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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:3-9
Faith that will be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ is what all Jesus-followers desire. What is the source of this kind of faith? Peter seems to make it clear that it comes from the sovereign mercy of God in Christ. Stick with me now, I know the idea of the sovereignty of God in salvation sticks in some peoples’ craws. But look at what Peter says next, “he has caused us to be born again…” So, it is God’s great mercy that is the cause of our being born again.
The quality of this salvation is of a different order of reality than what we live with day to day. We know that everything under the sun devolves, wears out, and is ultimately done away with. I am getting older and wearing out. My body doesn’t have the capacity to cooperate with all the things I wish it could still do. Our inheritance that Peter speaks of is different. It is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. Ain’t that good news? Our inheritance in Christ will never wear out, be defiled by sin, or fade away. It is this inheritance that drives our life. It is this inheritance that enables us to survive the various, and many, tough times we experience in this temporal life.
“In this, you rejoice…” We are often taught that as a Christian, we can’t be selfish or think about what we want. That’s not totally true. It depends on the object of our desire. If your desire is Jesus as your supreme treasure, then seek personal pleasure in Jesus as much as you want. Ultimately, he is your inheritance. In fact, I would say that if we don’t want Jesus more than anything, we are probably failing to keep the first of the ten commandments.
The challenge to this joy
You have been grieved by various trials. Peter is a realist. He knows that not only have these believers been subject to physical, social, and economic persecution for their union with Christ, they also have ordinary everyday trials.
I booked airline tickets for Karen’s retirement trip for us to go to England, Paris, and Scotland. We are scheduled to leave in a couple of weeks. Last week I received an email from British Airways that our flight had been canceled. Panic!! It is the only non-stop flight to Heathrow in London from San Diego. I tried to rebook another flight a couple of days earlier. It cost almost six times the ticket that was canceled. That is a trial! Fortunately, after the better part of a whole day flailing around on the phone to London and with a local travel agent, it all turned out to be a clerical error, and it all got reset to the original plan with no new costs. Whew! Praise God for his favor. That trial was minor compared to what many of us go through, but these are small trials that can nonetheless hinder our joy.
Peter’s observation is that our joy and rejoicing is in our imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance. It is the object of joy, not vacations to Europe or any other temporal pleasure.
Trials perform an integral part of our joy. When we experience trials, the good thing they do for us is to prove the genuineness of our faith. It is this tested, genuine faith that will result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:8-9
We have not seen Jesus in the flesh, but we love him. When Jesus is our supreme treasure and the inheritance we look forward to, we can survive and thrive through all sorts of trials. In fact, when we hold Jesus as our supreme treasure and inheritance, it produces joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.
This is how Christians can endure “various trials” and still be filled with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Our inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. So, rejoice. Puny little trials, big trials, or even death cannot take from you your eternal inheritance.