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Untouchable Hope

Updated: Apr 23, 2023




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1 Peter 1:3-12


Continuing our study of 1 Peter, our lesson is "Untouchable Hope," as we consider (1 Peter 1:3-12). In our last lesson, we discussed the Apostle Peter, who wrote this letter, and how he is writing to encourage Christians through difficulties, trials, persecution, and hardships. These are Christians who stand out against the backdrop of their culture. Jesus said to his disciples:


John 16:33 (NIV)

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."


Following Jesus does not mean a life without difficulties and hardships. As a people, as humans, we experience setbacks, loss, pain, trials, and hardships. Some experiences are common to us all. However, following Christ and his example of love, humility, and compassion, following his example of a life honoring the Father, will bring other challenges as those who stand out from the backdrop of the world. Peter is writing to encourage Christians facing persecution and trials because they follow Jesus and have made him Lord of their lives.


As we consider this backdrop of Peter's first letter, where does Peter begin as he seeks to encourage Christians? Peter starts with a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1:3). Why is this such a crucial place for Peter to start, and what is the significance for us today?



New Birth into a Living Hope


1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

"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"


Some of you may have heard of Dr. Viktor Frankl. Dr. Frankl was a remarkable man who lived through one of the most horrific, brutal, and inhumane atrocities humans have known. Dr. Frankl was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. A Jewish-Austrian psychiatrist, he later published a book about his experiences and lessons learned through the concentration camp, "Man's Search for Meaning."


While in the concentration camp, Dr. Frankl practiced his training. Many of the prisoners would come to him, and he had the opportunity of talking with them and to offer words that, in some small way, may encourage them to survive. Life in a concentration camp quickly became about survival. A small ration of bread and, if you were lucky, a ladle of watered-down soup "from the bottom" might mean survival. From the bottom because that might have a pea in it. Everything else, including your dignity, was stripped away in attempts to take away even your humanity.


One of the things Dr. Frankl discovered was the importance of hope. For those who had lost all hope, death was sure to come. The beatings did not matter; frostbite, pain, without hope, people became apathetic, and death was inevitable. But, on the other hand, life had a sense of meaning if you held on to hope, something pain and suffering could not destroy.


An untouchable hope is what the apostle Peter is talking about. Amid trials, hardships, persecutions, and sufferings, praise be to God, who has given us new birth into a living hope. Through Jesus, who overcame death, Christians are given new life as we are born into a living hope.


Kept In Heaven


The living hope Christians share is not something that can be stripped away. It is a hope greater than our circumstances.


1 Peter 1:3–5 (NIV)

"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." (emphasis added)


Looking beyond our present circumstances, we find an inheritance that cannot perish, spoil or fade. A hope that cannot be stripped away or pried away from our life. Peter is writing about what Dr. Frankl had discovered. Hope greater than our circumstances allows us to see beyond your present trial. It provides meaning and purpose that is greater than the present distress. The apostle Paul shared very similar words as Peter when he recorded in (Rom. 8:18), "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."


Through the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead, Christians are born into a living hope. A hope that cannot be stripped away and is "kept" in heaven. Understanding the language, Peter is not saying our inheritance is somewhere beyond the clouds. He does not mean this by the words "kept in heaven for you." Peter is talking about our inheritance as Christians is guarded, shielded, and watched over by the power of God. Nothing can remove, pry away, or spoil the hope we share through Christ. Our hope as Christians is secured by the power of God.


Refining


Having this hope, a hope that is beyond our circumstances, beyond the hardships, and difficulties we may experience, allows us to see our circumstances differently. Our trials and hardships become a refining fire when viewed through the hope we share in Christ.


1 Peter 1:6–7 (NIV)

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 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 honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."


Having secured hope allows us to see beyond the present distress. It does not mean the present distress is easy or without pain and suffering. However, it provides a purpose beyond the trial.


I don't know a whole lot about refining metals. You may know more than I do. Most of us, I believe, are familiar with the basic process of melting metals. When you place zinc, gold, or some other metal in a fire, as it begins to melt, the dross, or impurities, start to rise to the top. If you are refining precious metal, as the dross rises to the top, you scrape it away, removing the impurities. Then, the metal is refined until it reaches its purest state.


Dr. Frankl describes some people in the camp who, when everything had been stripped away, became much like savage animals. But, in contrast, others tried to comfort and care for their friends, holding on to their humanity.


Reading his book, I can't even imagine the atrocities he describes, and I imagine he shields his readers in many ways by not disclosing all the horrific details. So I would never assume judgment or even that I could understand the choices some made in the face of such inhumane circumstances. That said, in trials and hardships, we have a choice. How do we react to difficulties?


Trials can serve as a refining fire so that our faith, of greater worth than gold, is proven. As Christians, Peter teaches us that our joy is independent of our circumstances. Our joy, even in difficulties, is because of something greater than our circumstances.


Something Greater


1 Peter 1:8–9 (NIV)

"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."


Peter's heart seems to overflow as he considers how these Christians demonstrate their love of Christ, even though, unlike himself, they have not seen him in person. Peter may be recalling the words Jesus shared with Thomas as he penned his words to these Christian sisters and brothers.


John 20:27–29 (NIV)

"Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."


With a shepherd's heart, Peter could see their faith, and he knew it meant their deliverance.


Bridging The Context


Peter is writing this letter to encourage Christians through difficulties, trials, persecution, and hardships. As he does so, he begins by describing an untouchable hope experienced in new life through Jesus' resurrection. It is the same hope we share today.


You may be in the midst of trials. I pray these simple thoughts have in some way encouraged you. Peter speaks of a new and living hope we share in Christ. The author of Hebrews describes this hope "as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Heb. 6:19). It is an untouchable hope secured by the power of God. Amid trials, it is a hope we can have all confidence in.


Having our hope in Christ allows us to realize a greater purpose. Each day, we all face choices we must make. Most of the choices we are faced with may seem small and insignificant. For example, what socks do I want to wear today? However small, realize we maintain the ability to choose. Practice making choices that align with the greater purposes we share in Christ. We may be in a season where we are not experiencing trials and difficulties in our lives. If that is the case, be thankful. But practice our choices. Making small choices and aligning them with God's purposes will make it easier when faced with more significant challenges.


 

notes:

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from:

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Resources

lesson slides (PDF format): Untouchable Hope


series image:

1 Peter - A Living Hope Series Image



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