1 Peter 1:1–6
Main Idea: If you are truly “born again,” there is no power in heaven or on earth—including yourself—that can pry you from God’s loving grip because Jesus secured your salvation in his death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.
I. The Basis of our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3)
II. The Security of our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:4–6)
1 Peter 1:3–9
Sometime in 1943 the German philosopher and economist Karl Marx penned these scathing words as an introduction to his book critiquing Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.
“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering AND a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. [Religion] is the opium of the people.” He goes on to say, “The abolition of religion… is the demand for their real happiness.
What was Marx saying? He was saying that Christianity is the functional equivalent opium in that it simply dulls the pain of present suffering by giving the afflicted a false hope of a better future. In other words, Marx believed that Christianity was detrimental to human society because it prevents human tendencies toward revolution by anchoring human existence within a far greater narrative of everlasting hope.
And the truth be told, we live in world today that propagates the very same message. Nihilism is rampant as adults and children alike are abandoning every principle of religious morality because they believe that life is utterly meaningless. And where nihilism is not flourishing, religious pluralism reigns supreme, confidently declaring there are many different paths to the truth… and that what is true for me doesn’t have to be true for you.
So why? Why do Christians have heartfelt joy and confident hope in a horribly broken and twisted world? Why do Christians hold fast to the promises of the Bible? And why do Christians endeavor to share their religion with every people group on the planet, even when these people execute them for their faith in Jesus Christ? It’s not because Christianity deadens us to the realities of this life. It’s because we have been born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
- The Basis of our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3)
- The Security of our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:4–6)
Main Idea: If you are truly “born again” (vs 3), there is no power in heaven or on earth—including yourself—that can pry you from God’s loving grip because Jesus secured your salvation in his death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.
The Basis of our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3)
A Proper Understanding of Reality
Christianity is not like opium, marijuana, or alcohol, in that it does not deaden, confuse, or obscure reality so that the user can temporarily escape the pains of this life. Christianity wholly-acknowledges and feels the painful brokenness of this world. But, at the same time Christianity helps us see that the greatest problem in this world is not global warming, capitalism, socialism, conservatism, or progressivism—the greatest problem in this world is that the human race has rebelled against its creator and stands condemned under his perfectly righteous wrath.
Our culture attempts to define our problems through any number of competing narratives that merely encourage us to reach higher, be better, and try harder; because they begin with the same foundational premise that humans are inherently good people. And if humans are inherently good, the only thing we need to do is design a socio-economic environment in which everyone has access everything they need. But, the Bible provides a far different narrative.
In the opening chapters of Genesis we find that God, out of his infinite and glorious goodness, created everything that exists—from subatomic particles to massive galaxies—out of nothing. This very same God created one man and woman as the pinnacle of his creation. He placed them in a perfect garden with access to everything they could ever need. He appointed them as rulers over the entire planet. And this God did not wander off into the cosmos to find better things to do. No! He maintained an intimate relationship with Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve had everything they ever needed but they rebelled against God because the devil convinced them that God was keeping them from reaching their full potential in life. They wanted to be autonomous. They wanted to be the masters of their own destiny. So they ate from the only tree in the entire garden that God had placed off limits. And as a result of this single sinthey plunged the entire human race into death, disease, and perpetual alienation from God himself.
Sin is not a religious invention to control the masses by imposing ecclesiastical ideas of morality. Sin is any attitude or desire or action that explicitly breaks a commandment of Scripture, or comes from a heart of unbelief or is not done for the glory of God. And no one is free from its grip.
Romans 3:10–12 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Sin is not merely a human weakness. It is an act of cosmic treason against an infinitely holy and perfectly just God that deserves his eternal wrath. We see this two ways: First, we see it in physical death is an ever-present reminder that we all walk in Adam’s failure even though we have not rebel against God in the same way that Adam did.
Romans 6:14 (not 8:14) Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But, the second is far worse, your sin and my sin has everlasting consequences.
Revelation 20:11–15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Now you might say, “I’m going to be safe because that verse says that God judges people by what they do in this life. And I know that I live a better life than most of the people I know. Look at the 10-commandments and look at my life I am doing good!
Romans 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The Law is a sin detector NOT a righteousness indicator. Righteousness before God is not like horse-shoes or hand grenades. God doesn’t grade on a curve.
God demands sinless perfection. The Law exists to convince you and me of our sin and it would have ultimately condemn us to eternal hell… But, According to his Great Mercy God provided a way! (1 Peter 1:3)
A Proper Understanding of God’s Initiative
What I want you to see is that the greatest danger in this world is that sinful humans are in the crosshairs of God’s righteous judgment. But, the greatest news is that God is not eagerly waiting for the final day to give us what we deserve. No! The greatest message is that God looked at our abject helplessness and responded in mercy and provided a way of escape. This is the fountain from which every Christian “hope” flows; we deserve wrath for our rebellion BUT God planned a righteous way to grant us forgiveness by pouring his wrath out against a substitute— Jesus Christ.
This is what resurrection Sunday is all about! God sent Jesus Christ to live a perfect life of holy obedience to the Law and to be unjustly crucified for our sin and rebellion. In the cross we see the horror of sin and the horrific wrath of God poured out against his Son unto death. In the cross we see the mercyand the loveof God in that God sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross, that whoever believes in him will have everlasting life. Our task isn’t to condemn people for their sin but warn them of their imminent condemnation.
Romans 3:23–24for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. [But this gift is not universally applied to every person. Every individual must receive it by faith.]
Ephesians 2:8–9For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
And if you have not come to faith in Jesus this morning, I pray that you would turn from your sin and self-sufficiency, and believe the gospel’s good news that “Jesus lived, died, and rose again for your sin, and that God will forgive you if you turn and trust in Jesus.” If you have not come to faith in Jesus, you are not “born again” and if you are not “born again” you cannot enjoy the living hope of the gospel.
What sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world? Buddha is dead. Mohamed is dead. Confucius is dead. And all who hope in them have a dead hope in dead men and their dead teaching.
But, Jesus is risen from the dead, and this supernatural event is nothing less than an everlasting proclamation that death holds no doom for those who have received God’s forgiveness and restoration through faith in Jesus Christ. Because, the resurrection is the very-real promise that we will be raised to life and spend eternity enjoying Jesus Christ himself… just listen to the nature of this hope.
The Security of our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:4–6)
God Guarantees Our Heavenly Inheritance
Our hope of eternity with Jesus is not like our hope in our 401K’s, the stock market, or our pension. We have seen recessions wipe out decades of frugal savings. We have seen unexpected medical needs wipe out bank accounts. We have seen unexpected divorce divide homes and inheritances. And we have seen unscrupulous executors ignore their parent’s last will and testament. Our inheritance in Jesus is:
- Imperishable: it cannot be touched by death.
- Undefiled: it cannot be stained by sickness, disease, sin, or evil.
- Unfading: it cannot be effected by the passing of time.
- It is being kept in heaven for us.
Let me point out two things about this verb “kept.”
First, it is passive, which means someone else is doing the keeping… and that someone else is God himself, the unmade maker of the universe, the merciful architect of our salvation in Jesus Christ, the one who is always faithful to fulfill his promises.
Second, the Greek verb translated “kept” is in the perfect tense, which means it is wholly secure. No power in heaven or on earth can touch, taint, diminish, or pilfer our inheritance.
Peter isn’t trying to tell us what our inheritance is going to look like—if you want a glimpse check out Revelation 21–22. Rather, Peter is telling us that our hope in Jesus is a “living hope” because there is no power in heaven or on earth that can contest God’s promises to us in Jesus Christ. If you are in Christ, your inheritance is forever secure.
But, this raises an important question. How can I be sure that I will receive this promised inheritance?
God Preserves us Until the Final Day
It’s one thing to prepare for the future. It’s another thing to actually experience and enjoy that future. History is full of people who saved millions of dollars for a leisurely retirement that they never attained because they died. And it is likewise full of people who were disinherited by an angry parent. In this case the inheritance is secure, undefiled, unfading and it is being kept secure by the parent. But, the prospective heir is completely cut off and abandoned.
But, Peter’s promise here is that God will preserve every true believer in Jesus Christ until the day of salvation. In other words, God is not only keeping our inheritance; God, himself, is guarding us.
As one commentator points out, the Greek verb behind our English word “guarded” is powerful, in that, it is commonly used two ways: to protect from attack AND to keep from escape.
But, this does not mean that our “living hope” is the promise of a trouble free life. No, we are “grieved by various trials” (1:6), trials purify our faith (1:7), and Peter calls us to suffer for good because Christ also suffered for us (2:21).
The promise in verse 5 is that God preserves everyone who has been “born again” until the end by “guarding” them from anything that could cause them to loose or ultimately abandon their faith in Jesus Christ.
John 10:27–29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
To put it another way: If you are truly “born again” (vs 3), there is no power in heaven or on earth—including yourself—that can pry you from God’s loving grip because Jesus secured your salvation in his death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. This is “living hope.”
Christianity is not like opium. It doesn’t deaden us to the harsh realities of this life. It doesn’t give us delusional visions of a better world.
Christianity clears away the smoke and mirrors of every competing narrative that attempts to make sense of this sin-cursed world. It helps us see that we don’t simply need a better education, comfortable housing, and good jobs—we need to be forgiven through faith in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ so that we can escape the coming wrath of God. And that through faith in Christ, we have a “living hope” that helps us navigate the painful disappointments of this life convinced that no one can snatch us out of God’s hand.
Where is your hope to day? Is it anchored in the resurrected Son of God? Or is it placed in something far less?
John Piper, A Baptist Catechism, §18.
Wayne Grudem, The First Epistle of Peter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), 58.