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Author:Rev. Arthur Van Delden
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mundijong
 Mundijong, Western Australia
 
 
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Rockingham
 Rockingham, Australia
  www.users.bigpond.net.au/avdelden/Sermons.htm
 
Title:Both God's elect and their glorious inheritance are secure
Text:1 Peter 1:4-5 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2004-03-11
Updated:2017-04-11
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:26-39 / Hebrews 11:32-12:3 / 1 Peter 1:1-3

Text: 1 Peter 1:4-5

AM
Ps. 34:1,3
Ps. 34:6
Ps. 124:1-3
Hy. 28:1,4
Ps. 138:1,4

PM
Ps. 33:1,2
Ps. 33:6
Ps. 124:1-3
Hy. 28:1,4
Ps. 138:1,4

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Arthur Van Delden, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Security is important for inward peace. If we live in a neighbourhood where the crime rate is very high, we might find it difficult to sleep at night. We might listen for every sound, thinking that someone was breaking into our home. We might feel that our possessions are threatened. Or even worse, we might feel that our life was threatened. Security is important for inward peace.

In our text, Peter wrote to Christians who were being persecuted. He wrote to tell them that they have a wonderful inheritance, far more glorious than anything that they might lose in this life. And though their possessions on earth were anything but secure, for their possessions could be confiscated at any time, their heavenly inheritance was very secure.

That was comforting. But that comfort depended upon their perseverance. They could lose that inheritance if under heavy persecution they denied Christ. Yes, that was a worry for these Christians too. Would they remain faithful in the face of severe persecution?

Peter wrote about this too. Not only was their glorious inheritance secure; they themselves were secure. God would not allow His elect to buckle under the pressure of persecution. He would give them the strength to remain faithful, thought they might suffer greatly.

This morning we will focus upon these two thoughts. I preach to you the Word of God with this theme:

BOTH GOD'S ELECT AND THEIR GLORIOUS INHERITANCE ARE SECURE
We will consider:
1) the inheritance is preserved for the heirs
2) the heirs are preserved for their inheritance

THE INHERITANCE IS PRESERVED FOR THE HEIRS

Our text begins in the middle of a sentence. It is a continuation of verse 3. In verse 3 Peter wrote that God had begotten the Christians in Asia to a living hope. They were born again. Once they were dead in their trespasses and sins, but God made them alive, spiritually alive.

They were born to a living hope, wrote Peter. He meant that as a result of being made spiritually alive, they now had a hope that would never die, a hope that would flourish through faith, and one day would blossom in fulfilment.

Peter speaks about hope. Hope is the confident expectation of some future good. He directs the thoughts of the Christians away from their present suffering, to the glorious future that they have in the life to come, or shall I say in the world to come. Yes, that is where their hope is anchored, in the future, in the life hereafter, in the new world. Oh, we receive many blessings of grace in this life already. But our hopes are not fixed to this life. For life in this present world is going to end. As Peter says in his second letter, "the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Pet 3:10). Or as Paul says, "the form of this world is passing away" (1 Cor 7:31). No, our hope is not anchored in this life or in this world, but in life to come, in the new world.

Peter directs the faith of the Christians in Asia to their heavenly inheritance. "God has begotten you to an inheritance in heaven."

What is this inheritance? Peter doesn't say here. He only says that they have a heavenly inheritance. When we look to elsewhere in the NT, we find various references to the inheritance which God has given Christians. In Matthew 5:5, Christ said that the meek shall inherit the earth. In Matthew 19:29 "Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life." In Hebrews 1:14 we read that the angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation. In Revelation 21:7 we read, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things." So the inheritance could refer to any of these: the earth, eternal life, salvation, all things. But there is one other possibility that is more likely. In a number of places we read that the inheritance is the kingdom of God. Let me just read one passage. In Matthew 25:34 we read that on the Day of Judgement, Christ our King will say, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

I think that the inheritance of God's kingdom is uppermost in Peter's mind. I say this because of the context. In verse 1 Peter has referred to these Christians as "pilgrims in the Dispersion." By this he means that they are resident aliens living in this world, but they don't really belong to this world. They are not citizens of any kingdom in this world.

In a way, these Christians in Asia can be compared to Israelites in the desert. "God gave the land [of Canaan] as an inheritance. While they wandered in the wilderness, they were sustained by the promise of their inheritance. Like Israel in the wilderness, the New Testament people of God are aliens and pilgrims. They make their way through a world that is becoming more hostile. Yet they are not wandering beggars, cast off from their possessions. They hold a sure title to the inheritance which God has given them." They are citizens of the kingdom of God.

Of course, the other aspects that Scripture mentions about the Christian's inheritance are not excluded. The kingdom of which they are heirs will fully encompass the new earth. And in this kingdom salvation will be enjoyed by all to the fullest measure. It is an eternal kingdom whose citizens enjoy eternal life. Indeed, it is a kingdom in which God's elect will enjoy all good things.

Peter moves on to describe their inheritance. Their inheritance is incorruptible and undefiled and does not fade away. At first glance, the description that is given seems more suited to describe material treasures. But all three descriptions are used in the OT in reference to kingdoms.

The first word is "incorruptible." It could also be translated "indestructible." A very similar word is used by the prophet Isaiah, who warned God's people that their land would be utterly emptied or completely laid waste, destroyed! (Isa 24:3). Daniel used this very same word as Peter when he prophesied of the kingdom that would be established by the Messiah. He said "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Dan 2:44). In a similar context, Daniel again used this same word in chapter 7:14 "Then to Him [the Messiah] was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."

The second word that Peter used to describe the inheritance of the saints is the word "undefiled." Like the previous word, this word is also used frequently in reference to the kingdom of Israel. We repeatedly read that Israel defiled the land by adopting the customs and gods of the nations, acting abominably in the sight of God. Let me just read one of the many texts that illustrate this. God said through Ezekiel "Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity" (36:17). And it was because of this defilement that the kingdom of Israel was ultimately destroyed. But Peter says that this kingdom will never be defiled. It will never grow corrupt, so that God's wrath burns against it, so that He destroys it. No, this kingdom will be a kingdom pure and holy, a kingdom without sin. Therefore God will never destroy it.

The third word that Peter uses to describe the inheritance is unfading. This word is used later in chapter 1:24 where he speaks about the fading of the flower. In the OT, God described the Northern Kingdom of Israel as a flower that was fading. We read of this in Isaiah 28:1-4 where the glorious beauty of Samaria is compared to a fading flower. Samaria, you know, was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. When Isaiah spoke these words, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was on the verge of dying out, never to be rebuilt. In a short time, God would exercise His wrath upon her for her sins. The Assyrians would come and take the people captive, and fill the Northern Kingdom with foreigners. The ten northern tribes of Israel would lose their homeland, and it would never be restored to them. We often speak of the ten northern tribes as the lost tribes of Israel.

Do you see what hope Peter is giving to the Christians in Asia? They are strangers in this world. They are aliens residing temporarily in it. They don't belong to this world. They have no citizenship in it. But Peter says, "But look what you have! You are born again as an heir to the kingdom of God!

Earthly kingdoms flourish for a time. Like a blossom, they reach their pinnacle of power and splendour. But with power and prosperity comes corruption and decay. Their wickedness makes them weak, for God frustrates all their endeavours and visits them with His wrath. So these mighty kingdoms fade away. The Assyrians grew to be a world power. But their kingdom waned, and gave way to the kingdom of Babylon. Babylon, in turn, gave way to the Medo-Persian Empire, and the Medo-Persian gave way to the kingdom of Greece, and Greece to Rome. Earthly kingdoms come and go, one following the other, but in the end none of them remain standing.

But Peter says to these Christians, "This is not so with the kingdom to which you belong. It will come in perfect power and splendour. It will be a glorious kingdom. It will be a kingdom that is free from all the powers of evil that bring decay. It will be a kingdom of righteousness. It will never be defiled. It will never come under the wrath of God. So it will never fade in splendour, in glory or in majesty. It will be like a flower that forever remains in bloom."

Now this glorious inheritance, says Peter, is "reserved" for the Christians in Asia. Now this word is a very comforting word. It means to guard, to keep watch over something with an eye to protecting or preserving. A young lad who intends to jump into the creek might give his watch to a friend and say, "Would you hold on to this for me." He doesn't want to put it on the grass, because he might forget it, or someone step on it, or someone might steal it. So he entrusts it to his friend for safekeeping.

This is the flavour of this word that Peter uses. God has made them heirs of his glorious kingdom. The fullness of God's kingdom has not yet come. They haven't entered into their inheritance yet. But they need not worry. Their inheritance is safe with God. No one can deprive them of their place and station in God's kingdom. No one can take that inheritance from them.

That is a comforting thought for these Christians. They might lose their jobs. Their social standing might be stripped from them. Their material goods might be confiscated. They might be driven from their own homes. Yes, they might lose a great deal. But this inheritance is one thing that cannot be taken away from them. The ungodly can't strip them of their citizenship in God's glorious kingdom. Their inheritance is in heaven, and no power on earth can take it away from them.

Yes, this was a comforting thought for the Christians in Asia. Through their rebirth, they have been made heirs of God's glorious kingdom, with all it entails, salvation, eternal life, and all good things. And this inheritance is secure.

But the comfort of a secure inheritance hinges on one thing, namely, the security of the heirs. And this is the second important thought of our text.

THE HEIRS ARE PRESERVED FOR THEIR INHERITANCE

There is a saying: A chain is only a strong as its weakest link. If you wish to secure a load of timber on the back of a truck, you might use a chain. But the security of this load depends on every link being sufficiently strong. If there is one faulty link in the chain, you lose your security.

So it is in the chain of salvation. We have seen now that the inheritance is very secure. But what about the heirs?

Let me illustrate my point with an example. There is a rich man who has built up a great inheritance for his son. It is a secure inheritance. His investment is distributed in various kinds of portfolios. He has invested in land. He has also invested in blue chip stocks. The father has invested his money wisely, and there is virtually no chance of the inheritance being lost. The inheritance is secure.

But what if the son was to turn his back on the father, and repudiate his inheritance? What if the son was to show absolutely no interest in the inheritance, and proves that he is unworthy to become the heir? What if he acts in such a way that infuriates the father, even to the point where the father disowns his son, and gives the inheritance to another? The inheritance might be very secure, and yet the son does not inherit it.

Is this, then, the weak link in the chain? And if it is, where is the real comfort? For if there is a weak link, then there is no security.

We must not underestimate how much this would have played on the minds of the Christians in Asia. We said that they had to endure great persecutions. Let us not minimise the temptation to deny Christ when everything is put on the line. But if they do deny Christ, then they will lose their inheritance. That is clear from what we read in Hebrews 10.

No, we must not minimise the temptation to deny Christ when one's life is put on the line. Peter knew all about this. You will remember that it was Peter who was once filled with confidence about his steadfastness. He once boasted "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death" (Luke 22:32). But in the hour of temptation, he denied Christ three times.

You see, then, that it is not enough to know that the inheritance is secure. What about the heirs? How strong are they? Will they be able to stand the test when put under pressure? Will they break faith in the midst of suffering?

I think of what we confess in LD 52 of our Catechism that deals with the sixth petition of the Lord's Prayer: "Lead us not into temptation." You and I confess, "In ourselves we are so weak that we cannot stand for a moment. Moreover, our sworn enemies, the devil, the world and our own flesh, do not cease to attack us."

The Christians in Asia would have confessed the same. They knew that their faith was weak, and that there was no way that they would be able to remain standing in such an hour of temptation.

Do you see, then, that all Peter said about the glorious inheritance offered no real comfort unless the Christians could be sure of their own steadfastness?

It is in this context that Peter wrote verse 5 of our text. " "[You] are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

You are kept. The word "kept" in verse 5 is very similar in meaning to the word "reserved" in verse 4. It means to guard, to keep watch over something in order to protect or to preserve.

The Christians might be brought before the magistrates or before princes. They might be put under great pressure: deny Christ or lose all. Their lives may be put on the line. Husbands might have to watch their wives being raped or tortured. Wives might have to watch their children being sold into slavery. They might have to make a choice: either deny Christ or face a fearful death, to be thrown into the arena to be torn apart by lions or bears or wild dogs, to be crucified, to be dipped in tar and set alight, to become a human torch. Yes, all of these atrocities were committed against Christians during the reign of Nero, around the time when Peter wrote this letter.

In this context Peter writes, "You are kept." God is watching over you, to guard you, to preserve you. No, not to keep you from dying for Christ, but rather, to keep you from denying Christ.

Peter writes, "You are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." They are guarded through faith. God ensures that in the hour of temptation their faith will not fail them. Their faith will be a shield round about them, and they will be able to quench the flaming darts of fire.

It will be for them as it was for Christ. Christ was severely tempted by the devil. But on each occasion Christ deflected the temptations of the devil by clinging in faith to what God had written.

So it would be for these Christians in Asia. Satan, acting through the magistrates or governors of the Roman Empire might say to them: "Deny Christ or lose all." But through the power of faith, they will be preserved as heirs for the inheritance. God will strengthen their faith so that they will answer: "Sir, we have a glorious inheritance that is secure in the heavens, an inheritance that you cannot take from us. We have been made heirs of the kingdom of God. And the value of our heavenly inheritance far exceeds whatever earthly goods you might take from us."

The magistrates or governors might say to the Christians, "Deny Christ or die!" But God will strengthen their faith so that they will say, "Sir, our Lord said that if we confess Him before men, he will confess us before the Father. But if we deny him before me, he will deny us. Therefore we chose to confess Christ. For though you can kill the body, you cannot kill the soul. Though you can take me from this life, you cannot take away the eternal life which I have in Christ."

The Christians would have doubted their own ability to persevere in faith under such trials and temptations. Their faith would have failed. But through His power, God would strengthen their faith and they would persevere.

What a comfort for these Christians! The glorious inheritance is preserved in heaven for the heirs. And the heirs on earth are preserved for their glorious inheritance.

Now we are not in the same situation as the Christians to whom Peter writes. But we should not minimise the temptations that we face each day again. Our three sworn enemies will try to make us deny our election that set us apart as God's unique people. They will try to erase God's mark of ownership from our forehead. They will try to undo our sanctification by the Spirit, through which we were cleansed from the corruption of sin and spiritually renewed so that we think and act differently than the rest of mankind. They will put pressure on us to join them in their life of sin. They will try to make us deny the blood of the covenant, with which we have been sprinkled, causing us to crucify Christ anew. They will try to draw us away from God's covenant law, and so have us join them in their disobedience.

But in all these temptations, God will strengthen us in faith so that we do not deny His work for us and in us. God will so strengthen our faith so that we see the incomparable riches of the glorious inheritance reserved for us in heaven. God will strengthen our faith so that we give up all in order to receive that inheritance. God will strengthen us so that we will rather bear the disfavour and wrath of the world than to lose the favour and blessings of God. God will strengthen our faith so that we will rather be outcasts and non-citizens of this world, rather than to be cast out of His kingdom. However great the temptations might be, God's power in us will be greater. And we will persevere. We will inherit the fullness of salvation when Christ returns with the kingdom of God on the last day. That, beloved, is our eternal security. AMEN

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Arthur Van Delden, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://www.users.bigpond.com/avdelden/WebSermons/1PT1v4t5.htm

(c) Copyright, Rev. Arthur Van Delden

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