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#3 Great Expectations

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

(A Sermon from I Peter)

Westgate Chapel 8/6/06                                            I Peter 1:3-9

PROPOSITION:  That the great salvation into which the Chosen People have been born again includes the expectation of inheritance, of testing, and of fellowship with God.

i. introduction

-     WELCOME to God’s Word this morning.

-     IN the next few minutes we will be dealing with elements of eternity.

-     IN Luke 21:33 Jesus said,

      “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33)

-     PRETTY incredible, isn’t it!

-     PLEASE turn with me to I Peter 1:3-9.

-     TWO weeks ago, we looked at verses 1 and 2 about being God’s elect….that He votes for us.

-     BUT, before we move on with the next seven verses, let me briefly remind you of the context of this epistle.

*     Peter is sitting in Rome, seeing the first signs of persecution against Christians all around him in the empire.

*     Reports are coming in, to the apostle, of believers suffering and laying down their lives for their faith.

*     Nero has come to power in Rome, and a showdown between darkness and light is imminent in the known world.

*     Eighteen months after writing this epistle to the church of Jesus in Asia Minor, Nero makes the persecution of Christians official policy and Peter is one of the first to be hung on a cross for his faith in Rome.

*     Peter writes this epistle to…

•     brand new believers

•     separated from their families

•     a long way from home

•     very much in the minority

•     cut off from the mainstream of their culture

•     unsettled about the future

•     disquieted about what they had been hearing from Rome

•     frightened.

-     SO, early in his epistle, Peter tells them what to expect of this new faith in Jesus.

-     AND they are great expectations!

ii. expectation of an inheritance

-     THE first two verses of chapter 1, are just the greeting that introduces the letter.

-     THE content of the letter begins with verse 3.

-     AND from verses 3-5, we learn the first of three things we can expect from being the people God votes for….His elect.

-     LET’S read it together,

      “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4     to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5     who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

-     THIS God we worship has…

      “…caused us to be born again

-     WE are incapable of saving ourselves. God initiated our salvation.

-     THIS is what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3,

      “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

-     YOU and I are born once, when we arrive into this world, out of our mother’s womb.

-     BUT because we are descendants of the first Adam and have a sinful nature, our spirit is not alive to Christ and spiritual realities.

-     WE must be born again…by the Holy Spirit in order to see, to enter into the kingdom of God.

-     AND that happens when, in faith…

*     we repent of our sins

*     we receive God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus’ work on the cross

*     we surrender our whole lives to Jesus Christ and live for Him from that day on.

-     NOW Peter tells us several things about being born again in these three verses…

1.   It is IN God’s great mercy that He has given us the gift of new birth.

•     Mercy is the source of our new birth.

•     Mercy, is God “bringing in the outsider and the unworthy to share in His salvation and the glorious riches of Christ.”

2.   It is INTO a living hope.

•     Hope is the quality of our salvation.

•     We do not live in despair for today or tomorrow.

3.   It is THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

•     Resurrection is the means of our salvation.

•     It is the proof that Jesus conquered sin, Satan and the grave.

•     In I Corinthians 15:14 Paul says,

      “…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)

4.   Lastly, it is INTO an inheritance.

•     The ultimate triumph of your salvation.

•     Your inheritance is Jesus Himself.

•     You get to share in His glory.

      “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)

•     You get to live in a place He has gone to prepare for you (John 14:2).

•     You get to be like Him.

      “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

•     Peter says that this is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

•     And it is kept in heaven for you. That word kept means “reserved.”

-     NO wonder Paul writes in I Corinthians 2:9,

      “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him…” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)

-     THAT is what the believers in Asia Minor can expect for following Christ….this inheritance.

-     THEY might have been…

*     poor by earthly standards

*     weak in political influence

*     disenfranchised by society.

*     frightened about the future.

-     BUT they were born again INTO an inheritance kept in heaven for them.

-     BUT heaven was a loooong way off!

-     HOW did they know any of them would make it all the way to heaven?

-     DID anyone know what they were facing right in front of them? Much less heaven!

-     LISTEN to verse 5. Peter tells them that born again followers of Christ are those…

      “…who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

-     YOU can count on the inheritance that God has prepared for you.

-     THE word, protected, is a military word. In the Greek language, it literally means surrounded.

-     AND the word translated “by” is mistranslated. It is really “in.”

-     YOU are surrounded IN God’s power and that is how you are going to make it to the finish line and receive your inheritance.

-     AND faith believes it and faith already sees yourself surrounded by it.

-     IT is the same faith that allowed Elisha to look at the same hills that his servant saw full of Aramean horses and chariots and instead see those same hills full of chariots of fire from the Lord.

-     NO wonder Peter started this passage with “Praise the God of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

-     THOSE new Christians could expect an inheritance kept in heaven.

iii. expectation of testing

-     BUT wait, there is something more that they could expect as a follower of Christ.

-     IN fact, look at verse 6. It starts out…

      “In this you greatly rejoice …”

-     PRAISE God! More rejoicing coming!

-     IN fact the word used for rejoice literally means “to leap for joy.”

-     AND it is an imperative, which means it is a command to rejoice greatly!

-     WOW! What other inheritance is Peter about to describe that he has us leaping for joy?

      “…even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,  7     so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

-     IT is the expectation of the follower of Christ that we will suffer distress in all kinds of trials.

-     THE word used for trials does not mean the inner struggle of the believer with temptations or sin or personal weakness. The word means “undeserved suffering coming from outside of ourselves.”

-     NOW there is something else in verse 6 that I really want you to pay close attention to.

-     THE Greek word is “deon” and the literal translation is “it is necessary…one must…suffer different kinds of trials.”

-     IT is in God’s plan. Expect it. Don’t act surprised when it comes. Don’t run from it. Don’t concoct a theology that says you will escape it.

-     THE suffering is necessary because the inheritance is so great and cost God so much that we are ineligible for it with an untested faith.

-     THESE new believers came to God in the excitement of the Jerusalem revival. There were miracles, healings, prison doors broken open, angelic appearances….it was fantastic!

-     THEN they got out in the hostile Roman empire and they ran out of fantastic….and didn’t know what to expect of this Christian life.

-     AND Peter tells them. Expect to “suffer distress in all kinds of trials!”

-     IT is necessary! It is God’s plan because He has the end in mind for you. And it involves YOU crossing the finish line with your faith absolutely pure….all the impurities burned out by the fires of adversity.

*     Pride…gone. Burned out.

*     Self righteousness….gone. Burned out.

*     The love of this world….gone. Burned out.

*     Lust gone….gone. Burned out.

*     Self-reliance….gone. Burned out.

-     SO that when you stand before His throne one day  with your faith “proved genuine” through the fire, you will receive…

*     Praise…. Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master's happiness!”

*     Glory…. “The radiance of the glory of the Lord in us.”

*     Honor… 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. (23) Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.

iv. expectation of fellowship with God

-     SO we have the expectation of an inheritance, the expectation of suffering.

-     AND in these last two verses this morning, listen to what Peter tells these new believers that they can expect from the Christian life.

-     VERSES 8-9,

      “…though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,  9     obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

-     PETER had seen Jesus. His readers had not.

-     BUT the more they got to know Him by the Holy Spirit and through the testimony of the apostles’ teaching….even though they had not seen Him, they would love Him.

-     THEY were not going to see Him. He reserved that for the original apostles, and Paul, who saw Jesus in a vision.

-     BUT even though they were not to expect to see Jesus in person, they would believe in Him.

-     YOU were called by God, chosen by Him, for fellowship with Him…in this life as well as for eternity.

-     IN I Corinthians 1:9, Paul says that the,

      “God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV)

-     IN 2 Corinthians 13:14, Paul gives us the great benediction of the church,

      “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  (2 Corinthians 13:14)

-     AND Peter says in verse 8 that this fellowship, established through faith, would result in

      “…inexpressible and glorious joy.”

-     NO wonder!

-     THAT can be your expectation.

v. conclusion

-     LET’S review what Peter is saying to these beleaguered saints.

-     THERE is the expectation of an inheritance kept in heaven for you….IF you are born again.

-     THERE is the expectation of distresses which are necessary for those who follow Christ….and you shouldn’t run from it. Your faith depends on it.

-     THERE is the expectation that even though you have not seen Jesus, you believe and have fellowship with Him through the Holy Spirit.

-     THERE they are….great expectations!

 

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