1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith the salvation of your souls.
God knows when we face horrendous situations. He hears our cries. Even those who maintain the closest fellowship with Him are not immune to feelings of hopelessness. Many time’s God allows us to face hopeless circumstance in order to test and try our faith, it is the hopelessness that forces us to seek God, and it is there that we find strength and refreshment.
Hope is necessary for our well-being. Hope gives significance to life choices and enables people to endure living in a fallen world where pain, suffering and injustice are the norm. When tribulations come like a thief in the night and rob a person of their livelihood, material possessions or physical health; the enormity this kind of suffering can crush even the steadiest of souls!
How does one survive the losing of a loved one, being fired from a job, having one’s marriage fall apart, or being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease? Like the Gentile believers of Peter’s day and all other generations, living in a fallen world means one will inevitable experience one, several or all these tribulations.
Peter stated that the only goal that cannot be crushed by this fallen world is the living hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the kind of hope that finds unspeakable joy in our, future heavenly reward, suffering in the present because it proves and refines faith and the receipt of salvation of whom the angels and prophets searched intently for generations.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
Because we do not have a dead Savior… we have a living hope. The resurrection of Jesus guarantees that God will honor all His promises to His faithful children. That living hope keeps us going in the darkest of times.
Living hope begins with the acknowledgement of praise that God has mercy on His fallen creation. During suffering and pain, we often focus on what we have lost, rather than on what we still have! While God temporarily allows injustice to occur never forget that God has dealt mercy to every man, woman and child.
While we would like to blame this fallen world on Adam and Eve, it is the wages of our sin that has brought tribulations and death upon us! Doesn’t every choice that we make to disobey God not drive another nail into Christ’s hands and feet? No matter what one’s circumstances, Peter reminds his readers to praise God the Father for His choice to give His only begotten Son Jesus to die and atone for our sins. Instead of death God gave us the chance to be born again, not of the original flesh and blood that was so easily corrupted but of water and the Spirit. To be born anew as a child of God, is that not the ultimate act of mercy?
To be born again is a major miracle, a unique work of God in human nature. God transforming a person dead to sin into a believing child of His… is one of the greatest miracles ever received. Peter reminds Christians that their growing hope is to be the expected result of being born again. The degree in which a believer intensely believes and lives their life in view of spending an eternity with God is a good measure of how spiritually mature that believer has become.
Peter has in view the kind of maturity that does not read the commands of God and see them as a burden.
1 John 5:3-4
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith.
Peter, a living hope is one that never forgets the mercy God showed when He raised us up with Jesus Christ, so that we might no longer be a prisoner in a tomb of spiritual death but of His redeemed child!
1 Peter 1:4-5
4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
The object of living hope is the promise that the true believer is the beneficiary of God who will receive an inheritance that can never perish fade of spoil. The New Testament regularly uses ‘inheritance’ to refer not only to an earthly inheritance but also to a believer’s ‘share’ in the heavenly kingdom, his or her future heavenly reward.
Peter also looks forward to the inheritance that is yet to come. Like God Himself, His word, our new resurrection bodies and heavenly home, our inheritance in Christ will not perish like earthly possessions that are subject to the bondage of decay. This inheritance is one that can never become unclean or defiled, will never fade like earthly wealth, grow dim or lose its beauty!
The foundation of a living hope is found in knowing that this inheritance is secured by God’s power and guarded by our faith. The Gentile believers of Peter’s day were dispersed all over. In this verse Peter is most likely addressing their anxieties that they would not have the strength to remain faithful to Christ in the face of intense suffering and persecution. Peter assures them that “God is continually using His power to guard His people by means of their faith.”
Like the children of Israel… we too are aliens and foreigners in a strange land that is not our final destination. The same God who raised Christ from the dead promises to one day bring us to be with Him. It was this living hope that sustained Paul when he was beaten with rods, pelted with stones, given forty lashes with the cat of nine tails, shipwrecked, starved and was in constant danger of rivers, bandits and persecution from his fellow Jews.
2 Corinthians 11:23-29 (NIV)
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
So, like Paul we are to live in light of eternity knowing that heaven is an inheritance kept for us while we turn through faith and the power of God are being kept for it! Paul felt such a close connection to God and the churches he helped start, that he took personally their troubles and challenges. Only through such a close connection with God, and with each other can we grow into the people God calls us to be.
1 Peter 1:6-7
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Peter tells the Gentile believers to not only rejoice in their secure…eternal home to come but, also in the suffering they are to experience while on this earth. The word “rejoice” in the New Testament “signifies a deep spiritual joy in what God has done in your life.” If one day you were to share in the suffering of Job, to have all your children die, your entire wealth taken away and were on the brink of physical death; would you rejoice? Job did … he refused to curse God and die but instead rejoiced in the Lord who “gives and takes away”
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[a] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Even though not every Christian goes through such suffering, those who do can feel unspeakable joy in the midst of pain because they have faith that their suffering in this present world of bondage and decay is brief, in comparison to spending an eternity with God in heaven.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Think about this fact for a moment, years from now we will make our three score and ten years, seem like such a small, little amount of time! All the floods, typhoons, tornadoes, tidal waves, financial burdens, sickness and insanity that this world puts us through cannot separate us from the love of the Lord Jesus Christ who sustains us and our inheritance for an eternity!
Rejoice when suffering, Peter says, because “the tension between the pressures and the ultimate glory to come is precisely what strengthens our faith” to endure and receive the rewards to come. James says to consider it “pure joy” when facing trials and tribulations for the testing of one’s faith produces perseverance which ultimately leads to spiritual maturity.
It is very easy to go through tribulation, only to focus on what is lost rather than the potential of what can be gained! Instead of living a life of gloom, crushed by suffering and pain, Peter tells believers to rejoice for their faith, which is more precious than gold…might be proven to be genuine! Trials burn away the impurities in a believer’s faith in the refiner’s fire! We have all met “lukewarm” Christians who often detract from the Gospel message because they do not practice what they preach! They do not believe what Christ has promised. The motivation to faithfully persevere through tribulations means bringing glory, praise and honor to Christ because He alone is the one who enables us to be holy!
There will always be joy, in knowing and being in Christ…
1 Peter 1:8-9
8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith the salvation of your souls.
It is at this point that Peter reminds the Gentile believers that they are to walk by faith, not by sight. Although alive during the life of Christ, most of these believers never met Jesus Christ in person! Even though they never got to see Jesus turn water in wine, drive out an evil spirit from a man in Capernaum, heal Peter’s mother in law, cleanse a man from leprosy, heal a Centurion’s paralyzed servant, or feed 5,000 men plus women and children. calm a storm at sea, walk on water or raise Lazarus from the dead, they still loved and believed in Jesus Christ! Faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance what we do not see”. The joy of future eternity with Christ illuminates the plight of those whom suffer with inexpressible and glorious joy. This is the ultimate paradox of human existence, when we are weakest and suffer the most we are also the strongest and can feel the greatest joy, because we have received the salvation of our souls.
Peter finishes this passage by reminding his readers that the salvation that they have received is “by far greater than anything. Even though the prophets of the OT were inspired by the Holy Spirit does not mean that they fully understood the prophesies in which they wrote. Even though they intently searched through earlier Scriptures, there is “no evidence that any Jewish authority in the first century really understood that the Messiah would have to come and suffer first.” What they did not see clearly, on this side of the cross we not only see but know that Christ’s death and resurrection is the model in which we are to live.
“if we suffer with Him we will reign with Him.” Even the angels who “see the ultimate reality from God’s perspective,” are looking intently into our salvation. I want to finish with a final question to ponder: are we intently living our lives as born-again believers with, “Jesus, A living Hope”, our glorious inheritance that we have and are about to receive?
2 Timothy 2:11-13
11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with Him, we will also live with Him;12 if we endure, we will also reign with Him.
If we disown Him, He will also disown us;13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.
Pastor Richard Santos
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