A Hope Kept in Heaven
“An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”- 1 Peter 1:4–5
First Peter was most likely written in the early 60s AD to address Christian suffering. This is clear from the letter’s emphasis on what it means to suffer as a believer in Jesus. Peter fills his epistle with encouragement to suffering Christians, exhorting us to endure suffering for the sake of righteousness and to rejoice as we share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 2:20; 3:17; 4:13).
But Peter does not tell us merely what to do with our suffering. He also gives us critical teaching that will make it possible to persevere faithfully in our suffering and to follow his admonitions. To see how he does this, let us consider this question: What must we understand if we are going to endure suffering and not give up in the face of pain? The answer is at least twofold. First, we need to know that what we will receive at the end of our suffering will make all of the hardship we experience worth it. Second, we need to know that the period of suffering that we face will be limited in duration.
Understanding what we will get for persevering through suffering enables us to continue pressing forward in the pain. This is not difficult to see on an earthly level. Why are mothers able to push through the pain of childbirth? Because they know that their children will be worth all of the suffering it takes to birth them. Why do athletes put their bodies through grueling training sessions? Because they know that winning will be worth all of the sacrifices they make to succeed.
If this is true on an earthly level, how much truer is it when we take a heavenly perspective? Peter explains in today’s passage that we have an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance that will be ours when we pass into glory (1 Peter 1:4). This inheritance involves our exaltation (5:6). As Scripture teaches us, we who bow in humble faith to the Lord Jesus Christ will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). We will reign with Him in the new heavens and new earth (2 Tim. 2:12). Though we suffer now, one day we will rule over creation alongside our Savior.
Knowing that suffering is of a limited duration also helps us endure. We can count down the days until suffering’s end, knowing that as bad as things might get, they will not be that way forever. We are not left hopeless. As such, Peter tells us that we are being guarded for a salvation that will be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). There is an appointed time when we will receive the fullness of our reward, and that appointed time means our suffering will not continue forever.
When we come to Christ, we are guaranteed an inheritance—eternal life. If we trust Him alone, nothing can take this inheritance away from us. At the same time, we wait for the day when we receive this inheritance in all its fullness. This inheritance—glorified life in the new heavens and new earth—is secure, and we can therefore persevere in suffering, for our suffering cannot compare to the glory that is to come.