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Author:Rev. George van Popta
 send email...
 www.vanpopta.ca
 
Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
 jubileechurch.ca
 
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
 www.ancasterchurch.on.ca
 
Title:A new birth unto salvation
Text:1 Peter 1:3-5 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Preached:2007-02-04
Added:2007-02-03
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 16:1,2
Psalm 143:1,5
Hymn 28
Psalm 34:2,3,4
Psalm 16:3,4,5
Scripture: Psalm 16
Text: 1 Peter 1:3-5
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

The Apostle Peter broke out with an exclamation of praise: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." For what did he praise God? For a number of things: for God's great mercy; for a new birth; for a living hope; for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; for the inheritance we have in heaven; for God's preservation of us; for the coming salvation that will be revealed on the last day.

In other words: for many things. Peter praised God for these things. We have every reason to praise God for these same things.

We can summarize the reasons for praise under this theme:

WE PRAISE OUR FATHER IN CHRIST WHO HAS GIVEN US NEW BIRTH UNTO SALVATION

This new birth's

1. Merciful source
2. Heavenly goal
3. Powerful means


1. The merciful source of our new birth unto salvation…

… is two fold.

It consists, first, of God's great mercy. And then, second, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

a) God has, in his mercy, given us new birth. By nature we are dead in our trespasses and sins. When we, in Adam, sinned, we died. We deserved death—every kind of death: physical, spiritual, eternal death. As Paul put it in his letter to the Romans: The wages of sin is death. Death is what sin earns. But God did not leave us in the state of death. In his great mercy—that is, contrary to what we deserved—God gave us new life. He gave us a rebirth.

The Lord God is merciful. Exodus 34 says about the LORD God: "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…."

In Ephesians 2 Paul teaches that though we were dead in sin, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ Jesus. In his mercy, God raised us up in Christ even when we were dead.

b) I said the source of our new birth is twofold. The other side of it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You see how Peter put it. God has given us new birth through the resurrection of Christ.

The resurrection of Christ was the Father's declaration that his Son had paid for our sins. It is sin that causes our death. Christ paid for our sin, and his resurrection is proof that God the Father has accepted that payment. The atoning work of Christ's death on the cross was sufficient to ransom us from our sin. Because our sin is paid for, we now live again. There is no longer any good reason for us to remain spiritually dead. God gives us new birth.

Also, by his resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ conquered death. He overcame it and proved himself the Victor over death and everything that death signifies. The Lord conquered sin; he plundered the grave; he overpowered the prince of death, the devil. He who is life itself destroyed the power of him who is death.

Furthermore, Christ's resurrection is an assurance of our own blessed resurrection. There is an inseparable union between Christ and his flock. Because Christ arose, we too will one day arise. Our loved ones who lie in the grave, and we who will one day lie in the grave—we will rise again to new life. We will rise because Christ arose. Just like Christ could not remain in the grave because he conquered sin, the cause of death, so we cannot remain in the grave because of Christ's victory.

It is through his great mercy and through Christ's resurrection that God the Father has given us new birth. We are reborn as his children. He is the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But no longer does God the Father have only one child. From eternity he did. But God the Father no longer has a one child family. No longer is Jesus an only child. God has a big family.

What's a big family? Ten, twelve, fifteen children? Yes, those are big families. Let me tell you about God's family. It is huge. God's family has so many children no census would be able to count them. The family of God is innumerable. The children to whom God has given new birth transcends the millennia and encompasses the world.

And you, beloved, you belong to the family. You are his children, sons and daughters of God the Father, born of mercy and resurrection. Praise God for that, child of God! Praise and thank God every day for the reality of your status as a child of God.

2. The heavenly goal of our new birth unto salvation.

Just as the source of our new birth is twofold, so is the goal. God has given us a new birth into a living hope and into an inheritance.

a) So, first, the goal is a living hope. God has given us new birth into a living hope.

We need hope. Things can be going poorly in your life, but as long as you have hope, it is OK. Perhaps you have experienced hard things in your past; difficult things; you have a very troubled past. But as long as you have hope for the future, you are OK. Things are fine. Perhaps you have buried a loved one recently. Or you are very ill with a chronic illness or disease. Or you have suffered an injury that left you somewhat or very disabled. As long as you have hope—hope for the future—you will be OK. You can handle the hard things of the past or present because of your hope for the future.

The hope we have is a living hope. Something alive grows and develops. It increases. The hope unto which God has given us birth grows, develops and increases. Our hope is founded upon the resurrection of Christ. The new life of Christ and the new life we have in Christ. It is alive.

In the midst of the struggles, challenges and difficulties of life, you have hope for the future, a hope that deepens, broadens, that grows and increases. Because it's alive! A hope that softens all our sorrows.

b) Closely related to the first goal is the second goal. God has given us new birth into an inheritance. The inheritance we are born into is the essence of our living hope.

A child is born into an inheritance. Children inherit their parents' estate. The estate might be big or it might be small. But the thing about earthly estates—big or small—is that they perish, spoil and fade away. And on the last day, it is all going to burn. Those nice things you have inherited or will inherit from your parents—it is all going to burn. Do not get too attached to them. Make sure you will be able to let go of them on the last day. Remember Lot's wife!

But the thing about the inheritance into which God has given us new birth—that living hope—the thing about that estate is that it will never perish, never spoil, and never fade.

i) It is imperishable. You know what perishables are. Think of meat and dairy products. We call them "perishables." They are subject to going sour and to decay. Perishable stuff disintegrates. Our heavenly inheritance will never decay, never perish.

ii) It will never spoil. The Greek says, it is undefiled. What is it that defiles? Sin defiles. Our inheritance and sin have nothing to do with it. As the Book of Revelation teaches, sin will not enter the new Jerusalem. When a Christian dies and enters the first stages of his inheritance, he is free from sin. Death puts an end to sin and so you enter into the first degree of your heavenly inheritance as a sinless person. Neither your sins nor anyone else's will defile the inheritance into which God has given us new birth.

iii) Our inheritance will never fade. It is unfading. Everything fades. Colour fades. Despite what Zero claims, your little black dress will eventually fade. A fresh cut bouquet of flowers fades and wilts. A week after you buy your lovely wife some flowers, she throws them out because they have faded. The startling beauty of your girlfriend and fiancée fades into… a beauty even more lovely to behold (OK, so much for that example!). Colour photos that had striking colours fade away over the years. But our heavenly inheritance will never fade. It will retain all of its colour, and beauty, and intensity. All its original brilliance and splendor. The crown of glory, though worn for millions of ages, will not be dimmed; the golden streets will lose none of their luster; the flowers that bloom on the banks of the river of life will always be as rich in colour, and as fragrant, as when we first beheld them.

iv) This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. The Lord is reserving it, and keeping it, for you. Not for others. Not for the ungodly and unbelieving. Not just for anyone. But for his chosen ones. For those who are strangers in the world. Whom God the Father has chosen out of the world, whom the Holy Spirit is sanctifying, for those who are obedient to Jesus Christ.

Psalm 16 speaks about our delightful inheritance. Those who, in this life, take refuge in God; who love the LORD and love his saints, the church—they may look forward to a pleasant inheritance. For them the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. Though they die and are buried in the ground, they know that the Lord will not abandon them to the grave but will call them out to the full enjoyment of their inheritance. When the believer dies he, already and immediately, enjoys the first taste of his inheritance by being gathered up to Christ. But he will enter into the full happiness of it on the last day.

3. The powerful means of our new birth unto salvation.

Just like the source is twofold, and just like the goal is twofold, so the means of our new birth unto salvation is twofold. First there is God's power and then there is our faith.

We come, here, to the doctrine of the perseverance or preservation of the saints. From God's side, he preserves us by his power. From our side, we persevere in the faith.

Our English translation mentions our faith first and then God's power. But the original Greek in which Peter wrote has it the other way: "…who by the power of God are guarded (shielded) through faith…"

a) We are weak, but God is strong. He guards us, his chosen ones, to the end. That word "shielded" or "guarded" is a military term. It implies danger. There is so much spiritual danger around. So much that can hurt us and lead us astray from the faithful service of God. There is the devil who tempts us, the world that beckons to us, our own flesh that betrays us. We are so weak of ourselves that we cannot stand even for a moment. But our God guards us. He puts us in his fortress with its impregnable walls, and we are safe. He shields us from the flaming darts of the evil one.

b) But God does not do this automatically. He does not treat us as stocks and blocks. He gives us faith so that we will persevere. Faith is a gift, and then a gift we must exercise. By faith we need to hold on to this gospel. To hold on to these promises. You need to persevere in the things God is preserving you in. You need to walk the way of faith. We are guarded by God's power through faith. By faith, remain in the new birth God has given you. By faith, hold on to his mercy. By faith remain in the living hope you have through the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead. By faith hold on to your inheritance. Do not be like Esau who, for a single meal, sold his inheritance.

God will guard you through your faith until the end. Until the coming of your salvation that is now ready—ready in heaven—and which will be revealed in the last time. The word "ready" needs to be connected with the word "salvation." It is your salvation that is ready. Everything is ready. Everything is prepared, completed and finished. The last words of our Lord on the cross said it all: "It is finished." It has been completed. It has been fulfilled.

Christ has gone to heaven and has prepared a place for you. He has prepared the new Jerusalem which he will bring down to earth for you, for you to dwell in. The new Jerusalem which is your imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance. It's all ready. It just needs to come down, to be revealed.

Today it remains somewhat hidden. Though with the eye of faith we see it. But it remains somewhat hidden. The unbeliever surely does not see it. But even to us believers it is somewhat hidden. This eye does not yet see it.

But soon it will be revealed. In the last time, on the last day, the day of the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ, it will be revealed. Christ Jesus will reveal it to us.

And so we praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We praise him who, through Christ, has given us a new birth unto salvation. We praise him for the source of our new birth: his mercy and Christ's resurrection. We praise him for the goal of our salvation: a living hope and a heavenly inheritance. We praise him for the means of our new birth: his power and our faith. We praise him, him alone. All praise to him only. Soli Deo Gloria. AMEN





* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2007, Rev. George van Popta

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