1 Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
I might almost entitle these three verses a New Testament psalm. They are stanzas of a majestic song. You have here a delightful hymn; it scarce needs to be turned into verse; it is in itself essential poetry. To lead the mind to praise God is one of the surest ways of uplifting it from depression. The wild beasts of anxiety and discontent which surround our bivouac in the wilderness will be driven away by the fire of our gratitude and the song of our praise. In these three verses we have a string of pearls, a necklace of diamonds, a cabinet of jewels.
I. I see in the text, as the source of all the rest, ABUNDANT MERCY. No other attribute could have helped us had "mercy" refused. As we are by nature, justice condemns us, holiness frowns upon us, power crushes us, truth confirms the threatening of the law, and wrath fulfils it. It is from the mercy of God that all our hopes begin. Mercy is needed for the miserable, and yet more for the sinful. Misery and sin are fully united in the human race, and mercy here performs her noblest deeds. God has vouchsafed His mercy to us, and we must thankfully acknowledge that in our case His mercy has been "abundant" mercy. Where sin hath abounded, grace hath much more abounded. Contemplate the abundant mercy of our blessed God. A river deep and broad is before you. Track it to its fountainhead; see it welling up in the covenant of grace, in the eternal purposes of infinite wisdom. The secret source is no small spring, no mere bubbling fount, it is a very Geyser, leaping aloft in fulness of power; the springs of the sea are not comparable therewith. Not even an angel could fathom the springs of eternal love or measure the depths of infinite grace. Follow now the stream; mark it in all its course. See how it widens and deepens, how at the Cross it expands into a measureless river! Mark how the filthy come and wash; see how each polluted one comes up milk-white from the washing!
1. It is God's great mercy that is spoken of herein. You must measure His Godhead before you shall compute His mercy.
2. But note again, it is the mercy of the "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." When I see Jesus descending from heaven to earth, paying all the debts of His people, I can well understand that the mercy of God in Christ must be abundant mercy.
3. Note carefully another word, it is the mercy of "the Father." The Father of Him who is the perfect and the ever blessed is also your Father, and all His mercy belongs to you. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name."
II. The next great blessing in the text is that of INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE. Mark that, O believer. One of the first displays of Divine mercy which we experience is being begotten again. Our first birth gave us the image of the first Adam — "earthly"; our second birth, and that alone, gives us the image of the second Adam, which is "heavenly."
1. The new life of a Christian is Divine in its origin — God hath begotten us. The new life cometh not from man, it is wrought by the operation of the Holy Ghost. As certainly as God spake, and it was done, in the creation of the world, so He speaks in the heart of man, and it is done, and the new creature is born.
2. The new life in us, as it has a Divine origin, has also a Divine nature. Ye are made partakers of the Divine nature. The Holy Spirit Himself enters the believer and abides in him, and makes him a living man. What a great mystery is this, but at the same time what a blessing! Observe, to be begotten again is a very marvellous thing. Suppose a man born into this world with a predisposition to some sad hereditary disease. There he is, filled with disease, and medicine cannot eject the unwelcome tenant from his body. Suppose that man's body could be altogether new born, and he could receive a new body pure from all taint, it would be a great mercy. But it does not approach to regeneration, because our supposition only deals with the body, while the new birth renews the soul, and even implants a higher nature. Regeneration overcomes not a mere material disease, not an infliction in the flesh, but the natural depravity of the heart, the deadly disorder of the soul.
III. A third blessing, strictly connected with this new life, is a LIVELY HOPE. "He hath begotten us again unto a lively hope." Could a man live without hope? Men manage to survive the worst condition of distress when they are encouraged by a hope, but is not suicide the natural result of the death of hope? Yes, we must have a hope, and the Christian is not left without one.
1. He has "a lively hope," that is to say, first, he has a hope within him, real, true, and operative. A Christian's hope purifies him, excites him to diligence, makes him seek after that which he expects to obtain.
2. It is a "lively hope" in another sense, namely, that it cheers and enlivens.
3. It is also called a "living hope," because it is imperishable. Other hopes fade like withering flowers. The only imperishable hope is that which climbs above the stars, and fixes itself upon the throne of God and the person of Jesus Christ.
4. The hope which God has given to His truly quickened people is a lively hope, however, mainly because it deals with life. Charles Borromeo, the famous bishop of Milan, ordered a painter who was about to draw a skeleton with a scythe over a sepulchre to substitute for it the golden key of Paradise. Truly this is a most fitting emblem for a believer's tomb, for what is death but the key of heaven to the Christian? We notice frequently over cemetery gates, as an emblematic device, a torch turned over ready to be quenched. Ah, it is not so, the torch of our life burns the better, and blazes the brighter for the change of death.
IV. We notice another delightful possession which ought effectually to chasten away from all of us the glooms of this life, and that is a risen SAVIOUR. Jesus Christ died, not in appearance, but in reality; in proof whereof His heart was pierced by the soldier's spear. He was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, truly a corpse. He really and literally rose from the dead, — the selfsame Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and afterwards ascended into heaven. Now, note ye well the comfort which arises out of this fact, since it proves that we possess a living advocate, mediator, and high priest, who has passed into the heavens. Moreover, since all believers, being partakers of the incorruptible life of God, are one with Jesus Christ, that which happens to Him virtually happens to them. They died in His death, they live in His life, they reign in His glory.
V. The fifth is AS INCORRUPTIBLE INHERITANCE. A heavenly nature requires a heavenly inheritance, heaven-born children must have a heavenly portion.
1. First, as this substance — it is "incorruptible.
2. Next, for purity — it is "undefiled."
3. And then it is added for its beauty, — "it fadeth not away."
4. And then for possession, it is secure reserved in heaven for you.
VI. The sixth blessing is INVIOLABLE SECURITY. The inheritance is kept for you, and you are kept for the inheritance. The word is a military one, it signifies a city garrisoned and defended. Each believer is kept by that same power which "bears the earth's huge pillars up," and sustains the arches of heaven. VII. Out of the seven treasures of the Christian the last comprehends all, is better than all — it is a blessed God. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is joy to have heaven, it is joy to possess a new life to fit me for heaven, but the greatest of all is to have my God, my own Saviour's God, my Father, my own Saviour's Father, to be all my own. God Himself has said, "I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,