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Our hope (1 Peter 1:1-13)

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

1. Hope matters

Hope is part of our lives and having hope matters. It’s important. We all need hope for it is what sustains us and keeps us going through the hard times that inevitably come our way. Hope enables us to see beyond the immediate situation to a brighter and better future.

We need hope to keep going

We need hope to keep going. Without hope we can feel overwhelmed by our circumstances and unable to move forward in life. Without hope we begin to feel that we are totally helpless, unable to do anything. We can shut down and in extreme case people give up on life itself. We stop thinking that we will get through this, and we start to believe that there is just no way out, that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that we have nothing better to look forward to, and that things will always be hopeless and against us.

We have hope

Today I want to look with you at the hope that we have as believers. Our hope is outlined for us in the introduction to Peter’s first letter. Peter wrote this letter to believers who were living in what were the five Roman provinces in Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (all a part of modern-day Turkey). He wrote to them reminding them of who they were and the hope that was theirs so that they might stand fast in the grace of God while waiting for Jesus to return (5:12). The apostle calls on them to rejoice, even though they were suffering grief in all kinds of trials (1 Peter 1:6) because of the hope that was theirs.

Their situation isn’t so different to our own except perhaps in degree

Today we want to look at this hope for their situation is not so different to our own except perhaps in degree. We are still living in that same epoch or era of time that were living in. Like them we are waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus and like them during this time we will find ourselves at odds with the culture that we are a part of. And like them will experience grief in all kinds of trials. Peter told the believers in Asia Minor that they shouldn’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal that they were going through as though something strange were happening to them (4:12) and neither should we. He calls on them to be alert and fully sober (1v13) in their thinking and so should we. As God’s people we should expect to go through many hardships because of who we are (our identity) and the situation that we find ourselves while we wait for his coming.

2. Our identity

In the greetings of an ancient letter the author usually identified themselves and who it was that he or she was writing to. This letter follows that standard format, but the author does more than just exchange pleasantries from the outset the apostle helps the believers in Asia Minor to understand who they are and the situation that they find themselves in as God’s people living in this world.

1 Peter 1:1-3

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance. [1]

Throughout this letter Peter will use terms that at one time only been applied to Israel and will use them of believers whether they be Jew or Gentile. In the greetings he has used a number of these to help the believers living in these Roman provinces understand who they were and the situation that they found themselves in.

We are God’s elect

He firstly referred to them as God’s elect, his chosen people. They, like the nation of Israel, had been chosen and set apart to belong to God in this world. They had been called to be his holy people and light the nations.  In verse 2 Peter has explained how this had come about it. It happened according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. It was part of his plan and purpose that they might belong to Jesus by being sprinkled by his blood and through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. As God’s chosen people grace and peace was now theirs in abundance. They had been put right with God and were now citizens of heaven.

3. Our situation

By become God’s people their situation had changed here in this world.

We are exiles and foreigners here

We are foreigners here in this world. Peter described the believers as though they were like Jewish exiles who had been scattered among the nations and were living as foreigners.

The word that the NIV has translated as “scattered” is almost a technical word that was that was used of the Jewish diaspora[2], the Israelites who had been scattered after the fall of Jerusalem and found themselves living in foreign countries away from the Promised Land.

While some people believe that Peter was perhaps literally writing to Jewish believers scattered across Asia Minor, it would seem better to understand that Peter was using this concept or idea of being a foreigner, someone whose citizenship was different to that of the locals, to help believers, both Jew and Gentile, to understand the situation that they now found themselves living in this world.

As God’s elect, his chosen people our true home is with him, and we currently find ourselves in the situation where we are living away from it while we wait for Jesus to return.  We live as temporary residents here doing whatever we can to bless those around us but conscious that we belong to and are looking forward to our true home. Peter describes the believers as foreigners and exiles in chapter 2 and verse 11. This might have seemed strange to some who had always lived where they had lived but this is the situation that all believers find themselves. By virtue of becoming citizens of heaven, we are now foreigners and aliens, temporary residents living in this world.

We will experience suffering and grief on account of being different

Like many foreigners living temporarily in a place that isn’t their home, believers shouldn’t be surprised that they aren’t always welcomed and received well by the locals. Often foreigners are resented because their customs and ways of doing things are very different to the locals. Sadly, temporary residents are often regarded with suspicion and are misunderstood and unfairly treated by the people they are living among.

This was obviously the situation that many believers were facing in these Roman provinces. They were being regarded with suspicion by those around them and were being slandered and accused of wrongdoing (2:12; 3:16) even though they were doing what was right in God’s eyes (3:13). The locals didn’t appreciate the fact that they no longer joined in with them living in lust, drunkenness, joining in in their orgies and carousing and idolatry. Peter wrote that they were heaping abuse on them because they would not join them in their reckless and wild living (4:4).

Peter wrote this letter to help the believers understand who they were and encourage them to stand firm despite the suffering that they were going through as God’s people. But how do we go on in the face of suffering and hardship? How do we keep on living in this world without giving way to fear or giving in to despair? What is it that sustains us as believers as we go through all kinds of trials while we wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus?

4. Our living hope

Well Peter explains that it is our living hope and our inexpressible, glorious joy that that sustains us as believers. Peter describes this hope for which he praises God for in verses 3 to 5.

1 Peter 1:3-5

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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Peter praises God for this hope because it is through the great mercy of God that we have been born into it through the resurrection of Jesus. It described as living because it ours through the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What this living hope involves is described in the verses that follows.

An eternal inheritance

Firstly, it involves an inheritance that can never be taken away from us. It can’t be lost of fritted away. It doesn’t spoil. It doesn’t decay. It doesn’t fade. It’s absolutely safe and its forever.

In this world inheritances can be lost. The stock market might crash, and the family shares might become worthless, or you might find your father being scammed and his bank account wiped out and with nothing left to his name to pass on to you. Or you might find yourself being disinherited and cut out of the will.

You are probably familiar with the name James Packer. He has been in the news a lot lately because of his interests and involvement in Crown Casino. James originally inherited a media business from his father Kerry Packer. Kerry Packer took over his father’s publishing empire from his father, Sir Frank Packer, but I believe that it was only after Kerry Packer’s older brother had been written out of his father’s will. He had a fight with his father, and he was disinherited and Kerry Packer, James’ dad, become the sole heir to the empire.

In this world an inheritance isn’t a certain thing. You can’t guarantee it but where our inheritance is being kept guarantees it will always be there for us. It is kept in heaven for us. It is somewhere where no thief comes near, and no moth can destroy (Luke 12:33). It can’t be lost. It doesn’t get old. It doesn’t wear out. It won’t perish. It is eternal and forever. God is keeping it for us, and we are being kept for it. He is watching over us, shielding us until the coming salvation. He holds on to us.

The coming salvation

This living hope is the coming salvation that we are waiting for. In his second letter Peter wrote that believers are looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). We are looking forward to being a part of this new creation and for us to go from the old to the new it means our own salvation, what the apostle Peter describes as the salvation of our souls (1:9). On that day when God’s judgment comes on the world, we will be saved and made imperishable so that we can be part of this new creation. We will live because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1:3; 3:21).

It’s more than just wishful thinking

Our hope is a living one because we have been born into a new life, one that involves the salvation of our souls and an eternal inheritance that cannot be lost no matter what might happen while we are waiting for Jesus to return. For the believer this is not just wishful thinking, a mere hopeful desire for things to get better. Our hope is built on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He is the guarantee of what is to come.

It is also not just mere optimism, that attitude that always just wants to look on the bright side of life and to believe that every cloud has its silver lining. It is a confidence in God and his promise and a trust in his Son to deliver them. It’s the knowledge that that was to come will be better than anything we have now and that anything we might have to go through now won’t compare with the joy of what is to come. Like Paul, Peter believes that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18) on that day when Christ appears.

5. Our inexpressible joy

Having explained the hope that is ours Peter goes onto explain the inexpressible joy that can be ours with this sort of hope. We have the joy of salvation, a joy that is hard that put into words that even suffering cannot extinguish, and trial won’t overcome. This joy and our reason for greatly rejoicing is outlined for us in verses 6 to 9.

We can rejoice amid our grief

What Peter reminds us of first is that we can rejoice even amid our grief.

1 Peter 1:6-9

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 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. Though you have not seen him, 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.

Peter provides several reasons for rejoicing despite having to go through all kinds of trials while we are waiting for Jesus to return.

We know the grief won’t last

Firstly, we know that our present griefs will be only for a little while compared to the salvation that awaits us. If we just hold on to Christ, we will come through the tunnel and emerge out the other side into the light of a new day and one in which we will never see the darkness again. The light of that new day will never go out.  In a little while the darkness will be no more. We won’t see it again. Our grief won’t define our lives for ever, but it will be the joy of salvation.

The last book of the Bible say that every tear will be wiped away that there won’t be any more morning or sorrow or crying or pain (Rev 20:4). It will be an everlasting joy that begins now in this life as we contemplate what is before us and rejoice in our salvation. It will be joy that will go on into eternity, for we will have received the salvation of our souls. The darkness will soon be gone. It won’t go on forever. There is glorious light at the end of the tunnel for those who love and trust the Lord Jesus and put their hope in him.

We know our faith is being tested and refined

Peter’s second reason for believers to rejoice is because we know that trials are proving the genuineness of our faith. And as we bear up under them our faith is not only shown to be genuine it is being refined. I think that it was Calvin who said “all that is not of faith is being removed” through this process. Edmond Clowney has written something similar. He said that our “trials keep us trusting; they burn away our self-confidence and drive us to our Saviour”[3]. The Lord uses everything to grow us into the man or woman of faith that we are called to be in Christ and even our trials are not wasted but have purpose.

We know it results in praise, glory, and honour

Peter’s last reason for rejoicing is that as we bear up under suffering it ultimately results in praise glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. I think that what Peter means is that it results in the praise, glory, and honour of the Lord Jesus. We show his great worth and value as we find our hope and joy in him despite what we might have to go through and the grief that might be ours. We are people who even though we have not seen him we love and believe in him and filled with inexpressible joy because we know that we are receiving the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

6. Our great privilege (10-12)

Peter ends this introductory section reminding his readers that we have the great privilege of knowing these things that the prophets and even angels longed to look into.

To know these things

We are privileged to know these things. We are those who have had the gospel preached to us and have received the message and knowledge of salvation.

1 Peter 1:10-12

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

We live in a time where God’s plan and purpose is not a mystery but has been laid out for us in the gospel. So, while we might have to suffer and face trials and experience grief for a time in this world, we have the enormous privilege to live on this side of the cross and know how it is all going to work out. We know that Jesus is coming back, and we know that when he does, we will share in the glories to come. We know that we have been saved. It’s all been revealed to us.

We shouldn’t be surprised

We have the privilege to know what is going on and so should be surprised by it. Peter has explained this later in his letter.

1 Peter 4:12-13

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

It’s this knowledge that help us put our suffering and grief into perspective. It’s this perspective that enables us to greatly rejoice even though we might have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials for a little while.

7. Our mindset

Hope, you need it!. It does matter! It is important! But our hope isn’t merely a general optimism about life. It isn’t wishful thinking. It isn’t just the hope that one day, somehow, things might get better. We also aren’t just talking about having any hope as though any hope will do. It’s a confidence that the believer has in God and what Jesus has done to redeem us, to save us, to give us a future.

Having explained our hope, our joy and our privilege Peter calls us to have a different mindset, to think differently about life. This what I think we are all be called to do as we read verse 13. Let me read for you the CSB which I think translates this verse a little better.

1 Peter 1:13

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Get ready, be prepared

We are to get ready and think soberly about life. We need to be prepared for what is up ahead of us by thinking differently about our lives and how we go about them. We need get ready and prepared. Literally the word that the CSB has translated “ready for action” described what a man would do with his long robe when he was getting himself ready to do some sort of physically labour or work. He would gather up his robe and tuck it between his legs and into his belt. We are to get ready and be prepared to get on with our lives by thinking clearly and setting our hope completely on Christ and the grace that will be ours when Jesus is revealed.

Set your hope completely on Christ and the grace to come

We are to be big picture people, to live with the end in view. We are not to put our hope in other things. We are not to orientate our lives around these things but rather set our hope and orientation on Christ and the grace that is to come. It’s this grace that we are to stand fast in (5:12). It’s what we are to trust in, and we must make a conscious choice to live it out of lives day by day.

Friends, other hopes won’t do. They will let you down. Other things will perish, or they’ll fade, or they spoil over time. People will disappoint you and let you down. They can’t sustain us when our world is falling apart. When everything seems to be going wrong, they won’t bring us the comfort or the joy that we hope to find in them.

Friends, we are to be people who fix all our hope on Christ. We do this by believing the gospel and fixing our eyes on Christ and his coming and living now for that future. It is only then that we will be ready for whatever trials might come our way while we are waiting for his coming.

What that looks like, in the day to day of life, and in the face of suffering, Peter will spell this out in the rest of the letter. But today hear the call to be sober and alert, to think clearly and set your hope on him and his coming and stand firm in the grace of God.

[1] The New International Version. (2011). (1 Pe 1:1–2). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament. Page 102

[3] Edmund. P. Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, BST, page 52.