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Joy in the Trials PDF

1 Peter 1:6-7

 

The last time we were together we talked about Hymn of Hope in a World of Trouble. Peter writes to those who are refugees dispersed throughout Asia, away from home, suffering persecution, going through the trials common to life as well as those common to folks trying to live for Jesus in an unfriendly world. Yet this points them to reasons to give God praise:

·       Indestructible Hope (1 Peter 1:3)

·       Safeguarded Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

·       Personal Preservation (1 Peter 1:5)

Peter continues with his instruction in 1 Peter 1:6-7.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,

7 So that that 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.

 

Joy in the Trials

·       The Grief of Various Trials

·       The Proof of Genuine Faith

·       The Reward of the Proving Process

 

I. The Grief of Various Trials

...though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,

The inheritance is future; this is the now. Peter has been talking about these things we rejoice in that are yet to come, but now, for a little while, we face these trials. For a little while—these experiences are temporary and short-lived compared to the coming blessings.

Paul says the same thing in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

Though necessary, for now, for a little while, we have the trials and Peter says, "If necessary." Think about this. So often, particularly when we face trials we have never faced before, they seem to us senseless and we respond with "why", or "this doesn't make sense" or "what purpose" and yet in two brief words Peter says, "if necessary." He points us to the reality that no trial or difficulty lacks a divine purpose. There is no pain we suffer that we do not need for the sake of God’s purpose in our lives! It's really easy to forget that. So in the middle of your worst trials, those that are most difficult to bear, hold on to that truth especially when you can’t make sense of the trial.

What are some of the reasons God would bring us into trials? (MacArthur, 42):

  • to humble us (It has been said that it is rare to find a young man humble and an old man content.)
  • to wean us from the world and turn our hearts toward heaven
  • to create gratitude for the blessings we enjoy--food, health, friends
  • to teach us how to help others who are going through trials and give us a heart for doing so
  • to discipline us for our sins rather than letting those sins take over
  • to strengthen us for spiritual battles
  • to put us at a point of impossibility so that we get to experience incredible intervention from God

These trials are necessary but they do bring us grief, like the kind of suffering we endure when a loved one dies. The most severe trials we face feel something like death—and in a big picture sense are connected with it. Sin brought the curse on our existence and the curse leads inexorably toward death. Our troubles are small doses of the dying that the human race has suffered ever since Adam fell in the Garden. Even the persecutions that Christians suffer display the rebel harmfulness that sin works in people.

Peter calls these trials testings and temptations. Satan tempts us to cause us to fall. God allows it to prove by testing our true identity as children of God.

These trials are various. They are many colored in their variety—like a leopard skin, marble, or embroidered cloth. Our trials come in all shapes and sizes, at every stage of life. The combination of factors varies greatly from time to time and place to place. Our vulnerabilities and capacities change, our burdens and responsibilities shift. Isn't it amazing as you live life and you go through various trials that you weren't even aware that people were going through them before? We have many folks caring for elderly parents. No one would say this is fun and also to have that burden as you try to maintain your other responsibilities. That is a type of trial that only certain people experience at certain times. There are trials that go with different times of life and different kinds of situations: aging, growing up, parenting, diseases. Every age has its trials. There are some trials that are experienced particularly by Christians: struggles of faith, heartache for lost loved ones, persecutions you face for being true to Christ, trials and dangers you subject yourself to in order to spread the Gospel. William Barclay, 209: “There is no color in the human situation which the grace of God cannot match.” Whatever variety of trial you are facing is exactly the right variety for you at this time chosen by the hand of God for your good and for His glory. 

When trials come, we can feel that they indicate that we are not right with God or that we do not have salvation, but according to this text, such trials have an entirely opposite significance in the believer’s life.

 

II. The Proof of Genuine Faith

7 So that that tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire

What is faith? It is a believing, reliant response to the Word of God. There are different levels of faith. There are people that believed in Jesus because of His miracles but He did not believe in them (John 2). There is a level of faith that is not actually saving, not relying on Jesus. There are people that believe about God, they know the facts, but they are not relying on God. They believe a lifeboat would rescue them, but they do not get in the lifeboat. We need these experiences to prove that our faith is actually genuine. Just as precious metals are refined by being melted in the crucible, and the dross is burned off leaving pure silver or gold, so our faith, with all its imperfections will be tested and purified.

Peter says this is more precious than gold—how, why? Gold perishes. It is part of the universe that will be burned up. It is of temporary value. Faith, by contrast, links us to forever. It is the entrance to the everlasting splendor and joy of God’s eternal kingdom. “Faith is the assurance (foundation) of things hoped for, the conviction (proof) of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith links us to the realities of the spiritual realm. Faith links us to a future that is secure. In pawn shop trading, before any money can change hands, there has to be some authentication. We need to know that our faith is for real. If temporal things of value, like gold, have to be tested and purified, then how much more something of eternal value like your faith?

Jesus talks about different responses to the Word in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:20-21). He uses a farming metaphor with those that are the rocky soil. This is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. That is not genuine faith. Faith holds on, is willing to endure the persecution and the trials. If you are suffering or going through anything that makes you struggle or question God, He is doing it for the purpose of proving the genuineness of your faith. It is one thing to find out that an earthly possession is of little or no value, but it is another thing to show up before the judgment bar of God and find out that your faith is worthless, that it wasn't for real. We know there will be lots of people, preachers included, that will be there just like that. We need to know now whether our faith is genuine. God in His grace takes us through the difficulties and it is worth it for the sake of Jesus. 

Many people sacrificed a lot to have gold back in the Gold Rush time. Your faith is more valuable than any nugget of California gold. Whatever you have to endure is a life-changing thing to make sure your faith is genuine. Will you serve Him only if He sends you sunny days, and human praise, easy nights and pleasurable experiences or will you hold onto Him through the trial? What value do you place on your faith? The trials are there to prove that our faith is genuine.

 

III. The Reward of the Proving Process

...may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

There is going to be a judicial investigation. There will be a final verdict. You will be found possessor of genuine faith or not. It will be found to result in praise, glory and honor.

Praise—recognized approval of what is good

Glory—shining splendor

Honor—high value

These are words we nearly always think of as directed toward God because God is so worthy of worship. We give Him praise and want to honor Him. But if you look closely, that is not what this verse communicates. The praise, glory, and honor is directed toward us whose faith has been tested and tried and proven genuine and thus of high value. This describes Christ’s commendation of His people. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things. I now give you many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Can you imagine receiving praise, glory and honor from God? Think of a scale. On one side you have abuse, persecutions, mockings. On the other side God says, "This is my child. This person is an heir with me of eternal inheritance." I can't imagine the level of joy that will be. It will have to be the most awesome experience we have ever known. This may be hard to imagine, but consider the inheritance God has promised to His children. Is this description here any less lavish than what God promises to pour out on those who have put faith in Christ? Clearly, He promises us far more than we could ever deserve, but it is His royal grace and unrelenting love that floods our existence with beauties and joys far beyond our merits.

This will happen at the revelation—the apocalypse—of Jesus Christ. John the apostle devoted a book to this topic--the end of the age when Jesus comes back for His own and takes back the earth and all the universe from the usurper Satan.

I think of our high school commencement which will be here again in a few months. This is the result of 12 years or so of study. Can you imagine the feeling of the ultimate graduation, with God handing out the diploma--safe at last! No wonder then Peter says at the beginning of our text, “In this you rejoice”—jubilant exultation.

Matthew 5:11-12: Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6: For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

We exult even now in our future inheritance because it is so vast and valuable. Even the trials serve only to prove that we belong to Christ and are legitimate heirs of His kingdom. Peter will come to the end of this letter and say: After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)

That's why we have Joy in the Trials. There is grief, there is a whole variety of trials we experience, but they are proof of our genuine faith that brings the reward of God himself.

 

LifeGroup Questions

1.   What have been some of your most difficult trials and how did God use them in your life?

2.   Are there some trials you are going through now that those in your LifeGroup could help with through prayer and/or practical means?

3.   What are some ways God has shown to you that your faith is genuine saving faith?

4.   What are some valuable things people are willing to labor and suffer for in this life and how do they compare to the promised rewards of persevering faith in Jesus Christ?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

January 12, 2014

 

 
A New Creation PDF

2 Corinthians 5:16-20

"Hallelujah! All I have is Christ."  We love singing that song. The words have a profound message, but it is easier to sing it than it is to live it all week long. The message is core to who we are in Jesus Christ and what our mission is. My prayer is that we can live this out throughout this new year.

Every new year brings new opportunities – opportunities to learn from the past and to look to the future. The sense of new beginnings gives hope to everyone, but particularly to the Christian because the Christian knows the darkness will pass, and that the Sun of Righteousness, Jesus Christ, will bring in an everlasting day. The Christian knows that every new year brings us one year closer to the time when God will bring all that to bear.

Last week we looked at Revelation 21:1-8, God's proclamation that He was making all things new. There John wrote about a new habitation, a new heaven and a new earth, a new city, a new Jerusalem where righteousness dwells. We see the sovereign confirmation that God will see that it happens, and then a gracious invitation extended. Who is going to get to participate in that new world, in that new age when all things are new? It is whoever will thirst for it, whoever will cling to Jesus Christ and through that overcome all the other kinds of deviations from Him. On a more sober note, we also see that there is a righteous condemnation for those who turn away.

  •        Perfect Habitation (1-4)
  •        Sovereign Confirmation (5-6a)
  •        Gracious Invitation (6b-7)
  •        Righteous Condemnation (8)

This morning I glanced at our local newspaper and read the line: "If you don't know where you are going, you won't know when you are lost." (Rhonda Abrams, Greenville News, E1, January 12, 2014). The article was talking about having a business plan, but it does apply to life. If you don't know where you are going, you don't know when you are lost. No believer ought to have any doubt about where he is going. For that reason, he ought to know what route he ought to take. He ought never to actually be lost.

We live in light of this future glory. But it is not all future. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, the darkness is already passing, and what was darkness is turning to light. Like the dawn, it signals a new day that will come to full sunshine. Where can you find the beginnings of that new day? In those who are trusting in Jesus, who show evidence of the everlasting life of God in their way of thinking and living. Such God-bearers are the leading edge of the age when all things will be new. No day begins with the sun at high noon. It begins with the dawn, and that dawn begins in our hearts until the Daystar rises there and sheds His light over all things. 

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Last week we looked at all things new. This week we look at a new creation. This new creation is that which God does in the life of those who know Jesus. As a new creation we have a new identity. That comes about because of a new relationship, being reconciled to God and in fellowship with Him. When you come into His fellowship, He changes you. Your friends mark you, and when He comes in contact with those who are finite, He rubs off on them. He changes you. That new relationship, the very fact that it is possible, gives you a new mission as ambassadors for Christ. Everyone needs this relationship. Everyone is the target audience for those who can be transformed by Jesus Christ and become a new creation themselves.

A New Creation

A New Identity: Re-created in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

A New Relationship: Reconciled to God 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 21)

A New Mission: Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)

 

I. A New Identity: Re-created in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

According to verses 16-17, we have a new identity. “Therefore we regard" — Here we are dropping down into a letter. Paul is referring to something He has just testified to. Paul shared something that changes the way He looks at people. Because of what Paul has just testified in verses 14 and 15, he regards people differently from before, not according to the flesh. What is it that has changed in Paul's life? He said the love of Christ now controls us. Christ's love to us, and our love to Him. There is a centrality of Christ in our lives. That controls us because we no longer live for ourselves but rather for Him who for our sakes died and was raised. In other words, Paul doesn't look back to his conversion as one of those many events in his history that is significant but just the run-of-the-mill kind of things. Rather, he looked at his life as before Christ and after Christ. He looked at that meeting with Christ, that conversion, that transformation that changes everything. He quit looking at people the same way because He had experienced Christ. “We regard no one according to the flesh.” What does that mean?

The way we naturally size up people no longer has bearing on our thinking: What is their age? What is their gender? Nationality? Income status? What are their talents? What are their political leanings? What is their educational level, their cultural custom, and even their family background? We tend to let that judgment define who that person is. Paul says he is no longer looking at people that way. I am not judging people according to the flesh.

Matthew 12:46ff: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

These standards by which the world critiques people are not the real measure of any person—v. 12: "Boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart." Who are you? You might express it in various ways, but does that really tell us who you are? Who you are is what is in your heart. God looks on the heart, on what a person really is. God knows you on the level of what is in your heart, and that is what you are. Is God impressed with what school you went to...your income? No, God is interested in knowing what is going on in your heart and mind, what you give yourself to. Romans 2:11: "God shows no partiality." Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 3:25 tell us that truly godly people do not engage in partiality. James 2:1: "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory." To see people with such partiality is really not to see them at all. It is possible for partiality to even invade a church. He says don't treat a rich man better than a poor man. Don't treat a person who is dressed up different from a man dressed in rags. To see people with that partiality is not to see them at all. That changes our view of people we see at the gas station, at the pharmacy. 

Before Paul was converted, he did not even see Jesus for who He truly is. Outward appearance was everything. “We once regarded Christ according to the flesh”— Jesus said to the Pharisees who refused to believe His testimony. John 8:14: "You judge according to the flesh."

Earlier He indicted them in this way in John 5:43-44: “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from God?"

Isaiah 53: "No form or majesty that we should look at him; no beauty that we should desire him; despised, rejected by man; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; despised, esteemed him not; stricken, smitten of God, afflicted.

Thousands followed Him for a time, but forsook Him afterwards. They had no real faith in Who He really is and what He came to do. Some say that it would have been easier to believe in Jesus when He lived here on earth than it is now. I am not so sure. Think of Jesus’ humble birth, His obscure beginnings, His ministry, His poverty compared the movers and shakers of the age, His torture, His crucifixion, His apostles, including fishermen, a tax collector, a former insurrectionist, a traitor. He possessed nothing that the world counts significant. He did not own a home. He had only one change of clothes. But His Words were spirit and life; His deeds were miraculous; His message was good news to those bankrupt in spirit. His humiliation and suffering was for our sake—wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.

So we do not define people by a person’s social status, or educational background, or family connections, or ethnicity, how well he dresses, etc. One main issue concerns us: is the person in Christ or not? That is what matters. That changes everything in ways nothing else can. Anyone in Christ is a new creation—the leading edge of the future, the current proof that God’s power is operative already that will bring in the day of shining splendor.

Revelation 21:5 "Behold, I am making all things new."

Ephesians 5:8ff "Once you were darkness (sexually immoral, impure, covetous, idolatrous, disobedient, filthy and foolish talk, crude joking), but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (good and right and true . . . discern what is pleasing to the Lord—be wise)."

Walk as children of light. What does that look like? It looks like everything that is good and true and right. It looks like a heart that is seeking what pleases the Lord. It looks like genuine wisdom. Romans 12: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind"—metamorphosis; the difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly—what we were and what we are in Christ. Worms can’t fly. Christians fly, as it were. They display beauty when once they crawled about on the earth as worms or caterpillars. 

Romans 8:18-23:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 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.

That is when the metamorphosis will be complete, but it has already begun because God has given us life in Christ.

New Spirit indwells, enables, guides—Holy Spirit

New disposition toward God, His righteousness, His kingdom, His will

New Father, new family

New value system—eternal worth

New destiny, new inheritance

New freedom

New joy, peace

New reason for living

The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. It was a point in time. At our conversion, the old passed away. The new has come -- and continues; it does not grow old and fade away. 

Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." 

Romans 6:2: "How can we who died to sin still live in it. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

How do you see other people? As you go throughout this week, what lens will you use as you see other people? What do you look for? Are you looking past education, economic level, and skin color? Who are you at the level of desire, thought processes, concerns, character?

Do you look at everything differently because of your new relationship with God? Is there evidence of being a new creation?

 

II. A New Relationship: Reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 21)

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Just as the creation of the universe happened by the Word of God ex nihilo, so this new creation has to come from God alone. He is the only one with the power and wisdom to make it happen. He had to make the first move, and the move He made was to reconcile us to Himself. Reconcile is mentioned four times in verses 18 and 19. It means to bring back into fellowship those that are at odds with one another. 1 John 1:3 says, "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us . . . with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." To reconcile someone is to bring them back into fellowship when they have been out of fellowship.

We use this terminology when a couple is headed toward divorce but gets help and works out their differences and reunites. We call that reconciliation. You take the worst marriage problem and multiply it to infinity, and that is the problem we have between us and God. We had problems we couldn't fix. No counselor could fix it for us. We were divorced from God because of our sin (not just what we had said and done but who we are), and that made it impossible to be of one mind and heart with a holy, loving, righteous God who created us for His glory and is the Source of all that is living and good. Someone bigger than us and perfect had to remove the sin barrier—and we could not do it for ourselves. It is all from God. Somebody had to remove what had created the breach in the relationship between God and man. That breach is so deep that from the Garden of Eden onward there has been only one person, Jesus Christ, who wasn't a sinner. And He wasn't a sinner because He was the God-man. Every being other than the God-man Jesus Christ by birth and by choice is a rebel to God and continues to be. So it is only through Christ that this reconciliation happens. The Messiah, the Savior King God promised throughout the Old Testament centuries.

How did He do this? It wasn't that He came to rule first, but He came to die. He did it by not counting their trespasses against them. God did not log in our account book the false steps and blunders that by nature we all commit. God did not assign them there, but they had to go somewhere. Someone had to pay that debt, and it has to be a human being, but every human doesn't have anything to pay it with. We are all bankrupt. You don't go to a bunch of bankrupt people and take a collection to pay off the bankruptcy. Someone with infinite resources has to pay it off.  

Verse 21 explains it to us: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus never experienced sin in any form -- not at the level of desire, not at the level of thought, not in words or deeds. He was absolutely, perfectly holy -- unblemished. God took the sin and put it on Him, so that in Him we could become the righteousness of God. Our sin was laid on his account, so that His righteousness could be put on ours. That is called justification. That is "declaring righteous." That is what we are talking about here. This is justification. Taking care of the sin debt makes the justification possible. You say, "How does that work?"

There is an illustration that helps me understand it. Suppose a bride who was bankrupt married a billionaire. The bride owed a debt she could not possibly pay in all her life, but the bridegroom is a billionaire. They are united in holy matrimony, becoming one flesh and one legal entity. As soon as they are united the billions cancel out the bankruptcy. She is no longer bankrupt because he has the resources to pay it off.  Because they are united, the bankruptcy is gone. That is why everything depends on whether you are in Christ. You have to be united to Him through faith or you are still bankrupt. You can't ever pay it off even if you spend eternity in Hell. You will be paying it off, paying it off, and paying it off. Jesus, in His infinite righteousness, as an infinite being God the Son had the infinite resources to entirely cancel out your debt if you join yourself to Him. Throughout Scripture God consistently refers to God's relationship with His people as a marriage and to Christ as the bridegroom, and to the church, His people, as the bride. That is why you need Christ to make you a new creation. That is the relationship that saves us. If you don't have that relationship, you can't possibly survive. Outside of Christ there is no hope. You are still bankrupt. So how would you describe your relationship with Christ? Would you say that you are close to God or far away?  How do you measure that? What do you think about? What do you live for? What do you do with your time, with your money? Are you close to God? If not, what is standing in your way? Get it out of the way! Bury it! Turn from it! Let Christ cover it with His blood. Let go. Let Christ break the stranglehold that sin has in your life.

If you have experienced that, you have a new mission as an ambassador for Christ.

 

III. A New Mission: Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

The ambassador “acts and speaks not only on behalf of but also in the place of the sovereign” who appointed him. (Hughes, 209)

When the ambassador speaks, he speaks or acts on behalf of a country or king, so when he speaks it is actually that king or country speaking. He has been appointed to do that. We are ambassadors. What a privilege. Not only are we the leading edge of this new Heaven and new Earth and the change that God is working in us. Because He is working in us, we get to display that message to everyone else. We are the one tasked with telling everyone about this. Speaking with God's authority as to how they, too, can become a new creation. God has entrusting to us the message (word--logos) of reconciliation. It is not a myth, but that which is true and reliable (Greek usage). We implore (come alongside) on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God—the general declaration to all people everywhere. We implore on behalf of Christ everywhere we go. 

It would not be good news if the basis of getting back together were not accomplished. You can't put two warring parties in a room without inviting another battle. There has to be peace between them, whatever is wrong between them has been resolved.

The choir sings a song that says, “The time is now, come Church arise. Love with His hands; see with His eyes.” We have hope for any and every one we meet—no matter how broken and twisted by sin—because of what God has done through Christ. We ourselves have experienced it, so we can affirm and avow that the good news is for real.

Of your acquaintances, who has Jesus and who does not? How can you come alongside them to share the good news that God has made a way through Christ to be restored to fellowship with Him who “is making all things new”? God has appointed us to give His message. Our whole point in being alive in the world is to declare His way of reconciliation. My prayer is that we will be deadly serious about the mission we have from God to be His ambassadors.

A New Creation

A New Identity (16-17)

A New Relationship (18-19, 21)

A New Mission (20)

LifeGroup Questions

1.   What are ways you can show that you see people not according to the flesh but in terms of whether they are in Christ or not?

2.   What have you found helps you combat an attitude of partiality?

3.   If you have been born again, what are ways you saw yourself change from the inside out?

4.   What have you found helps or hinders your sense of close fellowship with God?

5.   What are some ways you have found effective in coming alongside others to encourage them to be reconciled to God?

6.   If there are individuals you are trying to reach with the gospel, can you share their names with your LifeGroup for prayer?

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, South Carolina

January 12, 2014

 
All Things New PDF

Revelation 21:1-8

 

Every new year brings with it some measure of hope for a better future. We all find ourselves feeling trapped in bad patterns and seemingly dead end pursuits. As the calendar moves from the old year to the next, we regroup, fresh from a brief holiday rest, and try to mark out better ways of living. Just look at all the fitness products at the front of stores! It’s bitter cold now, but the spring is coming, and after that the summer’s heat. The cadence of the seasons reminds us that all of history marches toward its divinely-ordained goal.

Sometimes the weight of current burdens and the fear of looming threats sap our strength and take away our courage to carry on. You may feel you are there this morning.

Like the hobbit Frodo, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of Rings, who has the heavy task of taking a ring of unearthly power back to the dark land of Mordor, where it is to be destroyed in the fire. The ring not only empowers its wearer, but enslaves him and opens his life up to the evil eye of Sauron, who rules Mordor and seeks the ring so that He can bring all the earth under His power. The further Frodo and his friend Sam travel toward the destination, the more dangerous and difficult bearing the ring becomes.

Toward the end of the second book in the trilogy, Frodo says: “I can't do this, Sam.”

Sam replies, “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really matter. Full of darkness and danger they are. And sometimes you don't even want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing, a passing shadow. Even the darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stayed with you, that meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why.  But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.”

“What are we holding onto, Sam?”

“That there's some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

“Even the darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”

Tolkien is writing fantasy, but he taps into the essence of human hope, the sense that something far better is coming, if we can just make it through the present darkness.

This morning I want us to fix our hearts not on fantasy or wishful thinking, but on certainty, that a new day is coming when the darkness will be utterly past. And for that reason we have every reason to “be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch as we know our labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). The apostle John writes about it here in Revelation 21:1-8 with words that echo promises in Isaiah 65 and 66.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 

All Things New

·       Perfect Habitation (Revelation 21:1-4)

·       Sovereign Confirmation (Revelation 21:5-6a)

·       Gracious Invitation (Revelation 21:6b-7)

·       Righteous Condemnation (Revelation 21:8)

 

I. Perfect Habitation (Revelation 21:1-4)

Consider first that this new day involves a perfect habitation. We often refer to the American dream—the dream of home ownership, the security of having something that belongs to you. The reality is that this world can't ultimately satisfy this dream of having a secure home. There is a hunger for something that is more than this. No place here can be our home. The trials, difficulties, disappointments and the ebb and flow of life teach us that this is not a steady place, not a permanent home. We are foreigners here. We live by customs that do not fit--the customs of heaven. We are Pilgrims here. Our names are in the registry of heaven and we find ourselves passing through this land of sorrow and of death. In fact, even Moses would say in Psalm 90: God is our dwelling place throughout all generations.

This perfect habitation requires a new heaven—no more threatening storms and ominous omens, hail, lightning bolts. It is no longer infested by the prince of the power of the air. It is a new heaven, absolutely perfect.

A new earth—no more earthquakes and floods, forest fires, thorns and thistles, venomous snakes and vicious beasts, no more law of club and fang, no more tearing the soil with hooks and blades to force it to yield fruit by the sweat of our brow. There will be no more cities of death in myriad churchyards, grave covered hills, tombs hewn into caves, markers of death along every highway. A new earth that has no sea, which now covers ¾ of the earth’s surface, mysterious, menacing, separating (John wrote when exiled on the island of Patmos) him from everyone and everything he loved, powerful, unstable. There will be some kind of water but it will be remade in a way that earth will not be so threatened by the sea.

There will be a new city of Jerusalem—an actual city, the largest city ever—1500 miles cubed (Revelation 21:16). It is described in chapter 22, beautiful beyond imagination. It is not like the old Jerusalem (in ruins for 25 years when John wrote), and full of sin and strife. The fact is, wherever there are cities, there you find collected not just the best of man’s efforts but the worst of his sins. This is, by contrast, the holy city, prepared as a bride adorned (cosmetics) for her husband (not just the structure, but also the people who are to live in it).

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

Here is the reason this is all possible and that it is so beautiful. Streets of gold and gates of pearl mean nothing if God is not there. The greatest human experience is to feel the presence of God and to feel the surging power of His Spirit. To know that you are guilt-free and have communion with your Creator. On earth there is no greater thrill than that. In this city that will be what makes life so beautiful--no distance between God and man. They are together at last in perfect harmony and security. God is dwelling with them. John uses a term which means to tabernacle, tent; the shekinah glory (dwelling place glory); Jesus dwelt—pitched his tent—among us. We closely observed this is God in the flesh. All those who are part of this city will know God in that way. Walk into any church and if God is not there it is an empty place--full of form and ceremony, but has no power. Walk among any people of God where Jesus dwells and there you have joy, power, truth and love that pervades. This city is pervaded by the character of God. It is paradise regained forever.

John further describes that with no sin to mar the fellowship:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

This new existence is so unlike what we know now that it must be described in terms of what is not there.

No tears—compassion for every individual and every tear a person sheds on account of any and every sorrow or pain; for any of the thousand of reasons we shed tears in this life—sins, calamities, frustrations, sufferings

No death—death itself cast into the lake of fire (chapter 20); despite the hundreds of thousands of medical professionals, we cannot stop the inevitable victory of death

No bereavement—because no one dies anymore, no more parting, no more wasting away, no more sudden death

No crying—the outcry of grief, anxiety, shout of war or anger

No pain—physical, emotional, or spiritual; there is hardly a day that passes that we don’t feel some kind of pain, some of it deep down like a bleeding river that you cannot stop

Former things are passed away. The original, fallen existence is gone forever. Jesus took our sin and our sorrow and banished them forever. He bore our diseases and our pain away. He died our death and killed it.

If you doubt He has the power or the will to do such a thing, look at what He did even during His humiliation on earth. Every disease, demons, storms, and death had to yield to His power. It is a new habitation.

Where are you looking to find a secure home? Where do you seek your security? Here? Then you will be disappointed. This is not home. You are traveling through the wilderness of this world. Your sense of security comes from the fact that God is with you till the end of the age. Your home is with God in the new heaven and new earth. That's where you set your bearings. That helps you direct your step and know what path you should take today. Our secure home does not exist apart from God. The way, the truth, the life--Jesus Christ, is the only way to Him. What is your relationship to Jesus Christ? That will tell the story of whether this perfect habitation is yours, and if it is yours, live in light of it. Don't live for short-term goals.

 

II. Sovereign Confirmation (Revelation 21:5-6a)

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

He is seated on the throne of the universe—He rules over all. He has the power and authority to make it happen. There are so many promises that we make and we have neither. We have hopes, wishes, intentions, plans and so often what we most want we can't reach. He has the authority and power to make it happen.

He uses the word "behold"—look, attention, this is actually happening. He is not talking poetry or using metaphor. This is real history. He wants John to see what is coming. This will happen just as sure as this day has happened. I am making all things new—a task only God can do.

He says Write this down—put it on record. This is not just for you, John, it’s for all who will read it in the future, it’s for the members of Hampton Park Baptist Church. This is the Word of God to you. This is trustworthy and true, it will not deviate. Then He says: It is done—it has come to pass, it has happened. When God makes promises, they are so sure that he speaks of them as already done. He says I am the Alpha and Omega—first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It is another way of saying I am the beginning and the end. God cannot die. There is many a task we begin and never finish. With God the task will not be left incomplete.

There is no history outside of God. If you have His guarantee, you have all you need. He has signed on it--all things new. These things are so wonderful that they seem like fantasy. That is why God keeps underscoring that these things will happen. This is what the Bible is all about. This is the Good News. Isn't it obvious there is not one of us here who could deserve this kind of habitation or sovereign guarantee?

 

III. Gracious Invitation (Revelation 21:6b-7)

To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

This reminds me of the Appalachian song:

Let not conscience make you linger

Nor of fitness fondly dream.

All the fitness he requireth

Is to feel your need of him.

Do you thirst for the water of life in this dry land of death? Are you tired of the sinning, of the pain, of the dying, of the promises never fulfilled? That's all He requires. You cannot buy it. It is springing up in an endless supply. It is yours if you want it, but only if you want it. Jesus offers it to you freely, but you must thirst for it enough to take it. If your thirst can be quenched with hordes of money, then this cannot be yours. If your thirst can be quenched with attainments in this life, this cannot be yours. But if your thirst is for something deeper, greater, longer, and perfect, Jesus says whoever thirsts, I will give.

Over the centuries God has extended His gracious invitation.

Isaiah 55:1 Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

John 4:14 Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

John 7:37-39a If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.

This day you can come and drink to the fill of everlasting life found in Jesus alone. 

In verse 7 He describes those who will enjoy this heritage another way:

The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

This is the closing promise of each letter from Jesus to the seven churches of Asia. Trouble, affliction, persecution, disappointment have turned many people aside. He says do not be shaken. Hold fast. Once you have Jesus, never let go. Will you fight to persevere, leaning on the strength of the Lord and His promises? Are you determined to hang on to your faith in Him? Your faith is what overcomes the world for the sake of an eternal inheritance which is yours if you thirst.

He is their God; they are His sons. They have His nature. His divine life is in them, making them like Him. Peter says: You have become partakers of the divine nature—born again. That starts now and guarantees the future inheritance.

What do you thirst for? What do you count worth fighting for?

 

IV. Righteous Condemnation (Revelation 21:8)

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

Cowardly- those afraid to hold on to Jesus for fear of the cost

Faithless—those who will not trust in Him

Detestable—those polluted by submerging themselves into the corrupt vices common in the pagan world and in our age in love with self-indulgence and self-expression

Murderers—the action that hatred, the opposite of love, produces

Sexually immoral—lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; taking a beautiful gift God gave to marriage and spoiling it by pursuing it beyond the sacred boundaries God has set.

Sorcerers—seeking power on the dark side of Satan

Idolaters—worshiping something or someone besides God

All liars—refusing the truth, living a lie

These are the qualities of the devil and are natural to fallen human beings. These are qualities that are natural to us apart from Jesus. Here is their inheritance—their everlasting portion—the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, where Satan and his demons are cast, where the beast and false prophet end up, the smoke of their torment going up forever, where all those whose names are not in the lamb’s book of life are consigned—the second death. 

This is what we all deserve. This is where we all end up, but for the God who makes all things new through Jesus. Not just a new heaven, a new earth, a new city, but a new you, born again by the power of the Spirit through the sacrifice of His Son. 

We have crossed over into a new year. We are one step closer to this glorious future. We live in light of it. We believe that the darkness will pass and when it does that the Sun of Righteousness will shine all the clearer. That is what makes living for Jesus this year worth fighting for. The church has a mission to fulfill. “Have done with lesser things.” Don’t quit. Keep going. The new day is coming when God makes all things new.

I'm going to finish by reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible, pages 342-50, the summary of Revelation 1, 5, 21, and 22.

 

LifeGroup Questions

1.   In what ways does God’s sure promise to make all things new affect your view of the good times and the bad in this life?

2.   How does this passage’s description of the eternal state make you feel about living in such an environment compared to the way people commonly refer to heaven?

3.   What does verse 4 tell you about God’s estimate of what is bad about this life? Does God’s view surprise you? Why or why not?

4.   The way God describes those to whom He gives the water of life and the heritage of sons tells you what about those who turn away?

5.   Would you describe the sins mentioned in verse 8 as common or not? How does the gospel change people in these areas?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

January 5, 2014

 

 
Hymn of Hope in a World of Trouble PDF

1 Peter 1:3-5

 I.    Indestructible Hope (1 Peter 1:3)

II.   Safeguarded Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

III.  Personal Preservation (1 Peter 1:5)

 

We live in a country that has long enjoyed relative comfort and ease with lack of war, at least within our boundaries. It is sometimes hard for us to imagine the turns that life can take, although we all have our seasons of ups and downs, when all around us gives way -- loss of loved one, loss of job, loss of health. These kinds of things that are common to humanity have caused us to realize how unstable so much of where we put our security actually is.

Peter writes this letter to “the chosen sojourners of the dispersion” (believers) who have been dispersed in the provinces of Pontus, Galatian, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, the area we know today as Turkey. They were believers dislodged from their homeland for various reasons, notably persecution. 

It is not easy to be uprooted and have to learn to adapt to a different region and culture. No wonder much of this letter addresses how believers are to suffer for righteousness in a way that brings glory to God -- doing the right thing but suffering for it. Those reading Peter’s letter were for the most part not living comfortable lifestyles: some served as slaves to difficult masters; some were married to unbelievers. Some were spoken against as evildoers; mocked for not participating in drinking parties; and they all were stalked by the devil. Their world, like ours, was a world of trouble. But Peter starts off with a hymn of praise to the God who saved them.

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.

Blessed is the word from which we get the word eulogy. It means to speak well of someone. A eulogy is normally good words spoken about a person. Peter speaks well of God. He gives Him praise for His goodness on account of what He has done for us through Christ Jesus. He describes him as "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus as the God-man had a relationship to God that was twofold: God is His God and at the same time as His Father, of same essence with Him. Captured in a nutshell, it was the incarnation of God the Son, God as both God and Father to him. Jesus Christ is called by the familiar description: the Lord Jesus Christ. Think of the message this sends: 

  • Lord—master; Yahweh
  • Jesus—Yahweh saves—God-man Savior
  • Christ—the Messiah, the Anointed One—Suffering Sovereign of the Old Testament, who is the Spirit-Anointed King of the Everlasting Kingdom

Lord Jesus Christ captures who this individual is and is the reason we give praise to God. He is the One through whom God has done this amazing work for us. Peter begins this hymn of hope in a world of trouble focused on what He has done for us through Jesus Christ.

I. Indestructible Hope (1 Peter 1:4)

This hymn talks first about the indestructible hope we have through 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." When we use the word hope, we often are talking wishes. If someone asks if we are coming to a party, we may say, "I hope so." That means we are not certain but we would like to go. This term, the New Testament hope, is not an uncertain wish, it is certainty regarding the future. It is being assured of what will definitely happen. Every hope man has here on earth ends in the grave if not long before. Think about all the hopes you had when you were a child -- what you were going to be when you grew up. Think about your view of life as you came through high school and college and you were going to show the world how it was done. Think about the hopes you may have had for your marriage, for your children, or for your career. So often those hopes do not pan out at all. Ultimately whatever you might achieve ends in the grave. These are the hopes of man. They are dying hopes. This, however, is a living hope. It is a living hope that is fixed on future events that will definitely come to pass.

Proverbs 10:28: "The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish." 

Hebrews 6:18-20: "It is impossible for God to lie [so] we who have fled for refuge . . . have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain [referring to the Holy of Holies], where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." In other words, we are going into the presence of God where Jesus has gone before on our behalf, having become a high priest forever. He doesn't die. He continues to intercede for us in the Holy of Holies.

A living hope — alive; cannot die; indestructible—why? How can we be so sure? The Divine Source of it. It is not subject to human inability or human failure. This living hope starts with God's mercy. It is not based on our merits, but rather it comes from the compassion of God for those who are in a pitiable state: people like us, sinners by birth and by choice destined for wrath, unable to save ourselves. It starts with the mercy of God. In fact the Old Testament word translated as mercy has the idea of loving loyalty -- a love that never lets us go. God's mercy starts this. Unless God ceases to be steadfast and ceases to have compassion, we will always have this hope. God's mercy produced something in us. By His mercy He has caused us to be born again. It is our new birth. We are a new creation in Christ. We are created unto good works. It is not by our own righteousness. By grace we have been saved through faith; that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God. We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for that purpose.

We were born according to God's choice. God gave us life. We couldn't get it for ourselves. (John 1:13)

Christ’s resurrection—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from (out of) the dead.

Even death cannot cut us off from experiencing the certain future that is ours in Christ; he has broken the bars of death; He has conquered the grave; he will raise our mortal bodies and make us incorruptible and immortal (1 Corinthians 15). Through his resurrection power we have been made alive from the dead. There is so much we hope for the future that we cannot count on, that we cannot control, and that in some cases will never come to pass. But what God has promised us is not in that category. It is guaranteed. Indestructible hope.

When you have a plant that is alive, it is not unreasonable to expect fruit from it—tomatoes, corn, apples, grapes. The living quality of the plant produces the fruit, and it is in large measure the reason the plant exists.

What evidence can you detect in your life that you have been born again—God’s life is in you? Repentant spirit toward sin? Trust in Christ’s care? Taste for heaven’s joys? Hunger for God’s Word? Desire to please God? Growth in Christlike character—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control?

Indestructible Hope—inner certainty regarding God’s promises through Christ? No matter what you go through, nobody (if you are a believer) can take this from you because God in His mercy has given you life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What would happen if you made it a habit to praise God for His mercy toward you in causing you to be born again through the immeasurable power of Christ’s resurrection from the dead? How would that change your perspective on everything if that were the focal point as you went through life?

II. Safeguarded Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

An inheritance is something of value passed to you by virtue of a relationship. A will stipulates your heirs who will receive what is yours. A document showing your right to property that belonged to someone else. This is your inheritance. Heaven's court has sealed the document: the last will and testament of Jesus Christ to those who are His heirs.

Psalm 16:5-6 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Imperishable—won’t rot or rust, can’t be destroyed by fire or flood; can’t be looted by marauding soldiers or suddenly lose most of its value through a stock market crash

Undefiled—unstained by evil or sin; how many in this world inherit a fortune only to ruin their lives with the corrupt living it funds

Unfading—unlike the beauty of flowers (and of people) that fades and wilts away, this inheritance has beauty that time cannot erase; many valuable things lose their value and their beauty over time

Kept in heaven for you—to guard, take care of, reserve; in heaven—not on earth where it can be destroyed; for you—personal

This is an inheritance kept (guarded as in a safe deposit box) for YOU in Heaven. It is not on earth where it can be destroyed or stolen. It is guarded by God Himself in Heaven for YOU. Sometimes it is hard to think about how good God is to us individually. We think about God being good generically to many people, but if you are a believer God is reserving your inheritance for you. Your name is written in the registry. It won't be like you arrive late at a hotel and find your reservation has been stricken and your accommodations given to someone else. That's why Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:19-21): "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Where are you stockpiling your treasure? How are you spending your resources of time, energy, income? If you could inherit the estate of the richest person in the country, would it be worth trading with the inheritance God has laid up for you? New heaven. New earth. New Jerusalem. New existence. What happens to you if your happiness depends on preserving an inheritance on earth? What if you lived life with the joyful confidence that your inheritance is untouchable!

III. Personal Preservation (1 Peter 1:5)

who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

An inheritance does you no good if you don’t survive to enjoy it. Sometimes we feel we are not going to survive, that we can't hang on any more. The world’s dreams of utopia promise to benefit generations to come but leave the rest of humanity in the grave. If you could reach utopia but it takes a thousand years to get there, what difference does it make to me if I am not alive to enjoy it. If I am not preserved, my safeguarded inheritance is worthless to me. If I don't get to see God along with Job, what is the point of it? We are preserved by God's power.

Guarded—as by a group of soldiers serving as your bodyguard

By God’s power—dunamis; not by your own power—His; if God is for you, who can be against you? (Romans 8). Your future is guaranteed because God is preserving you. You will make it, not because of you, but because of Him.

Through faith— Since He’s the One keeping you, keep relying on Him, keep turning to Him to carry you through.

Unto a salvation—the future aspect of our rescue

Ready—prepared

Revealed—unveiled

The last time—the appointed time or season

LifeGroup Questions

1.   How does being born again differ from just joining the Christian religion?

2.   How does knowing you have life from God in you give you undying hope?

3.   What contrasts do you see between earthly inheritances and your heavenly inheritance?

4.   What is the connection between the importance of faith and salvation being entirely of God?

5.   Why would Peter’s hymn of hope mean so much to those Peter was originally writing (v. 1)? How does their situation help you apply Peter’s encouragement to your own life?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

January 5, 2014

 
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