Sermon 2016 01 17 AM

17.01.16 AM Sermon                        1 Peter 1:3-5   Peter's Pointers for Praise

 

Peter was Jewish follower of Jesus, he would have been accustomed to praying in the Jewish way.

The typical Jewish prayer was called the Shemoneh Esrei (The Eighteen Blessings) -  a series of blessings of God - So, it would not be surprising to note that his prayer, or declaration of praise at the beginning of this letter follows this Jewish pattern of prayer - beginning with blessing or praising God.

Verses 3 to 12 is, in the Greek, one sentence that has a run-on structure - it runs from one thing to another.

Peter focuses throughout upon the topic of Salvation.

We shall be looking at just the first part of this prayer of praise - verses 3 to 5, but it would be helpful to get a general idea of the whole outline.

Peter blesses the Father for the new birth that he grants his people (v3a)

A new birth which leads to their majestic hope of final salvation (v3b-5)

This expectation of final salvation leads them to rejoice, in spite of suffering, about that anticipated final day of Jesus Christ (v6-7)

This very Jesus Christ they both love and trust, while they rejoice as they await that final day of salvation (v8-9)

That very salvation was the subject of inquiry and longing for the ancient prophets of Israel, though they did not live to see its fulfilment (v10-12).

You see how one thought spills over into another.

Peter begins with praising the Father for new birth, but throughout the prayer of praise continually digresses as each part leads his thoughts along new paths of praise.

1. Praise Expressed (v3-5)

2. Digression on Joy Despite Suffering (v6-7)

3. Digression on Love, Joy and Anticipation of the End (v8-9)

4. Digression on the Prophetic Search for salvation (v10-12)

So these verses contain Peter's eulogy to God the Father, that overflows into a fuller eulogy touching on the joyful expectation of salvation, on how that expectation can sustain Christians in suffering, and on how privileged they ought to feel about being the ones who get to enjoy that salvation after many years of expectation.

 

Peter has already begun his letter with his salutation focusing upon the nature of our conversion/salvation.

Remember, last week, how Peter focused upon three dimensions of the great process of salvation:

  • The determining knowledge of God the Father
  • The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit
  • The obedience-generating covenant of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Peter wants to make clear that it is only the salvation of God, the salvation that God has brought and offers, that the church builds upon as its foundation - there is no other foundation upon which it can be built.

The life of the church, its ethics and lifestyle, finds its foundation within the salvation of the Triune God.

 

Regretfully many churches today in the world, push God's salvation aside for a salvation of its own making - one that is about morality, behaviour, dos and don'ts.

They peddle a gospel which cannot save - a false gospel which preaches that can earn or deserve God's favour, if you do the right things, go to church, give money to the church.

However, Peter is making it plain, that Salvation comes first and that it is the foundation of morality and ethics - It is not the other way round. We are saved in order to behave.

We do not modify out behaviour in order to create for ourselves a salvation of being good enough for God.

Peter blesses God for salvation and goes on to say (1:13) "Therefore …" live a good life.

 

So, this morning, we focus just on the first part (v3-5) - Peter's Pointers of Praise.

(v3) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"

1. God and Father - God AND Father

Peter perhaps remembered how the Lord Jesus spoke of His Father and Your Father when he spoke to the disciples, how he taught his disciples to pray beginning with the revolutionary words "Our Father".

A God who is in relationship with us. A God who can be approached, and we can be on familial terms with.

God is not remote, he comes close - he adopts us into his family - he calls us his children.

2. His Great Mercy

(v3) "In his great mercy …"

Our God is a merciful God. The Hymn declares "Merciful and Mighty".

How terrible it would be if he was just Mighty, and shows no mercy.

It is because of his mercy that he has brought about our salvation and offers it to us freely.

In spite of our sin, and shame and fallenness and rebellion, God takes pity on us.

We are helpless to right our own wrongs, we need mercy, and God is full of mercy.

And his mercy stimulates a new birth …

 

3. Our New Birth

(v3) "… he has given us new birth …"

It is God the Father who has graciously granted Regeneration - New Birth.

We are born anew - Born again. Our status before God and our lifestyle before others is changed.

(John 3:3) Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

We are no longer what we once were.

We are to do away with the old and now live the new life, granted to us by Christ.

Christ, through his resurrection from the dead, is the first-fruits of this new creation, and we are joined in him - first fruits of a cosmic regeneration, where God is out to transform the whole of fallen creation.

The new life the church receives is part of the bigger picture.

The Spirit of God is the initiator and sustainer of this regeneration.

This new birth, new life is "given" - not earned, nor deserved - it is freely given.

 

And our new birth stimulates a living hope

4. A Living Hope

We are born (v3) "… into a living hope"

A hope which is not dead or a futile hope. Not a hope that is wishful thinking.

Not a hope based upon feelings or our activity or good behaviour.

But hope based upon the life and death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Upon a certainty.

A living hope (v3) "… through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead …"

If there is no resurrection, then we are to be pitied above all peoples, for ours would be a vain hope.

But our new birth gives rise to a living hope because of the victory over death through the resurrection.

This is a hope that is steadfast and certain and sure. You can count on Christ.

[Speaking to people about heaven - "I hope I will go to heaven …" - what is this based upon?]

 

Throughout his letter, Peter is orientated toward the future that God will bring through Christ.

Peter is not so much saying that believers are now living "full of hope" (this is not a feeling) - rather that we have a fixed hope, a clear vision of what God will do for us in the future.

Our lives are tied with Christ for eternity. Therefore we need not fear.

And Peter goes on to state that this hope is our inheritance (v4) and our salvation (v5).

 

So Peter's pointers for praise, the cascade continues :

Not only does the new birth stimulate a living hope, but that living hope is defined by an inheritance

5. An Eternal Inheritance

(v4) "… and into an inheritance  …"

The children of God, who have received new birth, can look forward to a special inheritance because they are God's children.

And this inheritance is not confined to this world and it riches. It is not a house, not gold or paintings, etc.

No! It is an inheritance of far greater value that all this world, than anyone in this world, can offer to us.

An inheritance (v4) "that can never perish, spoil or fade".

We know from our experience that things in this world perish, spoil and fade.

This is why we have rubbish dumps …Sadly the philosophies and religions of this world and all that they have to offer us will be found on the rubbish dumps of eternity.

All that they offer perishes, spoils and fades.

But the inheritance found in Jesus Christ is suited for eternity.

FW Beare writes how "the inheritance is untouched by death, unstained by evil, unimpaired by time."

Sadly so many people in this world pursue what this world has to offer - its philosophies, its riches, its pleasures, and will have nothing to show for any of it, because they will miss out on the inheritance granted by God for those who know him and are found in him.

It is a great sadness to see the waste of human lives - each human life wasted on what does not last.

Do not waste your one life on what does not matter. Rather invest for eternity.

 

The inheritance that Peter writes of is God's children's completed salvation and eternal life in the kingdom of God, where they will enjoy worship, praise and blessing directed towards the Father, Son and Spirit.

(v4) "This inheritance is kept in heaven for you …"

This inheritance is kept for God's people in heaven, guarded by God's power. It is safe and secure.

Thieves cannot break in and steal it. Rust and moth, Sun and Flood will not destroy it.

 

Do you know Christ Jesus as your Saviour and Lord?

Peter writes to those who have been saved through their faith in Christ :

6. Salvation Through Faith

(v5) "… who through faith …"

The only condition that God sets for his people is that they must have faith.

Salvation is guaranteed for those with faith in Christ as Saviour.

Hear these words of Jesus recorded for us by John :

The people asked Jesus “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” … 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” …47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. … 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” … 53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:28-29,35-40, 47-48,51,53-54)

Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, everyone of you, and you shall be saved.

 

And you shall also be shielded by God’s power.

7. Shielded by Power

(v5) "… are shielded by God’s power …"

So you can know security in Christ, the assurance of salvation because he is able to shield you.

Therefore look to him and entrust yourself to him.

And this shielding is not just for a moment, not just for now, but it is until the end.

 

You are shielded by God’s power …

8. The Coming Salvation

(v5) "… until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

 

How, we have so much to praise God for  and Peter's pointers of praise help us :

We can praise our God who is also our loving heavenly Father - the One who has shown us great mercy and has freely given us new birth, into a hope that is living, and certain through God's Son's resurrection from the dead - and this is guaranteeing us an eternal inheritance, that can never perish, spoil or fade, guarded in heaven for us - we who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

May we like Peter, point others in Praise to God, Father, Son and Spirit. Amen.

 


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