Article: Praise to God for a Living Hope! | Jacob Varghese
Let’s open the word of God and look at 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 3 to 5. 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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 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.
I want you to see several things in this passage as we study it. Remember what Peter is doing here. He is writing to Christians who are under stress. You may be listening to me feeling under pressure and stress in your life. There may be something that you are dealing with in your own heart that is discouraging you. Here Peter is speaking to the Christians who are going to face the persecution that flowed out of the Emperor Nero’s malicious acts in Rome. Many of them will be persecuted and exiled. They will lose their jobs. They will be separated from family. Some of them will be martyred, and Peter is preparing them for this. When you are under any kind of stress, and you feel discouraged and hopeless, then Peter’s words are especially appropriate for you.
Hope is something that every human being needs. But have you ever tried to define it? Hope is one of those words that we use a lot; but that we hardly ever consider the meaning of it. ‘Hope’ is the act of expecting something to come that is good or satisfying and an expectation that energizes us and excites us and drives us forward. The Bible tells us a lot about hope. But it does not use the word ‘hope’ in the way we often do. ‘Hope’ is a satisfying anticipation about the future’, with regard to something that we think might happen, but are still a little uncertain. Rather, the Bible uses the word hope to describe something that is sure and certain and absolute, something rock-solid that we can base our eternal destiny upon with confidence. That kind of ‘hope’ is what Peter is mentioning in this letter. He wrote it to Jewish Christians who were suffering persecution; and who were scattered far from their homeland. He wrote it to encourage them to stay true to their faith in Jesus during their time of suffering.
In verse 3, he says that God “has given us a new birth in to a living hope”. In the old King James Version it is written as a “lively hope”. It is a hope that is “living” because it is a constant source of liveliness for us in a dark and fallen world. This message of hope is something that we desperately need today. We truly need to live in, and declare, a “living” hope, a truly “lively” hope. Peter’s words in verses 3 to 5 are really just another way of describing our salvation, all the way up to our full glorification in Christ! The reason this portion of 1 Peter is so important for us to study is because we who are Christians today—just like those ancient Christians to whom Peter first wrote—are living in dark times. We are living in a cultural environment that is growing increasingly hostile to our faith. You can see it confirmed almost every time you turn on the news. If we were to only look at things on a strictly human level, it would become easy for us to lose hope. So; what does Peter tell us about this “living hope”? The main object of this letter is to raise us above the world, in order that we may be prepared and encouraged for the battle of our spiritual warfare.” The Christian life is a fight. It’s not easy. Hard things happen. Discouraging things happen. We need to realize that we are not being invited to a get-together and celebration but we are being invited to a war. So, how are you prepared for that war? That is what Peter is saying. If we are going to fight the fight of the Christian life, we need to know the benefits of God. We need to know the blessings that He has bestowed on us; otherwise we won’t be able to fight the fight of the Christian life.
Friends do you know, that God has promised us a living hope in the return of Jesus Christ. Everything in this world will fade away, our health will fail, our family will fail, friends may fail us and even the finances will fail us. But there is one thing that will never fail in our life that is the promises of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. So I want to speak to you on the living hope. Open your bibles with me to 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 3 to 5. In this passage Peter is talking to us about the living hope that will be revealed in the return of Jesus Christ. Peter is writing to a group of Christians who is going through persecution at the time of Nero the emperor and even as they going through the trials, pains and difficulties. Peter is asking them you set your faith on the return of Christ, where there will be a reality of our hope that will be fulfilled. Now what is this Living Hope? The Living hope is the fullness of salvation that we will experience at the return of Christ. The living hope is the fullness of salvation so when you go through pain, when you go through difficulty when you go through trials, look forward for the coming of Jesus and there we are going to be having the experience of fullness of our salvation. The Bible presents the salvation in three different ways-first is the past salvation- the moment we receive Jesus Christ we are saved or we were saved. Come to acts 16 verse 31 Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Romans Chapter 10 verse 9 if you declare with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. So that is a one time event in our life where we receive the Lord Jesus as our Lord and confess with our mouth. That is our past salvation. The Bible also presents the Christians life is not only having the experience of salvation at one point of time but we are every day being saved and we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Come to 1 John chapter 1 verse 9 we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. This is talking about a believer to daily cleanse himself or herself in the blood of Jesus Christ and continuing to be saved for that we are holy and we pure by the blood of Jesus. Also in Philippians chapter 2 verse 12, therefore my dear friends as you have always obeyed not only in my presence but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Paul is exhorting the Philippians to continue to work out every day, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. That gives the aspect of our present salvation. But we also have a hope of a future salvation that when Christ returns, there will be a completeness or fullness of our salvation. Romans chapter 13 verse 11 and do this, understand the present time, the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Paul here is talking about a prospective salvation, a fullness of salvation when Christ is revealed and it is very near. We need to be ready for the return of Christ and ready for the day for a living hope where we receive the fullness of salvation in our lives. So what is the motive behind God giving us this salvation? Why does God want sinners to reconcile to God? We can have an everlasting life with Him. See first Peter chapter 1 verse 3 to 5, the motive is the mercy of God. 1 Peter 1:3 in His great mercy He has given us a new birth. So the motive behind God sending His son to die for us and to give us forgiveness of our sins is because God is merciful. God extends His mercy to us through His son Jesus and that is the motive behind our salvation. But how is our salvation appropriated by us. How do we receive the salvation? Again go back to 1 Peter 1 verse 3, it say that in His mercy He has given us a new birth in to a living hope. In other words new birth is the means; to be born again is the means for us to receive the eternal salvation. And are you born again? Have you received the new birth? Being born of the spirit is new birth. We were once born of our mother’s womb now to having the born again experience, new birth experience that Christ gives; we need to be born of the spirit. And how this new birth happens-Peter himself explains to us. In 1Peter 1 verses 23 to 25 “For you have been born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable through the living and enduring word of God”. In other words, the word of God, the gospel is the seed which comes in to our lives and when we receive that the new birth happens. Come to 1 Peter 1 verse 25 “the word of God endures forever and this is the word that was preached to you”. So the answer as to how we can be born again, is to receive the good news of the gospel that- Christ came, died for us, he was buried, he rose again on the third day and when you receive this Christ as the Lord of your life through the gospel, through the good news, you receive the new birth in to your lives. So if you receive this new birth you have an eternal hope, a hope of the fullness of salvation at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. And now Peter explains to us the nature of this living hope, the nature of our salvation, what is awaiting for us in glory. 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 3 to 4, I read it again, Praise be to God and the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So what is Peter doing? Peter is praising God because of what God has done to us, send us His son, died for us, by which we can receive the salvation- cleansing us even to the present day and also awaiting for us is the fullness of salvation. So when Peter thinks about what God has done in our lives and what He is doing at present, what God is about to do in our lives, Peter is bursting forth in praise. Friends, the coming of Christ, the salvation that we received, the salvation that is about to come should bring forth praise in our lives even in the midst of trials. And what is the nature of that living hope? 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 3 to 5 again, praise be to God and the father of our Lord Jesus Christ in His great mercy he has given us new birth in to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and in to an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. In other words we have an inheritance that eternal hope, the living hope that will never perish, spoil or fade. It will not fade away like a flower that fades away, it will not spoil like a food that is spoilt if it is kept for long time outside, it will not perish like a thief entering our house and taking away our valuables. Our eternal salvation will never perish, never spoil, it will never fade away. It is kept in the heaven for you and I. The Bible says again this inheritance is kept in heaven for you. God has reserved this for you, no devil; no man can take it away from us. Why? Because it is reserved, it is preserved by God in heaven for you and I. So that is the security of our salvation. If you have Jesus Christ as your savior, you have a God who forgives your sins, who continue to forgive our sins and grants us His grace for our day to day life. And also in the return of Jesus Christ we have a living hope-salvation, a life with Jesus that will never ever fade away. Aren’t you glad for that? So what is your part and what is my part in receiving this salvation. What is our part? Our part is just faith. Come to 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power. In other words our part is faith, believe in Jesus Christ, believe the word of God, and believe God. We just got to believe that and salvation comes freely to us. And how we are shielded? By God’s power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed. Do you know that friends, our salvation is reserved and protected by God which is awaiting us? At the same time till we receive that salvation, till the coming of Christ, we are shielded by the power of God. No harm can come near us, death will not come until the day God has appointed death for us, and no harm will come near us because we also are being shielded. Not only our eternal salvation is shielded but you also are shielded, I am shielded. In this world we are born, and there is a time to die. The moment we accomplish the God’s purposes we have to die but till we die God protects us. It is not over until God’s says it is over so you don’t have to worry about whatever is happening around. God protects you. God shields you. You and I have a time limit in this world and until that time that God has kept for us, God protects us and God shield us friends. What a joy it is see that we have an eternal inheritance in the presence of God. So I just want to conclude with what I have spoken. Friends, those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, in this world we may go through trials, we may go through difficulties but we must understand that we have the possibility of new birth if you have not received Jesus Christ. New birth happens when we believe in the gospel of Jesus, the good news that Jesus came, died and rose again and once you receive that salvation, then every day we need to continue in the grace of God and when we continue in the grace of God we also continue with the hope that there is an eternal glory , eternal salvation and a living hope that is awaiting us at the return of Jesus Christ .Such thoughts , such convictions will enable us to go through any tough situations of life, any tough times in our life because we know our trials are momentary and something great is awaiting us at the return of Jesus Christ. Aren’t you glad for that? Aren’t you in faith and joyful for what God is doing in our life. Yes, we have a hope that comes from God the father, hope that is based on His abundant mercy, hope to which He has given us a new birth, a hope that is made sure by Jesus’ resurrection. It is a sure hope, an eternal hope and an enduring hope.
When hard times in our life come, one might feel like giving up but it is His grace and power that will keep us during these hard times. One day the troubles will end, and with the coming of the salvation, our challenge is to take that hope and let it be living in every sense of the word, deeply affecting and penetrating everything that it touches in our lives that Christ’s joy, hope and love will shine through our lives and that, though we suffer loss on earth, Christ’s radiance will continue to shine forth from our lives because our God is merciful, because Jesus is alive and we have a heavenly inheritance which is through faith shielded by God’s power.