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Your Best Life: Now or Later?

1 Peter 1:3-5 March 23, 2008 80-334

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Lately I've had the occasion to fly a lot around the country, preaching here and there. Even though I'm here on Sundays, it seems like my weeks have been spent in airports, sometimes for a long time, as I've had mechanical delays and things like that. And I've become very much aware of a book that I knew was out there but I see literally all over all the airports that I've been in, in the last month or so, it has been labeled, at least, the best selling religious book of the time. The title of it is Your Best Life Now. I have seen stacks and stacks and stacks of those books everywhere I've gone.

Out of curiosity, I want to know what's in the book and so I found this on page 5, “God wants this to be the best time of your life.” On another page it says, “Happy, successful, fulfilled individuals have learned how to live their best life now. On another page it says, “As you put the principles found in these pages to work today, you will begin living your best life now.” And that is absolutely true if you're not a Christian. This is it, you better get the book because your next life is going to be infinitely worse than this one.
This is your best life now. In fact, it's your only life because in the world to come, you will only exist in a perpetual state of dying with no hope, no satisfaction, no meaning, no joy and no future and no relief from eternal suffering. That's the worst life possible. And this is your best life, if your next life is in hell.

But, on the other hand, if you are a child of God and your sins are forgiven and you've come to embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, this is not even close to your best life. You can't even comprehend what your best life looks like because “Eye hasn't seen, nor has ear heard the things that God has prepared for them that love Him.”

Contrary to what is popular today, even in religious circles, even in quote/unquote religion circles, even in the name of Jesus, the Lord is not promising you here and now a full, happy, rich, satisfying, trouble-free life of health, wealth and success. Oh He does promise that. Absolutely...a full, rich, satisfying, trouble-free life of health and wealth and success and absolute joy and peace and perfection...but not now...not now. In fact, quite on the other hand, our Lord has promised to those who know Him and love Him in this life...trouble, persecution, rejection, difficulty, trials, temptation, pain, suffering, sorrow, sickness and even physical death.

So, for Christians, this is our worst life now. It isn't that it's bad, but comparatively it's the worst when you think about the life to come, which is the best. Your best life as a Christian begins when this life ends. Christians through the centuries have understood this, certainly the early Christians understood it. The Bible makes it clear. You just can't expect all the promises that God has made to you for heaven to necessarily show up here. Any sensible Christian understands that. Don't expect more than this life can deliver.

Turn to 1 Peter chapter 1...1 Peter chapter 1 and there is a beautiful doxology, a hymn of praise that comes right after the introduction to this letter from the great Apostle Peter, it starts in verse 3 and it runs down to verse 5...1 Peter chapter 1 verse 3. It goes like this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Peter introduces his letter, verses 1 and 2, and then immediately launches in to a doxology of praise. He is calling his readers to praise for something they do not currently have. He calls it an inheritance, reserved and protected and later to be revealed. Now why would he be pointing them to the future? Why would he break out in this doxology with regard to things they do not possess? And the answer to that is because they were very realistic living in this world. We find that those to whom he writes are aliens in verse 1. They have been scattered all over the Mediterranean world in to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia. And everywhere they went, life was hard. They were believers in Christ so they were under persecution from the unbelieving and hostile world of pagan religion. Life was very difficult for them. They were hated. They were abused. They were intimidated. They were troubled. They had very little resources. They were poor. They lived in a very difficult world. In fact, that is evident to anybody who reads this brief letter. Let me just help you to see that. Verse 6, immediately following what I read, “In this you greatly rejoice that is in your future inheritance, ready to be revealed in heaven, in this you greatly rejoice even though now for a little while if necessary you have been distressed by various trials.” The now for them was their worst life.

In chapter 2 down in verse 20, Peter says to them, “What credit is there if when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience, but if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” And that's exactly what was happening. They were doing right. They were honoring the Lord, living obediently to Him and they were suffering for it. Christ, he says, called you for this purpose, to suffer in this life. He also suffered for you and left you an example to follow in His steps. He showed you how to suffer unjustly.
Verse 23 says, “When He was reviled, He didn't revile in return. While suffering He uttered no threats, kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” You need to do the same thing. Entrust yourself into the care of God when life is very hard, unfair, abusive and intimidating.

In chapter 3 and verse 13, “And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear their intimidation, do not be troubled. Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” Verse 17 says, “It's better if God should will it that you suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong.” It's going to be that way and you're going to have to hold on to hope...the hope, he says in verse 15, that is in you because this life is not going to be your best life. In fact, it's likely going to be very hard.

Chapter 4 verse 1, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Christ again suffered in the flesh, unjust treatment, arm yourself, you're going to face the very same thing. Down in verse 12 he says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exaltation.” Look ahead, look to the future glory.

Verse 15 he says, “I don't want any of you to suffer as a murderer, thief, or evil doer, troublesome meddler, but if anyone suffers just for being a Christian, let him not feel ashamed but in that name let him glorify God.” And then in verse 19 he says, “Let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

And Peter sums it up in chapter 5 verse 10. “After you have suffered for a little while, here and now, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” You have a great future. You have a glorious future.

Now back to our doxology in chapter 1. Clearly this life was not the best life for them. That's the way it's been throughout history. There are no promises in the Bible that this is our best life now. Our best life always is to come. And so Peter calls for a doxology, a celebration, exalted praise to God for the life to come. It is a hymn really that I read to you in verses 3 through 5. It is a call to worship the Lord God who has promised us eternal joy and blessing in the future, in an inheritance, a salvation to be revealed, a living hope.

We are to learn, the sooner the better, that our best life is not here and now. This doxology centers on our inheritance. Please notice that's the key word at the beginning of verse 4, “To obtain an inheritance.” The word means a fully realized and possessed gift. We have a guaranteed reserved future that God has already determined and established. It's an inheritance.

We understand the concept of an inheritance. We understand that an inheritance is something that comes to you in the future. In the Old Testament inheritance was a familiar word and it was used to describe the land of Canaan very often because Canaan was the inheritance that God promised to the children of Israel. This inheritance of the earthly Israel, this land of Canaan in the promised land, had begun with Abraham, the father of the nation Israel. But it wasn't realized for a long, long time. There were hundreds of years between the promise of the inheritance and the realization of the inheritance. There were hundreds of years of bondage in Egypt, trouble in Egypt. There were decades of wilderness wandering in which a whole generation of Jews died. They led a very troubled life until they entered in to their inheritance finally. You might say, all the years waiting for their inheritance were years of very, very hard times.

And in a very similar fashion, Peter is saying, “You're like the children of Israel in bondage in Egypt, you're like the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness of the desert. You haven't yet received your inheritance but it is reserved for you. He's calling on these troubled believers who are getting hammered from every side with all the difficulties that life can possibly bring to bear upon them to forget trying to live the best life now and patiently wait with hearts full of praise for the best life which is to come in the future.

In fact, he is saying you should be so committed to that that you burst spontaneously into praise, that you join me in this doxology for something you do not now possess. Yes you are children of God and therefore heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ...yes you are waiting to possess your unimaginable eternal inheritance, but we like them are childish, like a childish prince who before his years of maturity can never grasp the enormity of his royal inheritance. We have little understanding of what God has prepared for us. We have little comprehension of the realities of what we're going to receive from Him when He gives us all the crowns that He has promised to us and crowns us with everlasting bliss in the joy of eternal heaven. We have no way to fully comprehend it. But we need to get the finest, the purest, the truest, the widest, deepest, broadest understanding of it we can because it produces joy in the midst of trouble.

We make too much of life's difficulties. We can't be telling people that Jesus wants them to live their best life now or Jesus will disappoint them because this isn't going to be your best life now. Don't invest too much expectation in it. It's full of trouble. And if you expect too much out of this life, this life will steal your joy. If you expect little and are grateful for every small benefit, but you live in the light of the life to come, then this life can steal nothing of your joy.

You attach your joy, you attach your sense of God's loving you to what you have in this life and God in your mind will disappoint. That's why the Apostle Paul said this in Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling...listen to this...and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance.” I pray for you that you will get a grip on your heavenly inheritance because if you live in the light of the fact that your next life is your best life, then you can take what comes because this life is a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away. Paul calls on us as Peter calls on us to transcend this life and live in adoring, wonder and praise and worship to God for the life to come.

What is this inheritance we will receive? He calls it at the end of verse 5 “a salvation...or salvation ready, pregnant, imminent, to be revealed in the last time.” It is the final aspect of our salvation. There's a past aspect. When you believed in Christ, you were saved from the penalty of sin because you were justified, declared righteous, your sins placed on Christ, His righteousness placed on you. You were saved from the penalty of sin. Presently you are being saved from the power of sin, it no longer has dominion over you. The final phrase of your salvation, you will be saved from the presence of sin. It will not exist in the world to come. You will then be delivered fully, finally, completely from all decay, all sickness, trouble, conflict, pain, suffering, grief, guilt, sorrow, anxiety, tears, discipline, hatred, disappointment, misunderstanding, weakness, failure, ignorance, confusion, imperfection...and on and on.

For us, the only way we can understand perfection is from the standpoint of all of that which is our experience so we have to use negatives to speak of perfection. We will enter in to eternal experiences of pure joy, pure peace and pure holiness. It is this salvation in its final form, ready to be revealed, pregnant language, in the last time, the last epoch, the last day, that is the time when we leave and meet Jesus face to face, or the time when He comes to take us to be with Him, when death is swallowed up in the eternal victory and we enter in to our everlasting inheritance.

Look, it really is of little consequence how much you have in this life or how much you don't have. How well you are, or how sick you are, how fulfilled you are or how humanly speaking unfulfilled you are, how many successes you've had or how many failures you've had, how many fulfillments you've had or how many disappointments you have had, it really matters very little. You came into this world with nothing and you will go into the next world with nothing. You can't take it with you, as Joe Bailey used to say, “You've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul. It doesn't go, it stays.” Just don't invest too much into it. We are not, as a church of Jesus Christ, offering people their best life now. That sets up an impossible illusion because that allows them to define what their best life is and then forces Jesus to deliver on that. And when He doesn't, they move on.

We need to learn to live in the light of our best life which is coming after this life is over. No matter how difficult this life is, we live in hope. So Peter calls us then in this doxology to join him in some praise. Let's go back to it in verse 3, just make a few comments. A very simple way to understand this. It is a call to praise, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Among the Jews, the most common way to start a prayer of praise was to say, “Blessed art Thou, O God.” That's the way they started their praise. “Worthy of adoration.” That's what blessed means. Psalm 34, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Or later in the Psalms, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” This was a very typical form of praise and Peter borrows from his own experience as a Jew and talks the way a Jew would talk, “Blessed be the God.”

But he adds something here that's important for us to understand, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And with that, Peter introduces us to the source of our inheritance...the source of our inheritance. Where does this inheritance come from? It comes from the one who is to be blessed, that's why he blesses God, that's why he adores God, praises God, exalts God because God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has enabled us to attain this inheritance.

He is the source. It is a gift from God...a very basic and simple truth. I just call your attention to the identification of God as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That's a title. That's not a descriptive phrase, that's a title. As God is called God the Creator, or God the Redeemer, or the God of Israel, or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is how He is to be known. He is the God who is one with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a Trinitarian statement that speaks of common life, common essence. To know the true and living God, you must know Him as someone more than God the Creator, the Redeemer God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or the God of Israel, you must know Him as the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...the true and living God who is in His Son incarnate. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”

I love the fact that it says, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And because of the incarnation, the transcendent God has become near and personal. We bless our God, our God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the One who has given us this inheritance. It could never be ours if it were not for the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we have not earned our inheritance. We have not merited our inheritance. It is a gift to us. It is the gift of God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who is one with Christ. It is their gift to us. I think Paul has this in mind in even greater range when he writes in Ephesians 1, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” All that heaven holds is for us...a gift from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who is one with Jesus Christ, affirming the deity of Christ.

Well enough about that, the motive behind it. The source is God, what is the motive? Why would God do this? The motive is simple here, “Who according to His great mercy...” Who according to His great mercy. It's not that we deserve it, it's that we desperately need it.

Can I explain mercy to you a little bit? We talk about grace and mercy and they can be used interchangeably, I think, in some ways. But there is a shade of difference. Grace is a term that applies in the category of guilt. Mercy is a term that applies in the category of misery. Grace for our guilt, mercy for our misery. Maybe that's a way to help you remember it.

That is to say, God gives us grace by forgiving our sin. God gives us mercy by relieving the consequence of our sin which is our profound sole misery. The Lord refers to someone in a pitiful condition, someone in a helpless condition. I remember in Matthew 17:15 a father coming to Jesus and he said this, “Lord, have mercy on my son.” He said, “For he is a lunatic and very ill and is always falling in the fire and falling in the water.” A horrible situation. There is blind Bartimaeus again in Jericho who in his blindness as a beggar cries out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Grace looks at guilt, mercy looks at misery.

“Have mercy on me” became a common expression the Jews used when they cried out to God out of distress, pain, suffering, grief and misery. That word alone, eleos, and its derivatives are used about 80 times in the New Testament because God is expressing Himself again and again as a God of mercy. And always when it's used, it refers to compassion and relief given to those whose condition has overpowered them.

With reference to God, of course, it speaks of His divine compassion on the misery that sin has produced. Grace goes to the sin, mercy goes to the misery produced by the sin. And God is by nature a God of mercy. God is a God of tenderness, loving-kindness, compassion, sympathy. Micah 7:18 says, “He delights in mercy.” Psalm 103:17, “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. It is as eternal as He is eternal.” Psalm 108:4, “God's mercy is far above the heavens, it is as infinite as He is infinite.” That's why 2 Corinthians 1:3 says, “He is the Father of mercies.” Lamentations 3 says, “His mercies are new every morning.” It's as if they're replenished every day and undiminished even as He pours them out. Titus 3:5, “He saved us according to His mercy.” Ephesians 2:4, “But God being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us has made us alive together with Christ.”

Why? So that in the ages to come He might show us the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness. He extended mercy to us, Paul says, to show us His kindness in eternity. You're never going to experience full relief from misery in this life. You cannot experience the fullness of God's mercy therefore in this life. Yes, His mercies are new every morning. There is mercy in this life, but we don't even begin to comprehend the mercy of being completely and forever relieved from any misery.

So the source is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The motive is the merciful heart of God toward those in misery. What is the means of this inheritance? How do we...how do we appropriate this inheritance?

Well “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His great mercy...here it is...has caused us to be born again to a living hope....born again to a living hope.” You don't have this future inheritance by natural birth. Quite the contrary. In fact, your natural birth does give you an inheritance, but according to Ephesians 2 you are a child of wrath. You are a child of wrath and you will inherit damnation. All of us...that's true of all of us. You are not children of God, you're children of the devil, the Bible says. Therefore you're children of wrath, therefore you will receive eternal damnation. That's what natural birth gives you.

So, as I said earlier, this is your best life now, it's your only life. But God has caused us to be born again to a living hope. That's an interesting contrast. The only way you can become an heir of God would be to become a child of God, right? Inheritance is for heirs, that's why the words are connected...an heir inherits. You have to be a child of God to have an inheritance from God, and so God wonderfully, miraculously, supernaturally gives us life. Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Unless you're born again, you're not going to see the Kingdom of God.” You're not going to inherit all that God has for His own. So Peter says, “Blessed be the God who has caused us to be born again...who has caused us to be born into His family so that now I'm a child of God and an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ.” This comes, of course, later, Peter says in the same chapter, chapter 1 verse 23, “This being born again is not of seed which is perishable, not like human birth, natural birth, but imperishable through the living and abiding Word of God.” It is a spiritual birth that God produces in the great power of regeneration through the Word of God. Verse 25 he says, “The Word of God which was preached to you.” You heard the gospel, you believed the gospel. As you believed the gospel, God gave you new life and you were born into His family. And now you have a living hope...a living hope. A very important phrase.

If you're not a Christian, if you haven't been born again, you have hope. But I hope to tell you, it's a dying or a dead hope, that's all it is. You can hope for the best in this life, it's not going to come. Who can live under the ridiculous illusion that you can be completely satisfied, happy in this life, but it never will happen. Hope just dies and dies and dies and dies. As you grow up as a kid, you have dreams and desires and you keep shifting them and changing them as they die. You have relationships and unregenerate people have a difficult time sustaining relationships of any kind, friendships, love relationships, marriages. You have great hopes when a child comes into the world and hope just dies and dies. Most of our hopes for careers, ambitions, you hear people say all the time, “You can be anything you want to be,” that's a lie. You can achieve anything you want to achieve...that's a lie. You can create your own world by speaking it into existence...that's a lie. You live in this world without God and you just live with dying hopes, dying hopes, dying hopes. And if they don't die while you're still alive, they'll all die when you die. That's how it goes.

But when you're born into the family of God, you have a living hope...a hope that never dies. The lost know only hope that dies, dreams that turn to ashes. Most of them die before they die, all of them die when they die. That's why Scripture says, “If in this world only you have hope, you're of all men most miserable because your hope just keeps dying.” Your best life is the life of a Christian and your best life is in the future. It's good now, but the best is yet to come. That's why Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to die is gain...for to me to die is gain.”
What Christianity, true Christianity is offering the world is caught up in the life to come, not in this life. In the life to come, we will have the glorious sight of Jesus Christ, the complete fullness of infinite perfection, the absolute absence of sin and all that it produces, the full enjoyment of unhindered freedom in worship and service to God, the wonder of heaven, the pure fellowship of God, Christ, saints and angels, pleasure forever unrestrained, unrestricted and infinite. That's a living hope. That will never die.

Even Christians...we have hope in this life that dies. I've had a lot of things in my life that I hoped would happen that never happened. And I have a hope that never dies. In fact, it is even far better than I can imagine. What is the nature of our inheritance? Its source is God, its motive is mercy, its means is regeneration, what is its nature? The answer to that is found in verse 4, “It is an inheritance which is...and here is the description of its nature or character...it is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.”

This is something that has to be other worldly because everything in this world is perishable, defiled, and fades away...everything...everything. Everything in the created universe is touched by the Fall and by sin. And it all perishes and it all gets defiled, diminishes, fades away. But here is an inheritance that like the Lord who gave us this inheritance is unchanging is itself unchanging...imperishable, not capable of corruption. In the military sense that was used to speak of an army that was impervious to all the assaults and attacks of the enemy, unravaged by an invading enemy army.

Well think about that in relation to Israel. Israel had an inheritance, the land of Canaan. They took that earthly inheritance, the land of Canaan, and frequently Canaan was ravaged by invading enemy armies. I think if I count correctly, Jerusalem itself was leveled to the ground seventeen times by enemies. But our inheritance, that heavenly inheritance cannot be plundered by any enemy, it is indestructible...it is impervious to all attacks.

It is also undefiled, unpolluted, unstained, cannot be touched by defect. It is unfading, will not fade away. Another phrase to say the same thing about its permanence. Its nature is permanent. Our inheritance never loses its supernatural glory. It's not like verse 24, the grass and the flower of the grass that withers and fades away. Our inheritance never fades, never has a defect, is never corrupted, never plundered. All that we have in heaven is forever unchanged, as is our unchanging Lord.

Now this is a wondrous thing to think about because, you know, as we go through life we're not always faithful, right? We're not always as loyal to the Lord as we should be. Grace operates and mercy operates and there is waiting for us in heaven an unchanging glorious eternal life.
Peter has one more truth regarding our inheritance. Its source is God, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Motive is mercy. Its means is regeneration. Its nature is permanent. And that leads to the security of our inheritance...the security of our inheritance.

You say, “Well wait a minute now. It may not tarnish, it may not decay. It may not wither, but can it be taken away and given to somebody else?” There are Christians who believe that. Can it be taken away? Can we forfeit it? Could we be disinherited? Hey, that fits the analogy, there are children who are so disappointing to their parents that their parents disinherit them. Can God disinherit us?

The answer comes at the end of verse 4 and in to verse 5. “This inheritance is reserved in heaven for you.” It is reserved in heaven for you. Bless God that in spite of your weakness and in spite of the struggle of life, this unchanging inheritance is reserved in heaven for you, not for somebody else. Safely in heaven in the holy presence of God, not subject to any assault, any plunder, that's what Jesus said, didn't He, in Matthew 6? “Lay up treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Heaven will never be invaded, none of its treasures will ever be plundered. The book of Revelation at the end of Revelation says that there's nothing corrupted or nothing abominable will ever enter heaven. Your inheritance is safe there. It cannot be plundered. It cannot be laid waste. It cannot be defiled, defaced, corrupted or stolen. It cannot be taken and given to anyone else. Why? It is reserved for you...and then verse 5...you who are protected by the power of God through faith. Incredible statement.

You are protected, military term, you are personally protected by God. Romans 8 says, “No one can lay any charge against God's elect, it's God that justifies.” Romans 8 says, “Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God which is in Christ...nothing.” Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Jude 24 says, “He will keep you from stumbling and present you faultless.”

How does He do this? What if we fall away and stop believing? Well that's not going to happen because it says there you are protected by the power of God through faith. God does not guard, protect, secure and keep us apart from faith, or whether we believe or not, but He keeps us through faith the very faith that He gave us when we were saved. You are saved by grace, through faith, that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2. 

So your faith will endure because the faith that He gave you that saved you is an enduring faith. That's its character. This is what salvation is all about, folks. It's all about what comes in the next life and what is secured to us.

You say, “Why are you talking about this on Resurrection Sunday? Because this inheritance, this full, glorious, eternal salvation, this living hope secured for us in heaven, protected by the power of God is made possible...look at verse 3...through...end of the verse...the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” No resurrection, no inheritance. No resurrection, no eternal hope. No resurrection, no salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The stupendous, historical event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ opened heaven and all the treasure house of eternal glory. If you deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity becomes stupid, foolish, ridiculous because it makes promises it can't deliver. But Jesus did rise, and John 14:19 He said, “Because I live, you will live also.” Because I live, you will live also.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is what opened heaven to all of us. At least a dozen times in the New Testament it says, “God raised Jesus...God raised Jesus...God raised Jesus...God raised Jesus.” But we know God slew Jesus, “It pleased the Father to bruise Him.” God killed Jesus. He was God's chosen Lamb as a substitute for sinners. God made Him the sacrifice for our sins. And then God raised Him to validate the sufficiency of His sacrifice. And heaven opened for Him and He ascended back and heaven opened for all of us as well. That's why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so essential. It's the cornerstone of the Christian faith. We have eternal life because He conquered death for Himself and for us. Our best life is yet to come with Him in glory. And I hope that will be your best life, as well.

Lord, thank You for reminding us again in another way from another portion of Scripture of the greatness of the resurrection and the glory of it. Thank You for life in Christ. Thank You for eternal life. We celebrate that with grateful hearts. We are humbled because we are unworthy. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for Your mercy.

Father, open heaven wide for some souls this morning and give them this living hope, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.