I PETER 1: 3-5
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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Via Church is embarking on an exciting new season. We are looking at the next two years, 2017-2018, and sensing a God given vision for us as a congregation. The vision is compelling. As we look back at what God has done since our congregation began over 43 years ago – we see His faithfulness. We see the big and bold faith that people that have gone before us had for this community and church. As we stand on the shoulders of others we realize now is our moment to have a faith every bit as big and every bit as bold.
Our mission at Via Church is “Reflecting the hope of Christ ,so others can do the same”.
The reason for the existence of a place like Via Church has been given to us in crystal clarity. Jesus told His followers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). He commissioned His Church and this mission is our mission.
Every local church finds their unique ways that they express and accomplish this Great Commission of Jesus. At Via Church, because of Christ’s work in us, we are brimming with indiscriminate compassion for people – especially our city and world. This brings hope to people in desperate circumstances. Our hope is Jesus. We simply reflect His hope in all of life.
For the next few weeks, we are going to commit ourselves to the next two years of vision at Via Church. The vision that God has given us will result in increased witness for Jesus Christ. It will be a time for us to consider our mission. As reflectors of hope, we are going to talk about Our Great Hope.
The verses of our text are dense with importance – it speaks of things like God’s great mercy and our new birth. Peter (one of Jesus’ disciples) wrote this letter as instruction to the early church guiding them to marvel at the living hope they’ve been graciously given and how to put this hope on display for God’s glory.
God Moves Toward You
Peter begins with an exploding praise of God and then describes why He praises God. Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” not just “God”. As a Jew, Peter knew the common phrase of worship in the Old Testament, “Blessed be the Lord!” This is not a generic God over all religions – Peter is specifically speaking of the God and Father of Jesus Christ.
God brought us to faith and qualified us to become children of God. Peter says, “According to his great mercy”. Mercy has caused God to come to us. Mercy is that pity and steadfast love that God shows toward humans in spite of their sin and because of their total helplessness to right their wrongs. He sought after you! If you haven’t believed yet today, God is moving towards you and revealing this Good News to your heart. In our rebellion and deadness, He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the gospel – and God brings to us new life (1 Peter 1:23-25).
GOD BROUGHT YOU FROM DEATH TO LIFE
Being born again is a massive reality. It is God’s great mercy. We didn’t earn being born again. We don’t deserve it. Our effort and good intentions do not accomplish it. We didn’t just decide to be born again. “He has caused us to be born again…”
Jesus talked about this with Nicodemus in John 3:3-8. In order to see the Kingdom of God, we must be born again – we must experience a rebirth. The first birth is just a flesh birth. Without Christ, that’s all you are - flesh. The Holy Spirit must bring your spirit to life – this is being “born of the Spirit”. We are born again when God moves on us sovereignly and awakens us from spiritual death and brings life to our spirits. Our own will and flesh does not produce this spiritual rebirth, God produces this (John 1:12-13).
When we are born again, we are given hope (verse 3). The new birth is a birth of hope! Our hope is not in man, money, our good living, our right beliefs, or our careers – rather our hope is in God who raised Jesus from the dead. The difference between someone who is born again and someone who is not is simply hope. We live in this hope. This hope drives us. This hope colors all that we do and shapes our desires and lives. We are enabled to live a different way because of this hope. This living hope has everyday implications.
Hope is faith in the future tense (Hebrews 11:1; Romans 8:24-25). Our hope is a living hope because we were dead and now we are born again – we are alive! This living hope is anchored to the resurrection - which is the defeat of death and the securing of life. We are now alive and we will be alive forever because Jesus rose from the dead.
GOD PROMISES AN INHERITANCE TO COME
We are born again to an inheritance. Our living hope is in our hearts, but our inheritance is objective – it is a real tangible thing kept in heaven by God for us. This inheritance is
- unfading, and
- kept in heaven.
Jesus told us to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven (Matthew 6:20). God is preserving our infinitely valuable inheritance in heaven so that nothing can ruin it. Our inheritance is the completion of our salvation “to be revealed in the last time” (verse 5). We are being guarded by God’s power (verse 5). Our inheritance is being kept and we are being guarded – all by God’s power! God’s power is at work to keep our faith from failing (Philippians 1:6).
THIS LIVING HOPE IS TO BE REFLECTED TO OTHERS!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: I Peter 1:3-5
As you see the movement of God toward you in the Gospel, what implications does this have for the way you view yourself and your life?
Share of something in your life that died as God’s Kingdom invaded your heart and mind. And what has the Spirit developed in its place?
What does it look like for you to lay up your treasure in heaven? Describe the practical ways you tend to view this in your life.
NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE: I PETER 2:11-12