The End of the New Birth (To the Text)


3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has caused us to born from above to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4for an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading, [which is] being kept in heaven for you 5who, by the power of God, are [yourselves] being kept through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last day,” (1 Peter 1:3-5; from the Greek).

 

If we were tempted to think that Peter’s description of the new birth could not rise to any further plains of wonder and glory, Peter continues with his doxology in verses 4 and 5. Here, we are told not only how it is that we have come to be born again (or born from above), but further to what end we have been born again. Here then we have laid before us in the most exalted language the necessary and divinely guaranteed trajectory of the new birth.

Having explained in verse three that we have been born again to a living hope, Peter now describes the nature of this living hope. The hope to which we look is now described for us as an inheritance. This inheritance, though, is not like any that we might have received from our earthly fathers. Peter means to contrast our relationship with our heavenly Father and all earthly relationships, beginning with the relationship we have with our earthly fathers (vv. 17-19).

Earthly inheritances are fleeting. Gold and silver are susceptible to corrosion. Lands can be polluted and succumb to drought. Heirlooms fade, become moth-eaten, are forgotten, or simply come to be seen as old-fashioned and are discarded. The inheritance we have in Christ is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading.

Furthermore, all that we might hope to inherit in this world comes with no guarantee. Have you been promised land? What happens when that land changes hands before you come into it? Have you been promised wealth? And what becomes of that great wealth when nations spiral into economic collapse or are toppled by other nations and the former currency is deemed worthless? Even for those who come into their earthly inheritances, how shall they smuggle it into the afterlife? The storehouses you have filled will be left to others (Luke 12:13-21). You will leave your great regalia at the doorstep of heaven and stand before God naked and ashamed if you do not stand before Him clothed in Christ. By contrast, the inheritance we have in Christ, this living hope, is being kept for us.

Peter does not end with a description of the inheritance being kept for us, though. He goes on to describe the us in the text. We are not only those for whom an inheritance is being kept. We are those who, by the power of God through faith, are ourselves being kept. To summarize this thought, one might say, “We are those who, by God’s power through faith, are being kept for an inheritance that is being kept for us.”

Why was it that Zion remained such a looming reality in the minds and hearts of the exiles in Babylon during the days of Daniel and Jeremiah? It was because they had a certainty that the land that had once been given to their fathers, this great inheritance that was theirs by virtue of their birth, was being kept for them by God, and He had promised to restore them to it. How much greater is the inheritance being kept for those who are in Christ—the inheritance that is ready to be revealed on the last day?