What is hope ? 1 Peter 1:3-9

We live in a troubled world. On Thursday evening in Nice in the South of France a terrorist driving a lorry murdered 84 innocent people and many more injured or terrified, including many children. On Friday evening an attempted coup in Turkey left 265 people dead and again many more injured and frightened. Friday night was difficult for us personally because our daughter Susie was away on holiday in Turkey last week. We had a few very anxious hours before we were most relieved to learn that Susie’s flight had left the country safely just before the shooting started and the airports were closed. We live in a troubled world but sometimes it seems as though those troubles are getting closer and closer to us every day. It may only be a matter of time before civil unrest or a terrorist attack comes to Essex.
At the same time there are worrying signs of greater opposition to Christianity in our country. It was very sad to see the press directly criticising two of the candidates to be Prime Minister, Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb, specifically because they have stood up to be counted as Christians. We hear stories of Christians being persecuted and physically attacked in places like Huddersfield and Oldham as well as parts of London. Such opposition to the gospel could even come to Chelmsford one day soon.
In troubled times, what helps Christians keep on going? What helps us 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? The answer 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,
What helps us to keep on going as Christians through the hard times is that 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 J. Paul Getty was America’s richest man worth $8 billion in today’s money. The world’s richest man today is Bill Gates and he is worth $80 billion but that’s by the way. 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 Bill Gates will be. Because we have a glorious eternal inheritance waiting for us. 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 our salvation is finally revealed in glory. This is our living hope.
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 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! And what a hope!

The apostle Paul said in Romans 5:2 And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. The Bible idea of hope is not some wishy washy optimism but a confident expectation. A better translation would be, “the happy certainty”. The happy certainty that one day God will take us to be with him and we will share His glory for eternity. THIS is our destiny as Christians. THIS is God’s wonderful plan and purpose for us – yes even for you and even for me!

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 was writing to Christians who 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 reminds them of their living hope of an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you. He continues,
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. 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 but even to rejoice in the trials and sufferings we experience. All the apostles suffered persecution for proclaiming the gospel, so Peter knew what he was talking about. It was the hope of glory which kept Peter going. And the same was true of the apostle Paul.

That’s why Paul wrote in Romans 5:2 We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,

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 they agree that the result is that believers are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.

Romans 5:2 And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us,

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! 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!

Romans 5 5 And hope does not disappoint us, Paul says. But how can we be sure? How can we be certain that in the end our hope will not turn out to be empty? In Romans 5 Paul gives us three reasons why our hope of sharing the glory of God is not some naïve optimism but a happy certainty!

Reason 1: 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
The Holy Spirit is the seal, the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance, the foretaste of heaven. Every experience of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives strengthens our hope. We are secure in our salvation, sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Once saved, always saved! Hope never disappoints us!

Reason 2: 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
We have been “justified by his blood.” God has made it “just as if I’d” never sinned. Romans 5 verse 1 “We have been justified through faith”, so now have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This fact gives us great assurance. We were saved through God’s gift, not through our own good works but by grace alone, received by faith alone. We never earned or deserved our salvation in the first place. So we don’t have to keep on working hard to hang on to that salvation. None of us is perfect. We all still sin. But God will never let us go. Hope does not disappoint us! Once saved and always saved!

Romans 5 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Reason 3: Since God loved us so much while we were still His enemies facing His wrath, how much more will God keep on loving us and keep us safe now that we are His children. Once saved and always saved! Hope does not disappoint us and hope will never disappoint us!

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, one day I am sure 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.

But I suppose the reality is that for most Christians for most of the time our glorious Christian hope doesn’t make too much difference to our lives. Our lives are actually quite comfortable. From day to day most of us not facing much persecution or experiencing much suffering or enduring terrible trials. When life is mostly easy our Christian hope may not really mean very 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.”

So our Christian hope may not mean too much to us from day to day. We may not be filled with joy so much. “It is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”

If we aren’t feeling particularly filled with glorious hope and inexpressible joy, then we should make time to think more about the wonderful hope we have in Christ.

Colossians 3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

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,

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