Summary: Believers have a living hope because the death and resurrection of Jesus guarantees their salvation.
Title: Hope That Lives
Text: 1 Peter 1:3-13, 18-21
Truth: Believers have a living hope because the death and resurrection of Jesus guarantees their salvation.
Aim: to give people hope based on the certainties of salvation.
Hope is central to our lives. Our life is filled with hope. Most singles hope to be married. The married hope their marriage will be loving and lasting. Children hope to be picked first for the playground team or classroom spelling bee. Michele Bachmann, a former 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, wrote of her hope to be asked to the high school prom her senior year. She went to work after school not having been asked but still held out hope someone would ask her before the prom started that evening. The hope that we can accomplish what we want, find the love we desire, or that our future will be bright fuels our pursuits in life. Dante described hell as having a sign over the entrance that said, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” Until then we hope.
One of our favorite hopes is economics. When our hope is in money we see all our human problems as one of economic disadvantage. Some think that if they could just level the playing field or establish the right market conditions everyone would be happy. The problems are the economy is fragile and vulnerable. It moves up and down with the whims of government actions or environmental conditions. Hurricane Sandy overnight impoverished some very well-to-do Americans. Even if they have plenty of money, people still have problems regardless of how much they amass. The jewelry of actress Elizabeth Taylor’s was auctioned last year. It was estimated to be worth $20-50 million. It certainly didn’t help her in her seven marriages or keep her from death. A report said that after most NFL or NBA athletes retire, they are broke within two years!
For some their hope is politics. The “Arab Spring” in the Middle East had been hoped to bring democracy in the place of dictatorship. Many people tied their hopes for our country resolving many of its problems to electing the right man for President. Half the country is discouraged and the other still holds on to hope. Politics is important but we are tying our hopes to people just like you and me. They have the same inner problems, needs, and sins.
Some put their hope in pleasure. Maybe it is great excitement or travel or good food, anything that brings some excitement to what is perceived as a dull, insignificant life. The only problem with our hope being based on pleasure is that it begins to run dry. Sometimes the pleasure backfires and destroys us. So where can we find lasting hope?
We need a hope that is bigger than we are, a hope that is not limited to human boundaries, or flawed by human nature. We need a hope that really delivers on its promises and doesn’t let us down. Only Jesus Christ offers that kind of hope. Jesus promises to forgive our past, give us meaning in the present, and make our future secure no matter what happens on this earth. For 2,000 years millions upon millions of followers of Jesus Christ have found his hope real enough to endure trials and death. I can’t think of anything on this earth that people hope in with that kind of track record. (Stuart McAlister)
What do we mean by “hope?” It contains an element of doubt in the way we use it. I hope we have a good attendance today. Implying I’m uncertain we will. But this is not the way the Bible uses hope. Hope in the Bible means utter certainty. There is anticipation of the future but it is certain of what will take place. What explains the difference? It’s the object of hope. My hope for good attendance depends on our efforts to invite people and people’s willingness to come. But my hope of eternal salvation and heaven does not rest on the feeble efforts of man but on the promises and character of God. The object of hope in the Bible is God, not man. That’s the difference maker.
The initial audience that Peter wrote to was facing some type of persecution. The believers had been converted from their former pagan ways but felt pressure from the culture to conform and participate in their former lifestyle. I’m sure they must have questioned why God was allowing them to suffer. Maybe they were angry with God for the way they were being treated or maybe they were afraid of what would happen to them if they continued to live a committed life for Christ.
Whatever the reason for them to back off from their commitment to Christ, Peter tells them that those who hope and trust in God, and in his future reward, will have the strength to endure whatever comes their way in the present. Therefore, they are to follow Christ’s example of perseverance, knowing that a great reward will be theirs one day. Later in his letter he explains that Christians reveal they are placing their hope in God in that they live holy lives, are good citizens, model slaves, gentle wives, and understanding husbands. This hope, that so dramatically changed there lives and gives them endurance in difficulties, is based on the security of their salvation. He calls that secure salvation a living hope. That is it will not die.