Sunday, 22 September 2019
…to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:4
Peter just spoke of “a living hope.” He now describes what that hope is, beginning with, “to an inheritance.” The word is one commonly used by Paul to speak of that which awaits those who are in Christ. The idea of an inheritance is one which belongs to a family member. Thus, believers are sons through adoption.
And further, there is no earthly distinction which precludes receiving the inheritance. One can be a slave or free, a male or a female, a Jew or a Gentile, etc. in this life, and yet be an adopted child of God awaiting the inheritance in the next. Paul makes that perfectly clear in his epistles. There is one and the same gospel with one and the same inheritance for all.
Peter then continues by describing this inheritance as “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away.” The idea of it being incorruptible is that it is imperishable. It cannot decay, erode away, or cease to continue because of a breakdown due to either external or internal faults. The inheritance is obtained, and nothing can cause it to perish. Peter’s use of the word, because he is speaking of a future hope not yet received, is one of a guarantee of salvation.
The idea of it being undefiled is that of something that is unstained. The word was used in Hebrews 7:26 and 13:4; James 1:27; and now here it is used for the last time. There is no taint or contamination in the inheritance. One can think of the pristine perfection of Eden before the fall. It is one which speaks of a joy of existence which cannot truly be imagined by us at this time.
The idea of an inheritance which “does not fade away” is that of it being perpetual in nature. In the Greek, the word is an adjective, and thus it is “unfading.” What will be received, this living hope, is eternal in nature and it will never diminish as the ages pass. It speaks of the unceasing glory of the Creator being revealed forever and ever.
Peter says that this inheritance, this living hope, is “reserved in heaven for you.” The verb is a perfect participle – “which has been reserved.” Thus, the deal is done upon belief in Christ. From that point, the inheritance is kept for that person. Again, it looks to the doctrine of eternal salvation. It is unthinkable that God would keep something for someone, promising that it is so, just to remove that thing based on the individual’s performance. That is not – nor was it ever – a gift of grace. If one must merit, or continue to merit, the inheritance, then it is not of grace but of works.
But the inheritance is set, and it is a heavenly one. People may debate what “heavens” means until the day the inheritance is received, but one thing is certain concerning it – it is not an inheritance which bears any resemblance to the life and sphere in which we now exist. What Adam and Eve had is certainly comparable to what we will receive, but for us, it will be received with the knowledge that it can never be lost again, and that it was obtained for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the inheritance is one which will forever result in man glorifying God for what He has done.
Life application: Right now we suffer through backaches, financial difficulties, troubled relationships, etc. But what is coming will be eternal in nature. Paul speaks about this in 1 Corinthians 15:53 –
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Not only will we put on immortality, but it will be in an undefiled state; we will live in complete holiness, and the stain of sin will be gone forever. Our state of sanctification leads to this state of glorification which is the living hope we possess.
The downside of this process is that all who fail to come to Jesus Christ will never receive the promise. They will remain in a state of eternal corruption, and the prospect of heaven will be forever removed from them. We need to understand that for human beings it is “the devil by default.” A change in the settings is needed in order to share in the promise of unfading glory. Citing Paul again, we read this in Acts 26:18,
“… to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”
Make sure you don’t keep the good news of Jesus Christ a secret. Without Him, hell awaits.
O God, give us the strong and urgent desire to proclaim Jesus’ wonderful works to the people around us. Certainly, it is our duty to do so. And so, take away any timidity or reticence to speak out so that we will be bold in our faith! May we be competent messengers of Your precious gospel. To Your glory alone! Amen.