Summary: As Christians we have a living hope, made sure by the risen Lord Jesus Christ. His resurrection is the sign that we too will be raised to new life. His Holy Spirit given to us is the guarantee that God’s life is flowing through us and will keep us safe un
I was watching the replay of the Wimbledon final last Monday morning at the gym. Andy Roddick had fought back to be 2 all at the end of the fourth set. At that stage he must have felt like he had a real hope of changing history. Maybe this was the year that Roger Federer could be beaten and he’d be the one to do it. At least that was what he hoped. Sadly, at the end of another 30 games of tennis his hopes were dashed - and you could read it on his face. Hopes shattered. There he was holding the runner-up plate as though it were not worth having.
Hope’s an interesting word isn’t it? We use it in all sorts of situations. I hope my team will win this week; I hope I get a car park when I get to church/the shops; I hope the lights are all green or I’m going to be late. We even use the phrase: ‘hope against hope’. Which usually means it’s a hopeless situation.
Millions of Australians bought tickets in Powerball last week hoping to win $90 million dollars but of course there were only two winning tickets. For all the rest it was a lost hope.
So the question today is where does your hope lie?
Here in our passage today we find the phrase ‘Living hope’. That’s different from what I’ve just mentioned isn’t it? Is that the sort of hope you have? Do you understand what it means? Well, let’s look at the passage and see if we can find out.
First, let’s think about the people this letter is addressed to. He describes them as exiles. They’re the exiles of the Dispersion. That is, these are the churches of what is now modern day Turkey. Do you remember how in Acts 8 a great persecution arose in Jerusalem against Christians and most of them had to flee. In Acts 11:19 we read that those who were scattered travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. Eventually these largely Jewish Churches that sprang up in this part of the world became known as the Dispersion.
And as we read through the letter we realise that these churches were about to experience another outbreak of persecution, both from the government and from their neighbours. So they were in danger of losing hope, of wondering whether it was worth persevering in their faith; whether the suffering they were about to experience was worth it.
So Peter writes to encourage and reassure them. And he begins by reminding them of who they are.
1. Who they are.
He says they’ve been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood. Here’s his first piece of encouragement to persevere. Remember that God has chosen you! You’re not just a random accident of the universe, far less a random mistake as some people think of themselves. No, God has chosen you, set you apart for himself. That’s what it means to be sanctified. He’s given you his Holy Spirit to make that real, to make you fit for his kingdom. Notice how that happens, by the way. Do you see the twofold action. The Holy Spirit helps us to be obedient, but he also allows us to be sprinkled with the blood of Christ. That is, to receive the cleansing from sin that Jesus’ death on the cross makes possible.
How does this happen?
V3: God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. There’s a new aspect to their lives that can only be described as new birth. The old has gone. Now we have a whole new existence, a remade life, born again in the image of God as we were always meant to be.
Where they’re going
And this new birth means that we have a new future. Instead of being doomed to die and that’s the end, now they have a living hope that comes about through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Christ has passed through death to life, so we know that we too will rise again. And if that’s the case, if we’re now able, through the Holy Spirit, to rise to new life then we have something great to look forward to: what Peter describes as an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
You often hear of people who have died and left their children a great fortune. And most people look at the children and think how fortunate they are. But here we read of something that’s far greater than any earthly inheritance. The Packers and the Murdochs and the Rockefellers may inherit obscene amounts of money but in the end they too will die. Even if they manage to keep growing their wealth, in the end they all die as poor as the day they came into this world, because once you’re dead you don’t own anything. But for us, our inheritance will never wear out, will never fade away, will never end, because it’s kept in heaven for us.