Summary: Peter says we are to be ready at all times to give a reason for our hope. All of the reasons for our having hope are found in God and not in ourselves.
Peter writes to Christians who are suffering persecution, and
they are soon to experience the full force of the wrath of Nero. He
will lash out at them in fury. Does he therefore begin with tears fo
despair? Not at all. He begins with a triumphant doxology: “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” Circumstances cannot
crush his confidence in Christ. He refers to Christ 4 times in the
first 3 verses. His hope is not in religion but in a person. His hope is
not a dead clump of clay that will dissolve in the rains of
persecution. It is a solid rock that will stand secure even in the flood
of persecution. That is why he begins like a volcano as he erupts
with a fiery flow of gratitude to God.
We can learn from Peter that if we begin with God and His grace
rather than with the gutter and our gripes, we can face even hellish
persecution with heavenly praise. The secret of a heavenly hope is to
begin above the clouds where you know the sun is shining. Then
you can come down and face the problems of life, but if you begin
with the problems, you get bogged down and never see above the
clouds. You cannot rise above them because of the weight of your
trials, and hope begins to fade. Hope is like the mainspring of a
watch. When it goes, the watch ceases to fulfill its purpose, and if
hope is lost, so is the purpose and meaning of life. Hope is a
necessity and not a luxury. We want to examine Peter’s message in
these opening verses to see what the reasons are for having such
hope, and what the results can be if we rely on those reasons.
I. THE REASONS FOR OUR HOPE. v. 2-3
Peter says we are to be ready at all times to give a reason for
our hope. All of the reasons for our having hope are found in God
and not in ourselves. It is God’s love that prompts; His grace that
provides, and His power that perfects. The reason no great
philosophy has satisfied the hearts of men is because they all begin
with man and work up to God, but Scripture begins with God and
works down to man. The only reason for having any hope at all is
because of the salvation plan of God. The whole Godhead was
active on our behalf even before we existed. According to His
foreknowledge He elected us to salvation. Jesus purchased our
redemption on the cross, and the Holy Spirit applied that
redemption and sanctifies us.
You may ask how you know you are one of the elect. All who
come are the elect, for no one who comes shall be cast out. If one
does not come they are condemned, and so not one of the elect. For
those who do come, their hope is based on the fact that God has
already accomplished all that is necessary for their salvation. When
George Nixon Briggs was governor of Massachusetts he had 3
friends of his who visited the Holy Land. They climbed Golgatha,
and they cut off a stick to use as a cane and brought it back to
present to Governor Briggs. They said, “We wanted you to know
that when we stood on Calvary we thought of you.” He assured
them of gratitude, and then he added, “But I am still more thankful,
gentleman, that there was another one who thought of me there.” He
rested his hope on the finished work of Christ.
The hands of Christ are very frail,
For they were broken by a nail,
But only they reach heaven at last
Whom those frail, broken hands, hold fast.
We see in verse 3 that the strongest reason for our hope is in the
resurrection. The cross without a living Savior could not produce a
living hope. The resurrection is not a fanciful fiction or a fantastic
fable, but it is the fundamental fact of the Gospel. It is the Rock on
which our hope rests. Without it we would be like the heathen who
have no hope. That is what Paul said in I Cor. 15, for he said that if
Christ is not risen then our faith is in vain.
A king once planned a terrible torture of his enemy. He had
the man arrested and put in a room with 9 windows on one side.
The man thought this was not so bad, but at midnight he was
awaken with the blare of a trumpet, and he heard a crashing noise.