1. How do people use the word “hope” today? (Wishful thinking, maybe it will happen, maybe it will not happen, etc.)
There’s an older—now archaic—meaning for hope, which was active when the Bible began to be translated into English. The old definition was confident trust that some future event would occur. Jesus offers that kind of hope—a living hope—to all who place their trust in Him. His resurrection gives believers a living hope! It is a living hope because the more we exercise it the greater our confidence grows that God will bring to pass His promises.
The word hope does not convey wishful thinking or express uncertainty but has the sense of confident expectation based on God’s ability. Hope based on happenstance or human ability can and does die. Christians’ hope is based on God’s ability, such hope never dies!
Read 1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter dictated this first letter to Silvanus (Silas), which accounts for the excellent Greek that was used. Although Scripture doesn’t record all of Peter’s travels, it seems evident that he had traveled through modern day Turkey. He seemed to have a close relationship with the people to whom he wrote this letter. The harsh, brash Simon had become the mellowed, loving, graceful Peter. God had done a real work in his life. It wasn’t a steady progression at times but progress was made none the less, much like in our lives. He had become “the rock” Jesus named him to be.
In these opening verses of his letter Peter included a number of important themes. These are: mercy, new birth, salvation, love, joy, faith and hope.
Our real hope is only through Jesus Christ!
Hope Discovered! Read 1 Peter 1:3-4
1. What caused Peter to break out into a doxology of praise? (We have a new birth.)
This new birth is because of God’s great Mercy!
2. How did this new birth into a living hope come about? (“Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”)
Because of His victory over death, Jesus offered hope to those who were enduring persecution. The worst their persecution could do to them would be to take their lives, but because of the resurrection of Jesus, death was nothing to be feared. This was not some blind hope or false hope, but rather a living hope in Jesus Christ.
3. What does a person’s response to suffering reveal about whom or what he or she places hope in?
4. Which has the greater impact on those around us who are watching, how we live when things are going wonderful or when life caves in on us?
5. How did Peter describe the nature of our inheritance? (Imperishable: It cannot be harmed by natural disaster, enemy, or theft; it is permanent. Uncorrupted: It cannot be touched by evil or sin; it is pure. Unfading: It never passes its peak; it is perfect. Kept in Heaven: cannot be touched by anything on this earth.)
The thought of an inheritance that does not perish, cannot be corrupted, and stays forever young naturally fills us with hope. We cannot attain this through our own power, but we can through Jesus Christ!
Though Peter explained the Christians’ inheritance as eternal in nature, the suffering believers probably wondered at times if they would be able to hold on to their hope in Christ!
Hope Assured! Read 1 Peter 1:5
1. Have you ever wrestled personally with assurance of salvation or the security of your salvation?
2. Based on verse 5, how would you counsel someone who is struggling with assurance of their salvation? (Our salvation is not based on our strength to hold on but on God’s great power through faith. You can’t hold on in your own strength, no one can. Only God’s power assures us of our salvation.)
Edward Mote said it this way:
“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.”
“When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest in His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.”
“When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found, Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.”
“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
3. If someone observed your life for the past month, what evidence would they find that you have a living hope, one that is growing stronger in you?
Hope Celebrated! Read 1 Peter 1:6-9
Peter, who knew a little about suffering, described the trials they were experiencing like this:
· They may be diverse in kind.
· They will be limited in time.
· They are needful in purpose. (Peter was sure that God never needlessly afflicts His people, even though grief may be involved.
· They are positive in outcome. V. 7
The word “joy” in this passage is not the usual Greek word used by secular writers. Rather, it is a deep spiritual joy! Read Luke 1:46-46 and Acts 16:34.
1. How is Christian joy different from a sentimental feeling of happiness?
2. In what ways is it more satisfying?
3. According to this passage, rejoicing is the appropriate response to trials or persecution. When you see someone focus on their salvation rather than their circumstances, how does that affect you? (Generally, when we witness hope and a joyful attitude in others, it compels us to question the source of their hope. Hope is about focus! When we focus on a secure salvation, we can rise above our circumstances and look forward with joy to the inheritance to come.)
4. What is the purpose of the trials and difficulties we have to go through? (Refining of our faith. Make it like pure gold!)
5. What is the goal of our faith? (See verse 9)
The world says, “Seeing is believing.” Salvation says, “Believing is seeing.” We have faith in the One we have not seen. Read v 8-9.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Would you describe your faith as a living hope?
2. Does it have purpose?
3. Is it growing?
4. Is it dynamic and breathing?
5. Does it affect others?
If hope is about focus, then focusing on the right things can help your faith to grow. Spending time reflecting on the salvation of our souls is an expression of faith and hope. Reading God’s Word regularly will encourage your faith.
Rather than focusing on our difficulties and circumstances, focus on God and His power to see you through. We know Jesus has the power to change, transform or deliver us from our circumstances.
Ask God to help us with specific trials or tribulations we may be going through. Change our focus. Help us turn our eyes upon Jesus.