Peter says, Bless God, bless God for that eternal inheritance. The world may not accept you, the world may not appreciate you, the world may be hostile and persecute you, the world may not count you as its own, the world may not grant you its rights and privileges, but you have an eternal inheritance to be revealed in the last epic which God has promised to you. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. What's the one thing that's infinitely greater than even the best this life has to offer, better than the perfect job, the perfect house, or even the perfect family? The answer? Salvation in Jesus Christ. But the question is, do you see salvation that way?
Do you see it as the best thing in life? Well, John MacArthur is going to help you get a richer perspective of salvation than perhaps you've ever had, so stay here for his study called Our Great Salvation. And John, a question as we get started. This idea that our salvation is great, that seems pretty obvious and self-evident, so why devote the next two weeks to bringing our listeners face to face with a point that I think no Christian would dispute? Just saying salvation is great undersells it, so you need to say, well, what do you mean it's great? In what way is it great? It is obviously great to us, but even to us, we continue to plumb the depths of its unfathomable riches.
They're just endless. Paul said, look, I preach Christ, and then I preach Christ, and then I preach Christ, then I preach Christ, then I preach Christ. I preach the cross, and then I preach the cross, then I preach the cross, then I preach the cross. I don't want to know anything among you except Jesus and him crucified.
Neither he nor his traveling companions nor his audience were ever wearied by that. And because the gospel in the Bible comes in so many different packages, you could actually start preaching the gospel in Genesis 3.15, right? The bruising of the serpent's head, the man who's going to come and crush serpent is looking at Christ. You can preach the gospel from other portions of Genesis and the Pentateuch and all through the Old Testament. So the Bible gives you limitless contexts, biblical contexts, in which to see the glory of the gospel. It's the theme of all of Scripture. And if you got up and preached the same gospel message every week, if you said the same thing every week, you'd bore your people.
And there's not any need for that. You can find the gospel so many places with such incalculable beauty and range and depth. Always for me, preaching the gospel in some fashion, particularly with a focus on Christ, is the best and the sweetest thing that I do, and I'm never wary of that.
So this is a new study, and yet it's not new. We're going to go to 1 Peter, and we're going to look at the first chapter under the title, Our Great Salvation. And that's going to be our theme for the next few broadcasts.
And again, there's not only the reality of teaching the gospel so that you can know it for your soul's sake, but so that you can know it for somebody else's soul's sake as well. So stay with us. This series will give you joy, lasting permanent joy, no matter what you're facing today. Don't miss a day of the two-week look at Our Great Salvation.
That's right, friends. Stay with us. Even if these are difficult days for you, this study can transform your perspective and help you focus on what God has done for you and what He promises to do in the future. Look with John MacArthur now at Our Great Salvation. We come again to the joy of studying God's Word. 1 Peter, chapter 1, verses 3 through 5. Peter is writing to a church that is undergoing persecution, hostility, rejection, animosity, and hatred. And as he begins this wonderful letter of encouragement to them and exhortation, he bursts forth in verses 3 through 5 in a great, great paean of praise. And in a sense, he teaches them that praise is really a very fitting way out of the dilemma of handling trouble, persecution, hatred, and hostility. And so, if we ask ourselves why Peter begins the way he does in verse 3 after his salutation, remember that he is writing to scattered believers who are aliens in this world.
The Christians who are scattered in the Roman Empire have been blamed for the burning of Rome, which has happened just before this epistle was written. They are therefore the target of tremendous persecution, which is beginning to mount. He reminds them in the letter that it's to be expected because they are foreigners in the earth. They are citizens of heaven, in fact. They are a royal aristocracy. They are children of God. They are residents of an unearthly kingdom.
They are living stones. They are a holy priesthood, and they are a people of God's own possession. As a result, the world can't tolerate them. So, they are the object of the world's hostility. But nonetheless, they are not to fear the threats of persecution. They are not to be intimidated.
They are not to be troubled by the world's animosity. They are not to be afraid when they suffer, and they are not to be ashamed when they are ridiculed and attacked. In order to try to lift their spirits, in order to try to lift their souls and sweep their hearts upward, he begins with a joyous paean of praise that we can properly call a doxology. Notice verse 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Interestingly enough, the main verb which describes the main course of action in this passage is only implied.
It isn't even here. It is the verb be in verse 3, which doesn't appear in the Greek. The Greek says, Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The verb be is implied, and that is the main verb. What he is saying here is, Bless God. It is both a doxology on his own and in a sense an imperative for others to bless God as well. It is intended, as I said, to sweep their hearts upward in exalted praise to the Lord, to sweep their hearts upward in the joy of adoration and the joy of anticipation of the inheritance that is waiting for them. It is then in one way at least a hymn of praise to encourage believers in the throes of difficult living in this hostile world. Peter then is calling for jubilant worship, for enthusiastic joy no matter what may be going on around them.
That joy comes because they know their God, and they know what their God has provided for them. They may be strangers in this world. They may be aliens.
They may be foreigners. They may be outcasts who do not belong and are not appreciated, but there is a place where they do belong, and there is a world where they fit, and there is a coming inheritance which they will receive, and in it will be all that God has promised them and provided them in Christ. Thus, Peter gives us what really is a very practical and helpful perspective on learning to live looking past earthly trouble to eternal inheritance. In fact, we might even title this message, How to See Past Your Trouble to Your Eternal Inheritance, because that's really what's on his heart. In order to capture the whole beauty of this, let's take a look at that one word, inheritance, in verse 4.
And the idea is to bless God, to praise God, to adore God for the inheritance He has promised us. Now, the key word is inheritance. You know what that word means. It's that which is passed down to you from your father. It's that which you receive as a gift, a legacy given to you because you are a member of a certain family.
It is not something you really earn. It is not something you buy. It is something you receive as a gift because of the family you were born into. And the word here, claronomia, means not just the title to a promised inheritance, but a realized inheritance.
Not just a title to something in the future, but the possession of something in the present. Now, this word has a very Jewish origin in thought. Peter says to these scattered Christians, you should be adoring God, blessing God, praising God, extolling God, worshipping God, rejoicing in God because of your inheritance. And saying that to them would trigger in their mind the fact that the Jews in the Old Testament also had an inheritance. In fact, this very same word is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint. And it is used to describe the appointed portion of the land of Canaan that was given to every one of God's chosen people. In fact, the Old Testament repeatedly refers to the land of Israel which God apportioned out to every tribe and every family and thus every Jew and gave to them, it says, for an inheritance.
You can read Deuteronomy 15, 4, Deuteronomy 19, 10, many other places. And you will find that under the Old Covenant, the people of God Israel were given an earthly inheritance, okay? The key is an earthly inheritance. Namely, a portion of the land of Canaan. Every tribe had a peace, every family in the tribe had a peace, therefore every individual had a peace. The inheritance then of an earthly nation was an earthly land. The inheritance of an earthly Israel was an earthly Canaan. It was promised originally through Abraham and they waited and waited and waited through seasons of bondage and seasons of wandering in the wilderness and finally entered the promised land that had been promised them many, many years before through Abraham and the patriarchs. And so Peter, capturing the understanding of his readers who were Jewish, says, you as the people of God, a spiritual people, also have an inheritance, a spiritual inheritance.
Just as an earthly people, Israel, had an earthly inheritance, Canaan, you a spiritual people, the church, have a spiritual inheritance, heaven, heaven laid up for you in heaven. And you, even though you're persecuted and troubled, can wait patiently and in the process of waiting, you can praise God for the inheritance He has promised you. And He intends to do what the psalmist did. He intends to give them songs of sweetness in the night of despair as they are under severe persecution. Now, He wants to remind them of their inheritance. They need that reminder and so do we, beloved.
We're going to go through trials. We do all the time. It's so essential that we focus on our inheritance.
But think of it like this in an analogy, okay? In this life, we are children of God. We are always children. We never stop being children. We'll be children as long as we're here.
And that metaphor is rich. One of the things it means is that we will never in this life come to full understanding. We will never come to full maturity, full adulthood. We will always be children. But as children of God, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
But, says John, it does not yet appear what we shall be. We cannot in this life fully comprehend our inheritance. It is analogous, for example, to a child prince. Imagine a child prince, just a child. Before his years of maturity and adulthood, he is limited in his understanding. This child prince cannot really grasp what he will inherit because he's the son of the king. He doesn't understand the enormity of the inheritance.
He really has no comprehension of what he will become and what will become his. Consequently, he does not think like a king. He does not act like a king. He does not behave like one who has an immense inheritance. He will someday come into possession of a noble estate, but he does not live according to that nobility. He is not truly kingly. Although his inheritance will be rich, although it is filled with tremendous honor, although it is sweeping in its vastness, the child prince doesn't understand it.
And he may even throw silly little temper tantrums over some earthly bobble that means nothing in comparison to the unlimited inheritance he will someday receive. The child prince is held under strict discipline. His parents are concerned to discipline him probably more strictly than they discipline any of their servants because they want him to get to the place where as a king he will be under control and will properly deal with that immense inheritance that is his and not treated irresponsibly. So, the child prince is probably more sharply corrected and more strictly disciplined than anybody else in order to fit him to the behavior that will suit his inheritance and his kingly estate.
As the child grows up, he begins to understand little by little what the inheritance really means and he begins to come to grips with what it's all about. He's just like we are. We're like a child prince. We are heirs of God, though it does not yet appear what we shall be. We are heirs of God, though we don't fully understand what we will inherit and the things which God has prepared for those who love him are for the present time hidden from our eyes. And like children, we often throw those silly little temper tantrums because we can't get some little bobble in this world that we think we want.
And we fuss and fume like a child when we don't get our way. We put too much of our attention on the menial things because we don't understand our inheritance. And the Lord disciplines us more than He disciplines those who aren't His children.
Is that not true? Because He is in the process of fitting us for the nobility of our inheritance that we might be mature sons able to behave in a way consistent with our inheritance. So, Peter is giving us some help here to move us along in this childhood time of our existence to a fuller understanding of the inheritance that is already ours. This echoes, I think, Paul's call to the Colossians to set your affections on things above and not on things on the earth. It echoes Jesus' instruction, seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and don't be worried about all the rest of the stuff. It echoes John's call, love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, calling us also to a higher level of adoration. And Peter here is saying, I want you to adore God for your eternal inheritance and get your eyes off the world you're in.
Very, very important matter. Now the question comes obviously, what is our inheritance? What is it? It is described to us at the end of verse 5. Our inheritance is a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Our inheritance, he says, is the fullness of eternal salvation in its consummate form. The fullness of eternal salvation with all that it implies in its fullness.
That is the settled inheritance of the Christian. So Peter is saying, look, why don't you look away from your trouble and just bless God for the eternal salvation which He has promised you. The word salvation, by the way, means rescue. It means deliverance. And here it indicates that full final eternal deliverance and rescue that has not yet been revealed. That's very clear from verse 5.
It will be revealed in the last time. He is saying your inheritance is that full final salvation from the curse of the law, from the power of sin, from the presence of sin, from all decay, from every stain of iniquity, from all temptation, from all grief, all pain, all death, all punishment, all judgment, all wrath, eternal, full salvation. Now there is a sense in which salvation is past. We were saved when we believed in Christ. There is a sense in which salvation is present. We are continually being cleansed from all sin, 1 John 1.9. So we are being saved.
We have been saved in the past tense. Our sin's forgiven and we've been given eternal life. We are continually being saved, rescued and delivered as we move through this world of sin and He keeps on cleansing us. That's why Ephesians 2, 8 says, for by grace you have been saved and the Greek says, for by grace you are having been saved, past with continuing results. But salvation is also future. We will be completely, fully, forever delivered from sin and judgment in the fullest sense in the future, in the future.
And that's our ultimate eternal inheritance. Paul said we will in 1 Thessalonians 1, 10, be delivered from the wrath to come. We are waiting for His Son from heaven, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. In Romans 13, 11, a verse you perhaps are familiar with, it says that your salvation is nearer than when we believed.
What's salvation? We thought we already had it. Well, the sense of its eternal, full, final form is nearer now than when we believed.
That makes sense, doesn't it? We're nearer to that than we were when we believed in the past. In Hebrews chapter 1 verse 14, it says of angels, they are ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of those, here it comes, who will inherit salvation. We have salvation from the past. We hold it in the present.
We yet are to inherit it in the future. Also in Hebrews chapter 9, it is mentioned as a future inheritance. Verse 28, it says, Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin to those who eagerly await Him. So there is a future aspect to our salvation still to come, still to come. It is ready to be revealed. That means it hasn't yet been revealed, but it is ready for its revelation.
And when will that come? Notice again in verse 5, in the last season, or in the last epoch, or in the last period of redemptive history. That is to say the return of Christ, the return of Christ. So Peter is saying to these believers, look to the future. Look to the time when Christ returns, the last time, the time, if you will, when you are in His presence. Focus on the fullness of your final salvation that will not be revealed until the last redemptive epoch, which is the return of Christ.
Peter says bless God, bless God for that eternal inheritance. The world may not accept you. The world may not appreciate you. The world may be hostile and persecute you.
The world may not count you as its own. The world may not grant you its rights and privileges, but you have an eternal inheritance to be revealed in the last epoch, which God has promised to you. An inheritance which is heavenly, not earthly, which is glorious, not mundane, which is pure, not impure, which is holy, not sinful.
That's the promise. It goes all the way back, doesn't it, to the teaching of Christ in Matthew, for example, chapter 25, verse 34, the King will say to those on His right, come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. There is a kingdom that has been prepared for us, which we will inherit. It is our inheritance.
In Acts 26, 18, Paul says that He was sent by God to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me, the words of Christ to Paul at the time of his conversion. An inheritance, Jesus says, they will receive. In Ephesians, do you remember that wonderful passage, chapter 1, which has so much richness, we go back to it all the time, but it says in chapter 1, 11, we have obtained an inheritance. Verse 14, the Holy Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance. Verse 18, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. We have a glorious inheritance. Colossians 1, 12 says we should give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints, basically saying the same thing Peter said. We should thank the Father who has qualified us to share in the eternal inheritance granted to the saints. Hebrews chapter 9, verse 15 says we have the promise of the eternal inheritance. Well, you know that. And that's talking about the full final salvation. But let me dig a little deeper, all right, and show you something that I think is fascinating. Look in your Bible to Joshua chapter 13.
This is an insight that you might miss if you're not careful. Joshua 13, 33. And here we reach back to the promise of God in an ancient time, nonetheless a promise that we can claim. When they came into the land, verse 32, the territories which Moses apportioned for an inheritance in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan of Jericho to the east, but to the tribe of Levi, it says they were the priestly tribe, Moses did not give an inheritance.
No land was given to Levi. The Lord, the God of Israel is their inheritance. Now because they were what?
What were they? Priests. The Lord Himself was their inheritance. They would literally inherit God. And if we can come over to 1 Peter again and be reminded that we are a kingdom of priests, we too are a royal priesthood, chapter 2, verse 9, we can then know that God, who is the very possession of the priests of Levi, is the possession of the royal priesthood of Christ as well. We inherit God. God is our very inheritance. What a tremendous thought. A tremendous thought indeed from John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. The title of John's study here on Grace to You, Our Great Salvation. Remember, you can own this series for free in MP3 format, and the transcripts are also available free of charge.
And if CDs would be better to give to a friend, you can get those as well for a reasonable price. The title again, Our Great Salvation. Contact us today. To order the CDs, call 800-55-GRACE. And again, the title to ask for, Our Great Salvation.
The number one more time, 800-55-GRACE. And remember, you can download all five lessons from this series in MP3 and transcript format free of charge when you visit GTY.org. That's our website, and while you're there, be sure to take advantage of the thousands of free study tools that are there to help you dig deeper into God's Word. Something you may find particularly helpful is the Grace to You blog with hundreds of articles on topics like making wise decisions, dealing with anxiety, developing your integrity, and much more. And be sure to click the subscribe button on the right side of the blog page, because by subscribing you'll receive each new blog article, about three every week, in your email. You'll find the Grace to You blog at GTY.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for starting your week with us, and be here tomorrow to consider your inheritance in Christ and to learn just how much there is to give thanks for. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
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