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A Living Hope 07-08-2007

Notes & Transcripts

“A Living Hope”

1 Peter 1:3-12

July 8th, 2007

Paul Van Maaren

Senior Pastor

Faith Reformed Church, Lynden, Washington

Our Scripture text is 1 Peter 1:3-12.  You may use your personal copy of the scriptures.  Or one of the copies in the pew.

Today we conclude our series on the Apostles Creed with these three phrases

(I believe in)   the forgiveness of sins

                        The resurrection of the body

                        and the life everlasting

Our goal has been to know what we say we believe.  What does it mean to believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting?  So what?

Now as we turn our hearts to the Word of God will you please pray wit me?

Father, send down you Holy Spirit upon us we pray, that we may hear your word of truth and apply it to our lives.  Please feed us with the Bread of Heaven and nourish us unto eternal life.  Please draw us unto your Son, Jesus Christ, that we may behold him and be made like him.  In whose name we pray.  Amen.

Listen to these words from the book that we love.

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.  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.

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.

This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

I have a question.  And you have an answer.  Now when I ask you the question, take a pen or pencil and please write down your answer.  Find some way not forget.  Ok?

What is your hope?

What is your hope?

Maybe you need to think a little about it and that’s ok.  Go ahead.  Perhaps you know exactly what your hope is.  But please don’t confuse hope and wish.

A wish is a desire.  A longing.  Or a strong inclination towards a specific thing.

Hope is a wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.

Do you see the difference?  Hope has a sure expectation that what we long for will actually com to be.  Let me offer you a quick example.

My family spent a few nights this past week at Mount St. Helens.  It was awesome.  If you have never been to this mountain you must go!  Without experiencing it first hand it is difficult to describe.  But let me tell you about what I’ve seen.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens has become for me a metaphor for the power of God.  A parallel to God’s power.  In 3 minutes, 15 miles of old growth forest was snapped over.  Stripped bare.  Unbelievable power.  Leaving behind a total wasteland.  I’m left thinking, “And God you are more powerful than this?”

Yet even in this desolate wasteland, after a few weeks life began to return.  And still today God’s power to bring life back out of death is evident at Mount St. Helens.  I’m telling you, it’s a must see on next years camping trip.

The hope at Mount St. Helens is that the once pristine forest will one day return.  The mountain that is hollowed our will again fill itself up.  And you know what?  Its going to happen.  It already is.  The scientists wish it to be and it will be so.  They have hope.  The lesson God is teaching at Mount St. Helens.  And the lesson that God wants to teach us this morning is this.

There is hope in the midst of death and destruction.  There is hope in the midst of disease and debilitation.  There is hope in the midst of decay and disillusionment.  There is hope in the midst of cancer and confusion. There is hope in the midst of sin and sickness.  There is hope in the midst of suffering and shame.

There is hope for our world where people are treated like machines.  Hope for our world plagued by racism and war.  Hope for our world where people are homeless.  Children are forced into armies or hard labor.  There is hop for our world where the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.

So what is your hope?

The crucial question asked by our culture is this:

Is there hope?  Because without hope there is no reason to live.

Is there hope?

There is hope and that hope is found in Jesus Christ.

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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

My friends this is good news!

In his (God’s) great mercy he has given us new birth.

In God’s great mercy.  God sets aside his ability to cast us from his presence forever.  God sets aside his wrath towards us.  And his wrath is just.  Because we are fallen.  Broken.  Sinful people.  From the moment of birth.  From our first breath.

But God in his great mercy.  He chooses to have mercy.  In his great mercy he has given us new birth.

New birth.  It means the same as being born again.  A spiritual re-birth.  Not a physical one.  Being born anew.  By the Holy Spirit.  Undoing the broken, fallen, sinful state that we all were born into when we were first born.  God has given us new birth.  He undoes all the effects of our fallen estate.  The theological word we are speaking about is regeneration.

God alone, without any help from any of us, regenerates us.  Re-births us.  God says through the prophet Ezekiel, A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.

God gives a new heart.  And places his Holy Spirit with us at the time of regeneration.

How is this possible?  How is it that God can give new birth to human beings?  Through their faith in Jesus Christ.  Believing in one’s heart.  And knowing in the mind that he came as God to us and to be a sacrifice to remove our sin and sins from us.  To remove the effects of the fall and to heal our brokenness with us and our relationships with others.

This is what it means when you say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

In Jesus Christ along God in his great mercy has given us new birth.

This is good news.  There is hope.  And it is found in Jesus Christ.  Its not a dead hope.  But a living hope.  It’s a hope that brings life.  In God’s great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

A living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  The hope that God births people into is alive because of the resurrection of Jesus.  Because the resurrection of Jesus means the resurrection of all the people who are born again.  Born of God.  All who are saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

This is good news!  Much worth rejoicing.

This is timely news.  Because death has come near us again.  The Lord says, verse 6, In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

We are in the midst of trials right now.  The Bergsma family said their goodbyes to Rachel.  Her funeral was on Monday.  Eldon Wigss and his daughters said goodbye to JoJean.  She died Friday night.

Our sons.  Our daughters.  Our wives.  Our husbands.  Our mothers.  And our Fathers.  Are dealing with cancer.  Some have died.  Please continue to pray for Ruth, Kim, Paul, and Traci.  Friday night is the benefit for Traci.  Please come.  It will be a Christ the King.

We’re suffering.  We’re grieving.  We’re grasping for any bit of light and hope we can get.

We’ve lost jobs.  We’re trying to make ends meet.  Children promised to us through adoption have been at the last moment take out of our hands.  We are going through trials.

And so much of the path is dark.  Like Psalm 23.  Going through the valley of the shadow of death.  A valley filled with questions.  “Why God?”  And when

Answers aren’t enough

There’s still Jesus

He is more than just an answer to your prayer.

And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge.

When answers aren’t enough

He’s still there.

Why do trials come?  Why suffering?  Why grief?  I have no answer of my own.  But only what God speaks in our scripture text.  These have come so that your faith which is of greater value than gold may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Whose praise, glory, and honor?  Certainly Jesus Christ.  He is the one who sees his suffering servant through trial.  And still even the sufferer will receive praise, glory, and honor.  Because he clung to Jesus Christ while under trial.

There is hope!  When we are dying.  When someone we love, a Christian is dying.  When what we suffer feels like death.  There is hope.  Death does not have the final word.  Jesus Christ has the final word.  And that word is life.

Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  That’s the final word.

Though our bodies fall apart, die, and decay.  When Christ comes again we will receive new bodies.  Physical bodies.  When we will inhabit the kingdom of God and the new heaven and earth for eternity.

This is what it means to say, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”

In Jesus Christ alone there is the hope for the resurrection.

This is good news.  There is hope.  A living hope.  A hope that is sure.  A hope that is certain.

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.

An inheritance.  The Christian believer receives an inheritance.  That’s code words for eternal life.  Everlasting life.  Forever.

We know inheritances that come in the form of objects or money or houses or property.  All of which given enough time will perish, spoil, or fade.  But the inheritance stored up for Christian believers does not perish, spoil, or fade.  Its incorruptible.  Its pure.  Its pristine.  Moth and rust don’t destroy this inheritance.  Its sure.  Its expected.  Count on it.

Now we know life with beginnings and ends.  Can you picture life without end.  Just going on and on.  Let’s say God gives you 80 to a 100 years to live.  Some of us are getting there.  What does that look like in comparison to eternity?  Like this  [clap].  80 years.  100 years gone by ina snap.

And not only life into eternity.  But no more death or dying or pain or tears or sickness or disease or wars or destruction or racism or homelessness or cancer or sin or suffering or shame.

Eternity is eternity.  Its forever.  May the Lord cause us not to miss this.  Our only opportunity to receive this inheritance is now.

This is what it means to say, “I believe in the everlasting life.”

In Jesus Christ alone there is hope for eternal life.

There is hope!  And that hope is found in Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Because in Jesus Christ alone there is forgiveness.  There is resurrection.  Through him there is eternal life.  There is hope.  This is good news!  Good news that even the angels long to look into these things.

And that’s why Though we have not seen him, we love him; and even though we do not see him now, we believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for we are receiving the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

This is good news!  Now lets take it home and through the rest of the week shall we?  Here are three points to apply.

Here’s the first.  Go back to the question I asked you at the beginning.  “What is your hope?”  After the last while has your answer changed?  What has it changed too?

Here’s the second.  Faith in Jesus Christ is more valuable than gold.  Gold doesn’t give lasting hope.  There is no forgiveness or resurrection or eternal life in gold or any other possession.  Having a faith in Jesus Christ is just simply more valuable.

The time is right.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the good news.  Receive faith in Jesus Christ.  Now that you’ve heart the news you have a responsibility to respond to it.  I want you to believe.  I want you to be right relationship with God.  I want you to know hope.  Forgiveness.  Resurrection.  Eternal life.  Come to Jesus Christ.  Do not delay.  We’ll pray shortly and when we do please make your way forward.  Receive Jesus Christ.

Here’s the third.  You may well be in the middle of suffering and grief right now.  Or soon it may come to you.  When it comes, please remember the living hope that is found in Jesus Christ.  Rehearse it now so that when suffering comes you are ready to remember the hope.  Talk to anyone who is walking the road of grief and suffering.  They will tell you, “You need hope.”

Amen?  Amen.  Please pray with me.

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