The Lord’s Message:  What a Difference Easter Makes – Eternal Hope

The Lord’s Message:  What a Difference Easter Makes – Eternal Hope
Date:  April 16, 2023
Where:  Tilghman UMC
Scripture Reference:  1 Peter 1:3-12

            We are starting a new sermon series for the season of Easter, entitled “What a Difference Easter Makes”.  We will be looking at the first two chapters in the book of 1 Peter.  If we look at 1 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 1:1, we find out that these two books were letters written to Christians in Asia Minor by Peter.  What do we know about Peter?  Peter was a fisherman, a disciple of Jesus, one of Jesus’ closest disciples along with James and John, leader of the disciples, denied knowing Jesus three times, and Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter, which means rock.  The name Peter comes from the Greek word, Petras for rock.  These two letters were written in Greek.  Peter did not actually write the letters, but dictated them to Silvanus or Silas.  We find this information in 1 Peter 5:12.  Peter did not have the same education as Paul.  So, the language is very down to earth.  As a matter of fact, Peter says this in 2 Peter 3:15-16.  Also, the people that this letter is addressed to are the some of the same people found at Pentecost in Acts 2: 8-9.  These people are Easter people.  This letter is addressed to all of us, Easter people. 

            Let us pray.

            Peter starts off with giving thanksgiving to God in verse 3.  When you wake up in the morning, do you give God praise?  Thank God for giving me another day.  Thank God for waking me up to do Your will.  We should start off our day in praise and end our day in praise.  Amen.

            Now in this verse of praise to God, Peter uses three names to describe Jesus.  He says Lord Jesus Christ.  Now, when my mom used David Edward Kelley, Jr., I knew that I was in trouble.  Here, Peter is using all the names to describe the one who came to earth to show God’s love.  Now sometimes we say Jesus, or Christ, or even Lord, but do we really know what we are saying.  These three names of one person indicate positions of leadership.  He is Lord, a universal king.  He is Jesus, a priest or Savior.  He is Christ, a prophet.  When you are saying that the Son of God is Lord, you are declaring that He is king over your life.  When you are saying the Holy One is Jesus, you are referring to the fact that He gave his life on the cross as the sacrificial lamb to save you from your sins.  When you are saying that He is Christ, you are referring to His prophecy of coming again to take all believers to Heaven with Him.  Jesus is king.  He is Savior and He is our prophet.  Amen.

            Peter explains in thanksgiving to God in the rest of verses 3-5.  Peter is thankful to God for the inheritance that He will receive.  Jesus told the disciples about this inheritance in John 10:27-28.  The writer of Hebrews confirmed how we receive this eternal inheritance in Hebrews 5:9 & 9:12.  It was our high priest Jesus’ blood on Calvary that cleansed us of our sins.  He is our Savior.  He is our Lord.  Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we can now enter into a holy relationship with God.  Paul wrote about this in Ephesians 1:14.  The book of Revelation tells us what this inheritance will be in Revelation 21 & 22.  I will read just a small part, Revelation 21:1-7.  I suggest that you take time and read the rest this week. 

            Most theologians believe that this letter and the proceeding letter was written in AD 66, 30 years after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension.  This is an important date.  In July AD 64, Rome burned to the ground.  The people thought that their crazy Emperor Nero caused the fire.  This could not be proven or disproven.  The people were in such an uproar that Nero, wanting to deflect the blame from himself, declared that the Christians were the cause of the fire.  Nero rounded up the Christians and tortured and executed many.  Peter was living in Rome at the time.  Paul was under house arrest.  Sometime after AD 66 Peter and Paul both found themselves in the Mamertine Prison in Rome awaiting their execution.   Church history records that Peter was crucified upside down because he felt he was unworthy to be crucified the same as his Lord.  Paul, because of his Roman citizenship, was beheaded.  The charge was evangelism.  That did not stop them.  While in the prison a wonderful miracle took place.  40 people came to know Lord Jesus Christ including the two guards and were baptized by the water spring in the bottom of the prison.  I have never been to Rome, but you can go to Rome and see for yourself the prison and the place of the baptism. 

            When Peter was dictating this letter, he had not received this inheritance.  He knew that on this earth that we face trials to strengthen our faith.  Look at verses 6-7.  None of us like to face trials.  Our faith is like a muscle.  If you do not exercise that muscle, then it becomes weaker.  The same is with our faith.  Our faith needs to be tested so it will stand up against the attacks of the enemy.  Paul says in Ephesians 6:12.  So our faith needs to be refined in the fire of trials in order for it to be genuine. 

            In verses 8-9, there are two notable byproducts of this testing: love and joy.  Love comes from God, because God is love.  This is found in 1 John 4:16-17.  The more we trust and rely on God, the more the love of God grows within us.  The love overflows out of us onto the people around us. 

 Joy is different from happiness.  Happiness is a feeling.  Joy is a state of being.  Do you remember the song you may have sung in Sunday School?  I have that joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  I have that joy, joy, joy, joy, where?  Down in my heart to stay.  Our joy comes from God.  It is our knowing that whatever we do through God is going to be with us every step of the way.  In Nehemiah 8:10b, the Bible says that “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” 

All of this results in complete salvation, because of God’s infinite and abundant grace.  In verses 10-12, God gave insight to this eternal hope to come through His prophets.  These are just a few of the predictions about God’s grace completed in His Son Lord Jesus Christ: 

Isaiah 53: 1-6, & Ezekiel 37:24-27. 

            Peter and Paul did not know that they would be receiving this inheritance as quickly as they did.  None of us know when our days here on earth are going to come to a close.  In this world, accidents happen, fires spark, volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes or floods are common occurrences.  All of this can test our faith.  We can choose to live in a state of fearfulness without hope or we can choose to live in a state of faith with eternal hope knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, resurrected from the grave, ascended into heaven and sits at the righthand side of God and one day will return upon this earth.  As Easter people let us choose to live in eternal hope.  Amen.

April 17, 2023 2:30 pm