TEXT:  I Peter 1:3-9 
THEME:  Through Christ's resurrection we have received a new birth, a living hope, an inheritance and a shield for this world so that we may grow in that
new life and do His will as His ambassadors.
TITLE:  "Empowered, and Gifted For What?"
Series A
Second Sunday of Easter
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
April 14, 1996

INTRODUCTION

  1. THROUGH THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, WE ARE GIVEN NEW LIFE.
    1. We receive a "NEW BIRTH":
      1. We are reborn as Christians when eternal life in Christ is implanted into our souls by God.
        1. God's Word changes lives in a dramatic way.
        2. ILLUS:  David Grassley
        3. Faith came to many of us in our infancy through God's action in our baptism.
      2. "New Birth" implies that we are now engaged in a new life.
        1. The old life is gone and something new and vastly better has begun!
        2. New birth means that we were formerly quite dead...otherwise a new life would be unnecessary!
      3. When the Father of Life begets children, he showers His gifts on them.
    2. We receive a "LIVING HOPE":
      1. This is the opposite of a empty, false, deceptive hope.
        1. All other hope for a life after death is such a vain hope.
        2. This is the cruelest of all hope...a hope that has no chance of fulfillment.
      2. In what is this hope anchored?...in the resurrection of Christ!
        1. This is why the world around us tries so incredibly hard to refute the reality of Christ's resurrection.
        2. Satan's fondest ambition is to destroy our hope and without the resurrection, there is NO hope!
        3. If you wish to hold your hope in the resurrection, be ready to be called, "uninformed", "over zealous", "a religious fanatic clinging to disproven ancient traditions", etc.
    3. We receive an INHERITANCE:
      1. Since we are God's newborn children, then we are heirs of our Father's kingdom.
        1. ILLUS:  Prince Charles of England is certainly the heir of the throne. He knows that it is his possession...a certain hope that will be fulfilled.  Likewise, our heavenly inheritance is already ours.  While we await its fullness in heaven, it is still our joy now!
        2. It could not be any more certain if a written will were publicly posted and registered in the county courthouse...God's Word is sure!
      2. Listen to the description Peter uses to describe this inheritance:
        1. It can never perish!...Earthly inheritances can become worthless.
        2. It can never spoil!...Without the least stain from sin...a perfect gift.
        3. It can never fade!...It will never become less from any earthly force.
  2. OUR NEW LIFE IS A CAUSE FOR EXAULATION, EVEN IN OUR TRIALS.
    1. Yes, in this life there will be hard times.
      1. "Now, for a little while, you may...have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."
        1. God does not promise us an easy life.
        2. Since we are in Christ, we automatically are at odds with the world.
        3. Consider the lifestyles of the apostles and many suffering believers.
      2. But even in these circumstances, we have reason to rejoice:
        1. They are there to test the strength of our faith.
          1. Not in the sense to see if faith is there.
          2. Rather, in the sense that if the strength of our faith is to increase, it but be pitted against obstacles.
        2. ILLUS:  A weightlifter will not be able to progress to a higher weight if he does not pit his strength against a weight greater than he has formerly tried to bear...Why?  To increase strength!
      3. This process of refining demonstrates our value in God's eyes.
        1. We are more precious than gold.
        2. A refiner doesn't work hard on something he doesn't want to keep!
    2. Our struggles result in the praise, glory and honor going to God.
      1. When God gives us the strength to stand up in times of trial, the glory is His.
        1. This is also true of life's blessings...the credit goes to God.
        2. The whole of the Christian life is one continuous opportunity to express gratitude to our gracious Father in heaven.
      2. They will be seen as the glorious things they are when Christ is revealed!
        1. The good works of the saints will shine like stars when Christ comes in His glory...the truth will be seen.
        2. The self-serving motivations behind good works done by unbeliever will also be seen for what they were and there couldn't be a more stark contrast.
  3. HAVING RECEIVED SUCH PRECIOUS GIFTS THROUGH FAITH, OUR LIVES NOW ARE DEDICATED TO SERVE THE LORD.
    1. Faith leads inevitably to love and love leads inevitably to obedience.
      1. We can no more love Christ and refuse to express that love in our lives than a homemaker can say that she loves her children but fail to feed them.
        1. Such a love is not love at all...it is a charade of love.
        2. Love always takes action to express itself.
      2. We do not love God out of obligation, but out of gratitude!
    2. Genuine faith does not demand proof according to human standards...that would diminish love.
      1. Love demands trust, respect and confidence without "scientific proof".
        1. Recent articles questioning the historical accuracy about Christ are opposite of what love produces.
        2. "Though you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him..." Peter responds!
      2. What "inexpressible joy" does doubt produce?...What hope?...What inheritance?...What strength in time of trouble?
    3. We are receiving the goal of faith...the salvation of our souls!
      1. This is the final rescue when the soul enters heaven.
      2. It is for this reason that Christ came...lived...died...and rose again.

CONCLUSION

 

New life is ours now...ours forever!  We have received the New Birth, the Living Hope, the Inheritance, the protective shield of God's strengthening in times of trouble.  Now His love compels us to respond.  To live for Him, to see Him even it the world refuses to acknowledge His reality.  To act on His behalf.  Love would do nothing less!  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

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