Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 2
Gratitude comes from acknowledging that God is the one who saves us from beginning to end. But when I began to study the Scripture and learn these wonderful truths from the Word of God, that God is the one who sovereignly called me, God is the one who sovereignly saved me before the earth's foundation, that became my greatest identity transformation there is.
We saw in the last message how our Lord Jesus Christ supernaturally worked patiently with Peter to transform his identity, and that is why straight out of the shoot in his first epistle, Peter, the man who has experienced transformation of his identity, this man only identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, that is all that his identity is concerned, and begins his first few words of his epistle, the first epistle, by talking about the seven-fold blessings of a transformed identity.
Turn with me please to 1 Peter chapter 1, beginning at verse 1. This is the seven-fold blessings that Peter's talking about. These are the counting of blessings. Blessing number one is the calling of God and our election, verses 1 and 2. The second blessing is the blessing of the new birth. The third blessing is the blessing of the living hope, verse 3. The fourth blessing is a blessing of our solid inheritance, verse 4. The fifth, the blessings of God's protection, verse 5. Number six, the blessings of suffering for the sake of Christ, verses 6 to 9. And seventh, the blessings of the grace of God, verses 10 to 12. First, the man whom Jesus began to transform his identity, as we saw in the last message, from fishing, and from knowledge, and from self-reliance to reliance on Christ alone, begins his epistle with gratitude to God for that transformation. He begins with thanking God for his sovereign call and election, not only for him, but for all the believers in all of Asia Minor.
You see, in the Old Testament, Israel was God's chosen people, but in the New Testament, the Bible teaches very clearly throughout the Scripture, in the New Testament, all the believers in Jesus Christ, the true believers, whether it be Jews or Gentiles, whatever their background might be, they are now the chosen people. You find this very clearly taught in the Scripture. Ephesians 1:1-5, Titus 1:1-2, Romans 8, Revelation 5:9, and on, and on, and on. Here, Peter, the Jew of all Jews, calling Christians in Asia Minor, whether they're Jews or Gentiles, he calls them, "Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father".
Now, there's some people who claim to believe the Bible, they really have a hard time with this. They don't believe this truth. Why? Why so many people who claim to be believers in Jesus, they claim to believe the Bible, but they refuse to believe this truth? I'm gonna tell you exactly why, and it's one word, pride. Pride. They want to take credit for their salvation. Some actually say that they are saved only because they have decided to follow Jesus, which is true from a human point of view. Others say that they are saved because they have superior intellect. Yet others say that they are saved because of the amount of good works that they do.
Well, how much good work is good enough for God? None of it. But all of that not only denies the Bible, denies the Word of God, but they never become grateful people. They never become thankful people. Gratitude comes from acknowledging that God is the one who saves us from beginning to end, that he never starts something never finishes it. But when I began to study the Scripture and learn these wonderful truths from the Word of God, that God is the one who sovereignly called me, God is the one who sovereignly chose me, God is the one who sovereignly saved me before the earth's foundation, that became my greatest identity transformation there is. And yes, my pride fought this truth hard. My pride wouldn't easily accept this truth. My pride wanted to take credit for my salvation. My pride wanted to boast about my salvation. My pride wanted to get the glory for my salvation. And yet, Peter, in chapter 1, verses 1 and 2 told us that our salvation eternally the work of the Holy Trinity, that God the Father chose you, that God the Son redeemed you, and that God the Holy Spirit sealed you.
Let me ask you this, when was the last time that you thank God for his election? Second blessing is the blessing of the new birth. Verse 3, God is the one who gave us the new birth, and this new birth, or second birth, or being born again as Jesus puts it to Nicodemus, is different from our first birth, and that is why only those who have experienced the second birth, those who have been born again, those who have experienced this rebirth can comprehend what it means. That's why we try to argue with people who have never experienced it and we don't understand why can't they see it. They can't. Be patient with them. Be very understanding. The blessings of election, the blessings of new birth, thirdly, the blessings of a living hope.
Look at verse 3 with me. What is that hope? This is not, "I hope so. I'm not really sure, but I have hopes. I am putting hope against hope". No, no, no, no, that's not what the word "hope" means here. The word "hope" means 100% certainty. There is no shadow of doubt about it. And we saw in the last message how Peter saw only hopelessness at the time of Jesus' trial and crucifixion, and that is why he denied Jesus three times, despite the fact that Jesus had warned him that this is gonna happen. We saw how in his darkness he wept bitterly, and how in his darkness his ears and his heart were pierced when that cock crowed. But after the resurrection of Jesus, and that's why he talks about the resurrection here. After the resurrection of Jesus, he became a new man. He became a new man. Now he will talk as a man who's been forgiven completely and restored completely.
Now he is confident, not in himself anymore, but in Jesus. Now he is transformed from hopelessness to hope. He is now transformed from no hope to a living hope, which is brought about by the risen Christ. By the risen Christ. The resurrection is so important to Peter because he knows how it transformed him. Let me ask you this, what difference does the resurrection of Jesus make in your everyday life? When you're facing problems at work, when you're facing problems at home, when you're facing problems in relationships, wherever you may be, what does the resurrection mean to you when you're in the midst of those circumstances? When was the last time did you actually, heartily, enthusiastically thank God for the resurrection of Jesus, the greatest blessing of your life? When was it that you reminded yourself that, as Paul said to the Ephesians, that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead is working in every believer?
In the 1st century church, they talked about Jesus and the resurrection, resurrection and Jesus, Jesus and the resurrection. They talk about them synonymously, so much so that the Pagan Greeks thought they talking about two gods who are married to each other. And that's true, you cannot preach Jesus without the resurrection. Blessings of election, blessings of the new birth, the blessings of living hope, fourthly, the blessing of a solid inheritance, and oh what an inheritance it is. I remember back, and some of you do too, when Howard Hughes died, at that time he left one of the largest estates ever to that point. And the press was clamoring, talking to his lawyers, and said, "How much did he leave behind? How much did he leave? How much did he leave"? They said, "All of it". All of it.
Our inheritance is not like that. We're not gonna leave it behind. In fact, our inheritance is waiting for us. The people of Israel inherited Canaan because it was promised to Abraham. That's why it called the promised land. And they came in, and they divided into 12 sections, and yet that inheritance, that promised land at best saw its fair share of bloodshed, and corruption, and pollution, and all of that. But the inheritance that we have in Christ, that inheritance is free from the possibility of invasion, for no one can take it from you. That inheritance cannot be affected by the stock market. It can never go down in value. That inheritance cannot be stolen because it is safe in the hands of Jesus. That inheritance, no one can defraud you of it, because your inheritance is non-negotiable. Nobody else can take it away from you.
That is the blessing of that great inheritance. That inheritance is not only non-negotiable, but its beauty can never be defaced. In the Greek language, there's something in the grammar, in the syntax. It's called three negative compounds, when there's three negative compounds strung together. In English it would be translated, "No not never". Not on your life. I mean, it is so powerful. Have you ever got yourself on a spiritual high on three negative compounds? I have. I can have one man revival on those three negative compounds in the Greek. Let me put it this way, that inheritance can never be taken away from you. It's yours, your name written on it. The blessing number five, protection and security.
Look at verse 5. Here's what Peter's saying. He's saying the believer who's called, chosen, reborn, have living hope, and solid inheritance, is shielded. He's shielded. He's covered up. The word here actually means kept safe, carefully watched. It comes from the military use of it. And now, before I understood this absolute, wonderful truth from the Word of God about the eternal security of the believers, I wanna tell you, I was terrified. I was terrified that I might die or Christ comes back while I'm doing something wrong.
Please hear me right on this one. While the Christian life is a life of obedience, willing obedience, joyful obedience, loving obedience, and holiness as we will see throughout this series of messages, yet it is not a life of dread, it's not a life of fear. You can imagine the joy unspeakable that fell upon me when I began to learn these biblical truths, that God is the one who shield me. God is the one who's guarding me. God is the one who's protecting me. God is the one who's guaranteeing my salvation. God is the one who is my shield and my buckler. That God is the one who is my mighty fortress and that nothing and no one can take that away from me. To believe that you are eternally secure in Christ is not gonna let you live any which way you want and say, "Well, God can catch me when he can". No, no, no, no, sir.
Let me tell you, the true believers, when they learn the incredible security in Christ, it's gonna put you on your face and your knees, on your knees in gratitude and thanksgiving. In gratitude and thanksgiving. Throughout the years, I've watched people who claim to be Christians who fall into this error of thinking, that they are saved because of their decision to follow Christ, and only because of their decision that they live their Christian life believing that their eternity is dependent on their performance. They say that I'm the one who got myself to Christ and I'm the one who must keep myself in Christ. Beloved, there is a world of difference between this and between willing obedience. The very difference, it's very different from joyful obedience. I can't wait to obey God. I want to obey God. I seek to obey him with all my heart because he did all of the work. It's very different from delighted in obedience.
Please listen to me. If you understood that God knew you, called you before the earth's founded, and when you understand that he is your eternal hope, when you know that your inheritance is solidly founded upon Christ, then you will know that he is the one who's gonna carry you all the way home. Nobody can touch you, no matter who, what, where. And I hear all the arguments. I know this truth led me to a life of gratitude and thanksgiving. It led me to a life of willing obedience. It led me to a life of thankfulness. It led me to a life of contentment regardless of my circumstances. Count your blessings, name them one by one. You'll be surprised what the Lord has done. The blessings of election, the blessings of new birth, the blessings of living hope, the blessings of solid inheritance, the blessing of protection, and number six, the blessing of suffering for Christ.
Look with me please at verses 6, 7, 8, and 9. There's so much confusion on the subject of suffering. It really is among Christians. There are some who see all sorts of suffering as suffering for Jesus, from a flat tire to a bad hair day. They think they're suffering for Jesus. Well, the truth is, the reality is, these things happen because we're living in a broken, sinful, in a world that is fallen, and these things happen. And that's very different from suffering specifically for the sake of Jesus, and that's what Peter's talking about here. He's talking about suffering specifically for the name of Jesus. Listen to me. I'm not minimizing any of the suffering, whether natural suffering or suffering for Christ.
I'm not minimizing any of that, don't misunderstand me, but I want to bring clarity. What Peter is referring to here is having to suffer specifically for the sake of being a believer in Jesus Christ. Hear me right, please. If you lose your job because of your faith in Jesus, if you bypass for a promotion because of your faith in Jesus, if you are ostracized because of your faith in Jesus, that's suffering for Jesus. But if you lose your job or bypass for a promotion because you're being lazy or unfaithful on the job, that's not suffering for Jesus. You got that? You know, by the way, suffering for Jesus does not mean that it doesn't hurt. It doesn't mean that at all. Ask people like Fire Chief Cochran who lost his job because of his conviction of faith in Jesus and the Word of God. Ask him. It hurts. It's painful. It costs. It's troubling.
Paul said to Timothy, "Everyone who seeks to live a godly life will suffer". But suffering for Jesus, when it does come, is gonna provide you with blessings that you would have never, ever, ever been able to experience any other way. God will use your suffering for Jesus to bless you in a unique way. God will use your suffering for Jesus to refine you like gold. God will use your suffering for Jesus to bring you closer to him like you've never been before. Take it from Peter, the man with the transformed identity. Before the resurrection, he tried to escape suffering by denying Jesus three times. But after the resurrection, he would consider suffering for Jesus to be an honor, to be a privilege, to be a source of great joy.
And history tells us that when he was being crucified, he said, "I don't wanna be crucified like my Lord. Crucify me upside down". Mercifully, Peter said those times of suffering for Jesus have limited duration. Thank God for that. Those times of suffering for Jesus will not go on forever. Also, those times, in the middle of those times, you will experience joy unspeakable, joy you have never known before. Blessing number seven, finally, is the blessings of God's grace. It overwhelms me. Grace that is totally undeserved, grace that is an unmerited favor from God. That grace overwhelms me.
Peter said the Old Testament prophets, they foretold of that grace. The Old Testament prophets, they longed to see this grace which so many Christians take it for granted. The Old Testament prophets, they hoped to experience that grace. The Old Testament prophets, they peered into its horizon, but never experience it. But we do. We do. How can anyone take that grace for granted? In the New Testament, we are privileged to experience that grace. Not only that, he said, "But the angels in heaven desire to look with wonder upon that grace". But you see, the angels could not experience it because they were not sinners in need of God's redemption. After Lucifer and a third of the angelic beings were thrown out, these angels are not sinners who need redemption. But me, a hell-deserving sinner, you, a hell-deserving sinner, we have been redeemed by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and by his precious blood.