Where Hope Is When There Is None – 1 Peter 1:1-12 – Pastor Joshua
It’s been a difficult season or few seasons of life for many of us here in our church family. And that’s the reason why at SanLo we’ve decided to go through the letter of 1 Peter together to start off 2020. Because the Christians that Peter wrote to suffered, they were hurting, they were broken, they were living amidst the brokenness that comes with our world… and they needed to see and experience the hope that only Jesus can bring just like we do. Which is where we find our key idea: Only Jesus offers hope when there is none. Before offering hope, Peter is first teaching and reminding us in whom our hope is found. Which is brings us to our first point…
Only Jesus offers a living hope and an unbreakable inheritance. (vv.3-5) Hope found in anything else other than Jesus is temporary. Peter continues building up the foundation of our hope before teaching how it enters our lives. That’s why he blesses God first at the top of verse 3 because it’s by His immense mercy that we are born again. It’s important that we understand what “mercy” really is.
To define it simply, mercy is holding back punishment we deserve. Peter wants us to see is that there is a specific type of hope that comes from God’s mercy. If God has already withheld our judgment, then of course we already have a great living hope through Jesus’ resurrection from that judgment, death, which belonged to us originally in the first place.
As a result of God’s mercy, we also gain the hope of our inheritance in heaven. Our inheritance is imperishable, it transcends the temporary nature of our lives, never to be destroyed. Undefiled without compromise or stained by sin. Unfading in that it will never wither or fade away. We can never lose it because it will never decay. This treasure, our inheritance, is being guarded by God’s power and all we need to attain it is to have faith.
But faith as we well know, can be easily shaken, faltering even just by our anxiety for tomorrow. But the beautiful truth is that however weak our faith is, our salvation is never uncertain because God himself is the one who sustains it. Our faith is stabilized by the fact God is the one who guarantees it for us, waiting to be revealed in the future.
Before we move on to how that hope empowers us to live, it is vital that we really seek to understand its foundation in the first place. That’s why we took so much time discussing God’s mercy just a moment ago. That it was out of God’s great mercy that he has caused us to be born again… that though we were once dead in the tracks of our sins and though we still continue to struggle with sin, salvation was mercifully extended to us through the living hope that is the person of Jesus by his resurrection from death, our deaths. So as those now saved by God’s great mercy, we no longer choose to live our lives for ourselves that leads us to death but we have the opportunity to live for a God who has given us the hope to live through any and every circumstance that life could ever be thrown our way. This is the gospel. This is the new hope we have and our eternal inheritance. That even in our most desperate state when we were separated from God before we knew Him personally, God gave us hope when we could never hope to earn any on our own. It is all by God’s great mercy.
Let’s see now how that hope and inheritance begin to take shape in everyday life, even in the worst of times. So 2nd point, only Jesus helps us to rejoice in trials. (vv.6-9) There is no other force in this world that allows us to face trials head on like Jesus.
After establishing Jesus as the foundation of our faith and hope, Peter then moves on to teach us how our hope in Christ allows us to face hardship head on. What hangs me up are those first words in verse 6… “In this you rejoice…” The rejoicing Peter’s talking about doesn’t just happen during any old regular time of life but during times we’re grieved by trials. “How does that make any sense?” John Calvin, French theologian and reformer admitted as much… and it does sound contrary. But what Peter’s getting at isn’t a cheap joy where we put on a false happy face to give the illusion to others that everything is okay, but a spiritual joy that has the power to overcome not just the bitterness we experience from evil but sorrow too. This doesn’t mean we just suddenly stop experiencing suffering and sorrows, but it does mean that our suffering does have a place and a purpose… and we find that purpose in verse 7. The purpose of our trials is to test our faith…
Consider how metal becomes more valuable as it’s further and further refined into more valuable items. As your faith is tested, the stronger and more valuable it becomes. Like “gold that perishes though it is tested by fire”, your faith has the opportunity to become more and more refined as you face more and more trials. In fact, the value of your faith as it’s tested is even more than the most precious gold. So, while we put so much worth and value into gold, take a moment to consider then, the worth and value of your faith, after enduring trials. How much more precious is it to know a sister or brother in Christ has endured deep suffering in their lifetime and still chooses to glory and honor God because of Christ? Again, this does not mean it’s easy by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think Peter is trying to make less of anyone’s pain. But I do believe Peter is saying that it is possible to suffer and to still find your greatest hope and joy in Christ under any hardships.
It’s through the hope that God offers us through different trials that allows us to rejoice as we face them; Not a “we’re smiling and pretending everything is alright” kind of joy but a deep, sage-like understanding that God has already given us Christ so how will He not continue to care for us especially in the darkest of times. This is a joy that will forever last as we see in our last point…
Only Jesus provides an everlasting hope. (vv.10-12) Our hope in Jesus will always last because our Jesus will last forever. Reading Peter’s words, we see that the salvation Peter discusses here is the same salvation that the prophets of the Old Testament searched for and prophesied of. If God will keep His words over spans of millennia, there’s no reason that He’ll stop from continuing to extend our promised hope through Christ by His mercy now. Even the angels would like nothing better than to see what God has done for us in this!
So, for all of our sufferings, all our chronic pains and broken relationships and mental health struggles and grieving or whatever our suffering in life, our living hope in Christ can never be taken away, because it is an everlasting hope that only Jesus can offer.
I want to encourage you, church family, to seek out help if you need it whether here or in the healthcare world. If there is any sense of stigma about discussing any of the various trials in our lives with one another, let’s get rid of that now. A church family who truly loves one another is willing to counsel one another. That as Romans 15:14 says, “…that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another…” meaning that all believers possess the knowledge of the gospel, knowledge of the living hope we have in Christ in goodness and are able to instruct one another. You might not have the “right” words, but you are called to try. I pray we would become a church that learns to counsel one another well in love… Because only Jesus offers us hope when there is none.
Praise Songs: O Praise Him, Jesus is Better, Jesus I My Cross Have Taken, Doxology
Mission Moment: Welcome to Jim and Terui Grace serving as New Worker Supervisors for the past two year in Japan from Hokkaido. With 25 years of campus work, OMF asked them to take on this role serving through the Japanese Language and Culture Center. They help to instill a love for the Japanese people, a curiosity and desire for the culture and language so that they can meaningfully share the gospel and foster a lifelong discipline to study. They ask for prayer for the new missionaries to feel they are making good progress in learning the language and be equipped to serve in the spiritual harvest of the Japanese people.