Living Hope

Gary Combs ·
April 9, 2023 · easter · 1 Peter 1:3-5 · Notes


For many, their hopes are like wishes, and their hopes are often broken. So that they begin to say to one another, as if it were true wisdom, “Don’t get your hopes up.” Many people today are living without hope.

But when the Bible speaks of hope, it speaks of much stronger stuff! It’s a living hope anchored in Christ’s resurrection and extending through our present and into Christ’s future return. In the apostle Peter’s first letter, he told believers that they had been given new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. We can have this living hope in Christ!


Below is an automated transcript of this message

”He has risen! Good morning, church and Happy Easter! Today, we’ll be talking about living hope because we have a living hope in Christ Jesus, the raised Jesus, our Lord.

For many of us, hope is not so much a living hope as it is more like a wish. We throw the word, “hope,” around like we do the word, “wish.” We say things like this and maybe some of you said this this weekend. I hope it doesn’t rain; I’d like to do some yard work. I don’t know if anybody got any yard work done this weekend, but just wait till tomorrow. It’s North Carolina. I mean, who knows what tomorrow could be? 80 degrees? Hope it that little boy, seeing his father get home late from work every day, and thinking, I hope he gets home early today so we can throw the ball and we can catch the ball together. A young wife whose husband seems distant and eagerly angered wonders, I hope that he still loves me. A middle-aged husband sits with his wife at a doctor’s office awaiting the results of her biopsy. He thinks to himself, I hope it isn’t cancer. An elderly grandmother sits in a wheelchair in a retirement home, holding between her hands, very lovingly, a picture of her grandchildren. She ponders, I hope they’ll come and see me soon.

Do you see how we use the word, “hope?” Often, we use the word, “hope,” in such a way that’s more like a wish. We really don’t have any confidence that it will happen, but we “hope” it will. We try to let each other down easily. We say to each other, ‘Don’t get your hopes up” because it’s better just to not get your hopes up. May I say to you, today on this Easter morning, Jesus got up! Get your hopes way up. Get your hopes up in Jesus for He is our living hope .

If we look the word, “hope,” up in the dictionary, we’ll see three aspects–the first is a desire. It describes the desire itself accompanied by an expectation of or a belief in fulfillment or success. So, when we speak of hope, we first of all speak of the strength or the quality of the thing, of our hope that it’s a desire. Secondly, we might hope in someone or something on which our hopes are centered or based. There’s that which makes it possible for our hopes to come true. A someone or a something. And then thirdly, there’s the something hoped for, there’s that desired outcome. The object of our hope. We consider the word, “hope,” today as the dictionary defines it. Now, let’s look at how the Bible defines it.

The Bible speaks of a living hope, a hope that’s made of stronger stuff. In the apostle Peter’s first letter, he told believers that they’ve been given new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord. As we look at the text today, I think we’ll see three ways of having this living hope that the Bible describes.

Let’s look at Peter’s first letter, first epistle, chapter one, verse three. We’ll read a few verses there. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV) 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” This is God’s Word. Amen.

HOW TO HAVE LIVING HOPE IN CHRIST: 1. Anchor your hope in Christ’s resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus is the basis for our hope. It’s that which gives us not only the strength of our hope but the quality of our hope. That which is the foundation of our hope.

Look at verse three. Circle a couple of words if you have your bulletin. Circle the word, “hope, living hope” and circle the word, “resurrection.” Remember how the dictionary defined hope? One way that it was defined is that it would be centered or based on something. I would suggest to you that our hope is to be centered or based on the fact of the resurrection of Jesus.

As I consider all of the founders of institutions and religions, I can think of only one who, if you go to His tomb, it’s empty. There’s no tombstone there, it’s empty. This is the fact of the resurrection.

I’ve been to Israel; we’ve taken people from our church on tours there. May I say to you, there’s a tomb there that’s called “The Garden Tomb” that you can go and visit and you can go into the tomb. Trust me, it’s empty. I’ve been there and you can see where they’ve rolled the stone away. It gives you a sense of what it must have been like for the disciples and for the women who came and saw the empty tomb. It’s a fact of history.

It is the year 2023. That’s 2023 years since Jesus came and split history right down the middle. When we talk about the resurrection, we’re not talking about a myth. We’re not even really just talking about a religious thing. We’re talking about a fact of history.

Sir Lionel Luckhoo is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s “Most successful lawyer.” He was knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth and also served as a distinguished diplomat and a justice on his country’s highest court. Here’s what he concluded after he turned his expertise to the question of whether the resurrection of Jesus Christ passes the test of legal evidence: “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” So, we have a legal expert, Sir Lionel Luckhoo, who says it passes the test of evidence for the courtroom that the resurrection in fact took place. Maybe you’ve heard of Lee Strobel. He was a Yale law school graduate and became a journalist at the Chicago Tribune. His wife came to Christ; he was an avowed atheist and her coming to Christ really disrupted his life because he had to deal with the reality that her life really had changed. She was behaving in a much different way. She had joy and happiness. She was a better wife and a better partner to him. He couldn’t come up with any explanation for it. So, he began to use his journalistic expertise to evaluate the biblical evidence and the evidence for the resurrection. As a result, he became a Christian himself and wrote the book, “The Case for Easter.” In this book, he writes, “I didn’t become a Christian because God promised I would have an even happier life than I had as an atheist. He never promised any such thing. Indeed, following him would inevitably bring divine demotions in the eyes of the world. Rather, I became a Christian because the evidence was so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God who proved his divinity by rising from the dead. That meant following him was the most rational and logical step I could possibly take.”

We have the judge and the lawyer speaking on this. We have the journalist applying his expertise to it, but may I offer to you another man who was an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus and spoke of many other eyewitnesses. His name is the apostle Paul. He writes this in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (ESV) 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

This is the apostle Paul, who had been a persecutor of the church. He was a Jewish rabbi who persecuted the church. Because he encountered the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, his life was forever changed. He spoke of how he had seen Him and he spoke of these other witnesses that had seen the risen Lord. When he wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, he said many of them are still alive . In fact, he could introduce them to you and show you that they were eyewitnesses.

May I say to you this today, you can anchor your hope in the fact of the resurrected Jesus. Base your life on that fact. It doesn’t matter what else in history you look at. This is one of the most well supported, documented facts in world history. Jesus was raised from the grave.

An anchor is something used to keep a ship from swaying and going off course. When the waves come and the storms come, the anchor keeps a ship from moving out of its position. When we think of our hope being anchored in something, consider anchoring your hope in Christ.

In the book of Hebrews, we read this, Hebrews 6:19-20 (NLT) 19 “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.” We see the scripture talking about the kind of Biblical hope that we speak of is more than a wish. It’s a biblical, living hope that’s anchored in a fact. That fact is that Jesus was raised from the grave and is alive.

Maybe, you’ve been noticing that we have our baptistry down front. Earlier, at our first service this morning, we had eight candidates for baptism. We saw each of them come into the baptism waters. I asked each of them, “Do you repent of your sin?” They all said, “I do.” I asked each of them, “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.” Each of them said, “I do.” I said to them, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I now baptize you, my brother, or in some cases, my sister.” They were baptized. As I lifted them up out of the water, I said, “Risen to new life in Christ Jesus.” What a great day to be baptized! At the end of the service today, we’ll show you a little video of that taking place so that you won’t miss out having come to the second service.

May I say to you that baptism water is a picture of what Christ wants to do in our life, so that our hope is not just anchored in the resurrection of Jesus, but it’s also anchored in the reality that He wants to give us new life so that we are born again. Going under the water in baptism is a picture of the old life being dead and buried. As the candidates today were raised up out of the baptism waters, it’s a picture that there is a new creation, a new life born again in Christ, that we are in Christ. We have a new life.

I ask you this question today: “Have you made a decision about what to do with this fact of history that Christ is raised from the dead?” If you believe that today, it should reorient everything about your life and you can anchor your hope in the reality of Christ’s resurrection.

HOW TO HAVE LIVING HOPE IN CHRIST: 2. Rest your hope on Christ’s reliability.

We can anchor this living hope in His resurrection. We can rest our hopes in Christ’s reliability. We talk about hope. We talk about it being anchored in an object, having a foundation, but we also talk about the quality of our hope and the strength of it. What strengthens our hope is the person of Jesus and that He’s able to keep us and guard us.

I want us to look at verses four and five here. Notice a couple of keywords in verse four. Circle the word, “kept.” Then, in verse five, circle the word, “power.” Let’s consider those two words for a second– “kept” and “power.”

First of all, let’s look at the word, “kept.” What’s he keeping? He says in verse four, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” If you’ve placed your hope, your living hope, in Jesus, He has an inheritance for you. Whatever belongs to Christ, as a believer, now belongs to us, for we are coheirs with Christ. Whatever we have there is being kept for us. It says “imperishable;” in other words, it won’t perish, it’s undefiled, it won’t go bad and it’s unfading.

Some of you may have been experiencing some difficult economic crises in the past few years since the pandemic. The marketplace has gone up and down. There have been shortages. If you were planning on retiring in the past year, then you know that your 401K started looking more like a 101K. Many people probably have said, ‘I gotta work a few more years to see if this recovers.’ The truth of the matter is, things on planet earth run down. They fade. They perish. They become defiled.

This past weekend, I wanted to cut some flowers to put in a vase for my wife. I had bought her this long stem red rose bush some years ago for Mother’s Day. Do you remember that 80 degree weather we had like a week ago? It caused that rose bush to just pop with buds. All of those buds were just getting ready to bloom and then, we had this weekend. When they started to bloom, instead of a beautiful red rose, the tips of them were kind of raggedy looking from all the rain and the cold. Before the buds opened, they were already fading. What I know is, in just a few days, the petals will start to fall off . Everything on planet Earth runs down; it perishes and becomes defiled. It doesn’t last. It fades.

You buy a new car. You’re excited. Then, before long, it loses that “new car smell.” There’s just like this thing on planet earth. Nothing quite lasts like you want it to and the older you get, the harder it is to impress you. Everything used to impress you when you were young because you hadn’t seen it yet.

What do you hope for today? Well, , I’m planning on going to the mountains. Maybe, some of you have this coming week off because the kids are out of school. Then, once you go on your vacation and you get to the last day of it, you say, ‘Well, it’s almost over.’ Then you start thinking, Now, what am I going to put my hopes in? Do you ever have that problem, like nothing lasts? Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that had such strength? Some such hope that you would know it will not disappoint and will last? It won’t fade and it won’t perish. If only there were something like that.

This is what God promises, because Jesus is alive. He has the power over sin, death and the grave. He has the power to keep your inheritance. There’s no other inheritance like this. It’s guaranteed to appreciate. It is yours.

The end of verse five says, “kept in heaven for you.” He’s not talking about the inheritance now. If he were talking about the inheritance, he would say that by God’s power it is being guarded. Now, he’s talking about me and you. Verse 5 says, “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” So, not only is our inheritance kept, but we are the “who” in this verse– “Who by God’s power…”

The Greek word there is where we get the word dynamo or dynamite. It is God’s resurrection power. That’s the kind of power we’re talking about. We are being guarded, through faith, for salvation. Our inheritance is being kept, but we’re, also, being guarded by His power. So, we can have hope.

I’ve got a great inheritance. I hope I get to see it. You can know that you’re going to get to see it. It’s that kind of hope. It’s a hope that knows you haven’t seen it yet. He’s guarding not just your inheritance, He’s guarding you.

In Hebrews 10:23 (ESV) it says this, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” That is describing the strength of our hope. We don’t need to be wavering. We can stand firm on this hope that we have.

A 1837 hymn by Edward Mote, illustrates this strong and living hope that we have in Christ: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Lean on Jesus’ Name. Lean on Christ, the solid rock, Who is our strength. You don’t have to waver in this hope. You can know. It’s Christ’s reliability that the quality of our hope is kept. We are guarded.

HOW TO HAVE LIVING HOPE IN CHRIST: 3. Focus your hope on Christ’s return.

We have a hope that’s founded, or anchored, in the resurrection of Jesus, in the present. We have this strength of hope that’s based on His reliability to keep us and to guard us. We have a future; something to look forward to.

It is said that in order to be happy, you need some meaningful work to do and something to look forward to, but one day blends into the next day. You get up in the morning and you think, Man, another day. You just repeat the mantra– get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, go to sleep, get up, go to work, go home…. but the Bible says to get your hopes up because Jesus is coming again. He has come but He is coming again, so, you can get your hopes up that there’s this day coming. What are you looking at, Gary, that’s drawing your attention to that?

Look at the latter part of verse five. It says, “through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Salvation ready to be revealed? See, we only have part of our salvation right now. You’re saved because you’ve believed in Jesus, but you’ve yet to see what that really looks like. You’ve only caught a glimpse of it. The curtain has not yet been pulled back.

The word, “revealed” here is “apocalypse.” In the Greek, it has the idea of to draw back a curtain and to reveal that which has never been seen before. Some of you are old enough here that you say things like this, “I’ve seen it all.” Well, you haven’t seen this because the salvation He has for us has yet to be revealed at the last time.

When is the last time? We don’t know. The angels don’t know. Only the Father in heaven knows the time. “No man knoweth the hour,” the scripture says, “but only the Father.” We know it’s not in the past; that’s already happened. It could be today. There’s really nothing preventing today from being the “last time.” History is not circular, as some imagine it to be. It is linear. It had a beginning. That’s how the Bible begins by the way, “In the beginning.” That’s appropriate, isn’t it? “In the beginning.”

There is a place at the end when all the living will stand before the Father in the last time, but here, he speaks of the revealing of our salvation in Jesus.

1 John 3:2, it says this, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” If you ever wonder what God’s up to with you, here’s what He’s up to– He’s making you like Jesus.

Here’s what Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:3 (ESV) “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” This is the promise of Jesus. He says, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house there are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you. I go there to prepare a place for you that where I am, you shall be also. “ That’s what he has promised us. It’s something you’ve yet to see. Our hearts could not handle it. We’re going to need a better body with a better heart in order to even behold this thing that will someday be unveiled, the fullness of our salvation in Christ Jesus.

Get your hopes way up. This is not all. Something better is coming. This is the reality that Easter points to. This is what we’re praising the Lord about today, not just that He has risen, but that He is coming again.

1 Peter 1:13 (ESV) “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Set your focus on that. There’s a better thing than a vacation in the mountains on your horizon. There’s an eternity prepared for you and for me. For those that believe.

In the third book of JRR Tolkien’s trilogy, The Return of the King, Frodo and Sam have destroyed the Ring and are waiting to perish in a sea of lava. In what he thinks is their final conversation, Frodo says, “‘Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait. Now we are lost in ruin and downfall and there is no escape.” Then, Tolkien continues in this chapter. Do you remember Sam, the encourager? Sam stood and he holds his master’s wounded hand. He caresses it, sighs and says, “What a tale we’ve been in Mr. Frodo, haven’t we? I wish I could hear it told. Do you think they’ll say now comes the story of the nine fingered Frodo and the ring of doom. And then everyone will hush. I wish we could hear it and I wonder how it will go after we are gone.” But, Frodo and Sam do not perish. They are rescued by Gandalf and the eagles. They’re brought safely to Ithilien for healing and sleep. When they awake, they are thrown a banquet of praise and of celebration, during which a minstrel takes the stage and says this, ‘Lo! Lords and knights and men of valor unashamed, kings and princes, and fair people of Gondor, and Ridersof Rohan, and ye sons of Elrond, and Dúnedain of the North, and Elf and Dwarf, and great hearts of the Shire, and all free folk of the West, now listen to my lay. For I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.’ And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he stood up and cried ‘O great glory and splendor! And all my wishes have come true!’ And then he wept.

There’s a time coming when we will gather at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and, perhaps, a minstrel angel will stand to his feet and all the saints will fall to a quiet hush and he will sing to us in the tongues of every tribe and nation until our hearts overflow. We will look around and we will see that we are in the place where pain and delight flow together and tears have been transformed into blessedness. This is a place prepared by Jesus. A place of everlasting splendor. A place where all things are well and all things will forever be well. Perhaps, we’ll cry for a moment, so that the scripture is fulfilled, that he wipes every tear from our eyes. Maybe, we will cry because of the beauty or perhaps some final regret as we forget all things of this place and look forward only to the hopes to come. There’s a better, fairer place coming. The King will return. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. This is our living hope. Do you believe this?

Let’s pray, Lord Jesus, we’re here to celebrate, praise and worship You. Yet, before we close, I want to offer the opportunity, Lord, for that person that’s never given their life to You. Lord, would You knock on heart’s doors right now? Holy Spirit, would You touch people right now? Open their hearts and their minds to You. Is He talking to you, my friend? Would you be willing to pray right now, right in your seat , to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. If so, would you pray with me, “Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I want You as my Savior and as my Lord. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins, that You were raised from the grave and that You live today. Come and live in me. I want to be a child of God. Forgive me of my sin. I want You to be my Lord and my Savior.” If you’re praying that prayer, believing, He’ll save you and He will adopt you into His family. These hopes, these living hopes that we’ve spoken of, will be yours. Others are here today and you know this living hope and you have Jesus as Savior, but today, perhaps your hopes are down. It might be that you’ve placed your hopes on the wrong object or the wrong event or even the wrong person. Would you confess that now and say, “Lord, forgive me. I’ve allowed my hopes to diminish because I’ve forgotten what awaits me. Lord, help me to set my heart and mind afresh on You, on glory and on that which is to come. Lord, we set our hopes afresh on You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.