Our Living Hope 1 Peter 1:1-9

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect.
I am happy to believe that the author of this letter was indeed the apostle Peter, the leader of the early church in Jerusalem. Let’s start by looking at who he is writing to.

To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
To God’s elect, people chosen by God
exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, – Christians are always living as foreigners, aliens and strangers in this world
2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father – We don’t have time this morning to unravel the mystery of God’s choosing those who come to know him, or the mystery of God’s knowledge in advance about who will be saved. All we will say at the moment is that Christians are people who have come to know God. God has chosen us, (changing the order of the phrases here to make the meaning clear)
to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: – God saves us in order that we will become obedient followers of Jesus, saved by Jesus’s death on the cross, his blood shed for our sins.
This comes through the sanctifying work of the Spirit – it is God the Holy Spirit who transforms us to be like Jesus. Have you noticed that already we have seen that the life of every Christian is bound up in the work of each member of the holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Peter greets these readers with a blessing?
Grace and peace be yours in abundance. Knowing God brings us all God’s overflowing grace and God’s peace which passes understanding.
So that is who Peter is writing to. He explains the purpose of the letter himself in chapter 5 verse 12
12 I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.
At the time of writing, Christians were facing brutal persecution under the Roman Empire led by Emperor Nero following the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD. Ordinary Christians were being crucified and even used as human torches in Nero’s gardens. So Peter wants to encourage Christians to stand firm in their faith, by sharing his own testimony of the truth of the gospel. Since then, there have been many times and places where Christians have faced opposition and persecution and this letter has always brought them all great encouragement. Around the world today, Christians are still being martyred and imprisoned. There are increasing incidents of opposition against Christians and churches in Britain. And this last year has brought all kinds of difficulties for very many people, around the world and even in our church.
In times of trouble, what helps Christians keep on going? What helps us to stand fast and not to give up as Christians? What gives us the strength to keep on loving our neighbours and to keep on talking about Jesus when it is getting harder and harder to do these things? Peter gives his answer in verse 3. It is hope – our Christian hope.
1 Peter 1:3 ¶ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you,
When hard times come, the thing which helps Christians to keep on going is this living hope which God has given us. Just think of all the amazing and wonderful blessings God has given us as Christians. We have been born again! We have a brand new life as we share in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ! And with that new life comes the living hope of an inheritance.
In his lifetime the billionaire Paul Getty was America’s richest man worth $8 billion in today’s money. When Getty died in 1976 somebody asked, “How much did he leave?” The answer came back, “Everything.” When people die they leave their earthly life behind. All their property, all their possessions, all their wealth are left behind for others to inherit. But when Christians die, that is the time when we receive our true inheritance. That is an inheritance which can never perish spoil or fade because God is keeping it safe in heaven waiting for us. We are so much richer than the heirs of Paul Getty. So much richer than the heirs of Paul Getty became. Because Christians have a glorious and eternal inheritance waiting for us.
So death is simply the doorway through which we must pass to enter into the immediate presence of the Lord we love and Who loves us and calls us to our eternal home. For Christians death is not a hopeless end but an endless hope. “Death is a door to more, not less, a plus not a minus, an increase not a decrease, a filling not an emptying.” Death is not an end but a beginning, not an exit but an entrance. Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. This life is not all there is. This life is just a foretaste. This life is the appetizer. We have the living hope of heaven.

We have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you,5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Whatever this life may throw at us, God has guaranteed to keep us safe. The infinite power of Almighty God is shielding us, protecting us and keeping us safe until the fullness of our salvation is finally revealed in glory. This is our living hope which sustains us in times of trouble.
It has been said that man can live for 40 days without food, for three days without water, for several minutes without air but for only a few seconds without hope. Dostoevski said, “Hell is hopelessness.” The inscription above the entrance to Dante’s inferno read, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” When you look at the pessimism and gloom of some people who claim to be Christians, you would think that they were destined for hell and even at its door. In fact the opposite is true. True believers have every reason to be filled with hope. We have a hope which is steadfast and certain! It is this glorious hope which Christians have in Jesus Christ which helps us to face the trials of life with courage and faith.

Peter reminds his readers of their living hope of an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you. What a wonderful hope it is! He goes on,
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Whatever troubles this life brings, Christians should still rejoice in the living hope God has given us. God is allowing those terrible trials to refine and purify our faith. In we are going through hard times, we should recognise the hand of God in the refiner’s fire. It is very important in those hard times of that we DON’T doubt that God loves us! Refining is a sign of love – not a sign of lack of love!
Even while God is refining us, He still loves us. Our hardships are signs of His love.
In hard times, when God is refining us, we have a choice. We can become bitter, or we can become better! If we are going through painful times, we need to reflect. Is there anything God is wanting to teach ME? Are there things He wants me to stop doing? Are there things He wants me to start doing? Are there lessons I need to learn? Are there aspects of my character God is working to refine?

We put our trust in Christ, and as we do so, God will fill us with joy in Him.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We have this wonderful living hope that one day we will be united with Christ in glory. As a result, strange as it sounds, we are able not only to endure the trials and sufferings we experience, but even to rejoice in middle of them.

We have this wonderful Christian hope of sharing God’s glory. This brings us great joy even in the midst of suffering. C.S.Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Excitement and enthusiasm are not excesses in the Christian life, but they are inevitable overflowing of our faith and our hope. We are not weighed down by the trials of life. Rather we are even able to rejoice in the midst of them. Because of our living hope of heaven, Christians are indeed “The Happiest People on Earth”. Peter, Paul and the rest of the apostles knew more about trials and suffering and persecution than we will ever knew. And all their letters agree that the result is that believers are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy!

We rejoice in our hope of sharing God’s glory. Christ Himself suffered and died on the cross to give us this hope. And Christians experience this hope as we follow Christ in the way of His cross. The sufferings and trials we face are the pressures of a godless hostile world on those who follow Christ. These teach us perseverance and build up our character. Instead of undermining our confidence in God, in fact these experiences of adversity and opposition all strengthen our faith and build up our hope. Our hope comes through the resurrection life of Christ in us. Jesus has died – but Christ has also risen! Because he lives, we will live also. And He has shown us the path we must follow, through suffering to glory, through cross to resurrection. But be reassured, however tough life gets, God will not let go of us. We WILL share in His glory!

So death is not a journeying into an unknown land; it is a voyage home. We are going not to a strange country, but to our Father’s house, and to our forever family. Death is being called home! In that wonderful Salvation Army phrase, death is being promoted to glory.
Finally behind me lies the body that was mine.
I can listen to the laughter, touch the peace of life to come,
Where the darkness yields its questions and the doubting mind is free.
Here I stand, beyond the shadows, reaching for the Son.

The great evangelist D. L.Moody expressed this triumphant hope as his life was drawing to an end. He said, “Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody is dead. Don’t you believe it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I have ever been. I shall have gone up higher, that is all.”

Those without Christ face a hopeless end. But through Jesus, every Christian can rejoice in an endless hope, the wonderful hope of eternal life, life in all its fullness here and now which not even death can take away. This Christian hope is not some vague optimism but a happy certainty. Hope is a combination of expectation and desire. I would love one day to walk on the moon. But since I have no expectation of that ever happening I can’t say, “I hope to walk on the moon.” On the other hand, I know that pretty soon I will have to visit the dentist. But since I have no desire to visit the dentist it would be wrong to say, “I hope to visit the dentist.” But as a Christian my greatest desire is to spend eternity with Jesus. And the promises of God make it absolutely certain that I will spend eternity with Jesus. So it is correct to say that my hope is spend eternity with Jesus. This is not wishful thinking. This is the happy certainty of our Christian hope. This promise is for every person who puts their trust in Jesus Christ who died and rose again.

While life is mostly easy, our Christian hope may not really mean as much to us. We may not feel that we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy at the moment. G. K. Chesterton said a very wise thing. “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”

We have this amazing hope. When Christ returns then Christians will share his glory. That is the happy certainty of the living hope of our glorious inheritance. Until that day, we are not working for time any more. We are working for eternity. So we should set our hearts and our minds on things above, not things below. We should make every effort to base our lives on this wonderful hope which is more certain than anything in this life and this world can be.

1 Peter 1:3 ¶ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you,

This entry was posted in 1 Peter.

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