The other day, I began reading the book of 1 Peter again. The books of 1 and 2 Peter have always been intriguing to me, perhaps because they were written by a man who denied Jesus three times. To me, they are a testimony of the work of grace and mercy extended by a loving God to a wretched man. Peter had learned what grace was and he found peace with God. Perhaps that’s why Peter could start his letter with the phrase: “Grace to you and peace be multiplied” (verse 2). He then begins his letter’s content in verse 3. Let me read it to you:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Just to muse a bit with you, Peter tells us in this verse that because of God’s “abundant mercy,” the new birth has wrought for us a “living hope,” secured for us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from tomb. To me, and without scholarly exegesis of the text, there is something to be said about this phrase. It is almost as if Peter is saying that because of Christ’s death and rising to life again, because of His effectual work – plainly, because of the Gospel, we are brought forth from one particular state to a new, better state, which Peter calls “a living hope.” The Gospel, though, doesn’t merely carry us from one place to the next, or change our status from one to the other, but it actually makes a new person, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
To dig deeper, there is a way that something can be alive, but still outwardly appear weakened, sickly, even dying. In other words, there is no quality of life. I am reminded of the elderly man or woman, confined to the nursing home chair. They are immobile, weak, and must be fed and cared for by someone else – they are totally at the mercy of another. There is essentially “no hope” for this person. Each day is a reminder of an imminent death, all seems hopeless, and what remains of life is grim. The end of this earthly life can be a very saddening and fearful time, and perhaps especially so to one in a nursing home.
But, for the Christian, Peter is not describing one who is alive, yet dying. For he speaks of one who is alive and has hope. It is a living hope – it is, in fact, an encouraging, even exciting assurance because hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Hope that has been granted by God’s abundant mercy and secured through Christ’s resurrection cannot disappoint, because if Christ is risen and lives, then we too shall live! Indeed, we too are at the mercy of another, just as the nursing home resident. But, rather than depending on another to sustain us until we die, we are depending on Another to sustain us until we live. For those of us who have been granted this “abundant mercy” look forward to “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for [us]” (1 Peter 1:4). It is this mercy that has saved us, and it is this mercy which shall preserve us until we throw off this earthly tent we live in. We look toward the moment when we receive our glorious bodies – when we are “further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4 ESV).
All this to say, if Christ was raised from the dead, so have we been and yet will be! This is our surety and expectation because since Christ lives, how can we be dead? How can I, who has the Spirit of Jesus living within me, be dead? If I am burdened with this life, depressed, upset, or disappointed, it is because I have forgotten (or have yet to grasp) what this mercy-granted, Christ’s resurrection-secured hope really is. I am reminded of the old hymn “Blessed Assurance,” written in 1873 by the blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby. Ms. Crosby understood what this living hope all about. She enjoyed a “blessed assurance” that was implanted in her very soul because she grasped the glorious Gospel! Let us recall some of those poignant words:
“Blessed assurance! Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood!”
Christian, you have been purchased, washed clean, given new life, and made an heir with Christ and by Christ! This is a blessed assurance! This is a living hope! O, that we boldly petition the throne of grace until we begin to glimpse the depths of this living hope! And when this is assurance is graciously realized through divine aid, we will sing aloud with Ms. Crosby:
“This is MY story, this is MY song, praising my Savior all the day long!”
We have been begotten again to a living hope, and we are just about to lay hold of this precious inheritance along with our Beloved Friend, Savior, Brother, and Lord. Let this blessed assurance take you from this day to that day.