Knowing Our Hope
Passage: 1 Peter 1:3–1:21
What difference does hope make?
A few weeks ago, my two-year-old nephew, Jaxon, had his hopes crushed over and over again and was hit by one disappointment after another. Katie and I were in Sheboygan, WI, taking care of our baby, Hudson, in the hospital. My sister and her husband were on spring break so they decided to come visit us and make a vacation out of it. They picked out a hotel with a pool and a water slide because they thought that would be really fun for Jaxon. When they checked into their hotel, they showed it to Jaxon. They had been telling him about the pool and slide and getting him excited about it and now they were finally there. The next morning they got their swimsuits on and marched down to the pool. They time had finally come to have fun and play in it! What they found was a sign that said the pool was closed because of something with the chemicals. Jaxon got his hopes up and then even though he could look at the pool through the glass, he couldn’t go in it.
So they decided to try something else. Often malls have a play area for kids so they looked up the mall in Sheboygan to see if it had one and it did. They changed out of their swimsuits, told Jaxon about the play area, and drove to the mall. But what they found was a mall on the verge of dying that now had no play area. Hope met with disappointment again.
We made up for it a little bit by going to lunch at a McDonalds with a play area. By the time they ended up leaving Sheboygan, it was time for dinner. They stopped at a Subway and asked Jaxon what he wanted. He asked for soup. They went up to the counter to order soup and the employee said, “Oh sorry, we forgot to take our sign down. We are all out of soup.” Once again, hope met with disappointment. The poor kid couldn’t catch a break.
But isn’t this how life can often feel for us? We keep putting our hope in something only to be disappointed? When one thing doesn’t work we find another thing only to have that thing fall apart or be less than satisfying?
Today, we are continuing our four week series for the month of April called “Jesus Is Alive...Now What?” Because Jesus is alive, we can know God but how do we know God better? Last week we learned that we can know better through seeing the hope he gives to us, the love he has for us, and the power he works in us. This week and the next two weeks we are going to dig deeper into each of those because Paul says if we could see those three gifts fully and clearly, we would know God better.
This week, we are digging deeper into the hope God gives to us. We are going to do so by looking at 1 Peter 1:3-21. This letter was written to a group of churches by one of Jesus’ closest followers named Peter. We heard a lot about Peter during our Easter series. He boldly said that he would follow Jesus even to death but then the same night, as Jesus was mocked and questioned by the religious leaders, he denied even knowing Jesus. Then Jesus died. Peter had put his hope in Jesus. He thought Jesus was the King whom God sent to rescue his people. Then he watched his hope die. But to Peter’s surprise, Jesus was raised to life three days later! Peter’s hope was alive! As we look at a section of this letter, we will see how Peter now thinks about hope.
The big question this passage answers is: what difference does hope make? What difference does hope make?
I’m going to give you the answer right up front but then we are going to fill it in more. The big question is “what difference does hope make?” The answer is: our living hope produces holy living. Our living hope produces holy living.
We are going to cover this passage in two parts. In verses 3-12, we will learn more about our living hope. In verses 13 through 21, we will learn how that living hope produces holy living.
Let’s starting with three truths about our living hope in verses 3 through 12.
Our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3-12)
This letter was written to believers scattered around the Roman Empire about 30 years after Jesus was crucified and then resurrected. In the early centuries of Christianity, people didn’t like Christians very much. Peter’s readers were experiencing persecution because of their beliefs. They were threatened by government officials and ridiculed, criticised,and scorned by neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members. They are feeling pressure on all sides to turn from Jesus.
To counteract this, Peter writes about hope. He sets their hope on something bigger and better than having the government on their side. He sets their hope on something bigger and better than having their neighbors appreciate their beliefs, on something bigger and better than feeling comfortable and liked and respected. Does that sound like something you need? A bigger and better hope? A bigger and better hope that goes beyond your current circumstances and what other people think of you?
Peter describes this hope with three truths. First, in verses 3-5, he tells us that our living hope makes our future unshakably secure. Our living hope makes our future unshakably secure. This description lays the foundation for everything Peter is about to say. Imagine Peter is reading them a book about their lives. In these verses, he flips to the final chapters of the book to describe what the future holds.
The question is: why is our future unshakably secure? First of all, because it comes from God. In verse 3 Peter says:
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 through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)
Peter praises God because our living hope comes from him. It’s based on God’s great mercy. “Mercy” is “kindness or concern expressed for someone in need.” We were in great need and God met it out of his great mercy. How did he meet it? Peter says he caused us to be born again to a living hope. Everyone is born once from their mother and they enter a family. God the Father causes us to be born again into his family. We become part of this living hope because God causes us to be born into his family.
How is this living hope made possible? Peter says through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is what makes it a living hope. It isn’t a dead hope. Dead things can’t do anything. They are ineffective, unable, and empty. But their hope - our hope - is alive because the one who made it possible - Jesus - is alive. Peter watched Jesus die but now Jesus is living! Jesus can deliver on his promises. Jesus can secure our future because he isn’t dead in a tomb. At the same time, Jesus death on our behalf makes it possible for us to be resurrected to new life just like he was.
Peter goes on in verse 4 to further describe this living hope. God caused them to be born again:
4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:4)
God the Father causes us to be born again into his family. Children born into a wealthy family are born into an inheritance. The same is true of children in God’s family. We are born into an inheritance. Once again, our living hope is unshakeably secure because it comes from God.
Peter uses four more descriptors to show how unshakably secure it is. He says our living hope is imperishable meaning it won’t deteriorate or wear out. It is undefiled, meaning it can’t be polluted, defaced, or vandalized. It is unfading, meaning it won’t decrease in quality or run out. And lastly it is kept in heaven, guarded by God himself, meaning it won’t be stolen or lost. My poor nephew Jaxon was hit by all of these. The pool needed to be repaired so couldn’t be enjoyed. The mall was dying so had no play area. Subway ran out of soup. Dying things deteriorate, rust out, rot, decay, fade, wear out, get broken, and lose their new car smell. But our hope is living and always will be so it is unshakably secure.
Not only is our hope and inheritance being guarded by God, but so are those who will receive it. Verse 5 says the inheritance is kept in heaven for you...
5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)
Peter calls our living hope our salvation that we long for. It is ready and prepared. And those whom God causes to be born again into his family are being guarded through faith by God’s power until they receive this salvation. Not only does God keep the living hope for us, but he keeps us for the living hope.
The first truth about our living hope is that it makes our future unshakably secure. The second truth is that our living hope makes our present unspeakably joyful. Our living hope makes our present unspeakably joyful. Peter took them to the final chapters of their life in the future, but now he flips back to where they are currently in verses 6 through 9.
Peter’s readers have joy in their living hope and so should we. But he also recognizes that they are grieved by trials. These chapters of their story can be difficult. Peter particularly has in view trials and hardships that come from being rejected for their faith. People all around them are ridiculing them for their faith in Jesus. The government, neighbors, coworkers, and family members think their beliefs are a joke and dangerous. If they talk to anyone about Jesus, it might be met with anger, laughter, rejection, or maybe even death.
Don’t we face similar difficulties today? It was much more extreme for Peter’s readers, but we all deal with people who are antagonistic or maybe even hostile to our faith. Coworkers or families members who describe us as “super religious.” Neighbors and friends who think we take all this Jesus stuff a bit too seriously. More and more, Christians who believe what the bible teaches about marriage, homosexuality, and gender are like a rock that once lay submerged within the culture’s waters but that is now becoming more conspicuous as the values and morals of Christianity drain from our country.
Even amidst this, we can rejoice in our unshakable living hope. But he says that these trials are purposeful and not pointless. They prove the genuineness of our faith. Like gold is purified in fire, when we stay faithful to Jesus even when it is uncomfortable, costly, and risky, it proves that our faith is real. Faith that hides from rejection by others has not been proven genuine. The promise of Jesus is that even though we may be ridiculed by the world for faith in him, we will receive praise and glory and honor when he returns.
If you have trouble making your faith in Jesus public to other people, then it probably means you put too much hope in what people think of you. You want praise and honor and glory from them. But that is a dead hope. It leads to nowhere. Honestly, this is a message I need to hear too. I have neighbors and people at Starbucks whom I really like but am afraid to offend. I need to put my hope in the praise and honor and glory that Jesus gives and not in what they think of me.
Speaking of Jesus, Peter goes on in verse 8:
8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)
Like them, we have not seen Jesus and we do not see him now, but we love him, believe in him, and rejoice with inexpressible, glorious joy. Our living hope should give us a joy that we can’t even put into words but that sits on our hearts with a weightiness because of its greatness.
Peter has told us two truths thus far. First, our living hope makes our future unshakably secure. Second, our living hope makes our present unspeakably joyful. Lastly, Peter says our living hope makes our time unmatched in privilege. Our living hope makes our time unmatched in privilege.
In verses 10 through 12, Peter tells us that the prophets of old - the ones in the Old Testament - prophesied of this grace that would be given to us. The prophets were given the message of the living hope found in Jesus but they wouldn’t see its fulfillment in their lifetime. They saw it through the Holy Spirit but didn’t get to participate. Similarly, the angels look from heaven and see it but don’t participate in it. We live in a time of unmatched privilege because we live after Jesus has come to secure our living hope and we get to look forward to it.
The big question this passage answers is: what difference does hope make? The answer is that our living hope produces holy living. We’ve just covered three truths about our living hope. Let’s move now to the holy living it produces in verses 13 through 21.
Holy Living (1 Peter 1:13-21)
The word “holy” means set apart, unique, or uncommon. Our living hope produces in us an uncommon, unique mindset, lifestyle, and motivations. The good news of our living hope is like a seed God plants in our lives. When that seed sprouts and grows, it bears unique fruit. Peter gives three types of fruit our living hope produces. These tell us the difference hope makes in our lives.
First, our living hope produces trust without limits. Our living hope produces trust without limits. We see this in verse 13. It begins with a “therefore” which means that what Peter is about to say comes from what he has just said about our living hope. He says:
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
We’ve been given this amazing living hope so we should set our hope fully on it. We shouldn’t diversify our investments. We shouldn’t put our eggs in other baskets. We should fully, perfectly, and completely put all our hope in Jesus. We should go “all-in” and bet the farm on him. Every bit of hope we have in our hope budget, we should spend on Jesus. All of our hope available we should pick up and put in the hands of Jesus. This is a trust without limits. We know that our living hope makes our future unshakably secure so we should trust Jesus without limits.
What does this look like? Peter says it looks like preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded. “Preparing your minds for action” is an interesting picture. The original language actually says “gird up the loins of your mind.” In that time, people would wear a long sleeveless garment that reached to the knees or ankles. It would be left long when at rest, but if you needed to be active for work or for battle, you would take the long parts hanging down and tuck them into your belt to free up your legs so it wouldn’t be in the way. It’s almost like saying “roll up your sleeves.”
Then sober-minded is the opposite of drunk-minded. It means to be alert and not dulled and inattentive. Peter is giving us a picture of what it looks like to trust Jesus without limits. It doesn’t look like a couch potato, relaxing and drinking beer. It looks like someone ready for active service who is alert and prepared. When we set our hope fully in Jesus’ hands it means we set our life fully in Jesus’ hands. We aren’t sitting around doing nothing waiting for our inheritance to come. We are called to serve King Jesus with our lives!
Often the New Testament talks about the Christian life as a race. Running a race is active and the goal is to finish. You stay the course, you dig deep when going up hills, you push through the pain, you set your eyes on the prize at the finish. Jesus calls us to run the race of faith. He calls us to push through the painful times and stay the course. We need to keep looking to the salvation that will be brought to us when he returns - our living hope, our inheritance. We need to be active for service to him and alert to things that would pull us off the path.
First, our living hope produces trust without limits. Second, our living hope produces love until it hurts. Our living hope produces love until it hurts. Peter writes in verses 14 through 16:
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
God the Father causes us to be born again into his family. Now we are called to obey him - to listen to him and do what he says. Once we know God, we should not live like we did before knowing him. Instead, we are to grow into the family likeness. Who do we look like? We look like our Father. Like Father, like son or daughter. We should be holy as he is holy.
What does it mean to be holy like God? As I said before, “to be holy” means to be unique, set apart, and uncommon. God is totally unique and one of a kind. There is none like him. There are some attributes of God that we will never share. God is all powerful, present everywhere, and all knowing. We will never be those. But there are some attributes we can share with God.
Peter quotes from a book in the Old Testament that is entirely focused on holiness: the book of Leviticus. In it, God calls the people of Israel to be holy as he is holy by loving like he loves. The way God loves is totally unique and uncommon. We see his loved displayed on the cross. God’s love for us is proven and demonstrated in how Jesus took on the penalty for our sin in our place. God loves until it hurts, accepting pain that isn’t rightfully his to bear.
That is what our love is to look like. Our love for others, especially one another, is to be unique and uncommon. People should look at us and see something different than they normally do. They should see love that gives freely, forgives, bears with others, and serves sacrificially. They should see love that is patient and kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoing but with the truth. The world is to look at God’s family and say: those are people who love others like I’ve never seen. They love until it hurts. In that way, they see a picture of God who loved us until it hurt.
First, our living hope produces trust without limits. Second, our living hope produces love until it hurts. Third, our living hope produces honor rightly placed. Our living hope produces honor rightly placed. Peter writes in verse 17:
17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (1 Peter 1:17)
Peter says they are living “exile” because they are citizens of God’s kingdom now. But they aren’t living in his kingdom. They are living as foreigners and strangers in a sin-soaked world.
But while separated from their home country, they are to conduct themselves with fear. Why? Because they call on God as Father and he will judge impartially according to each one’s deeds. He doesn’t show favorites. At first, we may have a tough time swallowing this passage. What happened to grace? What happened to mercy? What happened to love? What about Jesus dying for my sins? Now I’m going to be judged?
“Fear” does not mean we cower afraid of God. It means we honor him and shouldn’t that be natural? If we call him Father, shouldn’t we honor him as our Father? Shouldn’t we listen to him and do what he says? If we look forward to an inheritance from him, shouldn’t we desire to please him? Because we call on him as Father, that doesn’t mean he will overlook how we live our lives. That’s what it means that he judges impartially. Each of us should have a deep desire to hear “well done” from God. We were created to desire it. It’s a built-in feature.
But we not only live to honor God as Father, but we honor the price paid for our salvation. Peter says to conduct ourselves with fear and gives another reason in verse 18:
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
We lived empty, fruitless, dead lives prior to hearing the gospel. God purchased us out of that life. He took us out of the garbage pit of living for ourselves. So if he paid so much to free us from that life, why would we now go back to living there? Should we not honor the price paid by staying out of the garbage pit from which it freed us?
What difference does hope make?
Our problem with all this is that place our hope in dead hope instead of our living hope. Or we put it in multiple things, Jesus being one of them. We can put our hope in our jobs, in our kids, in having kids, in houses, or money. What are you “if onlys”? If only I could finish everything at work, then I’d have joy. If only I was married or had kids, then I’d be satisfied. If only I could make this much more money, then I’d be secure. If only I had more free time, then I’d be at peace. If only people respected and appreciated me, then I’d be happy. What’s your “if only”? Take a moment to think about it and maybe write it down.
The problem is, those are all dead hopes. Maybe it will take us time to realize it, but they will never satisfy. They will never give us the joy and security we want them to give us. We need a bigger and better hope than these things. Jesus is the only living hope. Jesus is the only one who can give true, lasting guaranteed hope.
If you life isn’t marked by joy, a sense of blessing, a readiness to serve Jesus, extra-ordinary love for others, and a desire to hear “well done” from God, then that is a sign you have put your hope in something less than the hope God offers to you.
If you don’t trust Jesus and you aren’t serving him, who are you serving? If you aren’t giving love to others, what are you giving? If you aren’t seeking God’s “well done”, whose are you seeking?
If you are in a Gospel Fluency Group, share your “if only” with them this week that you often go after. If you aren’t in one, share it with someone you trust.
We get a full and clear picture of God when our eyes are opened to the hope that he gives to us. You know what someone is like by what they do and God gives his kids an amazing inheritance. That tells us the kind of Father he is. He’s generous, merciful, loving, and kind. He desires to bless us and he calls to bless others with the same kind of love.