Peter speaks of a living hope because it is sure to be fulfilled. It springs from the greatness of God’s mercy that he purposed to show to those whom he had chosen to be born again.

We call ourselves Living Hope Baptist Church. Sometimes, I wonder if our name isn't a cruel joke in these difficult times. However, I remember that our name is taken from a letter the apostle Peter sent to believers going through severe persecution that threatened their very lives and brought severe hardship and deprivation. It begins this way:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord and Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:1-5

Peter speaks of a living hope because it is sure to be fulfilled. It springs from the greatness of God’s mercy that he purposed to show to those whom he had chosen to be born again.  The decision was made before time began, not because God was able to predict who would trust in him, but on God’s determination to love unworthy people who would not and could not trust in him unless he enabled them to do so. This is what God’s foreknowledge is all about. This means that this hope is ultimately grounded in God’s sovereign purpose to show mercy. It does not depend on our performance or merit. And if you still want more proof that it’s a certain hope, then realize that one is born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What’s the connection? The apostle Paul puts it this way: “He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Because it is based on God’s character and guaranteed by Christ’s redemptive work, the Christian hope is a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul.

But is it big enough? We hope for a heavenly inheritance. It is a gift from God that we can and must look forward to in the midst of this world’s uncertainties. Peter writes this letter to people whom he calls “aliens,” to convey their status as outcasts. No, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they were living on the streets. Rather, he reveals the essential reality that must shape the life of every Christian: this world is not our home. It is not even neutral ground; it is enemy territory and we, by virtue of God’s saving action, have become truly different from the world. Where once we were accepted because we were like everyone else, because we have been born again to become obedient to Christ, the world now harbors the same hostility and resentment toward us that it had for our master, Jesus Christ. But the hope of a heavenly inheritance assures us that the hardship and sacrifice that comes from following Christ is worthwhile.

That the inheritance is "imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away" means that it is an eternal, ever-precious possession untouched and untainted by sin. Just think: even the most valuable treasures of the earth are flawed in some way, because sin has twisted everything in this world. That in itself makes this inheritance more precious than everything the world can offer and this reality must shape our values and priorities.

As if that were not enough, Peter emphasizes that this inheritance is especially reserved for God’s people, who are preserved by God’s power. By saying this, Peter strengthens our confidence that our hope will be fulfilled. That it is reserved in heaven points to the fact that it’s ready and waiting. And it’s been prepared specifically for those whom God individually chose for salvation from eternity past. This is what the “for you” implies.

And lest we fear that we might falter along the way and not make it to heaven, Peter says that those whom God has caused to be born again are "protected by the power of God through faith." Because the Christian life is hard and beset with many difficulties and much opposition, none of us would last very long on our own. Thankfully, God never intended that we live the Christian life on our own. Peter assures us of the reality of God’sprotection that keeps us from falling away. Peter ties our perseverance in faith to the power of God to protect us. Since he’s already spoken of Jesus’ resurrection which has brought about our own new life, we need to realize that the same mighty power that raised Jesus to life is that same power that is at work, sustaining our faith and enabling us to continue in the face of anything Satan and his minions might throw at us. It is God’s omnipotencedriven by his determination to save those whom he loves that guarantees our hope.

It is this living hope that gives me ample reason to get out of bed every morning to pursue, not my desire, but God’s purposes for my life. And no matter what hardships and heartbreaks might come my way, I can continue to live in obedience to Christ, not because I am strong in and of myself, but because his mighty power supports and sustains me so that I can continue to trust in his promises. No other hope will suffice. It is only as we live in light of the promised end will we be able to continue to live to God’s glory in this difficult world. That's why we call ourselves Living Hope Baptist Church - to remind ourselves of the kind of hope we have and which we hold out to a needy world.

Topics: Christian Living