Where wilt Thou go since night draws near,
O Jesus Christ, Thou Pilgrim dear?
Lord, make me happy, be my Guest,
And in my heart, oh, deign to rest.
Grant my request, O dearest Friend,
For truly I the best intend;
Thou knowest that Thou ever art
A welcome Guest unto my heart.
Enlighten me that from the way
That leads to heav'n I may not stray,
That I may never be misled,
Though night of sin is round me spread.
And when I on my death-bed lie,
Help me that I in peace may die.
Abide! I will not let Thee go.
Thou wilt not leave me, Lord, I know. Amen.
In Christ, death and all of its results are conquered!
Matthew’s account of the first Easter.
I. Jesus Lives to Give Us an Inheritance in Heaven
Vain the stone, the watch and the seal;
Christ has burst the gates of Hell!
Death in vain forbids Him rise;
Christ has opened Paradise!
Text: 1 Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time
Jesus Christ was delivered up for your offenses and has been raised again for your justification! In His name, dear fellow-redeemed
The Apostle Paul tells us that if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain and futile. We are then still in our sins. But now Christ is risen from the dead! Thanks be to God! (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12ff).
There is abundant evidence that Jesus did truly rise bodily from the grave. The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is in all of the eyewitness accounts recorded in Scripture. In His Word, God has recorded the eyewitness stories of those who saw Jesus face-to-face after the resurrection, those who talked to Him face-to-face. One of those eyewitnesses was Peter.
Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write two of the letters which make up the New Testament Scriptures. In each of these letters Peter selected one of the major events in Jesus’ life, commented on it, and then built the rest of his letter on the truth concerning that event. In his second letter, Peter chose Jesus’ transfiguration. In his first letter, he chose Easter and wrote the words of today’s text.
The words we have just read are Peter’s summary and commentary on the events of Jesus’ resurrection—Peter’s capsulation of the whole Easter truth. Just as John 3:16 is sometimes referred to as the Gospel in a nutshell, these words are “Easter in a nutshell.”
Four words standout from Peter’s Easter Summary: PRAISE, HOPE, INHERITANCE, MERCY. To help our memory concerning Peter’s Easter summary and the message of Easter, we can make these four words and the truths that lie behind them into an easily remembered Easter acronym: PRAISE H-I-M!
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… [v.3]
You cannot see the brightly colored Easter dresses and hear the hymns of Easter echo in the rafters without knowing that Easter is a day of praise. It is a day on which hearts overflow in giving God the glory. It is a day when voices which sometimes aren’t so strong all of a sudden find their strength and are raised to sing and to speak the wonderful praises of a Savior and living God. That praise is to God alone. It is centered in Easter and all that God gives to us, beginning with H which is for hope:
- H is for Hope.
- …who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead… [v.3]
We praise God for a hope that will never be dashed. Again in the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Imagine if our hope in Christ—everything we build upon Him—ended when we die. What value would there be? The volume of our praise would all of a sudden shrink because then these blessings would only be for a lifetime—70…80…90…maybe even 100 years—then it’s over! But that is not the hope we have. We have an everlasting hope, a living hope. A sure and definite hope, a definite confidence that our sins are forgiven, that Jesus has paid the wages of sin, and now has risen to life! The living hope which God gives to us and it will never end. It is a hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus and is built upon a living Savior.
Jesus’ resurrection is God the Father’s seal of approval on the whole work of redemption. At the beginning of that work, Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke from Heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Near the end of Jesus’ ministry at the transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:1ff), God the Father again spoke the same words from heaven; and then on Easter Sunday God added the exclamation point—“This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. He has paid the price of sin and I have raised Him and exalted Him and ‘given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth’” (Philippians 2:9-10).
The promised hope that we have in Christ goes well beyond this life.
- I is for Inheritance
- [who]…has begotten us … to an inheritance… [v.3]
The inheritance we have in Christ is eternal life in heaven where tears will be wiped away forever, where there will be no more sadness or any more pain because all of the things that sin corrupted in this life will be gone. We will live there forever in the presence of our God and have resurrected and glorified bodies (cf. I Corinthians 15:35ff).
Peter goes on to identify this inheritance and the characteristics of it. Our inheritance through Jesus is the complete opposite of any inheritance on the earth.
Our inheritance through Christ is incorruptible. Earthly inheritances—in fact, everything we own—is subject to decay. It will wear out. Money, no matter how much you have, can be spent and is gone. Thieves break in and steal, moth and rust corrupt and destroy (cf. Matthew 6:19,20)—but not the inheritance we have from Christ. That is not subject to decay.
It is an inheritance undefiled. Inheritances in this life can be spoiled. First of all, an inheritance begins with grief because in order to receive an inheritance someone we love has to die. So, though the gift, may be grand there is always that twinge of sorrow. Then family squabbles can rise up over who gets what and the arguing defiles the inheritance. Then there is the downside of having to pay taxes on the inheritance, and the inheritance itself may be imperfect. The best inheritance we could ever have on this earth will be deficient—not the inheritance we have with Christ. It has no stain, no downside whatsoever.
The inheritance with Christ does not fade away. Again, our inheritances and possessions in this life go away and even if they don’t, we one day will. Whatever we accumulate and have in this life will not leave the earth, but will return to it, and be destroyed with it. We lose every earthly inheritance when we die—not the inheritance with Christ. It does not fade away.
This inheritance is reserved in heaven for you. From time to time in the school lunch room you’ll hear someone say to a friend, "save me a seat!" We might call ahead to a hotel or restaurant to make a reservation, but those reservations aren’t absolutely sure because if you don’t arrive on time, your reservation may very likely be given to someone else. In heaven you have an inheritance reserved for you! That inheritance has your name on it. No one else is going to take it. No one else can take it. That inheritance is reserved for you. It’s just waiting for you to get there. On that day, God will pull off the cover of the inheritance like revealing a masterpiece, and there you will have the fullness of your salvation and inheritance with Christ.
In the meantime, Peter says, “[You] are kept by the power of God.” [v. 5] The almighty Creator of heaven and earth is Himself using His power to “keep you under guard.” He is using His power to guard and keep you so that you make it safely to the reserved inheritance in heaven.
- M is for Mercy
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us… [v.3]
We have this remarkable hope, this amazing inheritance, purely by God’s abundant mercy! There is no merit or worthiness in us, nothing we could do to earn it, nothing we have done to appease God’s anger. We live and are saved because of Christ’s work of redemption alone and that comes by God’s mercy and grace.
God has begotten us to a living hope and inheritance, meaning that we have been “born again” through Christ Jesus. Apart from rebirth in Christ we are dead in our sins; but having been begotten, having been born again through the work of the Holy Spirit we have a living hope and an inheritance that will not fade away.
Hope, Inheritance, Mercy = HIM. Praise H-I-M! because Jesus lives and your inheritance is in heaven! It’s yours…it’s waiting…it’s guaranteed!
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt
II. Jesus Lives to Give Us an Heritage on Earth
Text: Romans 6:1-11
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Christ Jesus, our living Savior and Lord, dear fellow redeemed:
We have heard of the precious inheritance in heaven that is ours as a gift from God our Father—the fruit of Jesus’ work of redemption and His resurrection. But what can be said about today? How does the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fact, therefore, that He is alive affect our present lives? The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus’ resurrection is to have an immediate and powerful affect, for JESUS LIVES TO GIVE US A HERITAGE ON EARTH!
What is a heritage? A heritage is something passed down to us from individuals or previous generations which impacts how we think and, therefore, how we act. It can involve different things…the values we hold dear, the teachings of our faith, the customs we embrace—even grandma’s recipe for a special cherry sauce to put on the Easter ham you will eat later today. Our heritage, therefore, often defines what is important to us and will determine how we choose to live. We have a Christian heritage based upon God’s revelation found in the Bible. That heritage has been imparted to us by the Holy Spirit who has worked faith in our hearts and is guided by our living Savior. The apostle Paul points out in this second of our Easter texts that the earthly heritage our living Savior has given us consists, first, of freedom and, second, of life!
The apostle Paul ties our heritage of freedom to Jesus’ death and resurrection. He ties us individually and personally to that death and resurrection through baptism. Jesus died and then arose again to solve our problem with sin and to free us from the control of sin’s originator, Satan. God has justified us—declared us righteous and holy—for Jesus’ sake. To make this spiritual reality real to our senses, our Savior has given us baptism. The Bible calls baptism a “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Paul says that we through baptism we are united with Christ in His death, so that when Jesus was buried it was as if we were buried with Him, and so dead to sin! In the same way when Jesus arose from the dead to new life, so we arose with Him, freed from sin! Consequently the blessed results of Jesus’ death become ours. We have been forgiven and rescued from the grasp of Satan. We are no longer to be His slaves and subject to sin, even as we are no longer subject to its consequence—eternal death!
But let us remember that Satan is deceptive. He hates our new freedom and is determined to destroy it. He unfortunately succeeds all too often, distorting the concept of freedom for many people by substituting license for liberty. Consequently many people misuse their freedom and view it as a license to indulge themselves in lusts of all kinds. We in Mankato are not immune. Consider for example between two reports recently provided in a recent Mankato Free-Press. One report presented the fact that Mankato has been identified as one of the two dozen best small cities in which to raise children. That report suggests that many people are using their liberty wisely to help others. A second article this last week identified Blue Earth County as among the state’s leading counties in sexually transmitted diseases. Satan has led many people to view their liberty as license to indulge in their lusts. My dear friends—sin is something like a glue-trap. A mouse is attracted to what appears to be delectable seeds, only to have its paws caught in the sticky glue. As one paw after another is caught, the mouse struggles to free itself. When it attempts to chew its paws free, its mouth becomes buried in the glue. Death comes only too quickly, as the hapless mouse loses both his freedom and his life. Satan thinks as little of your freedom and your life, as a homeowner does that of a mouse. Do not give up your heritage of freedom, for it was won for you at high cost—the death of Jesus Christ. Remember that your freedom comes with responsibility—to use that freedom to glorify your God and to be a blessing to others through your words and actions!
In that way you will properly use the second part of your Easter heritage—the heritage of life. Paul writes, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The waters of baptism tie us to Jesus’ resurrection unto life. Because Jesus has dominated death by coming back to life, death has no more control over Him. Because we are tied to Jesus by faith, death cannot and will not dominate us either. Oh, yes, death comes to our mortal bodies, but it cannot and does not touch our souls. Nor can death contain our bodies, for they too one day will arise from the dead in glorified form to die no more!
But for now—in this life, Paul urges us “to be alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Treasure the life God has given you in Christ Jesus! Nurture that life through daily contact with God’s words of truth and hope. Guard you hearts and protect them from the deceptions of Satan, which suggest that you are living only when you are involved in at-risk behavior. Satan has used that foolishness all too long to lead hapless souls down paths to destruction. Rather, treasure the life God has given you. Stand in awe of the beauties of God’s creation, which are so evident this time of year. Greet each morning with a prayer of thanksgiving. Use every opportunity the Lord presents you each day to make a difference in this world whether you are at work, or at home, or at play. For the most part, we are not talking about grand and glorious things, but the simple, everyday words and actions that will make life a blessing. Husbands—love your wives! Wives—respect your husbands! Children—obey your parents! Parents—bring up your children to both know and love the Lord! Count your blessings each day, knowing that they proceed from the hand of your Savior. Rejoice in the fact that your Savior Jesus lives, and that He has promised to be with you every day to help you meet and overcome all of life’s challenges. Do not worry about tomorrow, but concentrate on being “alive to God in Christ Jesus” each and every day!
My dear friends—JESUS LIVES! HE LIVES TO GIVE US A HERITAGE OF FREEDOM AND LIFE ON EARTH! Rejoice in that fact! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting