1 Peter 1:4 Identity: Heir

Its elevated position offers magnificent views and inspires awe © Andrew Butler

… to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, …

Heir

Many of my friends know the family story.  It’s very Downton Abbey.  My Great Grandfather was the youngest son of The Earl of Powis, whose castle is pictured above.  His maid was Elizabeth Worrall and they had an affair.  His older brother died in WWI and in WWII the only remaining heir, my Great Grandfather died serving in the RAF (http://www.aircrewremembered.com/raf1943/2/herbertmervyn.html) .  There are no records of any legitimate male children, and so the castle passed into the hands of the National Trust and the Title went to the Earl of Plymouth, ironically (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mervyn_Herbert,_Viscount_Clive) .  My Grandfather was raised in an orphanage and my father claimed to be his oldest son (there is another family story that leaves a slight question mark here).  I am the only son of my father.  So, if illegitimate children can make claims on inheritance, I am the heir of Powis Castle (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle/ ).

The whole thing is quite fanciful.  It might make a nice yarn at dinner parties.  If this earth was all I could ever expect, it might be worth finding out (I did try and find if there were records at the local British libraries of my Great Grandma’s employ), but I have enough.  I have a wife who cares for me, I have two beautiful children who laugh and play with me, I have a house that has more rooms than we can efficiently use, I love my job …  Yet all these things are nothing.

Castles become ruined, clothing gets soiled, curtains fade.  Cars rust, bodies wear out, and a winning season is forgotten after a year.  The world’s quest for gain is fruitless, pointless.  Some philosophers point at the absurdity of making meaning of life since they assume that death is the end.  However, Peter points us beyond the physical realm for our true hope.  Jesus has purchased our redemption.  We are heirs of a kingdom as yet unrealised.  We receive part of our inheritance as God lifts the veil and shows us the spiritual nature of being in time.  However, the glory of being in eternity is beyond our comprehension.  We have pictures of heaven in the book of Revelation.  It’s not a whitewashed cloud of boredom and harps.  No-one becomes an angel or looks down upon us from above.  Those who dwell with God forever dwell in a second creation that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.  Flowers don’t fade under the smog of industry, mountains aren’t decapitated for profit, and politicians and financiers don’t steal wealth to satiate their greed.  Maybe something like that might be permitted in hell, but not in heaven.

All the greed that occurs around the death bed of a rich man is irrelevant to me.  I have an inheritance that is mine upon death.  Contrary to most inheritance we think of, this inheritance goes to the one who dies.  Death is a right of passage which gives me the full measure of what I experience in part now.  This lightens the burden of life and allows us to weather the storms of life unafraid of death.  Death opens up possibilities, it does not close them down.  J.M. Barrie puts hopeful words into the mouth of Peter Pan, ” To die would be an awfully big adventure.”  For those who walk with Jesus, this kind of optimism is justified, as we discover immeasurable treasures the likes of which are beyond our dreams.

Prayer

Can an Earldom pass to an illegitimate male heir?  Can a castle be taken back after being bequeathed by the dying Earl?  Probably not.  However, these responsibilities are not the concerns you have given me.  We have been given as much as we need for the work we must do.  You are our inheritance and you are eternally enough.   Our experience now is limited.  As the limits are pushed back by our death, help our fears for the future and of death to be lessened?

Questions

  1. What things are ours that are imperishable?
  2. What do we have that can not be defiled?
  3. What will we inherit that can not fade?
  4. What things do you own that have perished, been defiled, or faded?
  5. How does realising your identity as heir empower you to live?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to 1 Peter 1:4 Identity: Heir

  1. Christina Zezulak says:

    I want the fact that my inheritance in Christ is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading to be more delightful than anything this world says it can give me. All that I have in this life has perished, defiled, or faded in some way. Praise God that our hope is not in this life and its things. When I reflect on my identity as an heir, I am reminded of the confidence I am able to live in because my treasures are in heaven. He is the one that I should always be living for and desiring to please, He is infinitely worthy. Why should I be concerned with such temporary things in this life? I need to be preaching this to myself each day, to continuing living in the bigger picture of reality – beyond what I can see at this time.

  2. 33324bg says:

    “Behold the infinite love of Jehovah
    For wicked, lifeless sinners—bubblin’ over!”
    – from the song ‘Self Sufficiency’ by Shai Linne.

    I thought of the above couple lines after I had read this blog post. What love, that God would go so far as to redeem wicked sinners, giving them life and more- making them heirs..making us glorious?

    My roommate and I read Psalm 8 last night and at verse 5 we shook our heads in amazement. Speaking of mankind, “Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” This is mankind pre-Christ’s incarnation. If here on earth, we’ve been crowned by God with glory and majesty, being made in His image and given responsibilities over His creation, how much more glory and majesty will we have when we are glorified, being given new bodies and a redeemed planet to rule?!

    As my roommate and I prayed last night, I thanked God for this inheritance that we have above that is “imperishable, undefiled, unfading.” That is such a comfort in this world where everything is perishable, defiled and fading. The immutability of God’s promises, stemming directly from God’s unchanging nature Himself- is stress relieving.

  3. Things that are imperishable is our eternal life which comes with many extra blessings. Through Christ our redemption, righteousness, and the Word are imperishable. I don’t know of anything that is not defiled, apart from God and things of God. Only my salvation in Christ is not defiled.
    Eternal life with God is what we will inherit and not be faded or worn.
    Many pieces of clothing, especially shoes and sporting equipment like hockey sticks, soccer shoes, hockey skates, and numerous other equipment. Electronics, books, relationships get worn. Some relationships have been defiled to the point of restoring that relationship will never happen.
    It helps me refocus on Christ and things that are important for eternity. I can easily get caught up in the temporal very easily. I try to trick myself into thinking that things will never fade or defiled but they do.
    It empowers me to understand that this world is not the end but Heaven is. It empowers me more to live for Him everyday.

  4. kevin w says:

    We have a beautiful home and new world which makes the one we live in pale in comparison. We have a leader who is incorruptibly loving, just, holy, and wise. We have a family which will not betray us. Life will be as it should and we will be fulfilling the purpose for which we were created in the first place: loving and worshiping God and loving others forever. We will have bodies which are not subject to decay and suffering.
    Right now I live in a corrupt world where suffering and pain is the norm. I have thrown my back out several times, several broken bones and sprains, the necessity of glasses–my body is already marked with loss. My grandfathers have died, I have lost and been hurt by close friends, and I have caused damage to others too.
    Our identity is inextricably tied to our inheritance and vice versa. Knowing who we are and what comes after this is a beautiful thing which makes the darkness in this world, its injustices, more bearable. It motivates us to be bold with the knowledge that who we are, where we are going, and what we will have (and currently have in Christ) cannot be taken away.

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