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With the celebration of Easter comes a magnificent reality for the Christian.
This is the glorious power of the resurrection – the historical reality that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. As Christians, we believe that God has spoken to us through his Word. We believe his Word is true. And the Bible says that Jesus Christ rose from the grave.
This changes everything.
Ultimately, Christianity is far more than just a worldview or a philosophy or a way of looking at life. It is all those things, but it is far more than that. Ultimately, Christianity is a living hope and an eternal inheritance:
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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)
Why is Christianity a living hope? Adding that word living is a big deal, because living hope is different from all other hopes. The resurrection is a living hope because it utterly defeats Satan, sin and death. Jesus rises again to prove that he is Lord and he is King. Satan has no power over him. Nothing more in all of history needs to be done for the forgiveness of sins. The grave could not hold him. Death has lost its sting!
The resurrection not only proclaims a living hope, it also proclaims an eternal inheritance. Since Christ rose again from the dead in victory over Satan and sin and death, he is eternal. He is the King of heaven and earth, and no enemy can touch him. His Kingdom will never end. Jesus has the riches of all of heaven at his disposal to offer as an inheritance to his people, far beyond even our greatest imaginations.
Friends, this is what the resurrection proclaims – a living hope and an eternal inheritance. But what does it mean for us?
1. Because of the resurrection, we can be born again (v. 3).
See how God chose to speak in the language of “birth.” A child cannot birth himself or herself; any mother knows that! Likewise, we do not earn our salvation. We do not do good works to make ourselves saved. Rather, God causes us to be born again! That’s why salvation comes according to God’s mercy through faith. When we humble ourselves, acknowledging that we cannot be the god of our own lives, repenting of our sin and placing our faith in Christ, God will respond to us according to his great mercy. He will take the power of the resurrection and cause us to be born again!
2. Because of the resurrection, we are protected by God (v. 5).
We who have been born again are “by God’s power being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” In beating Satan and sin and death with Christ’s resurrection, God proves that there’s no power – nothing at all – that can limit him. Therefore, this is a God who can protect us fully. If our God is for us, then nothing can stand against us. We are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
3. Because of the resurrection, we can survive suffering (vv. 6-7).
We see in verse six that Peter’s first readers were Christians who had been “grieved by various trials.” But something strange was happening with these suffering Christians: They hadn’t lost their joy and were surviving their suffering. What a great lesson for us! Because of the resurrection, we have a living hope no matter our circumstances and an eternal inheritance that no trial can take from us. Because of the resurrection, we can survive suffering.
4. Because of the resurrection, we love and believe (v. 8).
Our love for and belief in Christ – even though we do not see him – is real. Think about it: If Christ was still in the grave and never rose from the dead, our love and our faith would be a sham. Christianity would be a sham. Hope would be sham. There cannot be real love and belief in a dead savior, in a false god. But Jesus Christ rose from the dead! We can truly love him and believe in him because we are in a living, personal relationship with the Risen Lord.
5. Because of the resurrection, we rejoice with joy (v. 8).
Our Savior lives! And when we consider the living hope we have, the eternal inheritance that awaits us, the new life that he gives us, the protection he provides us, the suffering he brings us through, the honor that awaits us, and the real relationship we have with him, we can’t help but rejoice!
6. Because of the resurrection, we will obtain salvation (v. 9).
Friend, because of the resurrection, you will see God. You will arrive in the glories of heaven. If you’re a Christian, through the resurrection you possess a living hope and an eternal inheritance God is guarding and protecting you. You will, therefore, obtain the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your soul. This salvation is not a mirage. It’s not fiction. It’s not a psychological crutch. It’s real. And you can obtain it. Salvation is possible because Jesus rose again from the dead.
If you’re reading this today and you don’t know Christ as your Savior, if you would place your faith in him by confessing that he is Lord and the risen Christ, you will be saved. All the joys and blessings of 1 Peter that we’ve seen here today will be yours in Christ.
The resurrection changes everything!