#11 A LIVING HOPE

What is the result or outcome of the new birth that God has given to those who believe in Christ? Or, we might ask the question a different way: what was God’s purpose in giving us new birth – what was his intention for us in this new birth?

Peter states that God gave us new birth ‘into a living hope’ [1Peter 1:3].

‘Into’ translates the preposition eis which is primarily about direction towards rather than location. Because of the new birth we have this living hope, and this living hope was God’s purpose in giving us new life in Christ.

In the New Testament ‘hope’ is always a positive, assured, confident thing. It is not at all mere wishful thinking. There is no element of uncertainty in it. We must never think that is like our modern idiom in which we say ‘I hope so!’ without any confidence that what we hope will actually come to pass.

This sure confidence in the future promised by God is expressed elsewhere:

It is guaranteed [Romans 4:16; 2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5].
Nothing at all can reverse the love of God shown to us in Christ [Romans 8:31-39].
What God has begun he will complete [Philippians 1:6].
What God has promised he will accomplish [2Timothy 1:12].

The Christian hope is not a dull, dead hope. It is, Peter says, a living hope. It is in stark contrast to the unbelieving mindset. It is also in stark contrast to the legalistic Christian mindset and the nominal Christian mindset.

Consider:

The atheist believes that death is the end. He has no future hope at all, except perhaps the expectation that his pain and his suffering will end because he believes he will cease to exist.

The legalist, and the nominal Christian, hopes that his good deeds will out-weigh his sins, but he can never be certain that this is so. Mixed with his uncertain hope is a consciousness of his sin and of the impending judgement. He has no certainty about how he will stand in the judgement.

But the Christian with this hope, this living hope, looks to the future, regardless of whether that future is short or long, with absolute confidence that when he stands face to face with God he will be accepted. Indeed, he knows that because of Christ, his Saviour, his substitute, there is absolutely no possibility that he will be rejected.

But isn’t that self-righteous? Isn’t that rather conceited? Even offensive?

It may seem so.

But this living hope is not grounded in the Christian’s personal moral goodness or legal innocence or social justice. God has given us this living hope ‘through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ [verse 3].

By this resurrection:

The claims of Christ to be the Son of God are confirmed [Romans 1:4]. So the living hope is grounded in the deity of Christ.

The substitutionary, sin-bearing death of Christ is authenticated [1Corinthians 15:17]. So the living hope is grounded in the death of Christ for sin.

The present, spiritual life of the believer in the presence of God is confirmed [Ephesians 2:4-7]. So the living hope is grounded in the Christian’s indissoluble union with Christ.

The future physical resurrection of the believer is confirmed [1Corinthians 15:12-28]. So the living hope is grounded in the fact of Christ’s real physical resurrection.

Without the resurrection of Christ there is no salvation. Without the resurrection of Christ there is no ‘living hope’. But because there is the resurrection of Christ, there is salvation – sure, certain, guaranteed to all who believe in Christ. Because there is the resurrection of Christ the Christian hope is a living hope – a vital and enduring guaranteed expectation of all that God has promised in Christ.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017