Summary: The first message in this series encourages Christians to have hope in spite of present suffering, because of future glory, and to maintain hope as we live out our lives. The text for this message is First Peter chapter 1
Living Hope (1 Peter chapter 1)
This is the first sermon in a series of messages from First and Second Peter. As you might guess, the writer of 1 Peter is PETER. Peter was one of the 12 apostles, and more than that, he was part of the inner circle with James and John. The account of Peter in the gospels shows us a bold, rough fisherman who was ready to fight for Jesus. He was the first to confess Jesus as the Son of God. He was also the one who denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion. After the resurrection, Peter’s relationship with Jesus was restored, and he never wavered again. Peter was called by God to preach primarily to the Jews … just as Paul was, later, called to preach to the gentiles.
Major parts of the New Testament letters were written by Paul. Paul had a primary message of FAITH. In Peter’s two letters, his main theme is HOPE. And John’s three letters have an emphasis is LOVE. This brings to mind I Corinthians 13:13 "Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love. " These three great themes are of eternal value! In 1 Peter we’re going to focus on a LIVING HOPE.
The Key verse for this letter is 1 Peter 1:3, “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.” This message of living hope was given to people who appeared to have NO reason for any hope! 1 Peter was written to Christians who had scattered throughout Asia because they faced violent persecution from Rome.
1. Present Suffering- vs. 5-9
A lot of Peter’s readers were refugees – they were on the run – similar to what is happening today in Iraq and many other countries -- where Christians have to leave everything behind and run for their lives. So when Peter refers to them in verse 1 as exiles or strangers in this world, this had a literal meaning. These folks were suffering the loss of everything … in some cases, even of their lives.
These are people who had little reason for hope, but Peter said that through their faith, they were shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. And he went even further … In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (vs. 5, 6)
Two things stand out to me here – One is that we are SHIELDED by God through all kinds of trials, and the other is that what we are suffering in this life is only for a little while. It reminds me of that old saying, “This, too, shall pass.” This attitude requires an eternal perspective.
One of the biggest question folks have about God is “why does God allow pain and suffering?” There are many answers to this question, but none of them are COMPLETE answers. Peter explains in vs. 7: These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
God certainly brings good out of evil because He uses our trails to perfect our character in a way that will last forever. But the only really clear FACT we have about suffering is that we can’t avoid it. Jesus said, In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
We have no control over suffering, but we DO have control over our response to suffering. Here in chapter 1, Peter lays out the kind of response that will give us a LIVING HOPE. Peter says that in response to suffering we can Love, Believe, and Receive. Look at verse 8-9: Though you have not seen him (Jesus), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
A LIVING HOPE is found in a living relationship with our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ! This kind of HOPE isn’t a week “I hope so” kind of hope. It’s inexpressible and joyful confidence --- because in our present suffering we KNOW that we have a foretaste of our Future Glory!
2. Future Glory – vs. 10-16
Have you ever known someone who had everything going for them --- their life was about as good as it gets --- good job, good family, and good health --- and yet they were always complaining and negative and HOPELESS? And on the other hand, have you known someone who had all kinds of financial and family and health troubles, but in spite of everything, they were always thankful and encouraging and full of HOPE? What makes the difference? It’s all about where you SET your Hope.