“born again… to an inheritance”
1 Peter 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
Picking it up from our last session ….
So we’ve seen how having “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” is a present consequence of being born again. Next, let us see that being born again leads to:
A future certainty
We see that because the second thing that Peter says that we have been “born again to” or “born again into” is “an inheritance”.
We said before that one of the implications of being born again is that God is now our Father and we have become members of His family and here, as we read of “an inheritance”, we are back in the family context. In earthly terms, your inheritance is your share in your family’s fortune, such as it might be. An inheritance is something that fathers promise to their children. Throughout most of your lifetime, your inheritance lies at some point in the future. You have to wait until the time comes to inherit. So it is that God as our Father has promised us an inheritance and during our present life on Earth we are waiting for the time when we will receive our inheritance.
In the Old Testament the promised land of Canaan was spoken of as Israel’s “inheritance” and each of the tribes of Israel was promised a portion of the land as its share in that “inheritance”.
In the New Testament, the “inheritance” into which we have been born again is an eternal, spiritual inheritance. If our “living hope” is the “meat on the plate while you wait”, this “inheritance” is the “pie in the sky when you die”. We read in Hebrews 9v15: “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant”.
Peter goes on in verse 5 to speak of it as “a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”. We can think of it as a promised share in the new creation and all its blessings. It stands in marked contrast with any earthly inheritance. Any earthly inheritance is ultimately of no lasting value. Even the promised land of Canaan was spoiled and eventually destroyed. Peter says that the inheritance we have been born again to is: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading”.
That it’s “imperishable” tells us that, unlike any earthly inheritance, it won’t decay.
It won’t wear out with the passage of time. Someone might be left the family home as their earthly inheritance. That sounds wonderful but it could turn out to be in a tumbledown state of disrepair by the time they inherit it. How many of the landed gentry have inherited stately homes that have proved to be more of a burden than a blessing? That won’t be the case with our inheritance.
That it’s “undefiled” tells us that, unlike any earthly inheritance, it won’t spoil.
It won’t be defiled or tainted with sin in any way. One of the things that always strikes me when I come into your building is the door knobs! I don’t know who is responsible for polishing them but they clearly do a really good job because the door knobs are always so shiny! I’m almost afraid to touch them for fear of getting my fingerprints on them. But, you see, they’re only like that because they are cleaned regularly. Left to themselves they would very quickly become dull and tarnished. Our inheritance will never become dull and tarnished. There’s no danger of our inheritance being spoiled in any way.
That it’s “unfading” tells us that, unlike any earthly inheritance, it won’t lose its beauty or its glory.
Someone’s inheritance might be some wonderful and valuable works of art but when they come to inherit they find that the canvases haven’t been stored properly and because of prolonged exposure to light the paintings have faded. The colour has gone. The beauty has gone. There’s no danger of the glory of our inheritance fading.
Our eternal inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading”.
What’s more, with any earthly inheritance there’s not only the possibility that it will have deteriorated by the time you get it. There’s also the possibility that you won’t get it at all. The family home might have been destroyed by fire before you came to inherit it. The valuable paintings might have been stolen by art thieves. In these days of the credit crunch many expected inheritances will have been wiped out and so never received. There’s no such danger with our inheritance because Peter says that it is “kept in heaven for you”.
The idea here is that it is “stored up” or “reserved” for us.
It’s as though God has it locked up in safe storage for us until the time to receive the inheritance comes. Notice, too, that it is “kept in heaven for you”. Up until now, Peter has spoken in terms of “us” but now he makes it even more personal by saying it’s for “you”. It’s as though he’s saying “this inheritance is safely stored in heaven and it has your name on it”. It’s yours. It’s there and waiting for you to inherit.
Well, how do we respond to the past change of the new birth and the present consequence of a living hope and the future certainty of an eternal inheritance? Surely we must join with Peter in saying “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”. We have these great blessings through the work of Jesus Christ and God the Father sent Him, he freely gave Him up for us and then raised Him from the dead.
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!