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TEXT: I Peter 1:3-12

SUBJECT: I Peter #2: What We Have--and Why

I've been called some bad things in life, but the one that hurts me most is ingrate. The name stings me--not because it does not apply to me--but because it does. I don't know anyone the Lord has been better to, or anyone who is less mindful and thankful for His goodness.

I know He's the source of all goodness, and that I ought to thank Him all day every day, but I don't thank Him all day every day. I only give thanks occasionally, and when I do, it is rarely from the heart.

O that men would praise the Lord

for all His goodness;

for all His wonderful works to the children

of men!

This is how I ought to live my life, but I don't live this way. Because, you see, I'm an ingrate.

If you feel the same way about yourself that I do about myself, you need to change, and I believe you want to change from the sullen person that you are to the joyful and thankful person you ought to be.

How do we get there from here?

There are two paths: the wrong one and the right one. The wrong path is the one most often chosen: it's the path of Law and condemnation. You go over the Bible verses commanding you to be thankful and you loathe yourself for not doing what they say. But 'loathing yourself' is not the same thing as 'being thankful'. But this is all the Law can do for you. In can tell you your duty and condemn you for not doing it.

The path that gets you where you want to be is the Gospel, the Good News of what God has given you in Christ.

This is what we have in today's text, I Peter 1:3-12. In vv.1-2, Peter tells us Who we are in Christ; now, in vv. 3-12, he tells us What We Have in Christ. Taken together, the verses fill us with wonder at all God has done for us, and the wonder makes us thankful, all day every day.

GOD'S UNIVERSAL AND PARTICULAR LOVE

Before getting to the verses, however, I ought to say who I mean by us. Some of God's blessings are for everybody. Reminding us of God's universal care, Jesus said--

He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,

and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

These favors, and many others, are ours simply because the Lord takes care of His whole creation: good and evil, just and unjust, human, animal, plant, and all the rest--

The Lord is good to all;

His tender mercies are over all

His works.

This is a true and important doctrine, but it is not what Peter is getting at in our text. He is not speaking of the blessings God has for everyone and everything, but for the ones He has for His People, for the ones who believe in Christ.

Looked at in one way, the blessings are exclusive: only Christians have them. But, in another way, they are inclusive, because everyone who hears the Gospel is invited to believe in Christ and take his share of the blessings.

Before I move on, I need to say: this means you: whether you grew up in church or not, lived a decent life or not, know the Bible or not. Everyone needs the Gospel, and the Gospel is sincerely offered to everyone. You can have Christ and His blessings today, right now, for--

Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.

BLESSED BE THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

Peter begins the paragraph in a very Jewish way, by blessing God--

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To 'bless' God literally means to 'speak well of Him'; it means to praise Him, to extol Him, in the words of Mary, to--

Magnify the Lord.

As an observant Jew, Peter learned to Praise the Lord in the crib, and now, as an older man, he's still doing it. But he's not using the formula he was taught as a child. He is praising the same God with the same fervor that his ancestors did, but he's not calling God what they did. They called Him, for example--

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

The God of Israel

The God of our Fathers

These were all appropriate names for Him, and can be used today, as it was back then. But what his fathers did not know, Peter did know. The One True God who had revealed Himself to Israel, has revealed Himself again, and with a fullness never before known. He is--

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This new title does two things: (1) It identifies Jesus of Nazareth with the One True God, and (2) it tells us what kind of God God is: He is the invisible God who became visible in Christ. The qualities we see in Jesus are God's qualities--

The Son does nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.

This new and magnificent title for God hints at the nature of the mercy Peter means to celebrate. It's the mercy God communicates to us in Christ, the mercy that wipes away the guilt and stain and power of our sin.

God has always been merciful to His people, freeing them from Egypt, giving them a good land, protecting them from the enemies, and so on. But never was God's mercy deeper or richer than when He acted in Christ to save us from our sin and its misery!

This is the God Peter blesses! And the God he wants us to bless.

LIVING HOPE

Peter blesses God for His--

Abundant mercy

This is his general description of God's goodness in action, but he doesn't leave it here; he quickly moves to the particular. One branch of God's mercy is the--

Living hope [we have] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

In the Bible, the word, hope, does not mean 'optimism' or 'wishful thinking'. It means 'a certain expectation of good'. We pin our hopes on things we don't have yet, but are sure to obtain. To further distinguish our hope from the false hopes of his time (and ours), Peter calls it a--

Living hope.

That is, a hope than cannot die, a hope that cannot disappoint. Think of the people a few years ago who pinned their hopes on real estate. Back then, people said 'You can't go wrong' investing in real property, and so people did invest in it, only to see the market collapse, and their investments take a--

Voyage to the bottom of the sea.

Their hopes lived for a short time and then died. Our hopes live forever! Attached to Christ, they are as immortal as He is!

The fulfillment of that hope is still future to us, but the hope itself is ours in the present, and brightens everyday life. The change from despair to hope is so great that Peter can only compare it to a new birth, a fresh start, a New Creation.

INHERITANCE

What is it we're hoping for? V.4 tells us--

An inheritance.

Whatever we lack now, we are God's heirs. He has bequeathed something to us, and Peter sums it up in one word--

Glory

One day, our decaying bodies and souls will be renewed. All the suffering and loss we know now will then be in the past; they'll be former things, not present or future things.

The glory will be given in full--

At the revelation of Jesus Christ.

That is, when our Lord comes again. When He comes--Peter assures us--we will have the promised glory, which he then describes under four heads:

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