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Summary: The power of hope.

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Today we’re continuing the series "Why Easter Has Meaning." Last week we covered how Easter impacts your faith and we looked at the inspired writings of Paul to the church at Corinth. Incidentally, Paul is known as "The Apostle of Faith." So it was fitting that we read a Bible passage written by him when talking about Easter faith.

It is also fitting today as we consider "The Power of Hope" that we look at the writings of the Apostle Peter, since he is known as "The Apostle of Hope."

Next Sunday at Easter we’ll look at the writings of John, who is known as "The Apostle of Love" and we’ll see that Easter has meaning because of love.

Faith, hope and love are all tied to the resurrection of Christ, which we celebrate at Easter. The three Apostles whose works we are reading from all personally experienced what they were writing about! They all gave eyewitness testimony of seeing Jesus after He was raised from the dead! They all had first-hand knowledge of the great faith, great hope and great love because of their assurance of Christ’s resurrection!

There’s great power in that kind of testimony – the testimony of people who are certain about spiritual realities. Today we look at the great power in hope from the pen of a man full of hope.

Consider this tremendous Bible passage on hope from the writings of the Apostle Peter.

"3Let us thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through His loving-kindness that we were born again to a new life and have a hope that never dies. This hope is ours because Jesus was raised from the dead. 4We will receive the great things that we have been promised. They are being kept safe in heaven for us. They are pure and will not pass away. They will never be lost. 5You are being kept by the power of God because you put your trust in Him and you will be saved from the punishment of sin at the end of the world.

6With this hope you can be happy even if you need to have sorrow and all kinds of tests for a while. 7These tests have come to prove your faith and to show that it is good. Gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire. Your faith is worth much more than gold and it must be tested also. Then your faith will bring thanks and shining-greatness and honor to Jesus Christ when He comes again. 8You have never seen Him but you love Him. You cannot see Him now but you are putting your trust in Him. And you have joy so great that words cannot tell about it. 9You will get what your faith is looking for, which is to be saved from the punishment of sin." 1 Peter 1:3-9 (NLV)

Peter penned these words about 30 years after Christ’s death and resurrection. He was writing to encourage the persecuted Christians of Asia Minor.

They were being abused by overbearing bosses (2:18), threatened by unbelieving spouses (3:1,6), and ridiculed by skeptical neighbors and associates (4:14). On the horizon loomed the possibility of a much more violent form of persecution (4:12-18). It was a very anti-Christian society.

How do you cling to hope when your life is undergoing these kinds of tests? What do you do when life seems to have more questions than answers?

You’ve got to have hope to keep on going. You’re going to have to have "a hope that never dies" the Bible speaks of in verse 3.

I want to answer three questions today about this powerful hope:

1) What is it?

2) How can you get it?

3) How does this hope empower you?

1. WHAT IS THE "HOPE THAT NEVER DIES?"

First of all you need to realize that the New Testament idea of hope is different from the way we use the word hope today. We plan a cookout and invite some friends over and we say, "I hope it doesn’t rain." We’re referring to the uncertainty of future events. You might be surprised to know that that is not the same thing as the Bible meaning of hope.

When the Bible speaks of hope it is talking about the very opposite of uncertainty. It is communicating with assurance, with confidence that these future events spoken of are going to take place.

It’s essential that you get this difference fixed in your thinking. Re-read some of our text passage with me with this meaning in mind and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Verse 4 - "We will receive the great things that we have been promised. They are being kept safe in heaven for us. They are pure and will not pass away. They will never be lost. 5You are being kept by the power of God because you put your trust in Him and you will be saved from the punishment of sin at the end of the world."

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