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An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away - 1 Peter 1:4
Yes, it is an inheritance. It is a free gift, and yet we have a right to it. We do not ask for it-we were born into its blessed privilege. The child that lies in yonder cradle, over which the coronet is emblazoned, may claim his broad ancestral estates simply by right of birth: and it is on that tenure that the saints hold heaven. By God's great mercy we have been begotten again.
Oh, blessed heritage! Incorruptible! The gnawing tooth of decay cannot injure it. Moth and rust cannot consume, nor thieves break through to steal. No spendthrift hand can scatter or overspend its treasures. Undefiled! Not a stain on its pure robes; not a freckle on its leaves; not a taint of miasma on its atmosphere. Into the city entereth nothing that defileth, or worketh abomination, or maketh a lie. That fadeth not away! To use the Greek word, it is amaranthine. Some of the fairest hopes that ever blessed human vision; the most delightful friendships; the most perfect dreams of delight, have faded and withered before our eyes. That never can.
It is kept for us, and we are kept for it. . . . It is reserved in heaven for you.
"I have a heritage of joy,
That yet I must not see;
The hand that bled to make it mine,
Is keeping it for me."
Who by the power of God are guarded through faith. - The idea is that we are being brought through an enemy's country under a strong escort - as the women and children from Lucknow, between the double line of English soldiers, till they were safe from the onset of the Sepoys. We are not in heaven yet; but we are as safe as if we were.
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree - 1 Peter 2:24
He came into the sinner's world. - Himself sinless, He took our nature. Accustomed to the pure atmosphere of His own bright home, He allowed His ears and eyes to be assailed by sounds and sights beneath which they must have smarted. His blessed feet trod among the dust of death, the mounds of graves, and the traps that men laid to catch Him. And all for love of us.
He lived the sinner's life. - Not a sinner's life, but the ordinary life of men. He wrought in the carpenter's shed; attended wedding festivals, and heartrending funerals; ate, and drank, and slept. He sailed in the boat with His fisher-friends; sat wearied at the well-head; and was hungry with the sharp morning air.
He sympathized with the sinners' griefs. - In their affliction He was afflicted. He often groaned, and sighed, and wept. When leprosy with its sores, bereavement with its heartrending loneliness, dumbness and deafness, and devil possession, came beneath His notice, they elicited the profoundest response from His sympathetic heart.
He died the sinner's death. - He was wounded for our transgressions. He was treated as the scapegoat, the leper, the sin-offering of the human family. The iniquities of us all met in Him, as the dark waters of the streets pour into one whirling pool. He stood as our substitute, sacrifice, and satisfaction: the guilt, and curse, and penalty of a broken law borne and exhausted in His suffering nature.
He is preparing the sinner' s home. - "I go to prepare a place for you "; and no mother was ever more intent on preparing his bedroom for her sailor-boy on his return, than Jesus on preparing heaven.
Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled - 1 Peter 3:14
It was a time of very real and fiery trial when Peter wrote these words. Persecution was already beginning with the House of God. The first mutterings of the awful storm which was to break in Nero's terrible atrocities were making themselves heard throughout the Roman world. The intention of this Epistle, therefore, was to encourage these scattered saints, that they might not be overwhelmed. Some who read these words may need similar comfort.
Remember, beloved fellow-believers, that Jesus has suffered; your Lord and Master has trodden these thorns before you. See, they are flecked with His blood. Would you not desire to be fellow-partaker with Him in His sorrow, that you may share His glory? It is only in suffering that we can properly identify ourselves with the great anguish of the world, or learn to comfort or pray for others. And, probably, none know the innermost tenderness and companionship of Jesus like those who daily fill up that which is behind of His sufferings. Besides, their fear is much worse in anticipation than in actual experience. Probably God entirely delivers His martyrs from those physical tortures which to on-lookers might seem unbearable.
This has been the perpetual testimony of the Armenian refugees. Miss Codrington's story of her experiences in China, and Dr. Baedeker's statement of what he has learned in his wide experience amid the refugees and imprisoned saints in all parts of Europe, support and confirm the same conclusion. Sanctify Jesus Christ in your heart as Lord and King. Maintain a good conscience; do not be turned aside for fear of man; and when you come to suffer, you will find the fire has lost its sting.
Arm yourselves with the same mind - 1 Peter 4:1
The Church was redeemed in a baptism of pain: for her members to suffer, and by suffering to overcome the world, is to fulfill the forecast which Jesus gave when He said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Arm yourselves with this mind; put on this thought, this resolution, this purpose; determine that suffering at least shall never daunt you.
The reason for donning this armor. - Here we have no continuing city. In the death of Jesus we suffered in the flesh, and ceased from our connection with the world which cast Him out: and, as suffering is meted out to us, we become increasingly convinced that we can have no fellowship with its sins. The pain which the world allots to the followers of Jesus widens the chasm between them and it, pulls down the old nests in which their affections once built, and makes them more determined than ever to follow their Lord.
The choice which this armor involves. - No more the lusts of men, but the will of God. Never again to work the desire of the Gentiles, but to live according to God. Not henceforth to bow before the bondage of evil habit, but with erect and upright gaze to behold the face of Christ - such is the choice. Will you not now make it at this solemn moment, as you stand on this watershed between the two continents - here of the morning, there of the midnight? Follow the King, cost what it may.
The nature of the armor. - It is armor of Light: in which Christ's nature was encased, and on which all the shafts of man and devil broke into splinters. No weapon that was ever manufactured can prevail against its heavenly temper.
After that ye have suffered a while - 1 Peter 5:10
Such a little while! In the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 10:37, (R. V.) it is called a very little while. The late Dr. Gordon loved to read it, Yet a little while, how little, how little! which is the literal rendering of the Greek. A little while! compared with the eternal years; with the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; with the compensations which await us in the Home of God. Though our life were one long agony, it would seem but as yesterday when it is passed; a dream, or a sleepless watch in the night, when the morning breaks.
There is a limitation to our suffering. It is only for a little while; but every moment has been fixed by the immutable purpose and love of God. The hour of darkness is timed with an exact measurement. You shall not suffer one moment more than is absolutely necessary for your perfecting of God's glory; and for every moment there is an ample supply of grace.
But remember also that in Christ God has called you to His Eternal Glory. You heard that call years ago, and have been following it through days of evil and nights of pain. But the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and He is waiting to fulfill His eternal purpose. What a banquet that will be when God will satisfy the expectations of those whom He has called to partake of it!
And the suffering is being used in ways you little understand to perfect, stablish, and strengthen you. It is from sick chambers and torture-rooms that God brings forth His veteran hosts in the day of battle. Think not so much of affliction as of the love of Christ, and the blessedness of being like Him and with Him forever.