1 Peter 1:1-9

Go Claim Your Inheritance

Check out these helpful resources
Biblical Commentary
Children’s Sermons
Hymn Lists

1 Peter 1:1-9

Go Claim Your Inheritance

Richard Niell Donovan

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
to the chosen ones who are living as foreigners in the Dispersion…
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to his great mercy
became our father again
to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn’t fade away,
reserved in Heaven for (us),
who by the power of God are guarded through faith
for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1:1-5).

There were encouraging words, written to people who had reason to be discouraged. Paul was writing to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. He calls them “foreigners” or “exiles.” An exile is a person living away from his or her homeland. An exile is separated from that which she loves. An exile might live in a pleasant country, but her heart always turns home. Often an exile cannot return home for legal or political reasons.

Peter tells these Christians that they are exiles. He tells us that we are exiles. We are citizens of Heaven, forced by circumstances to live in another world for the time-being. I am reminded of an old gospel-song from my youth:

“This world is not my home,
I’m just a-passin’ through
If Heaven’s not my home,
then, Lord, what will I do?
The angels beckon me
from Heaven’s open door,
and I can’t feel at home
in this world anymore.”

Peter says that we are citizens of the Heavenly kingdom by virtue of our new birth. When we become Christians, God sends his Holy Spirit to dwell in us, making us new people. Peter describes that as a “new birth to a living hope.” Other New Testament passages describe this as an adoption. When we become Christians, God adopts us and we become his.

Because God has adopted us, he becomes our father and we become his children, entitled to all the privileges of a prince or a princess. Our home becomes the palace, and we become Children of Privilege. Unlike most people, we have free access to the King. We can talk with him when we want. He loves us and provides for us.

Furthermore, Peter tells us that we have:

“an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance
that doesn’t fade away,
reserved in Heaven for (us).”

Have you ever considered how wonderful it would be to receive an inheritance? I have! My parents had very little money, and I never expected to inherit anything from them. But, when I was a child, my grandparents used to talk about leaving their estate to my mother, my brother and myself. They didn’t have much either—a small home in a small Kansas town and a few thousand dollars in the bank. But they, in their love, wanted us to benefit from their hard work and frugality.

They would take me aside every once in a while and assure me that they had made a will that left everything to my mother, my brother and myself. They had a son, but they were not leaving anything to him. They had other grandchildren, but they were not leaving anything to them. They held my mother, my brother and myself very dear, and wanted us to know that we would receive an inheritance upon their death.

I loved my grandparents, and did not want them to die. Still it was good to know that they wanted to express their love in that way, and the little that they had accumulated was enough to make a big difference in my life. I was grateful to my grandparents, and was glad to know that, someday, their generosity would lift me from my poverty.

But it didn’t work out! My grandfather died. A few years later, my mother died. But my grandmother lived well into her nineties, and spent the last ten years of her life in a nursing home. By the time she finally died, her estate had long-since been spent to pay for her care. I had no inheritance.

I had long-since become reconciled to the fact that I would have no inheritance. I managed without it. But I was saddened that my grandparents had been unable to carry through with their dream.

I did receive an inheritance of sorts from my grandmother. I inherited much of her gene-pool. I am tall like her. I look like her. I have something of her personality. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that is blessing or not. A small inheritance!

But Peter comes along, reassuring me that all this is just temporary. I am a child of God, and God has provided me with an inheritance—an inheritance:

“an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance
that doesn’t fade away,
reserved in Heaven for (me).”

He further reassures me that, even though I have had to endure various trials and tribulations, God has allowed those only to prove the genuineness of my faith, just as the fire proves and refines gold to the highest purity.

SermonWriter logo3

A SUBSCRIBER SAYS: “Your stuff is AMAZING – I find it so helpful. Thank you.”

Resources to inspire you — and your congregation!

Click here for more information

When I read this scripture, I was reminded of a story told by Fred Craddock when he delivered the Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale.

Craddock said that he and his wife had been on vacation in the Smokey Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. They had gone to a restaurant called the Black Bear Inn. It was beautiful. One side of the building was glass, and it overlooked the Smokies.

Craddock and his wife were just beginning to look at the menu when an old man with a shock of white hair came to the table. “Good evening!” he said. Craddock replied, “Good evening.” “Enjoying yourself?” “Yes.” “Where are you from?”

By this time, Craddock was wishing that the man would just go away and leave him and his wife in peace, but he replied, “Oklahoma.” “What do you do?” Craddock said, “Well, I teach in a seminary.” “Oh, you teach preachers! I’ve got a story about preachers.”

I can just tell you that the last thing Craddock wanted in the whole world at that moment was to be distracted from the Smokey Mountain beauty and the Black Bear Inn elegance by a stale preacher story. Take it from me, we preachers have heard them already.

But the old man started in anyway. He said,

“I was born back here in these mountains.
My mother was not married.
And the reproach that fell upon her, fell upon me.

The children at school had a name for me and it hurt,
and it hurt very much.
During recess I would go hide in the weeds until the bell rang.
At lunchtime I took my lunch
and went behind a tree to avoid them.

When I went to town with my mother,
when the men and women would stare at her and then at me,
I knew they were trying to guess who I was.
A painful time.

About seventh or eighth grade,
I guess I was in the seventh or eighth grade
and I started to go hear a preacher.

He frightened me in a way and he attracted me in a way.
He wore a claw-hammer tailcoat, striped trousers
and had a face that looked like
it had been quarried out of the mountain.
He thundered!

I was afraid people would say,
‘What’s a boy like you doing in church?’
So I just went in time for the sermon and then I’d rush out.

One Sunday, however,
some women had cued up in the aisle
and I couldn’t get out
and I began to sweat and get cold and sweaty
and wondered, Oh, oh, somebody’s going to say to me,
‘What’s a boy like you doing in church?’

And I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I looked out of the corner of my eye
and saw that beard and saw that face.
‘Oh, boy!’

That minister stared at me
and looked at me and stared at me,
and I thought, ‘Oh, no! Oh, no!
He’s gonna guess.’

He said, ‘Well boy, you’re a child of ah…
You’re a child of ah….
Ah, wait.’
And the preacher said, ‘You’re a child of God.
I see a strikin’ resemblance!
He swatted me on the bottom
and said, ‘Go claim your inheritance, boy!'”

Craddock looked at the old man and said, “What’s your name?” He said, “Ben Hooper.” Ben Hooper, Ben, Ben Hooper! Then Craddock remembered! His father had told him about the time the people of Tennessee had elected an illegitimate governor named Ben Hooper.

Illegitimate! We are all illegitimate in some sense. Paul tells us that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. We all have reason to worry about someone discovering the truth about us.

But that is not the end of the story. Peter says:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to his great mercy
became our father again
to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn’t fade away,
reserved in Heaven for (us).”

By the mercy of God, we are his children. Let us go and claim our inheritance!

Scripture quotations from the World English Bible.

Copyright 1996, Richard Niell Donovan