[1 Peter 1:3-9] 3 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, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. I am a Christian who believes that Jesus is my God, my Savior, and my Lord, that He died for my sins and rose for my salvation, substituting Himself for me on the cross, so that He received the punishment I had earned, and I received the salvation, grace, and joy that He gives. I believe that the Bible is perfectly inspired by God, and that it applies to every age, every culture, every person, every time. It declares that God the Father is holy and just, ruling and reigning and calling those He has chosen into His kingdom, that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, whose blood and sacrifice on the cross purchased the salvation for many, and that the Holy Spirit regenerates and lives within every child of God, who renews their minds, convicts their hearts, and perfects them to be more like Jesus.
In light of the truth that Jesus is for, and not against, me, I have no need to fear of death, demons, Satan, Hell, man, or failure. I am living the best life, the Christian life, full of everlasting joy because of Jesus. Glorifying the God of the Bible is the most satisfying, life-consuming purpose that anyone can have or will have, for in Him you find love, peace, identity, security, and joy. He is everything good and the only thing worthy of worship.
But less than two years ago, things were very different. I was not a Christian. I did not know Jesus—I only knew about Him. Since age 7, I had been hearing about Jesus at church, about how He loved me and died for me. I knew I was supposed to be a Christian so that I wouldn’t go to hell. I had prayed “the prayer” asking Jesus into my life. And under the false impression that I was a Christian, I devoted myself to earning God’s love. I organized all of the Youth Group trips, headed all the Youth Worship, and proudly flaunted the title “Christian” acting morally and upright with holier-than-thou attitude. But I did not believe in Christ, I did not know Him as Teacher, as Friend, as Savior, as God, and subsequently I was spiritually dead.
Then God happened.
One late night, I was browsing YouTube, religiously looking for videos to post on Facebook to tell ‘friends’ how bad they were, when God pointed me towards a sermon called ‘The Shocking Youth Message’ by Pastor Paul Washer. In the most intense, real, life-transforming hour of my entire life, every shred of my false hope was ripped away. For the first time in my life, I was afraid of God, afraid because I am so small, so insignificant, so unworthy. I had insulted Him beyond belief with my betrayal of His name. For the first time, my sin was real to me, real because I realized that God saw everything I had done, everything that I hadn’t done, knew the thoughts of my mind and the motives of my heart and should be very, very righteously angry. My hypocrisy, sin, and folly flooded my conscience. Jesus says that lust of the eyes is adultery, that hate is murder, that even sinful thoughts violate the holiness of God. The Bible says that those who try to earn the Lord’s favor by doing good works bring nothing but insulting defiled rags before His throne. The Lord knows how filthy my hands, my heart, my mind, and my soul were. That night I spent the most productive hours of my life crying like a child, pleading with a holy God to have mercy, to have mercy, on an ill-deserving, rebellious, pompous, stubborn, religious jerk like me.
I don’t remember falling asleep that night, and I don’t remember the next day. But I do know this. The only thing that brought me peace was God’s incredible grace. The hardest thing to believe was that Jesus wasn’t only offering what I was undeserving of, but that He was offering what I was ill-deserving of. I hate God, and He dies for me? My sins drive the nails through His hands and feet, bring the whip on His back, and scourge His holy flesh? (Isaiah 53:5-6) He says, “Forgive them.” I run away with His blessings and spend them selfishly on myself, and then turn around and hypocritically tell people they need to be better, like me? He welcomes me home in celebration, and when I repent. (Luke 15:11-32) That night, I died to myself. I died! And, He caused me to be spiritually born again, casting out the old desires of death and sin and putting in ones pleasing to Him. I am, finally, finally new. Once an enemy of God, and now an adopted child. That night, I had Christ.
Knowing that my good Father in heaven has chosen me, given me what I needed rather than what I wanted, stirs in me an uncontainable joy and unexplainable peace beyond any explanation other than Jesus is alive. God chose me, knowing who and what I was and wasn’t, knowing that it would cost His Son’s life, displaying His infinite love, grace, and mercy for me. I don’t deserve anything good, and in fact deserve everything cursed. Yet I am given all blessings (Romans 8:28 ) by an amazingly gracious God. I have nothing to fear except for the LORD, nothing to worry about because He has a better plan for me, nothing to be concerned about except pleasing my LORD God. Life is no longer a struggle without purpose; life is a struggle with the cause of glorifying God by being satisfied in Him.
Now for you who don’t know this truth, you who don’t hear this and don’t rejoice—I pray that you’ll hear this. I love you, and want you to be happy. God loves you more, and wants you to have joy. And for that you need Jesus. You do. You can’t use your religion, your vague spirituality, your good deeds, your morality, your spouse, your lifestyle, your car, your possessions, your money, your house, your family, your job, your GPA, your accomplishments, for unshakable joy. You can’t. You’ve been trying, like I did. But it doesn’t work. You need Jesus. Period. You need Him. Do you believe that? Find out. And may you say with all joy:
[1 Peter 1:3-9]
3 Blessed be the God and Father of [my] Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused [me] to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [me], 5 [for I am] protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this [I] greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, [I] have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of [my] faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though [I] have not seen Him, [I] love Him, and though [I] do not see Him now, but believe in Him, [I] greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of [my] faith the salvation of [my] soul[...].
Lord, may Your Will be done.
1 Peter 1:3-9