Welcome to this Monday’s podcast. My name is James Brown – I’m part of the team here at STC and I’m taking on the daily podcasts from Tom Finnemore who did an incredible job last week as we finished 2 Thessalonians. Thank you Tom. This week we are starting the letter 1 Peter.
Today we’re looking at 1 Peter 1:1-12 but focusing on verse 3.
“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.”
For one verse of the Bible this one packs a punch. There are so many things we can explore that I am struggling to do it justice in a 7 minute podcast. However, the goal today, as always, is to provide daily inspiration as we consider part of God’s word together. So we are going to majorly focus on this “living hope”.
Before we get to the living part. What is hope? It definitely gets us thinking about the future. Someone who has hope is someone who is expecting something particular in the future. Normally something optimistic but not always. We can also hope that things don’t happen. Speaking personally for a moment, an example of a hope of ours is with our son. We are potty training. If you listen very carefully you can hear the sharp intake of breath from parents and grandparents all across the city who are listening to this podcast also. We hope tomorrow is more successful than today. We hope that our grey sofa will survive. But because we expect him to be a functioning member of society one day, there comes a time when we have to make decisions and take actions today. So, big boy paw patrol pants for Joshua.
Those who hope are absolutely shaped by their understanding of the future. What we believe about the future will eventually shapes how we living now. There is no message on earth more optimistic, more beautiful and therefore more shaping than the Christian message of hope.
Christian hope sees the world being one day restored – at the end of Revelation 21 and 22, down comes heaven into this world to purify it and give us a new heaven and a new earth. A world where v4 ‘decay does not factor (perish), corruption never enters in (spoil), and nothing ever wears out (fade)’. It is not just survival of the fittest as with other worldviews, where being the most relevant or dominant is chiefly important. It is a world where faithfulness is celebrated, where v2 ‘grace and peace are in abundance’. It’s not a utopia to be escaped to like other religions. But something that is happening here and now, right in front of our very eyes – the recreation of all things – and we get to join in. Paul (another writer of the New Testament) talks about this too – saying we too experience something of a resurrection. Death gets swallowed up and loses its victory and sting. Because we have such hope for the future, we are shaped by it. Or rather because we are reshaped by Jesus we have a new hope for our lives and for our world – it works both ways.
The shaping is so dramatic that time and time again it has been described as “new birth” or being “born again”. This term featured in our focus verse for today. “… In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope … ”.
What does he mean? Being born is the start of the unfolding of the nature we have. For example, if I was born a cat then I would not develop into a human because being born means I would have a certain DNA that unfolds a certain way. Being born as I am now – to a brilliant family in Wigan – means that I have the nature that I have and have been nurtured into the person I am today. The Christian experience is so overwhelming it is often described as a nature change. We’ve become something entirely new on an entirely new trajectory. It is not as simple as a worldview. Not just a conviction we possess but something that permeates our life so deeply we have to talk about something dying and being completely remade. Being born again.
You might say, “well, that is inspiring but how do we know that this is true?”. Or “well, that seems idealistic and very far from society or my experiences right now.” Well the answer is within this letter – not just this letter but all of the Bible – is that it is the result of faith. Faith that comes from hearing … the word about Christ; looking into the Jesus story; and as we look into this more we will be filled with faith and an inexpressible and glorious joy (according to verse 8) as the Holy Spirit reveals what all the preachers and prophets of the Bible were pointing to after all. The person, the saviour, the messiah Jesus.
I don’t know if you have ever heard someone talk about the Christian experience this way before. Being made new. A new nature. A new identity. A new citizen. Born into a living hope. This is the gospel. This is the good news.
We can have such hope for our lives when we see what new birth is.
We can have such hope for our world when we hear what Jesus has done for everyone who believes in him.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Thank you for your great work in our world birthing us into a living hope. Would we know that hope today. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 1:1-12 (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. 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 honour 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.
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 the Messiah 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.