A Living Hope
"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." -- I Peter 1:3-5
Let's stop and look around us and consider all the wonderful blessings which are ours today. We can think of the peace and tranquillity of the countryside (if we are privileges to live in such surroundings). We can consider the gifts of health and the blessings that come with it. We can thank God that we can see, hear, speak, taste and feel. We can rejoice that we are able to walk and talk, and that we have warmth, food and shelter to strengthen us. And when we think of those who are less fortunate than ourselves, we realize that we have bountiful supplies of God's goodness, so that we want to thank and praise Him for all His blessings to us.
It is so good to stop and thank God for all his goodness to us. It helps us through life when consider that it is only by God's mercies that we receive so much blessing. It makes us realize that we do not praise the Lord enough for all His kindness to us. Those who are mothers (or single - parent fathers) know what it is to spend a great deal of time and energy planning a meal, and then putting effort and skill into its cooking, only to receive an ungrateful, "Oh Mum (or Dad) have I got to eat this?". We treat God in a similar way when we take his goodness to us for granted. We seldom stop really to praise Him for who He is and what He has done.
In the Bible, the Living Word of God, the apostle Paul's letters often start with praise to God. Near the beginning of 2 Corinthians we read, " Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1:3). Like wise Ephesians 1:3 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ".
(1) The blessing of a new birth
Paul and Peter have added spiritual blessings "in Christ" to their opening greeting. God, as a Father, blesses His children. He has caused them to be born again. Peter says, God has given us "new birth". This is different from our original birth. Those of us who are fathers and who have been present at the birth of any of our children know what a beautiful thing the moment of birth is; mothers, despite the pain, have always known this wonderful experience. However, everyone born into this world is contaminated by Adam's disobedience to God. But the new birth is something completely different. John says that all true Christians have been born in a supernatural way. He says, "To all who received Jesus, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God". These, he says, are "children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" (John. 1: 12-13).
Jesus Himself, speaking to that religious man Nicodemus, told him about the need to be born again. He said, " I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John. 3:3). Jesus said this new birth is essential. It is vital because our old life is tainted by sin. We need a brand new life if we are going to be able to serve God effectively. By our natural birth we have been born in sin and shaped in iniquity. No one, in his or her old nature, can truly experience the presence and power of God. That sinful life needs to be taken away. Everyone needs a new life in Christ before they can fully experience God's spiritual blessings. And here in his first letter Peter says, "In His great mercy God has given us new birth".
Some people try to do good because they think they will attract God's attention and then He will think well of them and save them. Others try to engage in religious duties in the hope that God will overlook their failings and shortcomings. Many try to pretend that everything is all right with them, and think God will not notice anything sinful about their words, deeds, and thoughts. But no one can ever succeed in reaching heaven in these or any other ways. It is only by God's great mercy that anyone can hope to be saved. It is only through God's electing love that His mercy can be received.
We experience the new birth when we acknowledge our sinfulness and ask the Lord for the desire and ability to turn away from our wrong- doing. That is the first step that must be taken if anyone is to receive eternal life. It is only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved; and people can only come to Christ as individuals; there can be no "block vote" to decide for Christ. We are born again when we come to Jesus in faith. That means believing that He died to take the punishment that is due because of our sins. When we become aware of the wonderful blessings of the new birth then we can say from the heart, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!". We can enter into the experience of knowledge Jesus as our own personal Savior.
(2) The Blessing of a Living hopeThe new birth which we have been given leads us into "a living hope". In everyday conversation we often say, "I hope everything will turn out all right". We mean that we are not sure that it will, but we have a strong desire that it should. However, the hope that Peter writes about here is nothing vague like that. It is a living hope. It is something sure and certain. It is a very positive thing. The living hope is something which God has purchased for us by the precious blood of Christ. No one can ever tale it away from us. No matter how far we may drift away from God in the stormy currents of life, He still has us in His care and His anchor chain will never snap, not even on the Judgement Day.
This new birth into a living hope is ours through the resurrection of Christ. Jesus says to us, "I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!" (Revelation. 1: 18). This means that because He is alive, He is with us wherever we go and whatever we do; and He is also in heaven interceding with God on our behalf.
My dear friends, the only living hope you can attain is to believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Won't you believe that Jesus Christ was born, died for your sins, was raised from the dead to save you? . That is His will for you. He is speaking to you from His precious words: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest". " For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life".
August 22 2000
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