Hold on to Hope

January 08, 2023 | Jess Rainer

Passage: 1 Peter 1:1-12

Haiti Bus Ride during mission trip:  In the midst of the worst living conditions I have ever seen, there was hope.  There was joy.  There was expectancy.  There was this atmosphere that everything was going to be okay.  And here I was in a bus worried about not having hot water for my shower.  I gained perspective from that trip, but I also gained the idea of what it means to have hope.  We as a Christ-followers have been given the gift of hope.  Many may feel hopeless right now.  We are starting a new sermon series:  Hope Fully.  A 13-week (ish) sermon series in 1 Peter.  We’ll follow up with 2 Peter – which will take us to the end of June.  My prayer is you will learn what it means to have hope and have hope to the fullest - “Hope Fully”.  Hold on to the hope you have. 

Read 1 Peter 1:1-12 [ESV]:  1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Peter establishes a framework for Christ-followers in the first 12 verses of his letter that I just couldn’t break up.  I want us to see the full picture of our hope.  As we move throughout Peter’s letters, we will dive in deeper. But today is about seeing the forest before we look at the trees.  I’ll probably be coming back to some of these verses in greater depth because there is so much truth in them.  I want you to hold on to the hope that you have – the hope that you have been given by God.  And I want you to hold on to that hope by being reminded why you have hope.  God gives us 5 reasons why we have hope in this passage.  We’ll go through each one quickly.  Here’s where we start: You have hope because you don’t belong to this world.

1) You have hope because you don’t belong to this world. (vs. 1).  Let me give some quick background before we look at the first verse.  Rome burned in AD 64.  Some suspected Emperor Nero started the fire in order to rebuild it more gloriously.  Nero blamed Christianity for the fire and began to persecute Christians.  Peter died during this time of persecution.  This letter was written as if persecution was coming, not during.  Most think the letter was written early-to-mid-AD 60s.  Peter is writing to the churches listed in verse 1.  And if you are not familiar with Peter, just think…Disciple of Jesus, cuts off ears, walks on water, and rebuked by Jesus.  So, in verse 1, Peter identifies himself and who he is writing to.  But he says something about the recipients of the letter.  Look at verse 1:  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 provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.  Peter calls Christians as what? -- Chosen by God who are living as foreigners.  This doesn’t mean these groups of people moved away to another country. Peter is describing their spiritual state.  And he’s describing our spiritual state.  As Christ-followers, our permanent home is not this world. Our permanent home is heaven. 

Philippians 3:20:  20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  

Hebrews 11:13:  13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.  

Hebrews 13:14:  14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.  

Christians do not belong to this world.  When we begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we gain entrance into the eternal home of heaven.  What we have coming is far greater than anything in this world.  You have a permanent hope in a temporary world.  We become citizens of heaven, but how? Peter says in verse 1 and in verse 2.  You have hope because you are chosen by God.

2) You have hope because you are chosen by God. (vs. 2)  Christians are some purposeless people wandering around just trying to find their way home.  There is intentionality to our lives.  And it begins with the truth we are a special people chosen by God.  Take a look at verse 2:  God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.  Did you catch those first few words?  God knew you AND chose you!  Do you all remember the old playground team picks?  You’d get two captains, and they’d pick teams one by one.  When it came to dodgeball, I’d get picked up in the early rounds.  But when it came to playing tag or anything involving running, I knew that I would be one of the last picks.  All my friends knew I was slow!  My football coach used to joke that he would use a sundial to time my 40 yard dash.  My friends knew me and they would choose – or NOT CHOOSE – me.  For God, He looks at you and says, I want him – I want her – every time as the first pick.  I want you to hear this:  You are not an afterthought to God.  You are His first choice.  You have hope because God looks at you and says, “I choose you, everyday, for all eternity.”   And look at the intentionality of God.  God sent the Holy Spirit to carry out the work of regeneration and sanctification.  God sent His Son to provide salvation.  There is a grand plan – all for you.  A plan that was established in eternity past for you.  Now, before you go putting on a t-shirt that says “I’m chosen” with your chest puffed out, I want you to remember something:  Your spiritual status has nothing to do with you.  God did it all.  So our only response to God knowing, loving, and choosing us is humility and gratitude.  Do you all see how much hope we have?  God plucked us out of this world and made us citizens of heaven.  God knows us and chooses us.  And it gets better: You have hope because God has a great reward waiting for you.

3) You have hope because God has a great reward waiting for you. (vs. 3-5)  We could stop with the truth that provided a way out of hell by choosing us.  That’s enough right there.  But it gets better.  Look at verses 3 through 5:  All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,   and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.  This is probably a good time to remind you what is means to have hope.  In our current vernacular, we use hope to communicate something we wish for.  “I hope Robbie plays my favorite worship song this Sunday!”  Or for me, “I hope the air conditioning works at church this Sunday…”  That’s not the hope that Peter means.  The ESV translates verse 3 like this:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  But when Peter uses hope in his letter, he is referring to the sure hope of things to come.  Quote: “Peter writes of a sure hope, a hope that holds the future in the present because it is anchored in the past. Peter hopes for God’s salvation, God’s deliverance from sin and death. His hope is sure, because God has already accomplished his salvation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” – Edmund Clowney.  We have a hope that is certain.  It is a living, active hope because God has promised an inheritance that can’t be touched by sin.  t’s being maintained by God that will be pure and undefiled.  God established our hope and God maintains our hope.   Do you want to maintain your hope that you have been given?  Fix your eyes on what’s coming.  Illustration: First Date at The Fainting Goat.  The girl never touched her iced coffee.  Maybe she didn’t like, but I didn’t see her take her eyes off the boy sitting across from her.  She was so focused on who was across from her that she didn’t care about what was around her.  That’s what we do with our hope.  We maintain it by fixing our eyes on Jesus and what God has in store for us.  Sure, it doesn’t take away the hard stuff of life.  And Peter knew this very well.  That’s why Peter addresses hard times in the next verse.  We are going to spend more time on this topic when we get to chapter 3, but for now, here’s what I want you to see ever so briefly:  You have hope because you have a joy that can’t be taken away.

4) You have hope because you have a joy that can’t be taken away. (vs. 6-9)  Peter sees the hard times coming.  He knows that these churches he is writing to are going to face some tough persecution for their faith.  Peter would be martyred not too long after he wrote his second letter.  It would rattle them as communities.  But even in the midst of persecution, he tells them that they have something that can’t be taken away.  Look these verses:  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. As Christ-followers, we are never promised an easy life.  In a lot of ways, as Christ-followers life is more difficult.  But we have something the world can’t touch if we don’t let them: our joy.  The Christian life is often simultaneously exhilarating joy and debilitating grief.  You might be thinking, “I get that, Jess. But that pain still hurts.”  I get it. I really do. I’ve been there. In some ways, I’m there now. But here’s the hope: The world’s hurt can only go so deep.  We will spend more time on this topic, for now, hold on to that hope.  You have a great inheritance coming that produces a joy today that can’t be taken away if you don’t let it.  Let your faith rise when the world’s hurt tries to bring your down.  Are you seeing the picture of hope that has been painted for us as Christ-followers?  We don’t belong to this world. Our home is in heaven.  God knows us and chooses us.  God also has a great, pure inheritance waiting on us.  So, when hard times hit, we have a joy that we can hold on to.  There’s one last part of the picture God wants us to see today:  You have hope because God’s not done.

5) You have hope because God’s not done. (vs. 10-12)  In the final verses of this passage, Peter gives an account of how both the OT prophets and angels viewed God’s plan for salvation and redemption.  For the Old Testament prophets, they were given a message that was clouded in mystery.  As the Spirit spoke through the OT prophets, they knew there was a Messiah coming.  But they never had a complete satisfaction of their prophecies.  10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.  Peter lets us know that the mystery weas revealed.  12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.  I love the last part of verse 12:  “It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.”  The angels have a strong passion in them to know more about this redemption and hope – because they do not have a need for redemption.  Think about that.  These majestic, powerful beings who are living in the presence of God are “eagerly watching” what happens to mortals on earth.  What drives their curiosity?  They want to give God more glory!  How cool is that? The angels will never experience redemption but they deeply want to understand it so they can give God more glory!  The angels are still watching.  Why? Because God’s plan isn’t done yet.  God’s redemption will be completed when Jesus comes back again.  God is still working.   ESPN Prayer about Damar Hamlin on national television.  The parent company is anything but Christian.  Where it feels like God is being silenced, God shows us that He’s not done. 

Let hope turn into gratitude. Let gratitude fuel your hope - unshakable and undeniable!  

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Series Information

This 13-week series focuses on 1 Peter where we will look at what it means to have hope as sojourners.  This chapter points us towards eternal hope.  The Christian hope is more than mere optimism that says things will “hopefully” work out. It is a sure hope, and so we “hope fully” (1 Peter 1:13) through every trial and test of faith.

Other sermons in the series

January 15, 2023

Ready and Holy

1Peter 1:16 [ESV] 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am...

January 22, 2023

Hope Grows

1 Peter 1:25 [ESV] 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever." And...

January 29, 2023

Life with Jesus

1 Peter 2:9 [ESV] 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a...

February 05, 2023

Keep Your Identity

1Peter 2:11-12 [ESV] 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to...