Summary: This sermon focuses on the comfort the resurrection gives believers and the motive it gives us to remain in and rejoice in our eternal inheritance in Christ.
Dear heirs of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord,
Introduction: If you died tonight, are you sure that your family would be financially secure without you? Would your wife or husband have trouble paying the bills and debts which you have incurred? If you still have children at home, would your spouse be able to care for them until they were old enough to care for themselves? These are all questions that a life insurance agent might ask you when helping you plan for the future. They are very good questions which make one ponder seriously what sort of premium he or she would be willing to pay in order to have peace of mind. Often, parents of young children are encouraged to plan a trust for their children¡¦s inheritance. Should the parents die, the money would be invested and used to benefit the children until the children are deemed old enough to receive the full inheritance. Sometimes the trust is given over a period of years, insuring that the children don¡¦t use the whole inheritance foolishly in one shot.
In his great mercy, God not only provided for us an inheritance later in heaven, but one we also can enjoy now. God has provided for us an inheritance that not only assures us of eternal life, but even enlivens us here. The Apostle Peter in the opening of his first letter tells us to... Live in our Unchanging Inheritance. We do this by rejoicing in our lasting birthright and by remaining steadfast in our faith to praise God.
I. Rejoicing in our lasting birthright
Rejoice. We do it all the time. We rejoice over life-changing events. A married couple trying to get pregnant rejoices when they conceive a baby. Parents rejoice when their children get married. We don¡¦t ever rejoice without a reason, do we? Believers too have a reason to rejoice. Peter encourages us therefore to focus on our living hope and rejoice. "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." Yes, "Rejoice!" Peter says, for God has given us a living hope, a hope only he can offer.
This world does not offer this kind of hope. What is the best that the world can offer? Happiness in this life. What about after this life? What kind of hope does it offer? None! Job illustrates the emptiness of hope only for this life, "If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in darkness, if I say to corruption, ’You are my father,’ and to the worm, ’My mother’ or ’My sister,’ where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?" (Job 17:13 -15) The hope which the world offers leads only to despair. For proof, just look at our society. Suicides are increasing.
Only God, who has brought peace in Christ, can offer us true hope. Only God gives us a hope that brings life. Just as we received this hope through the message of Christ¡¦s resurrection, so we are sustained in that living hope by the gospel message. How else could we believe in Christ and love him now, even though we haven¡¦t seen himƒ¯ƒnDo you remember how Thomas doubted Jesus¡¦ resurrection from the Gospel lesson this morning? Do you remember what Jesus said to him? ¡§Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus is speaking about us. We have the same living and enduring hope as the disciples, salvation through our resurrected Lord, because of the faith which the Holy Spirit created in our hearts. This world can¡¦t offer us such hope. Only our Savior who has conquered death and has proven it by his resurrection, can give us a living and confident hope.
This hope makes us certain of our lasting inheritance. Peter used three words to emphasize that our inheritance will last. He encouraged us to praise God because he has given us "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade". Literally, Peter wrote that our inheritance is "imperishable, untainted and unfading". What does he mean?
The first word, imperishable, shows us that our inheritance is undamageable. No rust-proofing, stainless steel, titanium or any other metal holds up better. It even will outlast this present world, the sun and the universe. Since Christ rose from the dead and lives and reigns, our inheritance as God¡¦s children also will last forever.
The second word, untainted, means that it is 100% pure. It is the same word used in Hebrews where Scripture says the marriage bed is to be kept pure. Just as Christ was without flaw or defect, so our inheritance has not been tampered with or changed in any way. A person who takes care of a child¡¦s trust fund may be able to skim some from the trust and steal from the inheritance, but our salvation cannot be changed, not by any person. In fact not even the angels or demons can change our eternal inheritance. It is untainted and always will be.