1 Peter 1: 3-9 (Easter Sunrise Message)
“The Goal of your Faith”
People who have learned even just a little bit about soccer know that when a team scores it was the end result of many important things that took place for several minutes leading up to the goal. Very rarely is there a goal scored because a player caught a lucky break away to the net unattended. From the defending of their own goal to a series of carefully made passes, some of which go all the way back to their own goalie, the end goal is always the same for each step of the game. Every player plays with the goal in my mind; with every stop, kick, dribble or pass; the goal of each play is the goal.
Peter was encouraging a very troubled early Christian Church with the news of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That news reminded them that the goal of trusting Jesus was the very real truth that they were on the path the leads to eternal life in heaven. In the beginning of his letter, Peter lays out several of the key elements of God’s directing in getting his people to the goal of their faith: eternal life with Jesus. I would like to walk you through these key thoughts that lead you to the goal of your resurrection faith.
The Goal/ Focus of your Faith is Jesus Christ the Resurrected Son of God.
Peter encouraged the believers to praise the Father in heaven for giving us his Son. From eternity God had known of his plan to rescue us from our sinfulness and from death. After Adam and Eve disobeyed he documented that plan in his promise to give them salvation through one of their own descendants. This offspring of theirs would crush the head of the serpent and give them life eternal, a life after this life that the Tree of Life in Eden could not offer.
God sent that Son, “born of woman, born under law, to redeem those under law that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4: 4-5). The goal of your faith, the object of your trust, is Jesus Christ. He took our place under the law. He was pierced for our iniquities. He endured the punishment of Good Friday, which we all deserved. He was placed in a grave yard, dead as dead can be. In God’s great mercy, God made our hope “a living hope” by raising his Son Jesus from death before that body saw decay. Praise to God the Father that the Goal of our faith is Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son of God.
The Goal of your Faith is an Imperishable Inheritance.
Because of the Resurrection, the goal of our faith is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. It is kept secure for all of us. It will never rust or be stolen away. It will never become boring or wearisome. It will never become too much of a good thing and become spoiled for us. And it already belongs to you. It is your inheritance because Christ has become our brother and has made us sons and daughters of our King.
In the meantime, while God is securing your inheritance, he is also guarding and shielding you. In the game of soccer, there comes a time for strong defense. The other team is on attack or has a free kick. That is when teams build walls. God has built his own wall of protection around you. Not only is he protecting your inheritance, he is shielding you and your faith from all harm and danger in this life with his almighty power.
The Goal of your Faith is Trusting that Trials Serve God’s Purposes
That puts a great deal of perspective on this life, doesn’t it? Peter says so and so does our Living God. Whatever you may experience in life; good; bad; blessings; curses; victories or hardship; those things are all in the plans of the mind and heart of our Loving God.
As I was first learning about the game of soccer through my children, I saw something in a professional game for the first time that made no sense to me. A player had purposely kicked the ball right at his own goalie forcing him to make the next play. As my knowledge of the game grew, I learned that this was quite common place for a team to get the defenders moving out of their sets and to rotate the fields around in order to regroup for the whole purpose of the game: the end goal.
It really smarts a whole lot the first few times we experience the crosses of our life. In fact it always smarts. I wonder about our initial reaction to those trials: “What? That doesn’t make sense, Lord? Why give your people setbacks? You are supposed to be helping us out down here. You are supposed be scoring goals for us, now kicking us all the way back on our heels!”
Peter explains that God uses these trials the way fire is used to make gold better. Gold, even though it is one of the most enduring medals of God’s creation, will indeed perish. But fire purifies it and makes it more valuable. God uses your trials to refine your trust. He validates your faith in view of the world. He draws you closer to Him, on whom your faith depends. He refocuses your trust on the true goal: life in heaven with Jesus.
The Goal of your Faith is Living by Faith not by Sight
What comes next is a faith that is extraordinary. What is born of God and the Spirit in your heart is a faith that lives “blindly”. Thomas will demand to see. Jesus will remind him “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20: 29). “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11: 1) Jesus has long since ascended into heaven. He is with us always to the very end of the age. But we can’t see him with our eyes. We trust in him by faith through the promises of his every Word.
Because of that we are bound to his Words, given to confession, and led to praise him in a way that baffles the world around us. We have a joy and certainty in every stage of life. The goal of our faith speaks volumes of praise, even and especially when we are on our heels back peddling through the trials of the cross.
The Goal of your Faith is the Salvation of your Souls
It belongs to you. It is your inheritance: promised and secured by God the Father, won by Christ Jesus through the sacrifice he made and the power he shows over death. It is the goal of trusting in Jesus now and for eternity. Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb who was slain. He was dead but now is living. He is securing the goal of our faith: the salvation of our souls. He is the Son of the Living God! Your sins are taken away! You stand to inherit the kingdom of Everlasting Life! Hear now the comfort of Easter in the words of or God in 1 Peter 1: 3-9.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has gi9ven us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade; kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may prove genuine and result in praise glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Amen!