Mid Week Reflection: 1 Peter 1:3-9…..
Recently I saw a US television interview from 2017. Larry King the presenter in and a panel were exploring the question ‘What happens when you die?’
Five panel members believed in life after death but the sixth, the President of the American Atheist Association said. ‘Death is a nonsense word’. It made me wonder. If death is a nonsense word, why are so many people so affected and of course trying to save life during the current crises? Even she thought the way to live was to make the most of time now and if possible, extend your life for as long as you could…. For a nonsense word it sure has an impact! Others on the panel had their own views about what life after death would be like. The Priest and the Spiritualist kept agreeing that eternal life would resemble the fulfilment of all the longings for love, peace and joy that we have in some measure here. Sadly, in their theologies any thought of judgment was played down or denied completely. Everyone was heading to the best state possible as a given. Judgment did figure in the theologies of the Muslim and Jewish representatives, but both were backing the idea that whatever God’s standard for entry into heaven was – it wasn’t anywhere near perfection. The Rabbi’s answer struck me as especially shocking. What mattered according to him, was a pass mark like in any test. So he a suggested %67 but of course it might be %65 – he wasn’t sure. Notice how the pass mark was higher than %50… but not 80.. 90.. 99 or… He even said that it did not matter what religion or non-religion a person identified with – the key was a ‘righteous life’. Thankfully the other panellist, John MacArthur, was able to give clear answers the midst of deception and confusion. These answers reflected a solid Biblical understanding of the holiness of God, the depth of human sinfulness and the Sovereign grace of God and with it the assurance of eternal life for all who truly trust in Christ alone as Lord and Saviour. As questions turned to ‘How do you know for sure?’ only he was able to point to the definitive ground of our real hope – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we consider Peter’s first words after his introduction, notice how this is the ground of every Christian’s hope. Not what we feel or think God might or should do – not what we judge to be what is right or good, but what God has actually revealed in His Son. He is the one who alone has conquered death and won for us an eternal inheritance we could never secure or stumble into based on our own worth or works, longing or power.
Our hope is a living hope because our Saviour, is a living Saviour. Jesus Christ is the Lord who reigns over life and death. Our eternal relationship with God depends upon His supreme and sufficient work for us. We can trust His word as the one whose mission was to die and to come back from death, that death it is no ‘nonsense word’. That in fact death is the judgment God brought on the world because of human rebellion, and in His death and resurrection Jesus as our perfect human representative has dealt with the power of sin in bearing the curse for us. Without this we would all face the death of eternal separation from God forever. As Christians, we can trust that Jesus Christ has proven that all the revelation of God, His plan, and how we can come back into a right relationship with Him, is true. We can trust that when our faith is in Him our future is assured. This is why as Christians our new basic desire is to praise God for great mercy and grace. It is He who has given us new birth into this living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is why as so strangely distinct from the world around us we can rest in His keeping of us to reach His reserved inheritance for us. This is why again so strangely, we can rejoice because we know that even the sufferings we go through in this life are actually part of God’s good plan for us as adopted ‘sons’ to grow up into maturity – ‘the gold’ of the likeness of the unique Son and Heir. Whatever suffering we are facing now or whatever lies ahead may we pause to view it in the light of our eternal inheritance. May we then also pause to reflect how good it is to know the truth, to be assured that our trust in Jesus is trust in the solid foundation. His resurrection assures us that God’s righteousness has been satisfied in our place and in Him we are fully accepted. His resurrection guarantees our physical future resurrection and not simply some ‘mystical spiritual existence in ‘heaven’ but our eternal enjoyment of the New Creation. It is here upon Jesus’ return that in spirit and body perfected and united we will serve Gods’ purposes in a world that has no fading, perishing, spoiling. (See John 5:16-30; 6:35-51; 1 Corinthians 15:1-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Revelation 21-22).
Reflect – Has the ‘hope’, ‘praise’ and ‘joy; of Easter faded….?
Remind yourself of its ongoing – indeed eternal significance as you think on these verses in Peter and the other references this week.
Who can you share something of ‘the reason for the hope that you have’ in a world of great suffering, death and futile wishes? (1 Peter 3:13-16) Marcus