What would it be like to have endless riches stored up for you — a future reward that could never be taken away, but that could be enjoyed forever? If you are a Christian, that is an accurate description of the inheritance God has stored up for you.
The apostle Peter used three negative terms to describe the positive perfection of our eternal inheritance: “imperishable,” “undefiled,” and “unfading” (1 Peter 1:4, ESV). The Greek word translated “imperishable” (aphthartos) speaks of something that is not corruptible, but permanent. The word evokes the image of a land ravaged by a conquering army; so Peter was saying our eternal inheritance cannot be plundered or spoiled by our spiritual foes.
“Undefiled” (amiantos) means unpolluted or unstained by sin, evil, or decay. Unlike this world, in which nothing escapes the stain of sin (Romans 8:20–23), our inheritance can never be contaminated, defiled, or in any way corrupted. It is unblemished and unstained by the presence or effects of sin (Revelation 21:27).
“Unfading,” comes from a Greek term used of flowers. In the context of 1 Peter it suggests a supernatural beauty that time cannot diminish. Peter used the same word with reference to the unfading crown of glory that faithful elders will receive when the Chief Shepherd appears (1 Peter 5:4).
Those three terms — imperishable, undefiled, and unfading — picture a heavenly inheritance that is impervious to death, sin, and the effects of time. Considering the corrupting, damning influence of sin on the world, it is wonderful to know our inheritance in Christ is timeless and will never diminish.
The believer’s inheritance is “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” (1 Peter 1:4–5). We need never fear the loss of our inheritance, since it is under God’s own watchful care.
Not only is God watching over our inheritance, but He also is doing so in the safest of all places: heaven. That’s where “neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matthew 6:20), and where “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever [enter], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying” (Revelation 22:15). No one will ever invade or plunder heaven. Therefore our inheritance is eternally secure.
Many Christians are confident that God is able to guard their inheritance but doubt that He can guard them. They fear they will somehow lose their salvation and forfeit God’s promises. That’s a popular view, but it overlooks the fact that God does pledge to protect us as well! Peter said, “You … are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4–5). The word translated “protected” (phrouroumenous) is a military term that speaks of a guard. Peter used the present tense to indicate that we are continually under guard. Implied is the idea that we need ongoing protection because we’re in a constant battle with Satan and his forces.
It is God’s omnipotent, sovereign power that guards us and guarantees our final victory. God, the ultimate Judge, has justified us in Christ, made us heirs with Him, and has given us His Spirit to ensure that the good work He started in us will be perfected (Philippians 1:6). He is able to keep us from stumbling, and to make us “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). Not even Satan himself can condemn us (Romans 8:33), so rather than fearing the loss of our inheritance we should continually rejoice in God’s great grace and mercy.
Another guarantee of our inheritance is our persevering faith. Peter said we are protected by God’s power through faith (1 Peter 1:5). Faith is God’s gift to us; we don’t generate it on our own (Ephesians 2:8–9; Philippians 1:29). Faith is aroused by grace, upheld by grace, and energized by grace. Grace reaches into the soul of the believer, generating and maintaining faith. By God’s grace alone we trust Christ, and by grace we continue to believe.
Our inheritance is a glorious thing. No earthly thing compares to it. But we can lose sight of it through worldly pursuits and the quest for instant gratification. Dear friends, don’t collect this world’s trash and neglect the treasure of our unspeakable riches in Christ.
No matter what your circumstances might be, consider your eternal inheritance. Meditate on it. Let it fill your heart with praise to the One who has extended such grace to you. Let it motivate you to live to His glory. Don’t pursue the quick fix — some worldly solution to the passing problems of life. This world’s trials aren’t even worthy to be compared with our eternal glory. And always remember that you have Christ, who is all-sufficient in everything now and forever.
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