I suppose an inheritance depends on the wealth of the one giving the inheritance.
For instance, if your father was a farmer, you might get the family farm. If your father was a carpenter, you might get a couple of band saws and 700 sheets of sandpaper. If your father was a Doritos salesmen (how awesome would that be), you might get bags and bags of that delicious chip.
As People of God, we are God’s children. That means our Dad is the divine ruler of heaven and earth – the stars, the planets, and the far reaches of the galaxy.
What exactly does an inheritance from such an awesome Dad look like?
Our lesson from 1 Peter 1:3-12 talks about this inheritance. It talks about us as heirs. It tells us about the glorious gifts that our heavenly Father has waiting for us.
1. A Brand New Kind of Inheritance
Look at verse 3. It says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Peter calls this inheritance new. It’s not old. It’s not your everyday inheritance of “a few thousands dollars invested in Mutual Funds.” It’s not the cliché “stock certificates” or “collection of neckties.” God’s inheritance for us is something new.
Praise the Lord, too. Because the promise of inheritance from every other religion in the world is old and tired.
We had a youth group spend time in the community this past week. They went door to door learning more and more about the people in our area. As they asked them questions about their religious preferences one thing became certain. There are a lot of different religions in North Raleigh, but they have a very similar sounding inheritance:
“I have led a good life, so I think I might get to heaven.”
“I’ll keep trying really hard and maybe I’ll make it to Nirvana.”
“I have followed Islamic law. So if I keep that up I’ll be in paradise.”
“I don’t know if there is a god. But if there is, I’m sure he’ll let me into heaven, because I’m a relatively good person.”
Different religions. Same promise. Be good and get to heaven.
But what happens if you follow this way to heaven? Say you get upset during the day and say a bad word. Haven’t you now failed at being good? What if you betray a friend? How do you know if you’ve done enough good to overcome that sin? (And if you are only doing good to outdo the bad you do, isn’t that selfish? Doesn’t that nullify any good action with selfish intentions?)
Why play the game of divine scale tipping? It doesn’t matter how you wrap it up. With burka headdresses or papal caps, it’s still the same sad OLD story. The same old false premise. The same old guilt. The same old doubts. The same old fear. The same old result:
But that God has something NEW for you. It isn’t guilt. It isn’t sin. It isn’t death. It is a new birth into living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It’s Jesus is alive. It’s the promise that through faith in Jesus you too will be alive. It’s the promise that your sins are gone. It’s an inheritance of life without guilt. It’s an inheritance of certainty: I will be in heaven, just as Jesus certainly rose from the grave!
Which, by the way, is something totally new. Because many people had died before Jesus. That wasn’t new. That was old. What was new was what happened next. Jesus died and three days later, he came back to life. He rose from the dead. He proved that what he had talked about was a BRAND NEW theology with BRAND NEW power from God to back it up.
Now you might be thinking, “That’s nice. But there’s no way it will be mine. I’m not good enough. I haven’t behaved well enough. I haven’t even given God the time of day that I should. I have not equally given to God what he is willing to give me. I’m guilty and I don’t deserve this gracious gift.”
But it’s not about you. Scripture says, In his great mercy God gave us…”
Not – “In his being impressed by your life.”
Not – “in his being thankful for the good things you’ve done.”
Not – “In appreciation for the fact that you’re better than your neighbor.”
Just - “in His great mercy.” In his love. Because he loves you.
Jesus died. Because he loved you. Jesus took your sin. Because he loved you. Jesus rose from the dead. Because he loved you.
Jesus promises you an inheritance in heaven, because He loves you.
2. An Imperishable Inheritance
Surely this seems too good to be true. Perhaps you are thinking that way about this new inheritance from God. Maybe you are thinking: It can’t last. It must be a limited time offer. It must only be available to me when I was young. Now I am old. I have sinned too much. The time has passed on me. I can’t possibly be a recipient of this inheritance.
Look at verse 4. God’s promise is “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
Compare this to visiting your grandpa’s attic. God’s promise is much different than any kind of inheritance you can find in an attic. It doesn’t perish like newspapers in your Grandpa’s attic that crumple and break as you pick them up. It doesn’t fade like an old family picture album in which grandpa’s old blue jeans look a dull shade of grey. It doesn’t spoil like bottles in a Coke collection from 1921.
God’s promises is still glorious. It’s is still as strong as ever. It still forgives sins. It’s love will never fade. It does not spoil.
We might spoil our faith. We may be overcome by doubts. We may love sin more than God. But that never changes what Jesus has done. It never changes Jesus’ offer. It never changes the fact that in Christ, your sins are forgiven!
Through faith in Him, you will be in heaven.
How is that possible? Everything on earth spoils, perishes, and fades. Even promises spoil, perish, and fade.
Look at the second part of verse 4. “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” Heaven is not earth. Earth IS a place of decay. Earth is a place where things fade, spoil, and die. Heaven is much different.
It’s like those special protective cases you can get for photographs. They are supposed to keep oxidization out and prevent from fading. You may have gone to great lengths with such coverings for your baseball card collection or your wedding dress.
You’ve got way more than a thin strip of plastic preventing God’s promise of your salvation from fading. Peter says it this way, “You through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” In heaven under the safeguard of our Father, sin can’t get at God’s promises. They do not get ruined. There is no expiration date. God’s promise of forgiveness and love is as strong today as it was at your Baptism as it will be on your deathbed!
3. An Inheritance Worth Suffering For
If your Uncle gave you an inheritance in the stock market, it may be wise to let it stay in the market for awhile. Even if it means eating Ramen noodles and paying for rent in an apartment a while longer, by suffering through the hard times, you will allow the money to grow. It will be worth it in the long run.
Consider then what Peter says about suffering for the inheritance God has given us, “6 In all this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
Notice it says, “Rejoice!” Not just "put up with” sufferings. But “rejoice" in sufferings! Our promises inheritance in heaven is so awesome that we still rejoice even when we have to suffer.
*A friend vehemently spewing angry words on Facebook is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* A co-worker rolling his eyes at your saying a prayer is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* People at telling you to “SCRAM” from their front porch is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* That uneasy feeling when you know you should take a stand on God’s Word with your family is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* Staying at home, rather than going out to a party of heavy drinking, while it may not seem like much fun, is worth it for the kingdom of heaven.
Our inheritance is worth the suffering that might come with it!
What’s incredible is that these sufferings actually serve to increase our grip on our inheritance. Peter writes in verse 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
How does suffering increase your faith?
If you are feeling sad and start to question your parent’s love for you, one thing you may do is approach them and ask, “Do you love me?” When they say “yes” you are reassured.
Now, you can’t approach your Heavenly Father with that question. He’s invisible. But you can turn to his letter to you. A book that tells you how much he loves you. A book that shows you how much he loves you by explaining what he did for you.
So what happens when you suffer?
You are forced back into Scripture.
You read about God’s love.
You are strengthened in faith.
You hold onto your inheritance more tightly than ever before.
Peter writes in verse 8, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
4. A Long Time Coming
This inheritance sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it. It is just as awesome as our awesome God actually is. And you might be saying, “I’m glad that he finally decided to give such a gift away.”
But this isn’t a recent decision.
Peter writes, “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, -- Old Testament, thousands of years ago prophets like Moses, Elijah, and Isiah who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow." In other words, they had this message of an inheritance. They knew that Jesus would come to bring this awesome gift to human beings. And they couldn’t wait for it to come! In fact, it was so great that (jump to the end of verse 12) Even angels long to look into these things!
But. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
This doesn’t mean that Jesus’ work didn’t count for the Old Testament believers like Moses, Elijah, and Isaiah. Certainly, Jesus’ eternal work of salvation stretches forwards and backwards in history.
But as believers blessed to look back at what Jesus did and the inheritance he won for us, we see in the Old Testament that this has long been the plan. Old Testament Scripture describes how Jesus would be “the offspring who would crush Satan’s head,” (Genesis 3) how Jesus would be called “Lord” and sit at God’s right hand.” (Psalm) How Jesus would be "pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace would be on him and by his wounds we would be healed.” (Isaiah 53)
Wives enjoy gifts from their husbands. Especially on anniversaries. And, to be sure, they appreciate going out for dinner or receiving a special bracelet on the date of the anniversary.
But, tell me if I’m wrong, gentlemen, if you buy the gift long beforehand. Say from a trip you took months earlier. Or you have been secretly collecting photos for a picture album or spent months putting together a video with Windows Movie Maker that chronicles your love, doesn’t she appreciate that even more?
Think about the inheritance God has won for you. He’s been planning it since before the creation of the world. He loves you just that much! And again, it isn’t because you have done anything special to earn it, it is simply because God is God. God is love. God is merciful. And he wants to share heaven with you.
We have an awesome God. How incredible then is the inheritance he has in mind for you.
But I have a confession. I once received a model John Deere tractor from my grandpa. It was pretty cool. An awesome reminder of his work as a farmer.
But I lost it. Now I don’t have it. Now I can’t enjoy it at all.
Don’t lose the inheritance God has in mind for you. Keep your faith focused on Jesus.