Summary: Living hope is a matter of looking ahead rather than looking around
In general, I tend to be a pretty optimistic person. But I’ve got to admit that it is getting harder and harder to be hopeful about life here on earth in the 21st century. Let’s face it, 2016 didn’t exactly get off to a great start:
• This week, the stock market plunged over 6% in reaction to worsening economic conditions around the world. And there is certainly no shortage of pundits and financial gurus who are predicting a worldwide economic collapse sometime soon.
• Things are rapidly unravelling in the Middle East as various factions and nations fight for control of the region. And in spite of claimed advances against ISIS and other Islamic terrorists, we face a greater threat of terrorist attacks here in the United States and around the world than ever before.
• Here in the United States we see levels of domestic unrest that we haven’t experienced in decades. Instead of trying to solve our differences through the legal system or through dialog, we have armed activists barricading themselves inside a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and others engaging in looting and violence in order to protest what they consider to be injustice.
Those kinds of threats to our way of life exist for all Americans. But for those who are disciples of Jesus and who desire to live in obedience to His Word, the difficulties and threats are even greater:
• Most of us are probably familiar with the Oregon couple who was forced to pay a $136,000 fine just a couple weeks ago for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual wedding.
• On Tuesday this week, the Arizona Daily Star published an editorial that praised a Massachusetts court ruling that held a Roman Catholic School violated the civil rights of Matthew Barrett when they chose not to hire him because he was married to another man.
• Last year Houston mayor Annise Parker directed the city’s legal department to issue subpoenas demanding that all the sermons and correspondence dealing with homosexuality from several pastors be turned over to the city. After nationwide outrage, the mayor was later forced to rescind the subpoenas.
Those are only a few examples of the increasing hostility to Jesus, His kingdom and His disciples here in the United States.
So how can I possibly be hopeful in the midst of that kind of world? As Peter begins the body of his letter that we’re studying, he is going to help us answer that question. So go ahead and take your Bibles out and open them to 1 Peter chapter 1 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope…
I want you to note the phrase “living hope” there in verse 3 because it is going to be the main focus of the message this morning. So as I continue reading through this passage, I want to encourage you to think about what Peter reveals here about how we can make that kind of “living hope” real in our lives. Let me finish reading our passage with that in mind.
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
(1 Peter 1:3-12 ESV)
There is certainly a wealth of important teaching here in these 10 verses, but I want for us to concentrate on Peter’s main message here, which we can summarize like this: