Friday, December 23, 2016

Something to Think About the Day After Christmas

1Pe 1:3  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, 1Pe 1:4  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 1Pe 1:5  who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I have just begun to preach through 1 Peter and the first thing I have noticed is that from the very beginning the epistle is packed with amazing and important truths that are being thrown at us almost like a machine gun fires bullets.  One that really caught my attention is in vs. 4 above.  There is a lot of speculation as to what Heaven and eternity will have in store for us but in reality we really are told very little.  The one thing we know is that it will involve being with and enjoying fellowship with God.  After all, Jesus taught us in John 17 that true life is to know the Father and the Son, Joh 17:3  And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Peter describes our future glory as a living hope that is an inheritance that is being kept in Heaven for us and he uses three adjectives that help us grasp the magnitude of whatever eternity will be like. 

First of all it will be imperishable which means it will never come to an end.  We would expect this since by definition eternal life doesn’t end.  Next he says that it is undefiled which suggests that there is nothing evil or harmful about it.  A lot of things in this world are physically or spiritually harmful to us but in the new heavens and earth everything will be good and good for us in every way.  That is mind-boggling in itself.  But it is the third description that really caught my attention.

Thirdly it will be unfading, it will never be less than it was at the beginning.  This is something in this fallen world that we simply can’t relate to.  Like the old saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt”.  As soon as we get something we want, it loses some of its luster.  If someone drove up with a lifetime supply of ice cream it would no doubt spoil before I could eat it all and it would be bad for me and I soon would probably be a diabetic.  But worse, after a gallon or two it wouldn’t really mean that much to me.

Peter is telling us that whatever eternity will be like, it will be fully satisfying from the start and it will never be less than it was that first instant; that is quite a concept to think about.  The value of this will be illustrated by many this Sunday when their kids open the presents they begged for and in a day or two they don’t seem to care about the gifts at all.  Even adults know that after a week or two of having something you wanted real badly, often you find yourself wishing you had something else instead.

It is just the nature of the fallen, ruined world we live in.  Nothing temporal can satisfy and even the good gifts of God don’t mean as much to us as they should.  We grow bored with things as we find they never can live up to the hype they promise or our sinful hearts won’t allow us to enjoy them as we ought.  When God made man he made him to find true happiness and fulfillment in God himself.  And sin has caused us to look everywhere else but to the Lord for these things; so it is no wonder we are restless and dissatisfied with things that try to take God’s place.  As Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

But once our hearts are made right and all traces of sin are eradicated, and once temporal things are replaced with the Lord himself, Peter tells us we will never be bored or dissatisfied with being with him from the first moment and forever!  And that my friends is truly mind-boggling.  Every moment in eternity will be as exhilarating as it will be the first instant we stand and gaze upon the unmitigated glory of the Triune God.  It will never end, it will only be good and fulfilling for us, and it will always be just as “fun and exciting” as it was from the start. 

So parents, when you see your children not being as thankful for their gifts as you would like or when you maybe are a little let down with what you got let that feeling remind you of why Christ had to come to earth to begin with; to save us from our sinfulness and give us a future hope that will never disappoint.  

In this life we tend to build up things with anticipation to the point that we are usually let down when we get it.  With Heaven we tend to be so caught up with the things of this life that we aren’t driven with anticipation for glory as we ought to be.  But at the same time opening the “present” of Heaven will be the one time when the gift is better than the buildup.  May the Lord grant us the ability to live as if we are anticipating something better in the next life than we have now.

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