Posts

Born Again - 1 Peter 1:3-5

In verse 2, Peter ended his greeting with a blessing: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” And since it is easy for exiles to consider themselves some of the most un-blessed people in the world, we see Peter’s pastoral heart at work. If you’re an exile, in many cases you’ve lost everything. You’ve lost friends, family connections, jobs, good name, homes, and land, all of which represents losing your past and your future. Having lost so much, these exiles need God’s blessing!

But surprisingly, right after Peter speaks that word of blessing over them, he follows it up by calling on them to bless God for what has happened to them. If Peter is going to do something as brash as telling exiles to rejoice, he’d better give them a very good reason why they should, and in the next several verses, he does.

In His mercy, God has caused the exiles to be born again. They may have been torn away from their first family and all the blessings that come from family connections, but God has brought them into His family by giving them new life in Jesus. This new birth also comes with two great blessings: a living hope based on Christ’s resurrection, and an inheritance kept in heaven.

But the key thing to understand is that Peter is not comforting the exiles with a substitute family, hope, and inheritance, a sort of “Sorry you lost your old family, hope, and inheritance. Here’s a new one!” Exile didn’t cause them to lose these things. Exile delivered them from their old dead and dying life, and that is the reason why they should bless God! They were dead people with dead hopes. But God had a two-part plan to fix that condition: first, they themselves were born again and delivered from death. Second, their exile exposed and stripped away their dead hopes. There is something wrong when born-again people cling to dead hopes, and God uses suffering, persecution and exile to pry them from our grip.

The exiles were tempted to be hopeless because it seemed that their exile had cost them their inheritance. But Peter encourages them that the inheritance that comes from being born again is something that they cannot lose! It’s imperishable – death can’t take it away! It’s undefiled – sin can’t spoil it! It’s unfading – it won’t rot away or wear out! Nothing on earth can take away their inheritance, because nothing on earth can reach into heaven.

And so Peter’s encouragement to them reminds them that whatever they lost by being exiled was first-birth stuff, not born again blessings. The great blessing of the new birth is the hope of eternal life and an imperishable inheritance, which is infinitely better than their old life, what they used to hope in, and their fading earthly inheritance. Their new birth is from above. Their new hope is a resurrection hope. Their inheritance is safe because it is kept in heaven.

And not only is their inheritance kept safe for them, but they are being guarded by God’s power so that when their salvation is revealed, when it is made obvious to everyone that Jesus is Lord, and when the new heavens and the new earth are here in all their fullness, when that day comes, God’s gift of faith will have guarded them from leaving Christ and chasing after dead hopes. It is tempting for the exiles to believe that faith has cost them their inheritance, but Peter tells them that faith is what guarantees that they will receive their inheritance!

And so when your faith has made you an exile, uprooting you from the life you were born into, killing off your hopes and dreams, and cutting you off from the future you had been expecting, Peter invites you to bless God for everything that He has done for you: you’ve been born again, given a new and better hope, and an imperishable inheritance that you will receive when God’s great salvation is revealed to the world. Right now, the world sees exiles, but God sees heirs. Soon He will make it clear that you haven’t been orphaned and disinherited by trusting in Jesus; you’ve been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Posted on Thursday, June 09, 2016 by CJ Bowen