Praise & Perspective
I have flown a few times and I love the experience of taking off and seeing the earth get smaller and smaller below us. My favourite experience is to fly when it’s cloudy or stormy. Have any of you been able to do that? I love the moment when you break through to the top of the clouds, and you see the sun shining, and you realize that the storm is not as big or as permanent as it felt back down there. From 30,000 feet the storm gets put into perspective and you see things far more real and big and permanent than the changing weather.
Today’s passage is kind of like taking a plane above the storm. Peter was writing to Christians who were suffering and going through some really hard times. They were in some storms. And those storms might have felt like everything to them. With his words, he wants to lift them above the clouds to see what’s really going on, and what’s really going to last.
I don’t know to what extend you are suffering today. But I suspect we could all use a dose of Peter’s perspective. So let’s jump in to verse 3.
God Should Be Praised
Verse 1 and 2, which we looked at last week, was Peter’s greeting to his readers. With that out of the way, verse 3 begins the letter itself. And what do we find here? What’s the first thing out of his mouth? It’s an expression of praise to God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
“Blessed be God” was a typical Jewish expression that exclaimed that God deserved to be praised. And Peter is not the only New Testament writer to take this common phrase and re-word it to make it thoroughly Christ-centred. Not just blessed be God, but blessed be “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (see also Ephesians 1:3).
That’s who God is. He’s not just a generic God. We praise a specific God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s his identity, and it’s in his work of saving us through Christ that we find the greatest reasons for praising Him.
And that word reasons is on purpose. Just like Paul in Ephesians, and just like the writers of the Psalms, when Peter writes that God is to be praised, he immediately begins to share the reasons for why God is to be praised.
He’s caused us to be born again
Among all the reasons, there is one main reason, in Peter’s mind, that God should be praised. That reason is given in that second phrase in verse 3: “He has caused us to be born again.” God is to be praised because He’s given us new spiritual life.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3) Dead in our sins, enslaved to Adam’s legacy, God’s word tells us that we don’t just need a second chance. We need to be spiritually reborn to a completely new life. We need to be called out of the spiritual grave like Lazarus came from his.
And there’s nothing we can do to make this happen. Any more than we made ourselves be born the first time. Some of us heard about that woman who launched a lawsuit against her parents for bringing her into this world without her consent. And how ridiculous that is. None of us made ourselves be born. Our earthly fathers gave us life and we lived. And so it is with being born again. It’s not something we make happen. It’s something our Heavenly Father causes to happen.
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth,” says James 1:18. Like John 1:13 says that the children of God “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
In keeping with his great mercy
Now why would He do this? Why would God give us new life? Peter tells us that this happened “according to his great mercy.” “According to” means something like “in keeping with.” God causes us to be born again “in keeping with his great mercy.”
“Mercy” is one of the main ways the Greek Old Testament translated that word “steadfast love.” We’ve heard a lot about steadfast love recently in the Psalms. And it’s the same idea here. This is God’s un-deserved, covenant-keeping, never-ending love. And it’s “according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again.”
In other words, this had nothing to do with us or what we deserve. This had everything to do with God’s loving initiative. God caused us to be born again simply because it’s who He is to show mercy and steadfast love.
Through Christ’s resurrection
Peter answers a second question for us here, which is how did God cause us to be born again? “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again,” and then skip ahead a few words to where we read, “though the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
God has begotten us as His children through Christ’s resurrection. This is an idea that shows up several times in Paul’s writings, and what it tells us is that when someone is born again, they are made spiritually alive through the resurrection life of Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-5 puts it this way: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” We are alive with the life of Christ.
Colossians 2:12-13 says “you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him.”
I’ve taken a few first aid courses, and I’ve practiced giving CPR to a plastic dummy. The idea behind CPR is that if someone’s heart has stopped, you breathe for them. You make their heart beat. Your life keeps them alive.
That’s just maybe the tiniest picture of the far greater way in which someone who is born again is alive with the very life of Jesus. Maybe a better picture is the one Jesus gave when He said “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5). A branch on a vine is alive with the very life of the branch.
And so you and I have been born again through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We’re spiritually alive with the very resurrection life of the risen Christ.
To a bright future
I hope you’re starting to see why Peter thinks God is to be praised. But Peter’s not done yet. What Peter turns his attention to next is what God has caused us to be born again to.
When you were born the first time, we were born into a certain family, into a certain situation. All of us were born into this world, born into the family of Adam, born to experience the pain of the curse. Born to feel pain and struggle, and eventually to feel our bodies wear out and die. We were born to death.
But when we are born again, what are we born again into?
A hope that is living
According to verse 3, “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope.”
Hope is one of the greatest treasures of those who have been born again. Before Christ, we had no hope (Ephesians 2:12). This was something particularly understood in the ancient world. They knew that their life was a small sliver of difficult existence in between a painful birth and a certain death. It took all the effort you had to stay alive and keep death at bay for as long as you could. The ancient people didn’t put a lot of stock in hope.
Modern people are more likely to talk about hope, but if you dig down deep beneath the surface, you’ll find that this hope is often little more than wishful thinking. After all, if what we were taught in school was true, then we’re just big accidents that happened to be born in a massive universe that doesn’t care about us and won’t miss us when we die. We spend a few decades trying to make some money and enjoy the weekends, and then we’re gone.
When we are born again, and our new spiritual eyes flutter open for the first time, one of the first things we see or experience is hope. In Ephesians 1:18 Paul prays that, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,” we might “know what is the hope to which he has called you.” Ephesians 4:4 says that “you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.” Romans 8:24 says that we were saved in hope.
And here, 1 Peter says that we were born again to a living hope. Do you see it? Do you see that hope is not an extra to our salvation. It’s not even just a result. Hope is a key component of what were were saved into. And not just any hope, but a living hope—a hope that is real and alive and vital and enduring.
The hope that Peter is talking about here is not just the experience of feeling hopeful. It’s not just living with a sense of expectation. The word “hope” here is talking about the thing we hope for. It’s the object of our hopes.
An inheritance that is totally safe
And what Peter does, starting in verse 4, is provide another phrase that helps explain what this living hope actually is. And we see that there when verse 4 says we were born again “to an inheritance.”
Notice how “to a living hope” in verse 3, and “to an inheritance” in verse 4 are parallel phrases. These aren’t two separate ideas. It’s like if I told you that on Friday I took my wife out to a nice restaurant to a birthday supper. You’d understand that those were two ways of talking about the same thing.
So here, our living hope is the inheritance that God has given us. Notice again the theme of fatherhood emerging. In the ancient world, fathers provided their children with inheritances. That was really important back then as their economy worked totally differently than ours.
In the Old Testament, “inheritance” was also connected to the Promised Land which God gave to Israel and which was then inherited and passed along by various families.
And here in the New Covenant, God the Father has given us, His children, a good inheritance.
And what makes this inheritance a living hope is that it’s totally safe. Nobody can take it away or ruin it or destroy it. This inheritance, as verse 4 says, is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” As one writer summed up, “The inheritance is untouched by death, unstained by evil, unimpaired by time” [F. W. Beare, cited in Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, ed. Robert W. Yarbrough and Joshua W. Jipp, Second Edition, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic: A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2022), 89.]
And these three words together add up to one message: this inheritance is totally safe. Nobody can touch it or take it away.
Does this idea sound familiar at all to you? There’s an echo here of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:20 about “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor ruth destroyed and where this do not break in and steal.”
Many of us have had possessions ruined by rust, or maybe stolen by thieves. Maybe we’ve had investments go “poof” when the stock market swings. That’s what happens to things here on this earth. Think of how many Jewish people had their inheritance taken away from them when their land was invaded and occupied. Think of Peter’s readers, who may have been forced out of their home countries and could have lost everything in the process.
But God, as a good Father, provides for us a living hope, an inheritance that can’t be ruined or taken away from us. It’s kept safe in heaven for us to receive at the right time.
A salvation that is ready to be revealed
Now there’s a final phrase in verse 5 that describes this hope and this inheritance, which you see if you jump ahead to that word “salvation.” In the grammar of how these sentences are working together, “salvation” is one more way of describing our hope and our inheritance.
Some of you might be wondering: what is this inheritance? What is this hope? And the answer is that it’s “a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We don’t have it quite yet, which is why it’s called a hope and an inheritance. But this salvation is real and it’s there and God is going to give it to us at the right time.
Now some of you might wonder, “I thought we were saved already. I thought salvation was something we had by grace through faith. How can salvation be not revealed yet?”
The answer to that question is to remember the tension in the New Testament between the already and the not yet.
Right now, we who have believed in Jesus have already experienced certain parts of our salvation. We know that we’ve been chosen by God. We know that Christ died on the cross for us and said “it is finished.” We know that, by believing in Jesus, we’ve been forgiven for our sins and rescued from God’s wrath. Because of our union with Jesus, we’re counted righteous in Him. We’re filled with His spirit and are being taught by God how to live to please Him as He protects us from our spiritual enemies.
Those are all aspects of our salvation we have already. But there’s other aspects of our salvation that we have not yet received. Thank of Romans 8 again. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:22–24).
We already have new hearts, but we not yet have the new resurrection bodies He’s promised. We already have the presence of the Holy Spirit, even as we wait for the not yet of living with God fully and finally on a new creation (Revelation 21:3-5)
And so the New Testament can speak of us having been saved, and yet still waiting to be saved. We’ve received the downpayment, but our full inheritance is still being held in trust until the time is right.
Verse 5 tells us that it’s ready to be revealed. It’s ready because it’s been bought and paid for by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus accomplished everything necessary to give us this living hope, this totally safe inheritance, this final salvation. And so we wait, knowing that it’s being kept safe for us until He returns and makes all things new.
And He’s keeping us safe until then
But there’s still a question here, isn’t there? If our inheritance is being kept safe for us in heaven, we know that nothing can wreck it or ruin it or take it away from us. But what about us?
If you were on your way to the bank to collect some inheritance money, and criminals wanted to stop that from happening, they could either rob the bank and take the money themselves, or they could try and make sure that you never make it to the bank.
And since Satan knows that he can’t storm into heaven and ruin the final salvation that God is waiting to give us, guess who he goes after? In chapter 5 of 1 Peter we’ll read that “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
What that means is that we need more than our inheritance to be kept safe. We need ourselves to be kept safe. And that’s what verse 5 addresses.
Our inheritance is kept safe in heaven for us, “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
God is not just keeping our inheritance safe for us. He is keeping us safe for our inheritance. As verse 5 says, He is guarding us by His power. The picture here is of a military sentinel watching over us, guarding and protecting us.
And he does that through our faith. Look at what verse 5 says: “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith.”
If you want to see what it looks like for God’s power to guard someone, look at their faith. Because that’s how God’s power works to keep and protect us. God keeps and protects and sustains our faith. And in faith, we press on until we receive our inheritance.
We know that from the beginning of time, Satan works against our faith. From the Garden of Eden onwards, he works to destroy us by tempting us to doubt. 1 Thessalonians 3:5: “For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” The devil’s aim is to destroy us by destroying our faith. He wants us to think that all these trials are a sign that God isn’t real or doesn’t love us. He wants us to be cynical and to wallow in doubt.
And that’s why, time and again, Scripture tells us to resist the devil through faith. 1 Peter 5:9: “Resist him, firm in your faith.” Ephesians 6:16: “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” That’s how we resist. That’s how we persevere. That’s how we press on. Like Hebrews 10 says, “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39).
But here’s the thing—which of us is really strong enough to do that? Can any of us honestly say “My faith is so strong, that Satan can throw whatever he wants at me, and I’ll keep on believing to the end, no problem?” Don’t we all know just how weak and feeble our faith is? If our souls are preserved to the end by our faith, and we’re left to ourselves, we’re lost.
And that’s where the words of verse 5 are so precious. By God’s power we are being guarded through faith. Our faith is not just our own business. God’s power is working through our faith.
Which means that God is working to sustain our faith. Right? If faith is how we stand strong against the enemy, and if God’s power is guarding us through faith, if you put those two together you get that God is working to sustain and strengthen our faith, so that in that faith we can resist the devil and persevere to the end.
This may or may not be helpful, but it’s like if we were talking about Ukraine defending themselves against Russia. Ukraine is defending themselves, by the support of western nations, through their fighting. They are fighting, but that fighting is enabled by a steady supply of materials from the outside. And again, that’s just a little picture of what’s going on here with God’s power working through our faith.
It makes a bit more sense when we remember that faith itself is a gift from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this”—all of this, including faith itself—“is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8; see also Philippians 1:29).
So, God’s power guards us though faith. We don’t always feel that. In the moment, it can feel like it’s just us working as hard as we can to believe and not fall away from him. But from heaven’s perspective we see that we persevered in faith because God’s power was at work to sustain our faith.
I heard a story once, I believe a true story, about a boy who had a tragic accident that took away his eyesight. And for weeks, maybe months, he lay in bed, depressed and unable to do anything. It felt like his life was over.
And one day his dad walked into his room and told his son to get up because he had some chores for him to do. He gave him a list that included going outside and getting up on a ladder to wash windows. The son couldn’t believe his ears. “Dad, I’m blind!” But the dad was insistent.
And so slowly but surely the son got out of bed, and felt his way around the house. He got out the ladder and felt his way to the window and did his best, over the course of that day, to work through the list of chores his dad had given him.
And at the end of the day, he heard his dad’s voice, and that’s when he realized that his dad had been with him all day. Walking behind him, holding the ladder in place, arms out to steady him if he fell. All day long, as he simply went about doing what his dad told him to do, he had been guarded and kept and protected by that same father.
One day you and I are going to see how similar our experiences have been. We go through our weeks, struggling and wondering what in the world is going on.
And one day we’ll see that we were never far from our Father and our shepherd, who was watching over us, keeping us from the things that would ruin our faith, and an even deeper way, enabling us to believe in Him the whole time. Guarding us by His power through faith, not to keep us from trials, but keeping us through the trials.
Now how to we respond to all this? It’s an interesting point to cap things off because Peter isn’t finished. In the original language, verses 3-12 are part of one big sentence, and in the weeks ahead Peter himself is going to guide is in seeing how we should seek to apply this truth.
But at this point I think we can point to two key ways that we should respond to what we’ve seen here today. The first is perspective. Peter’s words here are designed to shape the way we think about reality. They give us a narrative for understanding our life.
How different is Peter’s narrative from the story that our world wants us to live in. Our world tells us to live for this life. Work for the weekend, and retire as early as you can so that you can spend as much time as possible just enjoying yourself. This is why false teachers like Joel Osteen do so well. Everybody is trying to live their best life now. If Jesus can help with that, sure, why not?
And along comes Peter, along with the rest of the Bible, to tell us that it’s actually about our best life later. It’s spiritually dead people who are trying to live their best life now, because this is all they’ve got. Christ has raised us from this graveyard to a bright future that can never be stolen or taken away.
And one of the most important ways we can apply this passage today is to just let this it shape our perspective and remind us that our present is often very hard but our future is incredibly bright. Reading and believing this passage is like flying that plane through a storm into the clear blue sunlight above. It helps us see what’s really going on.
And I want to fight for that perspective. Because doesn’t gravity want to keep pulling that plane back under the clouds? I don’t know about you, but I need to be deliberate about maintaining an eternal perspective. Every day we’re bombarded with messages that try to pull our perspective down to this earth, to make us focus on our suffering, to distract us, to cause us to be caught up with the things of this earth.
I can read 1 Peter here today and nod and agree, and all it takes is a flyer in my mailbox tomorrow and I’m thinking about all the treasures on earth I wish I could be storing up.
I have little 3x5 cards that I use to keep track of the things I want to pray for. And one of the ways I put this truth to work just yesterday was to write down, with the things I want to use every day, a prayer request for God to help me to keep an eternal perspective. You could try something like that. Or maybe write out these verses on a sticky note, and put it somewhere where you’ll see them often, like the dash of your car or your bathroom mirror. Read them, and ask God to help you believe them. Ask Him to help your life to be shaped by these truths instead of the lies that our world wants us to believe.
So, perspective. Let Peter’s words shape our perspective.
The second way we can respond to this passage is praise. And that might seem like a cop-out thing to say. If a preacher doesn’t know how to apply a passage, he can just say “we should praise God for this!” Except, that it’s true—and it’s exactly what Peter says we should do with this.
Remember how this passage opens? “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” That’s where all of this came from All of this truth is what makes Peter respond in worship.
That’s actually a great test to see how deeply these truths have sunk into your soul. Do you just hear them and think, “Sure, I can agree with that?” Or do you hear what God has done and think, “I can’t believe how kind God has been to me. Why me? Why cause me to be born again? Why give me a living hope? A safe inheritance—for me? A God who keeps me guarded by His power? Praise God.”
When these truths really have shaped our perspective, it will cause us to praise. We will want to worship a God who has been so kind to us on such an eternal, cosmic scale.
That’s what we’re going to do here as the service ends: we’re going to praise God with a song. This is not by accident. And this is an encouragement for you to keep on responding to God with praise for the steadfast love that he’s shown you and has promised to show you forever.
Before we close, I can’t help but be reminded that there may be people here or listening to this who don’t know the grace of God. And I want to remind you that this could be for you. If you find yourself believing what you’re hearing here, that’s God calling you. So respond. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved. He died and rose again to share this inheritance with you. Come to Him, with open hands, even right now. And please feel free to get in touch with me or one of the other elders here or another Christian you trust if you want to know more about what this all means.