God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Born Again to a Living Hope (Psalm 121 and 1 Peter 1:3-5)

“How can we still rejoice and be comforted in the face of trials?” “If you think you have hope that God will help you in that trial, how would you know?”

  • Literary context of 1 Peter (In addition to last week’s context of 1 Peter) 
  • 1 Peter not the same as Romans (more theologically jam-packed). 1 Peter immediately and directly applies every theological truth to the circumstances of his audience. (Clarify: Not that 1 Peter is non-theological and Romans is impractical)
  • The Word of God is all about Orthodoxy, Orthopathy, Orthopraxy
    • Right understanding of God’s truths leads to right affections towards him and right living before him.
    • EXAMPLE: Knowledge of sin = Broken by sin against God = Repentance and mortification of sin
    • EXAMPLE: Knowledge of God’s sovereignty = Encouraged and Comforted, remain thankful in prosperity and patient in adversity = Faithfully fulfilling/doing our calling, while trusting God
    • That is what true Christian faith is: The Word of God renewing and directing our minds, hearts, and will while we live as exiles.

[Transition]: Now, we see this principle in 1 Peter 1:3-5. The apostle declares the nature, the reward, and the security of the salvation of believers. And we shall see how the understanding of this salvation we have in Christ is significant to how we face the uncertainties, trials, and even persecutions in this life.

Read 1 Peter 1:3-5

SUBPOINT 1: The Nature of Our Salvation

TEXT: 1 Peter 1:3 — God worthy of all praise and adoration (how? why?)

  • “According to his mercy, he has caused us to be born again…” 
    • Mercy — God’s goodness to those who are suffering (na nasa nakakaawang kondisyon) because of sin and its wrath.
    • “Born again” — Not Christian denomination, but regeneration (spiritual state)
    • Born again from what? — “Born again” indicates a previous state (ILLUSTRATE: If a baby is newly born, there a state of being “unborn”)
  • Similar passage: Read Ephesians 2:1-3
    • “Dead,” “walked,” “following,” “carrying” — Alive, but dead (ILLUSTRATE: Zombies walking dead)
    • Clarify: No spiritual life at all? (Recall the conversation with a Methodist pastor on this passage). An unregenerate sinner is indeed “spiritually conscious” (guilt, conscience, moral awareness), but that “spiritual life” of the unregenerate is actually a “spiritual deadness.”
    • “Dead in trespasses and sins” means a sinner cannot get himself/herself out of it. ILLUSTRATE: Put a dead person in a coffin or car, and it can’t move at all.
    • And that is our nature as sinners. Lahat tayo’y nabuhay sa mundong ito sa ganitong espirituwal na kondisyon. Ang likas sa atin ay magkasala sa Diyos at sa ating kapwa, at magpatuloy sa kasalanan. At ito’y hindi mababago maliban na lang kung tayo’y buhayin at baguhin ng Diyos ayon sa Kanyang grasya’t awa.
  • Continue text: Ephesians 2:4-5 (God changing us from spiritual deadness to being spiritually alive)
  • So this is the nature of our salvation:
    • The source of our salvation is God himself. And what moves God to bring about salvation is nothing but his own pleasure (mercy, grace, love)
    • At the same time, salvation is the sovereign work of God (“he caused us to be born again,” “he made us alive together with Christ”).
  • Since by nature we are “spiritually dead” to the things of God, regeneration is monergistic. Mono + Ergon = “Single work.” We are passive in it. God through his Spirit brings us to life.
    • ILLUSTRATE: Cf. John 11:43 (Lazarus raised back to life after being dead for 4 days). Jesus not saying, “Lazarus, help me bring you back to life.” But, “Lazarus, come out.” … And Christ didn’t even ask, “Lazarus, are you there? Can you hear me?” He calls Lazarus as one who is already alive.
    • There must be that very instance when God brings back his life so that he becomes alive, hears the voice of Christ, open his eyes, and walks out of the tomb, and it became clear to everyone that he is indeed alive.
    • Regeneration is the sovereign work of God without any help or contribution from us.

Now going back to 1 Peter 1:3-4, Peter says that God has “caused us to be born again to (into) a living hope… to (into) an inheritance kept in heaven…” (*To be discussed further in Point 2).

  • APPLY: Unless you are born again, you do not have this hope (pag-asa), you do not have this inheritance (pamana ng Diyos). As Jesus Christ said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… You must be born again.”
  • But how? If it is monergistic, you can’t ask God, “Lord, make me born again.”
  • True. Yet, while we cannot cause our regeneration or see that invisible work of the Spirit, those who are born again can see the evidence of it (cf. John 3:8). The Spirit works out faith in us, but it is us who responds to God’s Word, repents, and believes.
  • ILLUSTRATE: Imagine if Lazarus, after realizing he’s alive, ignores Christ’s voice and remains in the tomb. Once he was alive, he’s responsible to listen to Christ’s words, get up, walk, remove the linen cloths.

So the question is not when are you born again or how exactly you are born again, but are you born again? Are you alive? Can you hear God’s Word? Are you being convicted by the Word of God?

  • Ipinapahayag ng Diyos na ang kabayaran ng kasalanan ay kamatayan, ngunit ang biyaya ng Diyos ay buhay na walang hanggan kay Jesus-Cristo… at ang lahat ng magtitiwala sa Kanya ay tatanggap ng kapatawaran ng lahat ng kanilang kasalanan, pati ang dakilang pag-asa ng langit.
  • Hebrews 4:7 — “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” Repent and believe and follow Christ. Then you shall know that you have been born again.

[TRANSITION]: Now what happens to those who are born again? What is the result of regeneration? God caused to be born again “for what?”

SUBPOINT 2: The Reward of Our Salvation

TEXT: 1 Peter 1:3-4 – “… born again to (into) 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.”

  • “Resurrection of Jesus Christ” — Either linked to “born again” (i.e., born again through his resurrection) or linked to “living hope” (i.e., the resurrection of Christ secures for us our resurrection to glory)
  • This is Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15.
    • If there is no resurrection, then Christ did not resurrect. Then if Christ did not resurrect, we will not be resurrected.
    • And if there is no resurrection, we have no hope beyond this life, and “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
    • But Paul argues that because Christ has resurrected from the dead and ascended in glory, the believers in Christ shall also be resurrected in glory and perfection in heaven.
  • This is our “living hope”
    • Hope — Not wishful thinking, but something we look forward with anticipation, something with certainty
    • Living (intensifier) — Not dead hope (i.e., hindi yung naghihintay ka sa wala). It is very much alive and sure. And we believers should be longing for it.
  • CLARIFY: Shouldn’t we long for Christ rather than the rewards of his salvation?
    • Of course, we can’t be loving the reward but not the rewarder (i.e., those who want eternal life, but wouldn’t follow Christ). But as Christ gives himself to us, he also gives the benefits that he obtained through his finished work of redemption.
    • ILLUSTRATE: When getting married, we love our spouse. But as reality speaks, we don’t just say, “Makasama lang kita, masaya na ako.” Though we love the person more than the gifts, we also enjoy all the gifts that comes with the person. Hence, we enjoy the whole relationship with the person.
    • Likewise, we enjoy Christ as our Savior and all the benefits in him.
  • So what exactly is this hope? An eternal and heavenly inheritance
    • Imperishable (Hindi nasisira), Undefiled (Walang bahid, perpekto), Unfading (Hindi nawawala, permanente)
    • It is not earthly, hence incorruptible. But this heavenly inheritance is beyond this world. It is far greater than the passing beauty and pleasures of this world.
    • New heaven and new earth: Revelation 21:3-4; 22:3-5

APPLY: Is this your hope? Do you have this living hope beyond this passing world?

  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal…” (Matthew 6:19-20). If you’re living just for this world, you will only be disappointed and never be satisfied. Everything on this earth is bound to pass away (beauty, strength, money, pleasures). Long for the heavenly reward!
  • CLARIFY: Do we have to destroy our possessions and give up our dreams? 
  • What is the “circle of life” without Christ? We are born, grow up, and die!… Ngunit si Cristo ay nabuhay, namatay, at nabuhay muli upang iligtas tayo mula sa kawalang-kabuluhan ng buhay sa mundo ito at dalhin tayo sa walang hanggang buhay ng kaluwalhatian at kagalakan sa presensya Niya sa langit.

[TRANSITION]: At sa lahat ng sumasampalataya sa Kanya, ito ang buhay na pag-asa na siyang pina-pagtibay rin ng Banal na Espiritu sa ating mga puso. It is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Nothing—even war, crisis, or death—can take away from us that inheritance. Why? How can we be sure?

SUBPOINT: 3: The Eternal Security of Our Salvation

TEXT: 1 Peter 1:4-5 “… inheritance… 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.”

Security of Salvation vs. Assurance of Salvation (distinction)

  • ILLUSTRATION: Security deposit in renting something, giving assurance
  • Security — Something that God gives or does in our salvation
  • Assurance — Something that we possess in light of that security.

God already secured our salvation in eternity according to his plan

  • “Kept in heaven” – Reserved
  • “Salvation” (consummation) “ready to be revealed”.
  • It’s already there, just waiting for the time consummation. Paul expresses the same truth in Romans 8:29-30. All verbs are in already done (predestined, called, justified). And “glorified” means it is as good as done.
  • God designed salvation not in a such way that some of those whom he predestined, called, and justified can still be lost.

At the same time, God already secured our salvation in eternity because he preserves us in our faith by his power.

  • Philippians 1:6 — We persevere because God preserves us through his indwelling Spirit and will complete his work in us
  • If it is not by God’s almighty power, then we have no reason to be assured of our salvation. God’s power (creation out of nothing, miracles throughout history, raising Christ from the dead, giving us new life [regeneration]). At kung sa pamamagitan ng Kanyang kapangyarihan, tayo’y Kanyang binuhay at binigyan ng pananampalataya kay Cristo, ang Kanyang kapangyarihan din ang magpapanatili sa atin kay Cristo.
  • And this security gives us the assurance through faith (active faith, not passivity and carnal indulgence). Knowing that it is God who keeps us makes us diligent to remain in him. Even in the face of temptation, you know you have the strength to resist and put on righteousness, because it is God who is working in you.

[TRANSITION]: Now, how is all this significant to us as exiles in this world?

Final Application and Conclusion

(cf. 1 Peter 1:6): The significance of our sure salvation in the face of trials

  • Despite the trials and persecutions, the early believers rejoiced for the living hope they have in Christ.
    • Example of martyrs, who were confident in the face of death because of (1) their love for Christ and the (2) hope of glory beyond this life.
    • APPLY: We become overcome by the present trials and anxieties when we forget the whole redemptive plan and promise of God. If God gave us spiritual birth even without our help, he can bring us to our eternal home by his power.
  • Anxieties in this life (jobs, future of our families, etc.)
    • Being freelance since 2014
    • If God already secured our destiny in heaven, how will he not secure us here on earth?
      • Not to say that we will no longer work and do our duties, but it gives us assurance and confidence to persevere and keep obeying God 
      • Also, not to say that God will fulfill all our plans and goals. Whether thick or thin, in riches or in poverty—whatever lot he gives us, God will preserve us.)
    • Challenges and anxieties in the Ministry
    • End with Hebrews 10:23-25.
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