Summary: In I Peter 1:3-5 we see that God delights in giving good gifts to His children.
I Peter 1:3-5 “Gifts of the Father”
Intro—With Christmas just having passed, all of us that have children can relate to giving gifts to them. We give gifts to our children because we love them, and because we want to show them in a real, tangible way, that love. And we give gifts to our children because we get pleasure from seeing their happiness in getting the gifts. But even if we didn’t have any gifts to give to our children, if we’re in a right relationship with them, they would love us anyway, because the love of a child for a parent isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) based on what material gifts they receive from the parent—it’s based on the love the parent shows the child—first, by bringing the child into the world and then by nurturing and protecting and teaching and disciplining that child. If a parent has to “buy” the love of their child by giving them things, something is wrong in that relationship.
Our love for God should be like that—as I said a few weeks ago, our love for God should not be solely based on what we can get from Him—rather, as we recognize who He is, the Creator of the universe, and what He has done, given us life and made us the stewards of His creation, we should love Him and worship Him for that, even if He never did anything more for us. But as we look at I Peter 1:3-5 this morning, we see that, just as we earthly parents take delight in giving gifts to our children, so God delights in giving gifts to His children as well.
Peter begins by telling us how we became children of God...In verse 3, Peter tells us that God, in His abundant mercy, has begotten us again, or given us a second birth—It’s the second birth that changes us from God’s creation to God’s children...as Jesus told Nicodemus in John Chapter 3, “You must be born again.” Peter tells us that this second birth was accomplished through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...apart from the resurrection of Christ, we are God’s creation, but not truly His children. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us that when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son to redeem us that we might receive adoption as children of God. As children of God, we receive gifts from our Father based on our status as His children. Peter goes on to describe three of those gifts in this passage.
I. The first gift Peter tells us about is found in the middle of verse 3...Peter tells us that through God’s great mercy we receive the new birth through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead...but tucked away there in the middle is the phrase “to a living hope.” We are born again, we receive new life in Christ, but we also receive a “living hope”...what does that phrase mean? Well, it obviously means not a “dead hope”...we’re not hoping for something that isn’t going to happen...on the contrary, the word living here means a hope that will not and cannot disappoint us, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 5:5— “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
So we are talking about a hope that is assured, a hope that will not let us down, but what is the hope itself? Well, when I use the word “hope,” I can use it in one of two ways...I can use it to refer to my anticipation of good things in the future—so I can say, “I hope I receive eternal life in Christ.” But that’s not really what we mean when we talk about the Christian’s hope—for the Christian the word “hope” describes those things that the Christian already has a certainty of receiving in the future...so rather than saying “I hope I receive eternal life in Christ,” the Christian can proclaim “My hope is eternal life in Christ,” and proclaim it with perfect assurance, because our hope is a living hope that will not disappoint.
II. Peter wants to go on and explain more about the content of our living hope...and so he moves on to a second gift from our father, which is part of the hope he describes in verse 3—in verse 4, he says we are not only born again to a living hope, but we are also born again to an inheritance...an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and one that will not fade away, reserved in heaven...as I read this, I thought to myself, what is this inheritance? So I looked at other passages where this idea of inheritance was found...in Matthew 25:34, Jesus tells us that the sheep, when they are separated from the goats, will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world; in I Cor. 6:10 it tells us that the righteous will inherit the kingdom of God; and in John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.