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Peter mentions a second end result of the new birth God has given to us: ‘he has given us new birth ... into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade’ [1Peter 1:4].

Prior to being born again we had no ‘inheritance’. We had no right and no expectation of eternal life in the presence of God or in the kingdom of God. The only thing we could look for in the future was the certainty of God’s judgement.

But now, says Peter, God has given us new birth into an inheritance. Because of this new birth we now have a future. Not just a future, but a glorious and absolutely certain future.

The New Testament uses the term ‘inheritance’ to refer to the complete salvation that is ours in Christ Jesus and because of Christ Jesus.

It is the word of God’s grace, the Gospel, that mediates this inheritance to us [Acts 20:32].

This inheritance belongs to all who are sanctified (that is, set apart by God for God) by faith in Christ [Acts 26:18].

The inheritance depends on God’s grace, not on our keeping God’s law [Galatians 3:18].

The inheritance is ours only because we are in Christ [Ephesians 1:11 NIV footnote].

The inheritance is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who dwells within all who believe [Ephesians 1:14].

The inheritance is rich and glorious [Ephesians 1:18].

In ourselves, we are disqualified, but God has qualified us to share in this inheritance [Colossians 1:12].

The inheritance is eternal, and is part of the new covenant mediated by Christ [Hebrews 9:15].

This inheritance, Peter says in verse 4 -

Can never perish. [It is incorruptible. It is immortal.] The same word is used of God [Romans 1:23; 1Timothy 1:17]; of our resurrection bodies [1Corinthians 15:52]; and of the Word of God [1Peter 1:23].

Can never spoil. [It can never become defiled. It can never become soiled. It remains pure.] The word is used in Hebrews 7:26 to refer to Jesus in his high priestly role.

Can never fade. [It is perpetual. It is consistent.] Nothing can diminish it. Nothing can lessen its content.

It is impossible for any of these three things – perishing, spoiling, fading – to happen to the inheritance the believer has in Christ.

In fact, says Peter, it is ‘kept in heaven for you’. The word translated ‘kept’ means ‘guarded’. And here we learn why Peter can so confidently state that our ‘inheritance’ will never perish, spoil or fade – it is guarded by God. It is kept safe by God. It is watched over by God. He jealously guards it as a person guards a precious treasure. And it is indeed a precious treasure – it was purchased for us by the death of God’s well-beloved Son.

Not only is this inheritance guarded by God, it is, Peter says, ‘kept in heaven for you’. For those who believe in Jesus Christ. God himself is keeping this inheritance – the complete salvation we have in Christ – safe for us. Regardless of our struggles and failures. Regardless of the devil’s accusations.

If it were left to us to guard this inheritance, to keep it secure and complete, we would undoubtedly fail. We would lose it. But not only does God provide this inheritance through the death of Christ, he also, knowing our weakness and our failings, keeps it safe for us.

How great is his love for us! How great is his desire for us to be with him in his eternal glory! How strong and immoveable his purpose for us!

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017