Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

A Living Hope

 

The apostle Peter brought hope and encouragement to the dear Christians he loved in the churches of Asia Minor (1:3), on the verge of facing suffering and persecution (1:6; 4:12). Lord willing, neither we nor those we love will have to endure such devastating experiences as the Christians in the first century. Yet as I look over the congregation and remember what you’ve endured, or think of what you may endure in the future, my heart goes out to you, and I, like Peter, want to strengthen your hearts with the same hope.

A People Belonging To God!

“Who are chosen” (1:1); “to obtain an inheritance” (1:4); “for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (2:10). Not only were a good number of these Christians from a Gentile background (4:1ff), but many were also converted slaves (2:18). “Into the lives of these converted slaves, scattered among the great pagan cities of antiquity, there had broken a glorious hope. Christ Himself had loved them and given Himself for them. Christ had risen, and was now and always with them. They would spend eternity in His presence. Formerly nobodies, they were now ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God’ (2:9). They were part of the family of God. Small wonder that they resonated to Peter’s call for worship. Christ was risen, the world was reborn: praise be to God indeed, and for ever!” (The Message of Heaven and Hell, Bruce Milne, p. 271).

Who Are We?

We are not just forgiven. I stand amazed that God takes we raw heathens and transforms us from absolute nobodies, into:

  • We are priests with full access to God who know the truth about God from God Himself, and furthermore how to serve Him (2:9)
  • We are sons with the full right of inheritance (1:4)
  • We are holy men and women (1:15)
  • God’s own people who know Him, and are privileged now with grand task of bringing others to Him (2:9)

Think about it! How many of us here ever thought that we would become experts on spiritual truth and the knowledge of God, holy men and women, and become spiritual warriors in the most consequential battle of all?

The Explosion

“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” (1:3). Let us never forget that an explosion took place centuries ago, one that changed the world forever. We do not live in a period of hopelessness, but rather in light of the power that is still radiating from the resurrection. This event said:

  • No longer afraid of death! (Hebrews 2:15)

Think about how much mental energy can be released when one is freed from the fear of death. All of a sudden a vast amount of room has been created on our mental hard-drives. People who are not afraid to die are people who typically accomplish great things. People who are not afraid to die are also people who are not afraid to live. Among the many qualities that should separate and illuminate the Christian from his fellowmen is his or her hope. Paul describes the unbeliever as having “no hope” (Ephesians 2:12); this was no exaggeration, but plain truth. “The world of ancient Greek and Roman civilization was a world of fascinating beauty. It could boast of splendid courage, high intellectual power, and superb loveliness of poetry and art; but in spite of all the grandeur and charm it was a world without hope… Old age was dreaded as the threshold leading out into the dark and cold” (The First Epistle of Peter, C.E.B. Cranfield, pp. 222-223).

  • No longer in bondage to sin!

Wow! We have been given the opportunity, not for some extra time, but an entirely new life (1:3; 23-25). Not merely an improvement here and there, but a entire transformation that affects everything. Everything about our heavenly future is new (1:4), everything about our personal conduct is new (1:15), we have been completely liberated from our past (1:18; 4:1-5), our morals are new (2:1-3), our relationship to every other person and even civil authorities is new (2:11-17), our jobs are new (2:18-20), and our marriages are new (1 Peter 3:1-7). Just think about how much you can now achieve without sin getting in the way. Imagine the energy, productivity, change in attitude, and a thousand other things that are changed by our release from sin.

The Hereafter

“To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1:4). This inheritance is real, it is backed up or guaranteed by an historical event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1:3).

  • “An inheritance”: Christians actually have two homes, two residences, two pieces of real estate. The idea of inheritance reminds us that God actually considers us His children, with the full rights of children. Heaven is actually ours!
  • “Imperishable”: Many inheritances here or earthly rewards can disappear before anyone gets them. Every earthly treasure can be diminished, reduced, tarnished or completely removed (Matthew 6:19ff). In the First Century inheritances were inherently insecure – but nothing has changed, they are just as insecure in the 21st century.
  • “Undefiled”: It simply cannot be touched by sin and the rebellion of this world or Satan’s rebellion. “What a prospect is held before us – at last to leave sin and all its defilements behind us forever. It is nothing less than the prospect of being part of a world which perfectly obeys, worships and serves its God” (Milne, p. 274). Sin seems to touch just about everything in this life. It defiles marriages, families, technology and even churches. In fact, it seems that evil is often more aggressive in using the things of this life. In eternity, evil will not be allowed (Revelation 21:8; 22:2; 15). Our eternal reward is safe from every evil or sinful taint.
  • “And will not fade away”: At the end of this chapter Peter will note that in this life everything does fade (1:24-25). Time will not take its toll on this place. Our inheritance is “sure, pure, and will endure” (Milne, p. 274). Not only will it not fade, it cannot fade, just like God cannot fade. God will remain perpetually impressive – and so will our eternal home. One of the biggest dreads of man will not be found there, that is, “boredom”. “Heaven, however, is guaranteed not to disappoint” (Milne, p. 275).
  • “Reserved…for you”: Notice that every Christian has an inheritance in heaven. The reward is there, not on the earth – for what would disappoint and get old after a while. Our reward is waiting, it is “kept”, it is already prepared, at the end of the journey everything is ready for us, and it is kept in anticipation for our arrival. “We are expected” (Milne, p. 275).

Help!

Not only is heaven waiting for us, but we are given help in this life,“who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1:5). Are we protected by some sort of whimpy or second-rate power? No! Nothing less than the power of God is available for our protection. What does this verse say about people who do fall away? Is says, “What a poor use of God’s power!”

Suffering

  • “If necessary” (1:6): “His purpose was to show that God does not try His people (or allow them to be tried) without reason” (Milne, p. 278). Remember! The “purpose” of a trial does not always appear to us during the trial, and trials are not mere accidents.
  • “For a little while” (1:6): Every trial has a limit (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). In fact, remember, this will be the only time during your eternal existence that you will face trials. Instead of resenting them, appreciate them for what they can potentially grow in you, remembering you only sweat and suffer in this life.
  • “Distressed” (1:6): They do hurt. God never says that trials or suffering are painless. It is okay to hurt during trials, God does not expect us to pretend we’re not in pain or to deny this reality.
  • “The proof of your faith, being more precious than gold” (1:6):Recently I read the following about gold: “Soft and malleable in its pure 24-carat form, gold was the only yellowish metal that would not break when it was pounded or beaten. Under almost all conditions, pure gold stubbornly maintained its own identity. Gold would not rust or tarnish even after lying for centuries in mineral laded water” (Thunder Over The Ochoco, “Rain of Tears”, Volume 4, Gale Ontko, p. 282). The idea is that nothing can destroy true faith; it is only refined by fire, but not weakened.
  • “May be found to result in praise and glory and honor” (1:6): Not only does endurance bring glory and honor to the believer (Romans 2:6ff), it also brings glory and honor to the Lord we serve. In fact, the greater the trial, the more inspiring our faith is to outsiders. People expect the healthy and prosperous to be happy, but are surprised when someone confined to a wheelchair manifests true joy and contentment. Have we really considered the potential glory that our faith can give to God? “Difficulties afford a platform upon which God can show Himself. Without them we could never know how tender, faithful and almighty God is” (Hudson Taylor).