"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. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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 honour 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 1:3-9)
At the outset of this epistle of Peter it’s clear he is a man of ‘first things first’. There is no messing about with Peter, he begins his first letter with what Paul said was of ‘first importance’ (1 Corinthians 15:3), the message of the gospel of grace.
In this opening paragraph lies the crux of the Christian message. It turns out Christianity is something that has happened to the world, not something created by the world. We know this because in the first four verbs of the text God is the subject.
- God causes us to be born again – so much for our attempts to get to God. We can pray a prayer, raise a hand, sing a song, dive in some water; at the end of the day (but hopefully at the beginning) God is the cause of our coming to Him.
- God keeps our inheritance for us – the current financial climate doesn’t give us great confidence in our investments. But for the Christian, there’s assurance that our inheritance – eternal joy, pleasure and celebration with Jesus – is being kept safely for us.
- God guards our faith – sometimes our flesh, our enemy or our life bowls a bouncer at us and our pull shot isn’t fast enough. Fear not, Christian. The God of heaven and earth is guarding you through faith. It is by His power that we persevere and by his strength that we survive.
- God reveals his salvation on the last day – we have a salvation, a gift of grace, more precious and beautiful than we currently comprehend. No eye has seen, no ear heard, nor heart imagined what God has prepared for those who love him, and this is ours, because of God, today.
If you’re a Christian, ‘this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8). All that is left for us to do is rejoice. To be sure, our rejoicing will sometimes occur in the midst of grieving – over our sin, over our trials and tests – but even our grief will turn to praise and honour to Jesus on the final day.
Believer… believe this. You have come to Christ by God, you are going to Christ by God. All you get to do is rejoice!