As everyone is aware, today is Easter Sunday, the day that we remember when Christ rose from the dead. It so happens that in our study of 1st Peter, we are going to touch on this subject because we read in 1Peter 1:3-4:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
We left off last week after reviewing the first two verses of 1st Peter 1. Now, verse 3 is looking at the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
I would like to look at this whole verse, so let us begin at the beginning of verse 3, which says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
This is a fairly common statement in the New Testament. For instance, it says in Galatians 1:1:
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
This is worded a little differently, but this is saying the same thing. What I would especially like to notice about the opening line of 1Peter 1:3 is that this is not saying “God and the Father of the believers”; this is saying:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
The emphasis is on the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son.
Of course, God is blessed. He is glorious and it is always good to bless God. We normally say, “May God bless you,” because we realize that we have no power within ourselves to bless anyone. Therefore, we wish and it is our desire that God bless someone; but it is also appropriate to just simply recognize that God is blessed in Himself, that He is the Blessed One and the Blessed God. Here, the focus is on His being the Father of the Lord Jesus, of His Son. But before we get into this, we also have to remember that Jesus is eternal God.
The Godhead is a mystery and we are not going to solve that. No one ever will. God reveals Himself in the Bible as one God, yet three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We cannot dissect them. We cannot try to figure this out. It is beyond our ability to understand how God can be one and yet three. This is because He is God. He is eternal and infinite, but we are a creature. We are finite and temporal. We do not have the ability to grasp the eternal person of God, His eternal being. In particular, something that we cannot grasp is how this can be; but this is true and this is a fact.
We find in Isaiah 9:6, the wonderful verse that we hear every Christmas season, which says:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
So the child who was to be born and the Son who was to be given was Himself, The Everlasting Father, and this is referring to Jesus. We know this without any question.
This is why Jesus said in John, or the Fourth Gospel, 10:30:
I and my Father are one.
We cannot separate them. This, of course, leaves us scratching our heads in trying to understand how they can be one when we read of God the Father speaking from Heaven and Christ the Son can speaking from earth and that they sometimes did this at the same time; but they are one.
This is what the Bible says, but the Jews recognized that Jesus, in saying this kind of thing, was making Himself to be God, equal to God, one and the same with God. In one sense, there was no difference or no distinction between Christ and God the Father. Yet on another level, there is a very definite distinction. Even though they are one, one is spoken of as the Father and the other is spoken of as the Son; and, again, we are going to leave that.
We want to take a look at this relationship between the Father and Son, because this has everything to do with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This has everything to do with when He rose from the dead and made complete payment for the sins of His people.
He did this because the penalty for their sins was death, and He paid this penalty in full. As a result of Christ paying the penalty and rising from the dead victoriously in fulfilling the payment and in completing the payment for the sins of His people, this is what led to Jesus, for instance, being called the Son of God.
In Romans 1:3-4, we read this:
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
God will sometimes really fill out a verse and we can lose track of what is being said at times, but let us read this again. This time, I will leave out the middle statement. Of course, this is an important statement. I am doing this just so that we can get the sense of what is being declared concerning Christ.
It says again in Romans 1:4:
And declared to be the Son of God…
Then look at the concluding part of this verse:
…by [or through] the resurrection from the dead:
This is why Jesus is said to be the Son of God.
A son is begotten of the father. Amongst men, the son has a beginning. The husband and the wife or the man and the woman have children. They have a child or a son and that son has a beginning.
God the Father had a Son who was Jesus, but this was the result of His rising from the dead. This is because Jesus had no beginning. He is eternal God. We cannot go back to some point in eternity past and say that Jesus was born at a certain time or that He had a beginning at a certain point. No; He has always been God. He has always been the Word, as we read in John 1:1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He has always been God Himself, yet there was one instance or one point in eternity past before the creation in which it could be said that Christ had a beginning, in a sense. This was when He died for the sins of His people and He rose again before the world began, as Revelation 13:8 tells us where it states that Jesus was:
…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
This is why Romans 1 is saying:
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord…
And that He was “declared to be the Son”:
…by [or via] the resurrection from the dead:
This is a very helpful statement that helps us to begin to understand the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son. Of course, this has all kinds of implications regarding what took place at the cross in 33 A.D.
As we look at this, and we will look at a few more things that will show without any question and beyond any possible doubt that Christ died for the sins of His people and rose again or was resurrected before the world began. He did not bear sin at the time that He entered into the world and became the Son of Man. He was not bearing any sin when He went to the cross, because the bearing of sin was a one-time event. He offered Himself for the sins of His people once and there would never be another need to do this.
When does Hebrews 9 tell us that this one offering took place? Let us quickly look at this. I will start reading in verse 25. It says in Hebrews 9:25-26:
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since [this is the same word as “from”] the foundation of the world…
This is clearly making the statement that Christ’s once offering for sin took place from the foundation of the world. If He were like an earthly high priest, if He were like Aaron or his descendants, then He would need to continually offer Himself again and again.
People do not realize this but when they insist and demand that Christ was paying for sins at 33 A.D., they are, in a sense, trying to make Him more in the lines of Aaron, who was the type and the figure of a priest. They are trying to indicate that the one payment from the foundation of the world was not sufficient and that He had to do it again. But, there is no way. He paid for the sins of His people once and that payment was made from the foundation of the world.
Continuing with the thought of why God is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, let us look at Romans 8:29. It says:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Here, Christ is called “the firstborn” Son. He is the firstborn of the Father. God is also referring to His election program and His plan to predestinate those whom He chose from before the foundation of the world, all of who would be, in time, as they experienced salvation, conformed to the image of His Son, as Jesus is “the firstborn among many brethren”; that is, He was the firstborn Son of God, but many sons would follow.
This is as it says in Hebrews 12:23:
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven…
So we, as the eternal Church, could actually call ourselves the “church of the firstborn.” We are added to the body of Christ. We are sons and daughters. We are children of God, but Jesus is the all-important one because He was the first to rise from the dead. This is what the firstborn Son of God is actually referring to.
If we look at Revelation 1:5, we read:
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead…
In the Greek, “first begotten” is the same word that is translated as “firstborn.” It continues:
…Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth…
Here, we are getting more information. He was the firstborn, but this was not because some time in eternity past God determined to have a son and begat Jesus, like men beget their children today, and that, therefore, Christ had a beginning point. No; He is the firstborn because in eternity past, before the foundation of the world, before this world began, God developed His salvation plan. He knew that He would create this world, He knew that mankind would fall into sin, and He knew that there must be a Saviour.
God did all of this. He allowed sin to occur in order to develop His salvation plan and to put this on display to all of the principalities in heavenly places; that is, all who are within the Kingdom of Heaven, which includes all of the creations that God has certainly been creating. God put this creation on display, allowing sin to occur and to develop. Then before the world began, He also knew that in order to save certain people, an elect people, not the majority but a remnant out of the total sum of mankind that would probably number about 200 million people, Christ had to bear their sins.
The Word of God, eternal God, took upon Himself the sins of all of these individuals who would live during various points in time, with the vast majority of them living at the time of the end during the time of the great tribulation, because the Bible tells us that “a great multitude, which no man could number” would be saved out of great tribulation.
Yet whether it was Abel and his sins, Abel being one of the first men in the very beginning of time, or whether it was the sins of a great multitude of people alive at the end of time, all of God’s chosen people had all of their sins placed on Christ and He bore them in His own body on the tree.
Some try to use this reference in 1st Peter to say that this indicates that Christ bore sins on the cross in 33 A.D. It does say in 1 Peter 2:24:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…
But we have to understand that the tree or the cross is teaching us something, because whoever is hanged on a tree is “made a curse.” He is accursed from God. Therefore, we do not have to understand that there was a tree created somehow before time, before the world, before trees were made. No; this is just language indicating that Christ became accursed before time, before trees, before the world began. He took upon Himself the sins of His people. As a result, He became accursed before God as God began to punish Him and to pour out His wrath upon Him.
What is the punishment for sin? The Bible is clear about this all the way through: “the wages of sin is death,” and Jesus was slain as the Lamb laden with the sins of His people, before the world began, from the foundation of the world. In that sense, He was accursed as He was dying on the tree.
Was He the Son when He was dying? No, not yet. He was not declared to be the Son except through the resurrection of the dead. It is when He rises that He is called the Son.
Let us turn to Hebrews 1 and take a look at a couple of verses. It says in Hebrews 1:1-2:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
This is very important and God carefully explains this. Notice that the Bible emphasizes that God speaks to us by His Son and that it is by His Son that He “made the worlds.”
Why is this important? This is important because, according to Romans 1:3-4, Jesus was not called the Son until He rose from the dead. As the Son of God, He “made the worlds.” Since He is eternal God, He created. He spoke, as we read in Genesis 1, and the universe came into being. He spoke and He populated the world with animals. He spoke and mankind was created, and so on; and He did all of this already as the Son of God. He was already the Son of the Father, and He could only be the Son of the Father through the resurrection of the dead.
There is a strong support for this in a passage that we read in Colossians 1. In Colossians 1, it is speaking of the Lord Jesus. It says in Colossians 1:12-15:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Again, Jesus is called the firstborn, but remember why He is called this. It is because He is the “first begotten of the dead,” according to Revelation 1:5; and so God is now referring to Jesus as the firstborn.
Then we read in Colossians 1:16-17:
For by him [by Jesus, the firstborn Son] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Once again, God is linking the information that Jesus, as the firstborn, was the Creator.
In Hebrews 1, He makes a point of stressing that it was the Son who created the world. This is because He wants us to know this. He does not want us to at all miss the fact that this is how it had to be. He does not want us to miss that there is no other possibility. There is no other way that Christ could be the Son of God, and He was declared to be the Son before this world even began.
If you read the Gospel accounts, Christ is repeatedly called the Son long before He went to the cross. Remember what it says in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…
This is past tense because long before time, He was given in eternity past before the world even began. This is how the Father gave His “only begotten Son.”
Notice the next verse in Colossians where this is definitely said in order that we do not miss this. It says in Colossians 1:18:
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
He was the firstborn and He created the world, yet He is the firstborn from the dead. This is how He became the Son and was “declared to be the Son of God with power.”
We are kind of covering ground that we learned through Family Radio and Mr. Camping. He taught on this a couple of years ago. But I do not think that we have also looked at the other side of the coin; or, at least, I cannot remember if we did, even though it might have been addressed.
The other side of the coin is that if Jesus became the Son through the resurrection of the dead, would this also not mean that the Father became the Father of the Son at that same point or at that same instance? Someone becomes a father when they have a child or a son.
So, in a sense, God is focusing in on the resurrection of the dead when Christ was the firstborn at that point. Therefore, at that point, the Father now is said to be the Father.
Let us go back to Hebrews 1. We read the first two verses, so I will begin in verse 3. It says in Hebrews 1:3-5:
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?…
God is indicating that there was a point when this happened. He is referring to Christ and He is using the word “day,” even though time was not involved in eternity past. In order to help us understand something, however, God is using a time reference and saying:
…this day have I begotten thee…
That is, Christ became the Son. Then it continues on to say:
And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
Here we have the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, and it all revolves around and centers on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This is what God is telling us, which is that this was when Christ was declared to be the Son and that this was when the Father, in a sense, became the Father of the Son.
Let us go back to 1st Peter. It says again in 1Peter 1:3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope…
Notice the reference here to “abundant mercy.” It is through God’s abundant mercy in developing and in fulfilling His salvation plan, in bringing it all to pass, in taking the sins of sinners, of rebels, of those individuals whom He would save out of all of mankind, taking the sins of a great multitude of people, their filthy sins, their ugly sins, their unholy, dirty, and rotten sins.
We cannot say enough about how bad they are when we think of how good God is and how holy and pure and clean and right and just and perfect that God is in His person. He has never sinned. He abhors evil. He cannot stand to have anything to do with sin, and yet this same holy God, this same glorious Being developed a plan of salvation in which He took upon Himself these filthy sins.
We kind of characterize certain sins as filthy and others as maybe not so bad. We talk about little white lies. Even within ourselves, we allow ourselves a little bit of this particular wrong thing and a little bit of that particular wrong thing, and we do not think that this is all that awful. We save the description of filthy and rotten for the things that make the headlines by other individuals. We do not normally apply this to ourselves, but when we look at how the Bible views sin and how God views sin in His holiness and in His perfect purity and when we understand that one sin, such as the eating of the fruit that God said that they should not have eaten, when we look at just one sin, we see how it is able to bring the condemnation of God upon mankind as it has or as James 2:10 tells us:
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
If we keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, we are guilty of all. We can understand that one sin is just as ugly as any other sin; yet God, in His tremendous and abundant mercy, has developed a plan to not take just one sin but a multitude of sins.
It says in 1Peter 4:8:
And above all things have fervent charity [or love] among yourselves: for charity [or love] shall cover the multitude of sins.
Christ is love; God is love. He is the one who covers the multitude of the sins of His people.
First of all, there is a multitude of sinners, with each one bearing a multitude of sins. The number of transgressions is enormous, but they were all laid upon Christ and He made payment for them and then He gives the gift of faith or the gift of salvation to His people. This is why it is abundant mercy that has begotten us, the children of God or the elect people of God.
1Peter 1:3 says that He has “begotten us again,” and this is all one Greek word. The word translated “again” is not a separate word. It is all the translation of one Greek word, and this Greek word is only found in one other place. This is also in 1st Peter 1, a little later towards the end of the chapter.
We read in 1Peter 1:23:
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
This three-word phrase “being born again” is the same Greek word that is translated in 1Peter 1:3 as “begotten us again.”
So we can see that this word has everything to do with the new birth, with receiving a new heart and a new spirit and being born again; and it is according to His abundant mercy that has made us born again, that has brought a new birth to us and that has made us new creatures in God’s sight.
1Peter 1:3 goes on to say:
…unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
God has saved His people and, hopefully, all listening today are His people and all have been born again. We hope this. Of course, who is or is not saved is in God’s hands. We do not know who are or are not His elect, but we know that God has made us born again by His Word and according to His great mercy and that He has made us born again “unto a lively hope.”
The word “lively” means “living.” First of all, we are made alive. We were dead in trespasses and sins, according to Ephesians 2:1; but God is giving us a living hope.
The word “hope” is actually a synonym for Christ Himself. Just like “faith” is a synonym for Christ and just like “love” is a synonym for Christ and just like “truth” is a synonym for Christ and just like “wisdom” is a synonym for Christ, “hope” is also a synonym for Christ. We are made born again unto a living hope or unto the living Lord Jesus Christ by His resurrection from the dead.
Let us take a look at a few verses where the word “hope” is used. Romans 8:24 says:
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
We are saved by hope, and who saves us? Jesus Christ saves us; and so we are saved by hope, which is a word that God uses as a substitute for the name of Christ.
Also, Romans 12:12 says:
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
We rejoice in Christ. He is our hope.
Ephesians 2:12 speaks of those who are not saved who are in this world:
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
So being without God or without Christ is being without hope.
We read in Colossians 1:27:
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
The last verse is 1Timothy 1:1:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
Of course, hope is also a word that expresses our dependence, our desire, our great expectation as we look towards Jesus, but this word itself is fulfilled or embodied by Jesus; and so we are begotten again unto a lively or a living hope because Christ is alive. He has risen from the dead.
Since He is alive and since He is the firstborn to rise from the dead and since He is the living hope for each member of the “church of the firstborn” or the children of God, we will also rise from the dead. We will live forever in the new heavens and new earth.
We would, of course, want this sooner than later, we would want this to have already taken place, but it has not and we are now at a time when we have to wait on God. Maybe He will open up more information. We cannot say that He will not do this; and so we wait.
But no matter how ever long we wait, whether it is for another day or for another month or for another year, no matter how long, the time is really insignificant because this is the nature of this world. Time passes. It is temporal and finite and very limited; and this is what makes all things vain regarding this world and this life.
Yet the Word of God abides forever. God is eternal. At some point, He will bring His people into that resurrection experience of the body and we will forever be with the Lord. This is the living hope that we have because of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
We will stop here.