It Was Mercy (1 Peter 1:3–5)

August 2, 2014

Peter is writing to followers of Jesus who have been scattered because of persecution. It is, without doubt, a hard life they are facing, spread throughout the Roman provinces on the north-east coast of the Mediterranean. He is writing to encourage them and strengthen them. And he intends to anchor their thinking well. So, he starts with thoughts about God. (A good idea whenever one is facing challenging times.)

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 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. ~ 1 Peter 1:3–5

Peter “blesses” God. How do we do that? God blesses us when He does good to us. We bless God in speaking well of Him, celebrating Him, praising Him for all He does and has done. Thus, Peter starts with a focus on God’s benevolent goodness.

It is helpful to pay close attention to the verbs; notice who is the active agent in all that Peter mentions in these few verses. (Don’t look for “your part” before you clearly notice what Peter is talking about.)

God’s mercy–His freely extended benevolence–is the foundation for the life Peter’s readers experience. Because of that mercy:

They have been “caused . . . to be born again.” Even if we didn’t fully grasp all that this “born again” idea entails, the language clearly pictures a new kind of life, a new dimension of life. And this new kind of life was not their doing–it is entirely God’s doing.

They have a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Biblically, hope is not “wishful thinking” (like, “I hope I win the lottery this month!”); it is future certainty. A “living hope” is an enduring certainty about what lies ahead. And this confidence is linked to the reality of Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead.

They have a sure future that includes an “inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” The life they enjoy because of God’s mercy includes future blessings that are unalterable–Peter using three different ways of underscoring the unchangeable and certain character of these future blessings.

They are “protected by the power of God.” Not only have Peter’s readers been blessed enabling them to look forward with certain confidence to future gracious blessings, they are being guarded or kept by God’s own power. Their security does not rest in their ability to keep themselves, but in God’s effective keeping.

It was God’s mercy that gave Peter’s readers their new life, and assured them of future blessings, and reserved unalterable good for them, and that keeps them by His power–guards them in that life and preserves them for that sure future.

And it is God’s mercy that is the foundation for that very same kind of life and that very same sure future for all those who through faith have entered into relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If you have been the recipient of this mercy of God, you have new life and assured future blessings and reserved unalterable good, and you are being kept in all of that by God’s own power.

Seeing that, we have grounds for blessing God!

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