Friday, November 7, 2014


1 Peter 1:4, “…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Peter wrote to those who were suffering much as a direct result of their faith in Jesus Christ.  Some were losing friends, jobs, homes, and some were even dying for their faith.  The opening verses of his epistle reminded them, that though they were as suffering as mistreated aliens in this world, God has reserved in heaven for them an enduring and undefiled inheritance.

The inheritance is untouched by death.  The Greek term aphthartos means “not subject to corruption or decay.”  Things in this world are perishable—people, animals, plants, the world itself (Cf. Romans 8:18-23).  But in heaven there shall no longer by “any death…mourning, or crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).  In this world we live under the “shadow of death,” and there is no way—except through Jesus—to escape its foreboding presence.  In the world to come there will no longer be any death.  Life in the fullest measure will be experienced in the presence of Jesus, who is life.

The inheritance will be “undefiled.”  There is no place in this world that is untouched by sin (Cf. Romans 3:23, 5:12).  But Jesus Himself is “undefiled” and heaven will be also (Cf. Hebrews 7:25-26; 2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 12:14).  An insurance company ad says, “Humans.  Sometimes life trips us up, sometimes we trip ourselves us.”  There is truth to that (Cf. Job 5:7).  This is a trouble filled world because of sin and there is no place on earth—no monastery, deserted island, or sanctuary of any kind--to escape from it.  But in heaven—that place where righteousness dwells—the believer will experience deliverance from sin in every respect to the glory that awaits (Cf. Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 3:21). 

The believer’s inheritance will not fade away.  The term “unfading” translates the Greek amarantos.  Vine’s Dictionary defines the term as follows: “’unfading’, whence the ‘amaranth,’ an unfading flower, a symbol of perpetuity, is used in 1 Peter 1:4 of the believer’s inheritance, ‘that fadeth not away.’  It is found in various writings in the language of the Koine, e.g., on a gladiator’s tomb; and as a proper name” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).  Things on earth fade away--fame (Cf. Isaiah 17:4) fortune (Cf. James 1:11), people (Isaiah 40:6-8, 1 Peter 1:24; Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).  Even great rulers and nations fade away.  Peter wrote his epistle in about 65 AD.  A few years later, Nero, the most powerful man on earth, would commit suicide.  About 5 years after Peter wrote, the temple of Jerusalem—that glorious structure which was the pride of the Jews—would be utterly demolished along with the city itself.  Rome itself would fall in but a few centuries.  But heaven is forever, as Joni Eareckson Tada’s song puts it, “This world is like a mist, it’s not very clear and soon it will vanish away.  Even though we’d like to think that it will last, it’s only here for a day.  But not so with heaven!”

Harry Rimmer penned the following letter to Charles E. Fuller of the Old Fashioned Revival Hour, shortly before his death.  It read: “Next Sunday you are to talk about heaven.  I am interested in that land because I have held a clear title to a bit of property there for over 50 years.  I did not buy it.  It was given to me without money and without price; but the Donor purchased it for me at a tremendous sacrifice.  I am not holding it for speculation.  It is not a vacant lot.  For more than half a century I have been sending materials, out of which the greatest Architect of the universe has been building a home for me, which will never need remodeling or repairs because it will suit me perfectly, individually, and will never grow old.  Termites can never undermine its foundation for it rests upon the Rock of Ages.  Fire cannot destroy it.  Floods cannot wash it away.  No lock or bolts will ever be placed upon the doors, for no vicious person can ever enter that land, where my dwelling stands, now almost completed and almost ready for me to enter in and abide in peace eternally, without fear of being rejected.  There is a valley of deep shadow between this place where I live, and that to which I shall journey in a very short time.  I cannot reach my home in that city without passing through that valley.  But I am not afraid because the best Friend I ever had went through the same valley long, long ago and drove away all its gloom.  He stuck with me through thick and thin since we first became acquainted 55 years ago, and I hold His promise in printed form, never to forsake me or leave me alone.  He will be with me as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and I shall not lose my way because He is with me.  I hope to hear your sermon on heaven next Sunday, but I have no assurance I shall be able to do so.  My ticket to heaven has no date marked for the journey, no return coupon and no permit for baggage.  Yes, I am ready to go, and I may not be here while you are talking next Sunday evening, but I will meet you there some day.”

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