Promise of Encouragement

The way we greet each other is significant. The words and tone we use with various people reveals much about our relationship, our previous interactions, and our shared experiences. For instance, whenever I get together with one of my former employers, he says, “Hey, boss.” Long back story there, but it’s been a joke between us for years. When I get together with some particular guys my age, I say something like, “What’s up, man?” And then when I’m greeting my pastor, I say something like, “good morning, Pastor. How are you?” you get the point.

We’ve seen how Peter greets the audience of his first epistle in the last post. He recognized that they were “those who reside as aliens,” but were “chosen” and precious in God’s sight (1 Peter 1:1, 2). He was coming along side, offering encouragement, directing their outlook. Yes, they were going through difficult times, but they were not outcasts. They had a hope. As he moves closer to the meat of the letter, he continues this encouragement.

Peter pauses to acknowledge the blessedness of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3). Over and over again, the apostles remind us that the glory should go to the Father. Paul makes this very clear in Ephesians 3:20 and 21. Other passages include romans 16:25-27, 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Philippians 4:20. The Father is worthy of all glory and blessing, and Peter acknowledges this fact.

Yet he does so for a very specific reason. He is recognizing the “blessed” state the Lord is already in and offers praise because He “has caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).  We are familiar with the phrase “born again” from Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3, specifically, John 3:7. The term refers to salvation. “God” should be “blessed” because He has authored and brought salvation as a result of “His great mercy” (v. 3). Scripture makes it very plain that we did nothing to earn salvation, and we do nothing to keep it. Just check out Ephesians 2:1-10. We have salvation, and God is to be praised because of it.

And not just that we are saved, but we are saved to something. This is where it gets really exciting. Peter says God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Boom! There it is. The “resurrection of Jesus” is our “living hope” (v. 3). Jesus is not in the tomb and—don’t mean to be insensitive—He is not still on the cross. He is alive at the Father’s “right hand,” awaiting to receive His kingdom (Ephesians 1:20-23; Hebrews 10:12, 13).  His resurrection changes everything. Without the resurrection, Paul says, our “faith is worthless” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

Our hope rests in Jesus and His coming Kingdom. This is what Peter points to. He says that our “living hope” comes “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” and that hope is the fact that God has prepared for us an eternal home (1 Peter 1:3). He describes it as “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (vv. 3, 4). Talk about some comforting words.

Remember Peter’s greeting? He describes his audience as “aliens,” “scattered,” and “chosen” (v. 1). They were facing difficult times, had no lasting home, and may very well have been afraid. Sounds a lot like 2020. Our hope is not in this world, not in a president (current or future), or a vaccine. Our hope is not in the goodness of mankind (just look at the riots). Our hope is that all who believe in Jesus will be part of the coming Kingdom.

We have to see how “living hope,” “resurrection,” and this “inheritance” all tie together (vv. 3, 4). They cannot be separated. Jesus’ resurrection is part of the foundation of our faith. Without it, we have nothing. Not only is it a foundation, it is a picture of what will happen to us (Romans 6:5, 8, 9; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22). He is now in “heaven,” where we will be with Him after death (John 14:3; 1 Peter 3:22). Because of God’s “mercy,” this is our “inheritance” He has given us who believe (1 Peter 1:3, 4). Consequently, this is not an abstract, feel-good, theoretical hope. Because Christ is alive, we know our faith is sure and we have a glorious home awaiting us. Paul says that the blessing of a restored creation is so incredibly glorious, our “sufferings of this present time” aren’t worth comparing with it (Romans 8:18). This is indeed “a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).

How do we know it is glorious? Well, look at the descriptions Peter uses. Our heavenly home is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (v. 4). Our future home will never cease to exist. We know there is coming “a new heavens and a new earth,” but they will never be destroyed or done “away” with (Revelation 21:1-5). Our future home has no trace of sin. It is completely pure, whole, and perfect. And if that wasn’t good enough, that perfect state will never diminish. It will always be as perfect, glorious, and delightful as it will be when we first arrive. We truly have nothing we can compare it to.

Now this sounds great and all, but how do we really know that this will be ours? After all, this is still in the future, and the present is pretty rough, and it may get even tougher. Well, the Holy Spirit answers this question through Peter in the last part of this sentence.

He says that we “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Can it get any clearer than that? The reason we can be sure this glorious future home will be ours is because the promise does not rest upon us or our actions. God has taken it upon Himself. We are “kept by the power of God” (v. 5). Yes, it is “through faith,” meaning it refers to those who believe, but our “faith” itself is a “gift” (Ephesians 2:8, 9; 1 Peter 1:5).

So what is the encouragement Peter is giving here? He is reminding us that our salvation is not just for the time we have here on earth. If that was all Christianity is about, we might as well give up. Paul even says, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19; cf. 15:32). But our “hope” is different than any other—it is “a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). There is a coming home given to believers because of God’s great love. That home is perfect, eternal, and glorious beyond imagination. It is guaranteed because God has unconditionally promised it to those who truly believe in Jesus. Those who reject Him have no such hope. Such a person “will not see [this] life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

But for those of us who have received Jesus, we have this hope, regardless of what we go through here on earth. Paul even calls this hope of Christ’s return our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). No matter what we face, we “are kept by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). What a glorious promise of encouragement.

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