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God Is Our Enduring Hope

1 Peter 1:1-2:3

Jim Davis

It is always fearful to begin a new way of living. I remember walking into military service for the first time. Military values are much different. They shave your head and strip all of your civilian clothes off. They issue you a new wardrobe all the way down to socks and underwear. You can see the fear in the new recruits' eyes as they walk through a line naked and inspected by medical assistants. Then this sergeant tells you that you will be told when to go to bed and when to get up --- when to shower and shave, and you will be doing all this together with no privacy. You are given a book with a code of military ethics. It's strange. After four years --- they get you so adjusted to military life --- it is almost as strange going back into civilian life. But I must say it is a happier kind of strange.

Dealing with the insecurities of feeling like a stranger isn’t always easy. Fear is usually the first thing you see in the eyes of someone who walks into a strange culture with different values than they are accustomed. Being a Christian makes us strangers in this world. Especially when the world is bent on making us feel strange. The recipients of Peter's first epistle were feeling like strangers as a result of physical and mental persecution. They were going through various trials for their faith in Christ.

1 Peter 1:1-3
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .(NIV)

It makes little difference where you are. The first thing we usually do when we feel like a stranger is adapt to the environment we find ourselves in. We begin to learn how to fit in. Many develop a vocal accent that is more acceptable. We may dress different. We may even eat different. If we find ourselves in Rome, we will do as the Romans do. Most of this kind of adaptation is fine. However, no matter what culture we find ourselves in --- as a Christian -- we must live by Christian principles. Someone once asked a Christian Scotsman if he was on his way to Heaven. "Why man," he replied, "I live there." He meant that although he was a pilgrim here below, his citizenship was really in Glory (Eph. 2:6,19), and already he had a foretaste of things to come.

God’s Enduring Hold On Us

When we experience the insecurities this strange world bring we need something solid to hold on to. The greatest security is knowing that God has a hold on us. God has a hold on you. God elected to save each of us before we were ever born – of course, it is up to us to allow him to follow through with his plan. The Holy Spirit planned to do his sanctifying work in our lives before we were ever born – again it is up to us to allow him to do his work. Jesus Christ made the sacrifice for every sin we have ever committed or will ever commit before we were ever born – again it is up to us to accept that sacrifice. In actuality Christ made that sacrifice for everyone before the world was created. God has a firm grip on your life. He is asking you to get a grip on HIM.

God’s hold on us is without respect of persons. It is not difficult to see God's destiny for many of the great men of history. Many of the greats of the past such as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great and the Caesars never realized their destiny was God given. They were used by God to fulfill God's destiny. There is little doubt about God's destiny for Alexander the Great. God was directing him to conquer the world in preparation for the coming of his Son. Alexander never realized he was spreading the Greek language throughout the world for the preparation of the preaching and spreading of the gospel in a universal language. The Caesars never realized how they were paving all the roads leading to Rome in preparation for those whose feet were prepared to preach Christ. (Ephesians 6:15) Most of these men never recognized God's hand moving the world to their beck and call. Or should we say, that God was moving the world to his beck and call through them. It is even sadder when we understand that they never accepted God's plan for their eternal destiny. They refused their greatest destiny of all.

You may never be president, or governor, or someone great in the eyes of the world. However, God has a grip on your life. You have a God determined destiny as great as any person who has ever lived. You can reach a destiny that many we have mentioned missed. They didn't miss their final destiny because it wasn't within their grasp and power. They missed their destiny because they refused to see a greater destiny as one of their choices. They failed to realize that they could have had their cake and ate it too.

1 Peter 1:17-21
Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (NIV)

The Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work on our behalf is a source of security in this strange world. God has chosen to save us through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes " . . .Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV) Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born of the water and of the Spirit. (John 3:5) The Spirit’s sanctifying work takes place at baptism when we surrender to God’s choosing.

We are reminded to stand firm by remembering the Spirit’s sanctifying work as we obeyed the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (NIV)

The resurrection is God’s assurance that the Holy Spirit has a grip on our lives. God assures us of the ability the Spirit’s sanctifying work through the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection is the sure sign of the Spirit’s ability to give us a rebirth. The resurrection gives us a living hope. The resurrection is not a message of salvation; it is a fact of salvation. Our only hope without Christ since Eden has been a grave or a box of ashes. Imagine having no hope beyond the grave. It would make little difference how we lived if this is all there is. Death doesn’t give us much to live for. When Christ died on the cross his followers scattered. They thought it was the end of their dreams and aspirations. It was the resurrection that brought them back empowering their lives with the power of the resurrection. Death has no hold. We are assured of the Spirit’s sanctifying work. He works in us as he worked to resurrect Christ.

1 Peter 1:3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (NIV)

Heaven is about God’s enduring grip on our lives. (1:4) It is an inheritance, which will never perish. It won’t rot or fade with time. It is a treasure kept in heaven. The world’s economy will have no affect on it. It is too real for that to happen. Our treasure is beyond the grave’s reach. It will not be left behind at death. Death will only usher us into its presence. It is reserved in heaven for everyone – again it is our choice to receive it. But it is real and it is sure. If you don’t make it to heaven, the rest of us who make it are going to split your inheritance, because it is already reserved for you. We really don’t want to; so accept your inheritance from God.

God knows our tendency to hold on to things, so he gave us something enduring to hold on to. Edmund Clowney wrote, "Frustrated by his desire, man in Western civilization vainly seeks to overcome the limits of space and time, devising technologies to extend his reach or to improve his grasp." (Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, USA. Page 40)

How many have seen their hopes for retirement swallowed by corporate greed. Corporations have dangled a retirement package before them all their lives to squeeze out another ounce of effort and more products. Their hearts are set on it. When they need it, it is gone. That is cruel.

Matthew 6:19-21
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)

God is not dangling a carrot before us only to be gobbled up by someone else as we reach heaven’s door.

Peter reminds us that we are safely kept by God’s power. Through faith we "are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:5 NIV) God has given us an inheritance, but he has also given us a secure path to heaven so that we can receive it. Try to imagine the road to heaven shield by a divine force shield. No one said there wouldn’t be mine fields, which threaten us, but keep ever before you the shield of God’s power that surrounds you.

John 10:27-29

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. (NIV)

The peace of God’s grace comes through knowing God has a merciful enduring grip on our inheritance and our lives. He will not let us down. He will not let us go. He will not let us off.

God’s Hold On Us In Trials

God’s hold on us in the midst of difficulties is reason to rejoice. We know that our difficulties are a means of God strengthening his hold on us. He uses them to discipline us. His discipline is evidence that we are his children and that his love is real. (Hebrews 12)

1 Peter 1:6-9
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (NIV)

A refiner of gold heats the metal up to rid it of the impurities. Some time ago, a few ladies met to read the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse.

"And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

One lady's opinion was that is was intended to convey the view of the sanctifying influence of the grace of Christ. Then she proposed to visit a silversmith and report to her friends what he said on the subject. She went accordingly and without telling the objective of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which he fully described to her.

"But Sir" she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"

"Oh, yes madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Christ sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; "the very hairs of our head are all numbered."

As the lady was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had still further to mention, that he only knows when the process of purifying is complete, by seeing his own image reflected in the silver.

Beautiful example!

When Christ shall see His own image in His people, His work of purifying will be accomplished. Paul writes, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

God allows trials to come into our life so that we can get a grip on Him. An unknown poet writes these comments: "Circumstances! How we pet them; how we give them right of way! But the Master never planned that we should fall beneath their sway. Paul made circumstances serve him; he made them glorify his Lord. He turned each trial into blessing as he boldly preached the Word. 'These things turned to my advantage,' this old warrior oft would say. 'For our good they work together,' though they seem to shroud the day.'"

Matthew 16:21, 24-26
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life --- Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (NIV)

The outcome of following Christ will be the salvation of our souls for God's prepared inheritance in heaven.

John 14:1-6
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)

The Enduring Word the Means to Faith

Our faith is purified in the midst of difficulties as we seek to obey God’s Word. In an article about educational methods in Europe and America, a writer states that in a number of large cities more than half of the high school students are absent from classes on any given day. The reasons for this are complex, but some educators believe the answer lies in the fact that many teenagers feel they are required to learn information they will never put to use. With major shifts in Western job markets, a college degree is no longer a standard requirement. Young people who plan to enter technical vocations have a hard time understanding why they should take courses in Algebra, Classification Biology, or Latin.

In much the same way, we often fail to see how the Scriptures relate to our lives. To often, we fail to see the hope God’s Word inspires. God has not only chosen to save us in Christ through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, but we must be led to obedience through his Word.

1 Peter 1:22-25
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you. (NIV)

Peter says, "The word of the Lord stands forever" --- it endures time and circumstances. In Peter's second epistle God's word is called a "sure word of prophecy" or as another translation puts it "more certain" word. (2 Peter 1:19) This is the message, which has been preached through the ages. It is not some cleverly devised tale to lead us astray. It is a message, which has been tested and tried.

The words of men are fleeting because they are powerless. If I make a personal contract with someone and drop dead, the contract becomes as dead as I am. However, the resurrection of Jesus Christ gave his Word validity.

1 Peter 1:20-21
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (NIV)

Security can be found as you sink your teeth into God's Word. His Word can be trusted. I used to work for a company as a union employee. The union would negotiate a contract for the workers. Too often, the company would give in to put a certain clause into a contract with every intention of figuring out how to get around the same clause in the next contract. Their word was constantly changing from contract to contract. You couldn't bank on their contract.

God has bound himself to his Word. God gave his Word to his prophets to bank on. They realized they were preaching of God's grace, which was to benefit us. God gave his Word to them and he has kept it. God cannot lie. God's promises are immutable because that is what makes him God. God promises us that he will keep his Word. He gives assurance of his capability to keep his Word by doing the impossible --- he resurrected Christ from the dead. That makes God's Word the living Word of the living God.

1 Peter 1:10-12
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (NIV)

When we live lives focused on God through Jesus Christ through God’s Word --- the Holy Spirit empowers the Word of God to give us life. God's powerful Spirit brings his Word to life as we focus our lives on his Word. God's Holy Spirit directed the apostles to teach us a message from heaven, which angels long to look into.

2 Peter 1:19-21
For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

The Holy Spirit moved them to speak and write the messages they gave us. God’s divine power brought about to the fulfillment of the messages. That same power and wisdom works today to bring about the things promised to us. We may think our problems seem too trivial or too great. We may ask ourselves how our situation could ever be to God’s glory and our salvation. God has a grip on us. Get a grip on God.

Hebrews 6:17-20
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (NIV)

Enduring Word Given for Our Obedience

Initially our salvation is by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. His work is accomplished as we render obedience to Jesus Christ through the teaching of God’s Word. However, we must not forget why we are saved. We must not forget why we exist as a congregation of his people.

1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (NIV)

The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in our salvation is for our obedience to Jesus Christ. We are saved for obedience. The idea of obedience runs throughout Peter's epistles. God has chosen us for obedience to Jesus Christ. Peter says we are " . . . chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ . . ." Peter seems to be saying this is why we are saved. We are saved for obedience. We are saved by faith through grace for obedience to Jesus Christ. God has saved us for the purpose of obeying Christ.

1 Pet 1:13-17
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. (NIV)

Obedience to God's enduring Word gives us a life, which will endure the test of time and eternity. Obedience to God through the instruction of his Word and leading of the Holy Spirit is the only sure sign of our initial salvation. Sanctification is proof of our salvation.

1 Pet 1:22-25
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you. (NIV)

To become a Christian is to start life all over as babies. It seems strange to start life all over at any age.

1 Peter 2:1-3
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (NIV)

God has a grip on every person’s life. But we must get a grip on God.

Conclusion:

Our destiny is to be begotten again. This has to do with a new birth in Christ through the Holy Spirit by the power of God. Our earthly births are tainted with sin and God wants to give us a new beginning through a new hope. This new hope is reserved in heaven for you.

It is no accident that Peter reminds these troubled Christians of God’s enduring grip on their lives. He gives them a reason to hope. We have reason to hope because our hopes lie in God through Christ as a result of the sanctifying work of God’s Spirit.

1 Peter 3:15-17
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (NIV)

 

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