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Easter Sermon 1 Peter 1.3-5 A Living Hope

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1 Peter 1:3-5 A Living Hope            Easter 2007

1.  Hopelessness is a Tomb

In many regards, a person without hope is a person locked in a tomb.

A.  Story from Victor Frankl

In "Man's Search for Meaning", Viktor Frankl recounts what happened to his friend, a fellow inmate in Auschwitz:

"I would like to tell you something, Doctor. I have had a strange dream. A voice told me that I could wish for something, that I should only say what I wanted to know, and all my questions would be answered... I wanted to know when we, when our camp, would be liberated and our sufferings come to an end."

"And when did you have this dream?" I asked. "In February, 1945," he answered. It was then the beginning of March.

"What did your dream voice answer?"

Furtively he whispered to me, "March 30."

When my friend told me about this dream, he was still full of hope and convinced that the voice of his dream would be right. But as the promised day drew nearer, the war news which reached our camp made it appear very unlikely that we would be free on the promised date.

·         March 29, my friend suddenly became ill and ran a high temperature.

·         March 30, the day his prophecy had told him that the war and suffering would be over for him, he became delirious and lost consciousness.

·         March 31, he was dead.

This shattered hope lowered his body's resistance against the latent typhus infection. His faith in the future and his will to live had become paralyzed and his body fell victim to illness - and thus the voice of his dream was right after all" (p. 97).

 

He died because he lost hope.

B.  Have You Been There?

You get the call, e-mail, you have the conversation …

Your dreams are crushed.  Your plans are destroyed.

Words that best describe the next moments are “hopelessness”

-          Started to go into a tomb

-          Saw only darkness and thick walls

-          An avalanche was blocking the entrance

-          There seemed to be no way out

 

C.  Hopelessness is Powerful

·         Like a tomb

·         Like a prison with a life sentence

·         Like having no exit

·         Like the walls of life are closing in

[TS] Hopelessness is like a tomb, it is extremely powerful.

2. When Have you experienced Hopelessness Like a Tomb?

1.      If you’re breathing today, you have a tomb story

2.      The question isn’t if you’ve experienced hopelessness

the question is when.

Are you in the tomb right now?

3.      What Tomb Are You In?

-          Disease?

-          Your Marriage is like a Tomb

-          Emptiness – your work, life, friends, family offer no joy

-          Feel trapped by an Addiction?

o       Substance addiction

o       Food

o       Pornography (more money spent on pornography than professional baseball, basketball and football combined)

-          Death? (the ultimate tomb)

Epicurus – If we knew death was annihilation, we would have nothing to fear (his words “it is nothing to us”).  But no one can know that for sure.  What if it isn’t?  That’s where fear and anxiety comes in.

Hamlet’s Soliloquy starts with “To be, or not to be--that is the question…”
Then talks about death …

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all

[TS] What Tomb are you in???

What will we do with our Hopelessness?

[TSS] If hopelessness is powerful, HOPE is even more powerful!

There is good news!  Easter means Resurrection, and that is the foundation of Hope. 

There is life out of the tomb.

There is a Rescuer who came to give you HOPE.

3. The Story of Easter is About Hope!

1 Peter 1:3       "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,"

If there is a way out of the tomb…

If we can have hope…

…Then we will find it in connection to Jesus.

A.  Jesus went to the cross motivated by hope.

Hebrews 12:2 -            "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

B.  Jesus Died Motivated by Hope

In 1 Peter 1, our hope is in an inheritance kept for us in heaven.

·         Inheritance = something you don’t have now, but will have someday

·         In Ephesians 1, Paul says that Jesus gained an inheritance

Eph 1:18          "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,"

·         What did Jesus gain?

o       He already owned the world, all of creation, all authority over heaven and Earth

o       The only thing Jesus didn’t have before He suffered on the Cross that he had on Easter morning is YOU.

·         We were Jesus’ living Hope

·         Jesus had JOY, because His death would rescue you from your tomb.

·         Jesus had HOPE in His inheritance

His suffering was not an end in itself.

He suffered so that you and I could be healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5   "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

You and I were Jesus’ Living Hope!

To the degree that you realize that you were His living Hope, you will make Him yours.

C.  Jesus Rose Again Motivated by Hope

1 Pt 1:3            “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

Death is the Ultimate Tomb

“The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the foundation of our hope. It was a confirmation of what he declared as truth when he lived; it was a proof of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul; it was a pledge that all who are united to him will be raised up.” (Barnes Notes)

If Jesus really rose from the dead, then I have reason to believe the things Jesus said about His death.

·         He said that he died for me

·         He said that he paid the ransom for me

·         1 Pt 3:18 – “Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”

·         If Jesus really rose from the dead, then the ultimate tomb – death- has been cracked open.

·         If Jesus really rose from the dead, then every tomb of hopelessness I find myself in can easily be cracked open.

 

So…Did It Really Happen?

We don’t get hope by wishful thinking, but rather by thinking!

1 Cor 15 – We know for sure three things.

1) The Early Followers of Jesus believed that Jesus had come back from the dead.

                        This was a worldview revolution.

No one was expecting this

… not until the end of the world

2) There were hundreds and hundreds of people who claimed to see Jesus.

                        Verifiable

                        Go see them!

            3) Thousands Died Happily in their faith.

You don’t get hope by wishful thinking, but by thinking.

Looking at these facts, you either have to agree that Jesus rose from the dead, or do something that no one else has been able to do and come up with a rational explanation for the existence of the Christian Church.

[TS] Easter is the story of a LIVING HOPE for all those who are in the tombs of hopelessness.

4. You Need Hope

A.  Having Hope Will Change Your Life

1.      Hope is Powerful

English word connotes uncertainty.

            (Is that true? I hope so)

Greek word, used 80 times in NT, talks about a rock-solid certainty

Hope is a life-shaping certainty of something that hasn’t happened yet, but you know will.

2.      Illustration of Hope – 2 People with the Same Job

Two people with same menial job, same bad work conditions, same bad lighting, no vacations, long hours.

·         One will get $15,000 at the end of the year

·         The other will get $15,000,000.

-          The first person will grumble, complain, do the job poorly, maybe even quit

-          The second guy will whistle while he works

o       he will put up with the filth gladly

o       he won’t let the long hours keep him down

o       Though he’s bone-tired, he’ll pull himself out of bed gladly to get to work.

3.      A Christian is someone doing the job of life with more than $15 million secured for the future.

The Christian lives knowing that they will inherit everything in Christ…and that today they can live in the presence of that future.

1 Peter 1:4       an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you

4.      Hope is the Fuel for the Engine of Life

Our Hope, not our circumstances, Shape our lives

The book Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Selgman says that all of us have what he calls an “explanatory style” to account for life’s experiences.

Explanatory style is the manner in which you habitually explain to yourself why events happen.”

ILL – You’re supposed to meet a date at 7pm sharp.  By 7:45 the date is still a no-show.  Those are just cold facts.  Your “explanatory style” will be the filter that you see those events through.

-          They stood me up = Mad

-          They don’t love me anymore = Sad

-          Maybe in a car accident = Worry

-          Working overtime to pay for this meal = Grateful (Naïve, but grateful)

-          Maybe they are with someone else = Jealousy

-          This finally gives me a reason to dump them = Relief

Your hope works like that.

Your hope, or lack of hope, dictates how you view your circumstances.

And when your explanatory style, you hope, is locked in on Jesus and the imperishable/unfading inheritance we have in heaven, suddenly your life gets very powerful.

ILL - Early Christians – Rodney Stark The Rise of Christianity

1)      In the great Epidemics in urban centers, others fled the cities and the Christians stayed.

2)      In persecution, the Christians did not resort to terrorism, guerilla warfare or other forms of violence, but rather died praying for their enemies.

3)      Rome had conquered all the nations, so for the first time in history all the national borders were open – therefore cities were very multi-ethnic.  In this, there was lots of ethnic tension and the Christian church was the first group to have no racial pecking order.  They said, “if the gospel is true, then race doesn’t matter” … and no other group or religion would say that.

WHY?

      Because they knew their future.

·         They didn’t live focused on the epidemics, persecutions and ethnic divisions

·         They lived in the presence of the future.

·         This hope is a life changing certainty!

B.  How To Get Hope

1.      How Do you get Hope?

How do you get out of the tombs of hopelessness?

2.      Answer: Jesus walked of the tomb in order to walk into our tombs.  He walks into our tightly seals tombs of hopelessness and sets us free!

3.      Key you Have to Let Him in

Admit that you lack hope

Describe the geography of your tomb to Jesus

-          Be brutally honest with your hopelessness

o       Hopelessness is more than an emotional dilemma

o       It is a real spiritual issue

 

4.  Receive This Hope

Ill- CS Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

-          Eustace was trapped in a tomb of hopelessness.

-          He’d fallen asleep in a pile of treasure thinking dragonish thoughts

-          When he woke up, he’d become a dragon

-          At first it was fun, but then he realized that it was a tomb.

-          Aslan came and told Eustace to take the skin off.

-          Eustace scrapped and tore and some came off…but not enough.

-          Then Aslan stepped in. His claws cut deep and they hurt, but the dragon skin fell off and Eustace was free. Then Aslan washed him, dressed him, and brought him back to his friends.

That story reminds me of how Jesus promises to free us and give us hope.

You cry out to Jesus, and a glimmer of faith – maybe just 1% of you, knows that He’s listening.

You describe your tomb of hopelessness to Him.

“I’m locked in a tomb.  Some of the rocks that trap me are of my own doing.  The lies, the greed, the mistakes, the sins.  Those rocks are closing in on me.  But Jesus, some of the rocks that build my tomb aren’t fair!  I didn’t kill my marriage.  I didn’t have the affair.  I don’t deserve to be sick.  Those people who judged me were wrong.  Those rocks add to my hopelessness.”

Like Eustace, all our efforts can’t free ourselves.

We must have new birth.  We must be born again.

How does that happen?  Not by our efforts, but as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

This concept is first introduced in John 3

·         It goes back to a time Jesus was talking to a famous teacher about how someone could have hope, how a person could live in the presence of the future

·         Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”  Jn 3:3-4

·         Jesus responded by telling this teacher that there is a spiritual birth that empowers us to have hope.

·         This spiritual birth is a gift from the Holy Spirit

·         Then Jesus described what had to happen so that we could be born again – he told this teacher what needed to be done so that our tombs could be opened and that we could have hope.

·         “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.” (Jn 3:16)

5. Application – What Hopeless Tomb Are You In?

6.  You can have access to a Living Hope in Jesus.

            - A hope that will guide us, help us, mature us, use us

            - This hope means new life in Jesus outside the tomb.

Conclusion

If you want to live like they lived, you have to have what they had.

HOPE.

You need it – you are in a tomb.

You can believe it – not wishful thinking, but thinking.

You can receive it – a gift; you can be born again.

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