time. And, I wrestle with what to do with them, as I do with many of their things of memory that hold little value to anyone outside my family.

Over time I’ve also had things that I treasured that have been taken away. When our oldest went away to college he went with a new bike to get around campus and a new guitar as a graduation gift. And, sure enough a day came when he came home for the weekend and someone broke in and stole them both along with many other things. Both items we replaced, and wouldn’t you know it, the bike was stolen again. Things are stolen from us all the time, and we have come to accept this as part of living in this world. We suffer the cost and we move on.

But God tells us the inheritance He has for us in imperishable or incorruptible. It cannot be stolen and it cannot be tarnished. It is perfectly held for us by Him, and we can trust Him for that which we hope and are yet to see because we know Him to be perfectly able to do so.

Oops. I just looked at how long this post was already as I was preparing to move on to the second of the four things in this verse of the nature of our inheritance. So, let’s wrap it up here with some words from God’s word reminding us of the great imperishable hope we have.

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;” (1 Corinthians 15:42–43, NASB95)

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25, NASB95) 

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