Everyone needs hope. Hope provides an inner motivation to keep us moving on. Yet what type of hope do we have? Many see hope as some wishful desire, a dream, an illusion. It is not real. When such hope fades, many give up. Australia has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world. Because these kids lost hope.
What are we Christians placing our hope on? Is there reality in our hope? How can we be sure? Ours is not some desperate clinging on to a faded dream, a dead hope. Just like a desperate dying man clutching at straws. But it is a living hope, founded on reality.
We discover this truth in the epistle of 1 Peter. The epistle was written in a time of much persecution by Apostle Peter to remind the Christians of the greater and better hope that they have in God. A hope that will help them live their lives with purpose and with dignity. In the same way, if you truly understand the hope you have in Christ, you too will begin to live your lives with purpose and dignity. I hope this article will help us better understand the foundation for our living hope. We can glean 5 major reasons from 1 Peter 1:3-5.
1 Peter 1:3–5 (NIV84) 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, 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.
GOD: MERCIFUL GIVER OF LIVING HOPE (v3a) "In His great mercy he has given us …"
What can we understand from these words?
God is the only source of living hope. "…he has given us…"
You are only able to give what you have. God gives living hope, so He must have living hope available. Indeed, the Bible is very clear that God is the only source of living hope. Salvation is to be found only in God. Acts 4:12 (NIV) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
There is only one key to open the door to salvation and that is through Jesus alone.
Some other faiths may claim there are different ways to salvation. But the Bible is very distinct in claiming there is no other way. There is only one key to open the door to salvation and that is through Jesus alone. John 14:6 (NIV) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We must realize that God is the source. If we want eternal hope, we must go to the source.
God is the merciful giver. "In His great mercy…"
We have heard before that God is a giver. God loves to give. Yet He does not give indiscriminately. He does not give out of a whim or fancy. Unlike us, who may act on impulse at times. This is captured by a TV advertisement for a women’s perfume called Impulse. The advertisement showed a young woman applying that alluring perfume and walks out into the streets. As she passes by a young man, the perfume rouses an impulsive action to buy her a beautiful bouquet of flowers! Surely the marketers hope that the advertisement will stimulate young women to buy the perfume impulsively too.
God on the other hand, does not give impulsively, wastefully. For God's giving is principled, it is considered. So when God gives to us who are undeserving, it wasn't because He just happened to feel like it at some moment of generosity in eternity. Rather it was principled, it was considered.
Now God knew how desperately depraved we were. God knew how utterly stuck we were in our sins. God knew we were all absolutely deserving of judgment. Yet God exercised mercy and provided an opportunity for hope for each one of us.
During the Revolutionary War there was a Baptist pastor Peter Miller in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. A friend of General Washington. In that town resided Michael Wittman, an evil-minded man who did all in his power to abuse and oppose this pastor. One day Michael Wittman was involved in treason and was arrested and sentenced to death. The old preacher started out on foot and walked the whole seventy miles to Philadelphia to plead for this man's life. He was admitted into Washington's presence and immediately begged for the life of the traitor. Washington said, "No, Peter, I cannot grant you the life of your friend." The preacher exclaimed, "He is not my friend--he is the bitterest enemy I have." Washington cried, "What? You've walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant the pardon." And he did. Peter Miller took Michael Wittman from the very shadow of death back to his own home in Ephrata--no longer as an enemy, but as a friend. (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited)
No matter how undeserving we are, God's mercy is greater.
Rev Peter Miller exercised mercy like God! No matter how undeserving we are, God's mercy is greater. No matter how deep the hole we are in, God's merciful arm is long enough to pull us out! God's mercy is great! Let us be thankful to God who is the merciful giver of living hope!
NEW BIRTH: THE ENTRANCE TO LIVING HOPE (v3b) "…new birth into a living hope..."
As mentioned previously, God mercifully offered us salvation. Yet in return we need to respond to accept this gift of salvation. How can we respond? Acts 20:21(NIV) I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
What is repentance? The Greek word for repentance is metanoia. It means to have a change of mind or heart. Really it means to change from following ourselves to following God. When we repent and place our trust in Jesus, something happens. There is a new birth in our lives! Repentance and trust in Jesus bring a new birth. Jesus spoke about this in John 3:3-5 (NIV) … “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Jesus was talking about the work of the Holy Spirit who brings about a transformation that occurs in our hearts. It is like we started afresh. It is a new birth! One moment we were dead in our sins. But when we repent and place our trust upon Jesus, God comes in and brings about the new birth. If you truly got saved, you begin to discover your perspectives change!
There was once a casino manager who got saved and he began to see the world around him in a new light! Over many years he had grown soul-weary and looked at the world with jaundiced eyes. But when God touched his heart, he began to appreciate with fresh eyes the beauty of this world. He could see hope again of people. At the same time, it began to dawn on him how much gambling was destroying people's lives. He was beginning to see what God saw.
Unless we are truly born again, we have no hope!
By being born again, we now are born into God's family and into His Kingdom. Regardless of our past, we now have a new start. A new life with God! We now have true hope! This new birth is the entrance into the living hope found in God. This is the key. Unless we are truly born again, we have no hope! When we have truly experienced God's hope, we understand why we should share that with others! Bring it to our families, friends, and colleagues. So they too may experience a living hope.
RESURRECTION: REASON FOR LIVING HOPE (v3c) "…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…"
The resurrection of Christ gives us true hope on 2 major counts.
Evidence of living hope.
One of the Christians main elements of the living hope we have is that Jesus Himself is alive! That is why there is no grave of Jesus, no dead body to be found. All other founders of great faiths have a grave. But not Jesus! The Bible records for us how it happened. Jesus’ crucified body was guarded by a troop of elite Roman soldiers, placed in a sealed tomb with a large rock closing the entrance. Yet the body disappeared! Jesus resurrected!
The resurrection is so fundamental to the Christian faith. Jesus alive is proof of our hope!
That is why our hope is a living hope. It is not a dead hope! Imagine if someone told you that a cure has being discovered for all kinds of cancer by a scientist. And you are so excited you want to meet this scientist. And your friend tells you that he died last month from cancer! What sort of hope is that? That is why the resurrection is so fundamental to the Christian faith. Jesus alive is proof of our hope! It proves our hope is founded on reality!
That is why we should not be deceived by the fictional works of Dan Brown who invented the Da Vinci Code story. It has sought to masquerade as truth, when it is little more than a colourful tale designed to confuse the facts with fiction.
Instead, we should look at books such as Josh McDowell "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" which looks at the facts. Josh McDowell was a high calibre student and student president in his university. His view was that Christianity was garbage. And that Christians were walking idiots. He imagined that if Christians had a brain cell, it would die of loneliness. You can imagine he was rather proud and arrogant. So when some Christian challenged him to prove the resurrection was not true. He resolved to prove them wrong. But the more facts he dug up, the stronger became the case for the resurrection. In the end he accepted Christ and wrote this and many other books to defend the Christian faith!
Now, not only is the resurrection evidence of our living hope. It is also the basis.
b. Basis for living hope.
In v3 it says that "through the resurrection…" we now have a living hope. In other words, it provides us the basis for hope. Why? Because the resurrection of Jesus blazed for us the route to heaven. Because those of us who have committed ourselves to him will share in this new life. We will participate fully in the glorious new nature in the future.
Since Jesus has overcome death then it will not overcome us as well.
You see, since Jesus has overcome death then it will not overcome us as well. Death has lost its sting. For the resurrection of Jesus from the dead refers to the fact that He has risen from the dead and was given a glorious new body! There is a big difference between what Jesus experienced and that of others who were brought back to life through prayer. Jesus has a glorified body!
What is a glorified body? It is a body that has been transformed so that it is eternal, it can no longer die. It is a glorious body, not the deteriorating body we have now. 1 Cor 15:42 (TLB) 42…our earthly bodies which die and decay are different from the bodies we shall have when we come back to life again, for they will never die. 43The bodies we have now embarrass us, for they become sick and die; but they will be full of glory when we come back to life again.
In resurrecting Jesus, God has demonstrated that death is not the end for us too! For we too will join with Jesus and be given a resurrected body! That is why I am not afraid to die, but welcome it when Jesus calls me home. On my tombstone epitaph should be written, "Wilson is not here. Look for him in heaven."
Instead of fear, we can approach death with certainty. The certainty of entering into a glorious new phase instead! For us, death in merely the beginning of something better!
INHERITANCE: PRIZE OF LIVING HOPE (v4a) "…and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade …"
We have an incredible inheritance awaiting us in heaven. A part of that inheritance is the glorious new body we will receive. We will also receive crowns of glory which will reflect our faithfulness in God's service. In fact, the Bible declares that we are joint-heirs with Christ! Rom 8:17 (NIV) Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co–heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
We will share in Christ's glory and His inheritance! This inheritance will never perish, it is permanent, assured, guaranteed for us. It will not spoil or be corrupted. In other words, it will remain morally pure. It will not fade or wither up. Unlike the paper receipts we often get from the shop that fades within a year.
Our inheritance is kept in the trust bank of heaven. No one can steal it from us. However, we could give it away like Esau. Heb 12:16 (NIV) See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.
Live your life with purpose because there will be great rewards in heaven awaiting you.
Don't short-change yourself. Don’t forfeit your inheritance. Don't give it away to gratify yourself with some pleasures and short-term gain. I have determined to live my life for God and resolved never to throw into jeopardy the inheritance that awaits me! Live your life with dignity befitting a child of God! Live your life with purpose because there will be great rewards in heaven awaiting you.
GOD'S POWER: KEEPING OUR LIVING HOPE (v4b-v5) "…kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power…"
How can keep our hopes alive in our hearts? We need to realize firstly, that we are protected by God's power. We are assured that our inheritance is personally kept by God's awesome power. No one can steal it, spoil it or delay it. No force on earth or heaven can touch it! God's power is also available to keep the hope in our hearts!
How is this hope kept alive in our hearts? It is through faith! It is accessed by our faith. Do you just have wishful thinking, or do you know that God is able to sustain you through any difficulty, any temptation, any trial, any success, any failure? When we have full expectation or assurance or saving faith, we literally tap into the actual power that keeps our faith.
It’s like drowning in the ocean and having a life buoy thrown to us. We can suppose it can save us, rationalise it can save us, believe it can save us, but unless we stop struggling, we can’t embrace the buoy. It’s only when we have embraced the buoy that we can be dragged to safety! So too with salvation, it’s when we actually embrace God’s promise and totally rely on Him that we start to truly step into the grace that really sets us free.
Many of Satan’s schemes are to turn our trust away from God and either onto ourselves or onto something (or somebody) else. This is exactly what we have to be careful of. It is when we “let go” of our total dependence on God, that we open our self for trouble. We must take responsibility to exercise faith and trust in God! Then we can remain in God's protection. Psa 94:22(NIV) But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
It is like God has provided us an incredibly secure fortress where we have safety. Yet unfortunately, there are Christians who ignorantly and foolishly walk out without realising they have walked out! Should you ever feel like losing your grip? Turn to God and trust Him!
We have a sure and living hope. Its source is found in God Himself. While He shows us mercy, we must respond in repentance and faith to enter this living hope. The reason why we can have such an assurance of the living hope is because Jesus has demonstrated it by being resurrected from the dead. His resurrection shows we too will overcome death as well, by the power of God. We have an incredible inheritance - do not give it away!
Copyright©️2022 by Wilson Lim. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.