Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finding Hope in Grace

Originally Posted Monday March 14, 2005

{1 Peter 1:1-6; NLT}
This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to God's chosen people who are living as foreigners in the lands of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father chose you long ago, and the Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Jesus Christ and are cleansed by his blood.

May you have more and more of God's special favor and wonderful peace.

All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.
 

We all know life is tough. Even with the luxury that we live in here in the United States life is difficult. We have loved ones who are sick and dying, we are experiencing the pain of broken relationships, and we have carry the guilt of actions which cannot be undone. We may enjoy many different comforts, but that doesn't mean we are immune from the trials and tribulations of the world in which we live.

Peter opens his first letter with a reminder of hope that Christians have. With so much uncertainty and pain hope gives us a reason to live. I find three reasons for hope in the first six verses of 1 Peter.

1. The Grace of God: God the Father chose you long ago, and the Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Jesus Christ and are cleansed by his blood. (v. 2)

One of the things which jumps out at me from this verse is the work of the entire Trinity. The Father has chosen us, the Spirit makes us holy, and we are cleansed by the Son's blood. Each person of the Trinity was involved in the gift of grace we have received.

The reason we can have hope is because God has shown us His grace. We can know this gift is a reality because of the existence of the Church. The Church is the group of people God has chosen to be saved. Since we can see the positive impact God has made in the lives of Christians we can have assurance that He is working in our lives as well. We can be confident about God's grace because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit guides us into a greater knowledge and love of God, so our personal growth becomes evidence for God's grace. We can be confident about grace because Jesus' death and resurrection. The historical truth of Jesus and His resurrection provides us with evidence which helps us to trust in God's grace.

2. The Resurrection of Jesus: All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. (v. 3)

In Christianity we make a big deal out of the sacrifice of Jesus. Rightly so, it is Jesus' blood that deals with our sin, it is His death that is the substitute for our death, and it is Jesus' death that provides that takes on the penalty of our sin. The reality is that it is Jesus' resurrection that provides us with a reason to find hope in His death. It is resurrection which reveals to us that Jesus is who He said He was. It is the resurrection which shows us that life can be taken back from death. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope that Satan, sin, and death will all one day come to an end.

3. The Promise of Heaven: For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. (vv. 4-6)

Not only can we be certain that death is not the end, God has also promised us an inheritance beyond our imagination. This inheritance is more than what we can hope for and more than we can possibly imagine. In the person of Jesus Christ we have learned that God keeps His promises, and that means that if God promises us an inheritance we can expect an inheritance. What God promises He does.

This world is difficult and is filled with pain, fear, and all sorts of other trouble. Living in this fallen world can leave us to wonder what the meaning of life really is. One of the gifts of following Jesus is being able to live a life of hope. This hope is discovered through God's grace, through the resurrection of Jesus, and through the promise of heaven. When we focus our attention on these great realities we will experience the hope which makes life worth living.

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