“According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”
1 Peter 1:3b
In the midst of a world which is full of broken hopes, Peter wants to make it clear to the churches in Asia Minor, that even though they are suffering as exiles, they have a precious and guaranteed possession which their pain and affliction cannot destroy or corrupt. He refers to this as their “living hope.”
Three things stand out for us in this verse: firstly, the hope of the saint is defined as “living”; secondly, the saint receives this hope purely because of the great mercy of God; and thirdly, that hope is rooted in the work of Christ (i.e., his resurrection).
Realize that the Christian hope is not just an idea, nor is it wishful thinking. Christian hope is so real it is defined as being alive! Because the One we hope in is alive, then our hope in Him is a living hope. Though we might lose everything in this world, we have a possession of infinitely greater value which we cannot lose. As we shall see in Vs 4, our inheritance is defined as imperishable, undefiled and unfading. This truth has strengthened saints in difficult times, enabling them to step forward in obedience even when faced with the danger of death itself. Jim Elliott, a missionary who died while taking the gospel to the Auca people, is known to have said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Notice also that the Christian hope is certain because it is not earned; it is a privilege enjoyed purely based on the mercy of God. The great enemy of our hope is our sin. None of us deserve anything good. Not in this world, and certainly not in the next. And our consciences are well aware of that. In their weakness they weaken our hope with guilt and condemnation. Christian hope, however, reigns victorious over our sin because it is received on the basis of mercy, and not as a result of what we deserve. Because of Christ’s work in saving us, we have a secure hope of eternal glory. Our hope can only be as big as our view of God’s mercy. When we see God as a great and merciful God, our hearts can dare to hope with confidence and eager expectation of that which God has prepared for us. Where this view of God is absent or diminished, uncertainty and fear tend to rule the heart.
Finally, Peter shows that the resurrection of Jesus is the cause for certainty in the Christian hope. For all mankind, suffering and death tend to dim the hope of any future good. Suffering usually robs us of present hope, while death threatens to make everything meaningless. But the elect exile has something that the world does not. The salvation we have received is grounded in the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The suffering saint has definite proof that suffering and death will not have the last say over his life for Jesus suffered, died and rose again on his behalf. We can be confident that as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we shall not only experience the suffering and death that He experienced, but also the glory of the resurrection that He experienced. The Scriptures present Christ’s resurrection in historically provable terms because it is the central basis of the Christian message. We can be sure of this: because Jesus rose from the grave, our hope is a living hope.
Therefore, despite what you might be facing in these difficult and unusual times, you should always meditate on the hope that you have received in Christ. You could never lose anything in this world that could compare to what you have received in Him!
When you think about your life and your present state, does the reality of your hope in Christ have the final, and loudest, say even in periods of suffering?