Why is God to be “blessed” with exuberant and heart-felt praise? First, it is because in accordance with his great mercy he caused us to be born again. We now turn our attention in 1 Peter 1:3-5 to the second and third reasons.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
(2) This new birth, this new life results in the precious gift of a hope that is alive and powerful and fruitful!
The fact of the matter is that apart from the new birth there is no hope, or at least none that is alive and powerful and real. The goal, aim, and result of being born again is so that we might have hope! What is hope?
Biblical hope is not crossing your fingers and wishing that something you want very much will ultimately come to pass. Hope is full assurance, not uncertain desire. Hope is unshakeable confidence that what God has said he will do, he will do. Typically people think of hope as a desire for some future thing that they are uncertain of attaining. “Gee, I hope I receive a new laptop for Christmas.” “Oh, man, I sure hope I don’t fail this English exam on Thursday.”
But in Scripture hope is the full assurance or strong confidence that God is going to do good to us in the future and fulfill his every promise.
Here Peter describes our hope as “living”. This should be contrasted with the dead, lifeless, ultimately futile hope that we find in the world at large (see Eph. 2:12 and 1 Thess. 4:13). Our hope is living in the sense that it is productive and fruitful and fertile; ours is a hope that has power to change how we live. It is living and alive because its focus and object is real and unchanging and true and rock solid!
But what does Peter mean when he says that we have been born again unto this living hope “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”?
Now think about it. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead and my new birth, your new birth, are separated by some 2,000 years! So how is it that our being born again is “through” Christ’s resurrection?
John Piper wisely points out that the answer is found at the end of 1 Peter 1, vv. 23-25. There Peter declares that “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
Connecting Christ’s bodily resurrection 2,000 years ago and your new birth in the present day is the gospel, the good news, the Word of God that was “preached” to you! What is the gospel or the Word that was preached? It is, as Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15:3-4, that “Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Here then is how Christ’s resurrection gives me hope: if Jesus was raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of the Father, I have good reason to believe that his death for sin was sufficient in making satisfaction and atonement for my sin. The resurrection of Christ from the dead certifies to me the sufficiency and efficacy of his death in my place and for my sins.
(3) This hope is the confident assurance that we have an inheritance kept and preserved for us in heaven that is not subject to the corrupting and corrosive influence of things on this earth!
In OT the inheritance was always seen or defined in terms of the land that God had promised to Abraham and his seed. This hope is still in many ways physical, because it is wrapped up in the new heavens and new earth and the city of God, the New Jerusalem. But it greatly transcends any inheritance possible in this life.
“Imperishable” – Let’s be honest. One thing that makes life so hard now is that virtually everything we love and cherish and trust ultimately dies. Our bodies decay and die. Our friends and family decay and die. The animal kingdom decays and dies. Plants and flowers and the beauty of nature ultimately decays and dies. But the glory and splendor of life in the new heavens and new earth will never decay or die. No disintegration. No dissolution. Constantly and forever renewed and refreshed. Always and ever alive. Always and ever vibrant. Always and ever fresh and new.
“Undefiled” – No matter how hard we try in the present day to keep things clean, they get dirty. We buy detergent and spot remover and cleansing agents and soap and disinfectants of every conceivable sort. Yet all that we see and touch and taste and own suffers defilement and is subject to impurity, both physically and morally. Not in heaven! Nothing in that place of glory will ever be anything but pristine and pure and clean and devoid of spot or wrinkle.
“Unfading” – Everything now is subject to the ravages of time. It’s called the law entropy. All creation is breaking down and losing its luster. All beauty now is fast fading away. Not all the tummy tucks or face lifts or botox or plastic surgery in the world can slow down the steady onslaught of time and age. The most beautiful of sculptures eventually wear away. The colors and hues in the most beautiful of paintings eventually lose their brilliance. Not in heaven! Nothing there will ever get old or ugly or become outdated or obsolete. With each passing moment in the new heavens and new earth there will be new colors and new sounds and new discoveries of the beauty of God. Our inheritance, unlike every possession and experience in this life, will never lose its capacity to bring happiness and joy, to enthrall and excite.
Three texts in Revelation provide some detail that expands upon these three words in 1 Peter. In Rev. 21:4 we see that no tears of grief, no death or sorrow or pain will be present. In 21:8 we are assured that no one who is cowardly, lying, or unbelieving will be present, nor murderers, or anything abominable, immoral, or idolatrous. And, as if to sum up, we are told in 21:27 that nothing unclean will be allowed to enter.
Think of the implications of what is being said! When we get to heaven there will be nothing that is abrasive, irritating, agitating, or hurtful. Nothing harmful, hateful, upsetting or unkind. Nothing, sad, bad, or mad. Nothing harsh, impatient, ungrateful or unworthy. Nothing weak, or sick, or broken or foolish. Nothing deformed, degenerate, depraved or disgusting. Nothing polluted, pathetic, poor or putrid. Nothing dark, dismal, dismaying or degrading. Nothing blameworthy, blemished, blasphemous or blighted. Nothing faulty, faithless, frail or fading. Nothing grotesque or grievous, hideous or insidious. Nothing illicit or illegal, lascivious or lustful. Nothing marred or mutilated, misaligned or misinformed. Nothing nasty or naughty, offensive or odious. Nothing rancid or rude, soiled or spoiled. Nothing tawdry or tainted, tasteless or tempting. Nothing vile or vicious, wasteful or wanton!
Wherever you turn your eyes you will see nothing but glory and grandeur and beauty and brightness and purity and perfection and splendor and satisfaction and sweetness and salvation and majesty and marvel and holiness and happiness.
We will see only and all that is adorable and affectionate, beautiful and bright, brilliant and bountiful, delightful and delicious, delectable and dazzling, elegant and exciting, fascinating and fruitful, glorious and grand, gracious and good, happy and holy, healthy and whole, joyful and jubilant, lovely and luscious, majestic and marvelous, opulent and overwhelming, radiant and resplendent, splendid and sublime, sweet and savoring, tender and tasteful, euphoric and unified!
This is your inheritance! This is the living hope to which you have been born again because Jesus was raised from the dead! And in this, says Peter, in this, you find great and deep and lasting joy. In this you, says Peter, in this you find strength to endure trials and setbacks and disappointments. In this, says Peter, you find hope when everything else is hopeless. This glorious truth is what will sustain and empower you for everything that lies ahead.
What can we say in response to this? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”