Thursday, November 10, 2016

Our Never Fading Hope and Assurance (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)

In addition to reading that we have an inheritance that is imperishable or incorruptible, we also read that it is “undefiled.” This means that it is perfect. It is not tarnished by sin. It is unpolluted. It doesn’t just look good on the surface. It is good all the way to its core. It is not a mixed bag. What God has for us as our inheritance is perfectly good from our perfectly good God. Even what He gives us now, that we do see comes from His good and perfect hands. Our God gives good gifts and He has good stored up for us. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17, NASB95)

In the beginning, we read that everything God created was not only good, but that it was very good. It was perfectly good and undefiled by any sin, mark, or blemish. This was how God made it as He created man and placed him and woman (Adam and Eve) in the garden to enjoy Him and His good gifts. But we know that man did not obey God and sin entered the world, and with that sin so did death and separation. We read throughout the Old Testament that God reached out to man. He chose for Himself a people from among man in the midst of man’s evil, and He established a covenant relationship with that people though whom He said all of the nations would be blessed. He also told this people that they were to seek after Him and have no other gods before Him. But, we also know that this people rebelled and suffered greatly His judgment because of that. And still, God spoke to them and offered them a way. But, man (with exceptions) did not seek Him or follow His way, and sin continued to prevail. The amazing thing is that not one bit of this was a surprise to God. As defiled as man was, God knew from before time that the only path man had to becoming undefiled is for Him to step in and to cleanse man Himself.

This cleansing is exactly what God did as He sent His Son as the perfect, undefiled Lamb to sacrifice Himself on our behalf to cleanse us from our sins and bring us back into a relationship with Him. This is exactly what Jesus did when He took on the form of man to be born and to know the suffering of man as He suffered the ultimate penalty for the sin of man. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us so that we might be made righteous with the righteousness of God. This is what 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that God the Father did for us. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB95) This is what we read in a previous post from Hebrews 9:14 when “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God….” (Hebrews 9:14, NASB95)

Because our access to God has been gifted to us by the unblemished Son of God, who gave Himself for us and imputed to us His own unblemished righteousness, we have been promised an inheritance that itself is unblemished or undefiled. It is perfectly spotless. There is nothing in it that would grow and fester and lead to its decay and its perishing. It is perfectly imperishable and undefiled. It is 100% clean and being made ready for us in Christ.

These are the first two things that Peter says about our inheritance. Next he goes on to add that it “will not fade away.” Throughout my life I have had many dreams and desires. Some of them have come to pass, and others have not. Some I looked forward to in varying degrees for longer seasons of time, and in not realizing them they became less and less a reality or item of focus. Over time they seemed to fade away in the light of the present and the circumstances of life. Along with that, there were others that I did not have in my sight which completely came and caught me by surprise. This is how it was with Robin. I was set up, and boy am I glad that I was. I wasn’t looking, and she was found. She has been the greatest gift to me, and all that we have shared together is beyond anything that I would have imagined. But there are others, and even some hopes now that continue to be on my heart and for which I wait. One of them is where God would have us serve Him next in pastoral ministry. This is a passion I have from Him, and one that I must continue to trust Him for even when I can’t see how or where it will come to pass. It is one I must trust Him for even when doors are closed along the way. But even in this, I know that should He choose differently concerning this that He will continue to surprise and direct us into that which He does have in store. My vision is so limited. I can hope because my hope is in God, and when that hope seems to fade I can still hope because God does not fade, faint, or fail.

In eternal terms, I know that the inheritance He has for me is just as certain as the plans He has for me now. Even though I don’t see them clearly, He does and He will not let loose of them such that they fade into oblivion. In the simplest of terms, our unfading hope will never pass away. Unlike the roses in my front yard, which come in every year with bright blooms and then wilt over time, the inheritance God has for us will be just as full and fragrant in day eternity as it is in day one. It will not wither and waste away.

Regardless of the energy I have now, what God has in store will be provided for and energized by Him. Our eternal inheritance does not rest upon our energy, but upon His faithfulness as He receives us and rewards us from His mercy and degreed upon in some way our faithfulness to do those works which He prepared and equips us beforehand to do (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 6:4; 25:23; Luke 6:23). Our inheritance will never grow old. Peter writes to elders later in this letter saying, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4, NASB95)

As for those desires now that we have and for which we must walk trusting, we hope knowing the words of the psalmist, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalm 37:4–5, NASB95) And, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NASB95) God’s vision is perfect and it will never fade. As such, our inheritance that He has for us will not fade either.

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