WHAT IS LIVING HOPE?

 

1 Peter 1:1-3 – “ Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

It was Peter’s brother Andrew who brought Peter to the Lord (John 1:40-42). Before Peter came to Christ he went by the name of Simon which some teachers interpret as meaning literally, “shifting sand.” Since names were usually represent the nature of people in the Bible, apparently Simon-Peter was a person who vacillated or was uncertain in his life direction. Have you ever stood on shifting sand down at the shore of the beach? The water comes in and as it goes out the sand floor beneath you gives way sucking you in and making you unsteady, unstable in your stance. That was Simon-Peter, he was unstable, uncertain of himself, unconfident, directionless. But when he came to Jesus, Jesus gave him a new name as a kind of prophetic statement to Simon-Peter. Jesus gave Simon the name “Cephas” (Aramaic) or “Peter” (Greek) which means, “a stone.”   J. Vernon McGee says this about Peter and his new name:

“This man, Simon, was as weak as water. Our Lord told him that he would be a stone man. I think everybody laughed there that day because nobody believed he could become the rock man, the man who would stand up on the Day of Pentecost and give the first sermon, which would be used to sweep three thousand persons into the church (see Acts 2:40–41).”  [2]

What is "living hope"?

The word “hope” is tossed around casually everyday, “I hope I don’t get sick . . . . I hope I do good on that test . . . . I hope I get that raise at work . . . . I hope, I hope, I hope.” But the hope Peter is talking about here is not the causally tossed around hope used haphazardly in everyday life. The hope Peter is talking about is “living.”

How can we define “living hope”? Peter defines living hope by linking it to the resurrection of Jesus. In what way is living hope connected to the resurrection of Jesus? Remember back to a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus that occurred before anyone knew He had indeed risen from the dead. On the Emmaus Road Jesus had a discussion with two disciples. Jesus came up  behind two disciples (one whose name was Cleopas – Luke 24:18) who were having a discussion about the events of His crucifixion and their mood was very revealing. At one point in their conversation with Jesus they stated, "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel" (cf. Luke 24:17-27). They are speaking in the past tense. To them Jesus is dead. Oh, they were aware that Jesus spoke of resurrection. But to them He hadn't risen.  

These disciples were representative of what all the disciples of Jesus must have been feeling at this time. They must have thought all was lost. Just think what was going through their minds, “We thought He was the One, but now He’s dead, what will we do now?” Their hope was dead at this point; as dead as they thought Jesus was.

Normally when someone is dead, that’s it, it’s all over. Death is very final. Death is usually the end. But with Jesus death was swallowed up in victory  (1 Corinthians 15:55-58). When Jesus rose from the dead, hope was raised as well. And so, just as Jesus goes on living those who go on in Him have a living hope.

Living Hope is based on Jesus. Because of Jesus not even death can thwart our hope. With Jesus there are no impossibilities, no unreachable goals, no impassable barriers, no obstacles that can’t be scaled “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Anything and everything God calls us to do, if it is His will, there is living hope that it can and will be done. Living hope is a living, active, assuring, anticipation that because God is faithful, we have hope that God's will, will be done, to the glory of God. That’s living hope!

WHY IS LIVING HOPE IMPORTANT?

“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,” 

Living hope keeps us going. Hope is what enables us to persevere. Hope is what gets us through the trials of life with an expectation that God is going to intervene and change things for the better. In Christ we have so much to look forward to. In Christ we have an " inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" an incorruptible inheritance that is undefiled and won’t fade away but lasts. If your hope is in your home or car, or job or even your own body and the ability to exercise and keep it fit, all of that will pass away. But if your hope is in Christ you always have something to look forward to that will keep you going.

Living hope is mindful of our inheritance in Christ. What is that inheritance? Some like to think in terms of limitless gold illustrated by "streets of gold." Others like to think in terms of mansions and other material things. But the greatest part of our inheritance is Jesus! We will inherit an eternity with Jesus and all our loved ones who have passed on in Christ. We will inherit a place in heaven along side of the saints of scripture such as Abraham, Moses, Elijah, the Prophets, and godly kings, the apostles and other notable saints of scripture. And we will inherit an eternity of loving fellowship with the saints throughout history who have gone on before us. We will inherit an eternity of living in a new heaven and new earth an all that God in His creative power designs for us. It's incredible and beyond our puny human imaginations. It's worth living for. It's worth dying for. It's worth it all. And it is all "reserved in heaven for you."

Who is this inheritance reserved for? It's reserved for all those, "who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." This inheritance is for those who rely on God's power for salvation and life. God's power working in us enables us to persevere in this life. Our living hope is based on His power not our own power. Living hope is faith for the entire process of God to make us what we need to be, to do what He calls us to do, for His glory, until Jesus returns.

Living hope makes us joyful even in difficulties. This gives us reason to, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, . . .”  When we think of our incorruptible inheritance that awaits us, it fills us with joy. Joy stabilizes us through the storms of life. Joy is an assurance that God is in control and is working out His sovereign plan. When we think of eternity with Jesus and our loved ones, it makes difficulties we face in this world only "a little while." They may indeed "grieve" (Greek lypeo) or distress us, cause us grief, be a heaviness, cause us sorrow. But with our living hope in Jesus and our inheritance we can keep the proper perspective.

The value of living hope is seen when we do experience trials. Living hope is like an impregnable tank we ride in to take us over the bobbed wire entanglements and minefields of life and through the enemies' cross fire and banzai charges against us. Living hope shelters us from enemy attacks. The salvos come against us, and may even rattle us a bit at times, but we come through alive and ready to fight on. Living hope is our Defense Attorney Jesus' response on our behalf to the Prosecuting Attorney devil's accusations. No matter what life, Satan, this world or our flesh throws at us, living hope has an answer for it. Living hope is part of God's great gifts to us. Experience it. Live it. Rely on it. Look forward to it.

1 Peter 1:7-9 – “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.” 

Living hope helps us allow God to finish His work in us. Like assuring words and a comforting presence of a parent to a child getting their first haircut, living hope helps us sit and let the Divine Barber cut and trim and make us more presentable. The work God does in us may at times feel like dental work or surgery, but with living hope in Jesus as our Divine Dentist or Surgeon we surrender to His operation on us.

A faith untested cannot be trusted. Faith must be tested to be proved genuine. "Genuineness" (Greek dokimion) means a testing to prove trustworthy, a trustworthiness proven by testing. One commentary explains:

            Peter said the believers' faith is much "more precious" (timiōteron, most valuable, "of       great price" as in Matthew 13:46) than gold, for gold "perisheth" (apollumenou, is             destroyed). Although gold perishes (wears away), it is tested by fire until it proves to be    unalloyed. Similarly the believers' faith must undergo testing to remove all the baser   elements (impurities) so it may bring praise, honor, and glory to God and to them at the       "appearing" (apokalupsei, revelation) of Jesus Christ.

            Peter himself knew something about persecution, both religious and political. He had      suffered at the hands both of the Sanhedrin and of Herod Agrippa I, and he had failed the         test on one occasion (Luke 22:54-62). But he had recovered, and he was able to         strengthen his brethren through this epistle, encouraging them and exhorting them that      their "faith fail not" (Luke 22:32).[4].

WHAT IS THE BEGINNING OF LIVING HOPE?

Maybe you’re hearing this and you don’t have a hope that is living. Maybe you feel deeply discouraged or even feel dead inside. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have a living hope. The rest of 1 Peter 1 tells us how living hope can have a beginning in us.

1 Peter 1:10-12 – “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” 

Living hope begins in us when we begin to understand how precious it is and desire it. The prophets of the Old Testament searched the Scriptures in hope looking for the fulfillment of salvation in Jesus Christ. This salvation that gives us a living hope is something that even the angels were interested in. When you begin to see the living hope of salvation in Christ as a precious gift of God’s grace, you are well on the way to having that living hope come alive in you. The first step in receiving living hope is to desire it.

The prophets are a perfect example of this. For instance, Isaiah's prophesy is commonly called the Gospel of the Old Testament because God's inspired prophetic word through the prophet gives a vivid picture of the Messiah Jesus who was to come. Isaiah 53 is one of the most complete and clear pictures of the redemptive cross work of Jesus in the entire Bible. Psalm 22 gives a perfect picture of what Messiah Jesus would go through at the crucifixion centuries before crucifixion was even invented! Abraham and Isaac played out in life the Father-Son sacrifice that God the Father and Jesus would one day actually graciously carry out (Genesis 22).

The Old Testament was the Bible of the early Christians and the gospel was preached from the Old Covenant. The New Testament simply reveals in greater hope inspiring detail for us the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of this was the work of the Holy Spirit who inspired it (e.g. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). What we see now in the Bible is the completed version of "things which angels desired to look into." What an incredible privilege! Praise you Lord!

1 Peter 1:13-21 – “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 

Living hope begins when we fully trust in God's grace to provide it. Once we desire to have this living hope come alive in us we need to “rest” or fully trust in God’s gracious provision of it in Christ. God wants to do something special, or “holy” in and through you. What God wants to do can’t be done by resorting the old ways of the world, but must be done by “the precious blood of Christ,” “so that your faith and hope are in God.” The world can’t produce this kind of hope in you, only God can.

To "gird up the loins of your mind" is a colloquialism that speaks of readiness. men of Peter's day often wore flowing robes. When they had to run they would reach between their legs, grab the rear of their robe, and pull it up through their legs and tie it to their belt. This enabled them to run without tripping. Similarly we gird up the loins of our mind by tying up the loose ends or removing those things of this life that hinder us from moving freely with the Lord.

To be "sober" means you are alert with undeterred or unhindered senses. Alcohol or other drugs dull our senses. Peter exhorts us to be alert in every way. We need to remove those thoughts and ideas that prevent us from giving our full attention to God's instruction to "rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." When Jesus enters the picture of your life He brings revelation about reality. He is the way, the truth and the life. He comes to give us an accurate and truthful world view. And that worldview is saturated with God's grace toward us.

God's grace leads to holiness. Grace is not an excuse to sin. Grace is God's provision to help us not sin. Peter says, " as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” God's grace changes our lives. God's grace doesn't excuse us to remain like the sinner in the world. Grace calls us and enables us to leave the old sin world behind and grow in God's holy nature.

God's grace is all about the blood of Jesus. Peter says, "17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." The only way we are able to call on the Father is by the precious blood of Jesus. Old human traditions aren't what gets us in the presence of the Father. Only the shed blood of Jesus can get us into the presence of God the Father.

God's grace speaks of God's eternal plan in Christ. Peter goes on, "He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”  Living hope is a product of the culmination of God's eternal redemptive plan in Christ.

1 Peter 1:22-25 – “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” 

Living hope begins as we are born again according to the word of God. Peter speaks of those who have "been born again." This speaks of a second birth. Just as we are physically born, we must be born spiritually. Living hope comes alive in a person when God’s word is responded to and applied to their lives by the Spirit according to the gospel. When a person admits they have sinned against God and is willing to turn to God for forgiveness and turn away from their old sinful ways, God will forgive that sinner and fill them with His Spirit. The Spirit’s presence in the believer’s life brings this living hope.

What are the signs of or the evidence of one who has been genuinely born again?

The genuinely born again person has been purified in their soul. Peter says, "Since you have purified your souls." We need to understand our soul is dirty with sin. And we need to admit that before God. Then we need to humbly ask Him to forgive our sin and purify our soul through the aforementioned blood of Jesus.

The genuinely born again person obeys the truth of God through the Spirit. Peter says, " in obeying the truth through the Spirit." If you claim to be born again it means you believe the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your heart giving you eternal life. When the Holy Spirit indwells a person, He works in holy ways in them. Obedience of God's word is part of holiness. The person who is genuinely born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit will be growing in obedience and changing in their life for the better.

The genuinely born again person sincerely loves. Peter continues describing the genuinely born again person as "in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart." Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). Love is evidence of the Spirit's work in a person. God's love is poured into a born again person (Romans 5:5). Love is the greatest evidence of a genuinely born again person.

The genuinely born again person is a supernatural work of God not a natural work of man. Peter then states, " having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” God's inspired word is the incorruptible seed that when planted in the welcoming heart will produce lasting life changing fruit. It's not a temporal work of man that withers like the grass. It is a supernatural work of God that lasts and is eternal.

The genuinely born again person is a product of gospel of God. Peter ends his inspired thought stating, " Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” The genuinely saved are products of the genuine gospel. This gospel is not one based on our works. It is based completely on God's grace and the precious blood of Jesus.

Have you been “born again” as Peter says? Do you know what it means? Below are a few verses that explain what it means to be born again. Read them in sequence and pray them into your heart and you too will be born again.

  • John 3:5-7 – “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
  • John 3:16-18 - “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” 
  • Romans 1:16-17 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” 
  • Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” 
  • Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 
  • Romans 5:1-5,8 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. . . . 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 
  • Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” 
  • Romans 10:8-13,17 – “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” . . . 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 

This living hope comes as a result of God’s word being applied to our lives. Someone has summed up The Bible in 50 words:

God made, Adam bit,

Noah arked, Abraham split,

Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled,

bush talked, Moses balked,

Pharaoh plagued, people walked,

sea divided, tablets guided,

promise landed,

Saul freaked, David peeked,

prophets warned, Jesus born,

God walked, love talked,

anger crucified, hope died,

Love rose, Spirit flamed,

Word spread, God remains.

Sin kills hope, but hope comes alive in Christ!

In the late 1940s, way before most of us were even born, the United States got involved in the conflict known as The Korean War. Korea is located on the border of China and it was a war aimed at stemming the tide of Communism.

As the conflict began to progress, harsh winters and massive numbers of enemy troops began to wear on our own troops. We were fighting in a distant foreign land under the worst of conditions.

As the war dragged on an ominous and unexplained occurrence began to show up. Soldiers were being found dead in their trenches and foxholes with no apparent wounds or evidence of fighting.

Numerous autopsies were performed on these fallen soldiers to try to determine the cause of death. Chemical warfare was ruled out. But as the autopsies were performed a peculiar difference was noted between the soldiers who had died in combat and those who simply expired in the foxholes.

The hearts of those who had been shot or hit with shrapnel were contracted and blood had pumped throughout the major arteries to the body’s organs and out of the body through the wounds. These had bled to death. But those who had died in the foxhole, their hearts were full of blood and rather than blood being throughout the body, it was centralized around the heart itself. The conclusion was that those who died in the foxholes died of heart failure, their hearts just stopped, gave out, gave up. The official finding? Those who died in the foxholes of no apparent combat related cause, HAD SIMPLY LOST HOPE.

Does that describe you? Are you a soldier whose heart is ready to stop, give up, because you have lost all hope? God’s hope can bring you to life again.

Is God’s hope alive in you? Do you have something for which you need God to give you hope? Have you just about given up? Don’t give up, hope in God and let His living hope carry you through whatever it is that is getting you down. And if everything is fine and dandy in your life, rejoice in the Lord who has blessed us with a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ!


[2]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[4]Halford E. Luccock, Unfinished Business  http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/h/hope.htm