My wife, Robin, and I are currently reading 1 Peter. When we read the opening portion verse 4 just jumped out at both of us. Peter is writing of the hope that awaits all believers in Jesus, saying they will receive:
“…an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading…”
What I have included above is a phrase from verse 4, a small part of a longer sentence running from verses 3 through 5, but in three powerfully chosen and well-placed words Peter richly describes the nature of eternal life in Christ that awaits all who have faith in Him.
Eternal life in Christ is imperishable. It is something that we will receive and which will never end. As I look out my window I can see two barns about 100 yards from our house. Well, one barn and the collapsed barn. There is a picture at our local history center that shows this farm site 60 or so years ago. The farm was in its prime then. Classic Americana. But time has taken its toll, and some parts are suffering more than others. One barn fell several years ago, during a particularly severe winter, and the other barn needs serious attention. Without regular attention the farm site will perish.
But eternal life will not perish. It is not subject to the ravages of time and weather, nor does it require the attention of human hands to keep things in good order. It is kept in good order through the finished work of Christ. The promise of God is that eternal life is just that. Eternal.
Secondly, eternal life is undefiled. There will be nothing about it that is impure. There will be no imperfections, ever. The nectarines Robin recently bought were not quite ripe. She left them on the counter a few days and they became juicy and delightful. But left out a few more days and it would be a different story. The nectarines would begin to decay and there would be no possibility of enjoying them.
One of the promises of heaven is that all of the sin that still taints our lives, sin that lingers now even as we believe in Christ, will be gone. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 51, we will be washed and whiter than snow. There will both a place and a people that will eternally be in the perfection that existed at Creation.
And lastly, eternal life is unfading. There is nothing about the beauty and glory of our heavenly inheritance that will diminish over time. Nothing will lose its luster. Ever. I’m certain that the truck currently parked near the barn brought delight to its first owner. Shiny, gleaming, and with that “new car smell.” But when I see it now, parked as it has been for a period of time that no one seems to know, it has faded, to say the least. It would be possible to restore the truck to a condition near to that when it was new, but that is likely not in the future of this truck.
But a restoration of infinite worth awaits believers at the resurrection. We will be brought to a perfect state that is beyond our ability to fully grasp, and like every other aspect of eternal life, it will be both perfect and unchanging.
Imperishable. Undefiled. Unfading. May you find your hope and know peace in the promises of God for all who call in faith on Christ Jesus.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.