Sunday, December 3, 2023

Advent Words 2023 ~ Word 1: Hope


Advent Words 2023
Word 1: Hope

“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.”  1 Peter 1:3-5

The first theme of the Advent season is hope. In our culture, hope has become a word that is often associated with wishful thinking. “I hope it’s sunny today or I hope I get the job I interviewed for, or I hope our family has a happy Christmas.”

This, however, is not how hope is defined in the Bible, and it is not the type of hope we are called to live out as Christ’s followers.  Biblical hope is a confident expectation or solid assurance of what God has promised. A firm trust that God always keeps his promises. Mounce’s Expository Dictionary says hope is “a firm conviction that because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, we can have confidence as we face the future”.  

Our passage today in 1 Peter gives us the basis, the present reality, and the future focus of our hope.

Peter says that God has given us new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus described this new birth to Nicodemus in John 3:3-8 as being “born again”, saying that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” and that “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit”. Through faith in Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead, we are born anew – born spiritually - and we become children of God. (See John 1:12-13)

Our new life is a gift from God. Peter says that God gave us this new birth “in His great mercy”.  Paul further describes this act of mercy in his letter to Titus.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7

Our hope is based on what God did for us through the resurrection of his Son – the gift of new birth, and, as Paul adds, renewal by the Holy Spirit. Peter goes on to show us what that hope looks like in this present age, it is a “living hope”. We experience hope now, because our new birth through faith in Christ has brought us into a new life, which is characterized by a living hope. Living hope is hope that is real and active. It is hope in action. F.B. Meyer says, “Living hope is our link between our present and future.” 

What is the future we are to set our hope on? Peter points out that we have been promised an inheritance. An inheritance that Peter says that can never perish,spoil or fade and it is kept in heaven for you until Christ appears again. Paul, in the Titus 3 passage, points out that our inheritance as heirs is the hope of eternal life. So, we can live by hope in this age because we have been promised something much more glorious in the age to come. What Paul calls in Titus 2:13, “The blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”.

Pastor and teacher Bob Utley calls us to “make a decisive choice to trust completely in Christ’s return." Our faith in God’s promise of eternal life with Him enables us to live by hope now. We must choose to fix our eyes on Jesus and His promises and live by hope. 

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  1. This segued beautifully into the Advent sermon at my church. We have a sure and living hope. Thanks, Mary.