Where's Your Hope?

1 Peter : Aliens & Strangers  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:26
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Do you ever spend time thinking about the future? Of what your life will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years? And if you do, I wonder what you think about? I wonder if those thoughts are optimistic thoughts? Or if they are thoughts filled with anxiety and stress?
When you were younger… in high school and in college… you really thought about the future. Right? Everything that high school and college students do has one eye on what comes next. You take classes and take part in activities based on what you want to do after you graduate. You work towards a degree that’s going to take you where you want to go. It has been said that education is the great hope of the future.
And with that, most high school and college students have a tremendous amount of optimism when thinking about the future.
After high school and college though… our thoughts concerning hope begin to change. We already have the education… so now we begin thinking about things like the economy, healthcare, and retirement. And perhaps the optimism that we once had when thinking about the future… begins to wane. There’s more anxiety attached to those thoughts.
But never fear… we have a hope… a hope that comes every 4 years… a hope that we just finished navigating in 2020. That’s right… the hope of elections. Every 4 years we have at least 2 individuals that try and give us hope… a hope that they can fix the economy… a hope of security… a hope of accessible healthcare… a hope of a comfortable retirement. The concept is this… if we elect the right people and enact the right laws… then everything’s going to be okay.
Education and Politics… the hope of the United States of America. And listen… I’m a believer in both. Education is a good thing. I will encourage my children to be as educated as they can. And I also believe in being politically informed… and I believe that everyone ought to speak out for what they feel is right and wrong when it comes to politics! …as long as it’s done with respect.
So listen… I don’t want to knock education or politics… but here’s the thing. Placing our hope in education or politics is misplaced hope. It’s misplaced because it’s a hope based upon humanity. It’s a hope that we can achieve ourselves. It’s a hope based upon human possibility and prevailing circumstances. And for that reason, as important as education and politics might be, they are absolutely, 100%, the wrong place to place our hope.
Last week we began a series through the book of 1st Peter. And as Peter writes this letter… he calls the recipient church strangers and aliens. And his point in calling them strangers and aliens is to say… your life is different… the way you think is different… the way you behave is different from the world around you.
At that point, he’s talking about the Roman Empire. When this letter was written, it was a time when most people were placing their hope in the strength and the possibilities of the Roman Empire. Peter says… you’re different.
Last week, we talked about how our current situation is increasingly becoming just like the situation that Peter describes… that those who have their values and their hope defined by God are very much strangers and aliens in our culture. You see… we’re not strangers and aliens simply because we gather with the church… it’s more fundamental than that. We’re strangers and aliens because of where we place our hope and how we think about the future.
If you have your Bible, and I hope that you do, turn with me to 1st Peter chapter 1. Today we’re going to look at the introduction to Peter’s letter… where he lays out the foundations of why they… why WE are strangers and aliens. Look at 1st Peter chapter 1, verse 1 with me.
1 Peter 1:1–5 NIV
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of 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, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with 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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is 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.
Let’s pause there for a moment. Peter very quickly introduces the idea that we are people who have a different hope. And notice what he says… he says this hope is not based upon who you are… it’s not based upon you’re intellect… it’s not based upon being the brightest and the best in the Roman Empire… it’s not based upon anything you have achieved or anything the empire’s going to achieve. Peter says you have a hope because you have a new birth. Verse 3…
1 Peter 1:3 NIV
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,
Remember Nicodemus? Nicodemus was this religious teacher that came to Jesus in John 3… and he engages Jesus in this dialogue about the kingdom of God and what it means to follow God. And Jesus said to Nicodemus… No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. This is the same idea that Peter’s talking about… New birth… being born again… it’s what we might call conversion… being converted from one lifestyle to a brand-new lifestyle.
Peter says… something brand-new is happening. Your lives are radically different. You’ve been changed at the very core of your being. You are oriented in a completely new and different direction.
Notice where Peter says this new birth comes from. Peter says this new birth is completely because of God’s mercy. This is new birth isn’t because of who you are… and it’s not from anything that you’ve done… it’s a gift from God because God is loving and gracious and kind. It’s because God desires to bring you into his family.
This is so important because we believe here at 1st Church that the Christian faith is built upon the idea that salvation… that new birth… that conversion… is only found by grace being received through faith in Jesus Christ. That is the only way that this new life can be entered into.
I don’t want to pass over that because there are so many people that attend church on a regular basis that have never truly experienced this new birth. So listen… despite everything you have done… you can experience new birth today by the grace of God through putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. And if I, or any of our leadership can ever help you take that step… come talk to us. I consider it a tremendous privilege to talk to you about Jesus… and taking that step into new birth.
Peter goes on to say that there’s a result that this new birth leads to. Look at verse 3 again.
1 Peter 1:3 NIV
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,
When we experience this new birth, we have a new hope. This isn’t a “I HOPE it doesn’t snow tonight”… kind of hope. Biblical hope is a confident expectation for the future. Peter says that we are confident about the future we have… that we have an assurance about what the future holds. And it’s not through education… not through politics… not from the prevailing circumstances of the day… but we have a living hope through Jesus Christ who rose from the dead.
Peter says no matter what goes on in the world around us… no matter what’s happening… good, bad, or ugly… no matter who is president… no matter what shape the economy is in… our hope is fixed and nothing can take that away. Jesus Christ has risen from the grave. Death could not defeat Jesus… Sin could not defeat Jesus… none of the suffering or trials or anything in this world can defeat Jesus. And so we have a living hope because we look to Him… and what God has done for Jesus… God will do for all who place their faith in Him. Peter says that hope can never perish, spoil, or fade.
And listen… when you’re hope is truly placed in Christ… you’re going to be seen by the world as strange… they’re going to see you as a bit of a wackadoo. You’ll be different from those around you because most everyone else is placing their hope in their degrees… most everyone else is placing their hopes in what color is running the White House & congress.
Now listen… Just because we have this hope… this confident expectation for the future… that doesn’t mean that life will be easy. Having a fixed hope does not mean all our problems go away. Peter acknowledges this in verse 6…
1 Peter 1:6–9 NIV
In all 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 the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—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 end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Here Peter acknowledges that even though we have this hope… it doesn’t eliminate trials… it doesn’t eliminate sufferings. Peter knew that firsthand.
Here’s a guy that was a disciple of Jesus… followed Jesus around for 3 years. Just think about the experiences he had… hearing Jesus teach… he was there when the Sermon on the Mount was given… he was there for the transfiguration… he sees Jesus walk on water… healing people… all these unbelievable things. He heard Jesus proclaim that the Kingdom of God was here! To see and experience the things that Peter did… holy cow… it must’ve been so exciting! But that all changed in one night… didn’t it.
That night… the Romans come and arrest Jesus… as he’s tried as a criminal… as he’s nailed to a cross… as he watches this same Jesus that did all those miraculous things die… you can imagine that all of his hope and all his confidence… everything he thought was about to happen was now shattered.
The Bible then describes the scene of Peter and some other Jesus followers locking themselves in a room. They have no idea what to do. They’re scared to death of what happened because if they did that Jesus… they’d have no problem doing that us… so they’ve locked themselves in this room. They’re experiencing paralyzing fear and anxiety.
Of course… the resurrected Jesus appears in the middle of this room saying peace be with you… and he reignites their hope and their confidence. They leave that closed room and they go out into the streets of Jerusalem and all over the place sharing the Gospel… full of confidence and full of hope. And as they share the gospel they are met with confrontation… difficulties… trials… sufferings… and all of them suffered an agonizing death because of the gospel.
Peter knew he was going to suffer… he knew there would be trials… but it was worth it to him because his hope was not fixated on the popularity of his message… it wasn’t fixated on the Roman Empire… it was fixated upon Jesus.
It was his hope in Christ that made him willing to stare death in the face. These words from Peter are basically him saying… Psh… what’s they worst they can do to me? Kill me? It doesn’t matter because I have an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade.
Now listen… we all have trials… and I acknowledge that trials of every kind suck… but the trials Peter is talking about are trials specifically due to our Christian faith. Do y’all know the name Jack Phillips? Mr. Phillips is a bakery owner that decided not to back a wedding cake for a homosexual couple because of his Christian faith. He then began a 6 year long span of trials… being sued… being protested… and being harassed.
That that story is just the beginning. John McArthur & Grace Community Church was sued by the state of California… they were protested and harassed just because they believe that the gathering of God’s church is important and they wouldn’t stop meeting during the pandemic.
Those stories are just the beginning. There’ll be more and more of those in the days to come… but in the midst of it all… we have a hope because we belong to the resurrected Lord. And as we keep our eyes fixated on Him… we’ll be able to face these trials… we’ll be able to withstand any suffering that may come our way.
Over the next few weeks we’re going to continue to tease this out more… but if I could just ask you the question this morning… in what is your hope found? I know… I know… this is church so we’re all going to be good little Christians and say… Jesus. But is He truly your hope? If we could play a recording of all your conversations over the past 6 months… would it reveal that you’re truly trusting in Christ? Or would it reveal a hope found in politics? …a hope found in education? …a hope found in a relationship?
Are you willing to stare death in the face because your hope is in Christ alone? Are you willing to risk it all… put everything on the line… because you know you have an inheritance that is not of this world… knowing that you have an inheritance that makes the things of this world nothing in comparison?
Would you truly examine yourself this morning? Where is my hope found?
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