Rising Above Trials: The Unshakeable Hope of Resurrection – 1 Peter 1:3-7 Explained

The book of 1 Peter is a letter written by the apostle Peter to Christians who were suffering persecution. Peter wrote this letter to encourage them and to remind them that they had an unshakeable hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


The Source of Christian Hope

Christian hope is founded on the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the greatest event in human history. The historical fact of the resurrection brings hope to our hearts. It rewrites our past. It rewrites the past for those who have been born again. It’s a hope that has the power to change our lives. Think of Peter himself, who wrote this letter. After Jesus was arrested and was undergoing this mock trial with trumped-up charges, Peter denied that he knew him three times. And during the crucifixion, he hid for fear because he thought he might be next. Then when Jesus died on the cross and was buried in the tomb, that was the end of all hope for Peter. Peter thought Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. Now, what was it that transformed Peter into a fierce preacher just a few weeks later? The resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ. The resurrection gave Peter a living hope.  And his guilt over his denials, his gloom and despair over the crucifixion turned into a living hope. 

A Reason to Hope

You know, sometimes our past failures or the wrongs others have done to us can define us. They can define us in a harmful way. And Jesus Christ, the risen Savior, can rewrite that past in your life. The defining reality of the past no longer needs to be your sins and it no longer needs to be your failures or the wrongs that others have done to you. The defining reality of the past is that through salvation in Christ, God caused us to be born again, to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. What is it about the resurrection that gives us a reason to hope? Why is it so important? Well, let me give you a couple of reasons why. First of all, it validates Jesus’s identity as the son of God. Death couldn’t hold them. And it sets him apart from any other religious figure who ever lived. They’re still in the grave. It also validates everything Jesus taught as being true. That there is a life after death. Life after death is real. There is a heaven. There is a hell. He spoke much about these things. That he did die for our sins. That his sacrifice on the cross did atone for our sins. Has the resurrection validated that? Eternal salvation is possible. For all who believe, anyone who places faith in the sacrificial and the substitutionary death on the cross receives forgiveness of sins and is placed in a right standing before God. It makes no difference what you have done in your past. It’s what Christ has done in the past, that matters. That’s what’s important. Listen, even if in your past you’ve ignored him, even if you turned away from him, even if you rebelled against him. This living hope is still offered to you. Nothing can take it away. Because it’s anchored, it’s anchored in the past. The greatest event in human history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 


An Ever-Present Hope

But that’s not all. It’s also hope that remains in the present. The wonderful thing about this living hope is that it enables us to live victoriously in the present, in our present life. Do you know what brings out the true nature of hope? Difficulties, difficulties of life. This living hope sustains us amid difficulties. As a longtime pastor in dealing with people’s personal lives, I’ve observed people with long-term illnesses sustained by this living hope. I’ve observed people who lost a loved one sustained by this living hope. I’ve witnessed people overcome fears, depression, and great disappointments in life when they come to grasp the significance of this hope. This year. I have walked fifty years with the Lord and over these past years, I’ve experienced my share of trials. I’ve experienced my share of losses and what sustained me for these years is the living hope that I have in Jesus Christ. Think, for example, who Peter was writing to here. These were Christians who were dealing with great difficulties. They were experiencing great difficulties. They were living in an anti-Christian culture kind of similar to where our culture is going. And they were suffering severe trials, severe persecutions, even unto death. And what Peter wrote here is meant to minister to them. And what Peter says here is meant to minister to us too when we go through trials and difficulties in life. 


Inner Joy Amidst External Pressures

Look again at what he writes. Those first four words are at the beginning of verse six. “In this, you rejoice.” What’s he referring to here? He’s referring to the hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the eternal future that it secures for us. We have a glorious eternal future to look forward to. And this is meant to give us an inner joy. It’s meant to give us an inner strength that sustains us. Through the trials of this present life. “In this, you rejoice.” And Peter goes on to say, “Though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” You know, there are a couple of things we learn here about trials of life that I want to point out. First of all, I want you to notice that he says trials are for a little while. When he says that he’s not trying to minimize the reality of trials that these early Christians are going through, he’s trying to encourage them to endure by putting this present life in the perspective of eternity. It’s just a vapor in the air, a crumb on the table this life. That’s the idea here. The idea is that compared to eternity, our time of suffering in life is short. I think when we go through trials of life, this is something that we need to keep in mind. Because we can lose sight of this easily in the daily grind. We need to keep our eyes fixed on the living hope we have in Christ. 


God’s Purpose in Trials

And we need to remind ourselves of another thing about trials. Why God allows them into our lives is to refine our faith, to refine our character. In other words, our trials are not without a divine purpose. Look again at what Peter writes in verse seven. “So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Now, while these times of testing aren’t aren’t pleasant we need to wait patiently for him to accomplish his purposes in our life. Our faith is precious to God. He is pleased by those who trust in him, and he’s eager for our faith to grow. And to remove any impurities and he uses trials to refine it and to strengthen our faith in him. 


There’s one other thing worth noting here about trials. It’s the paradoxical nature of them. I want you to notice here how Peter merges joy with grief. You see that he merges joy with grief and sadness with gladness side by side. “In this, you rejoice. Even though you are being grieved by various trials.” So in other words, our living hope doesn’t exempt us from trials, doesn’t exempt us from hardships. Peter acknowledges here that it brings pain to our lives. It brings sadness. It brings anguish. However, our living hope does diminish the debilitating effects of trials. In other words, our Christian hope is independent of circumstances. Though trials might cause temporary grief, they cannot diminish that deep-abiding peace and joy that’s rooted in our hope in Christ. Do you have that deep, abiding joy, even amid trials? Something within you? Our hope may not change what’s going on around us, but it should change what’s going on inside us. If we were to only look at things from a strictly human perspective and a strictly human level, it would be easy to lose hope. But this is exactly what Peter is telling us not to do. 


So what do we see here in summary? What’s Peter saying here? Well, he’s saying, that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have a living hope. It’s a hope that’s anchored in the past. Nothing can take it away from us. But it also remains in the present. It enables us to live victoriously, even through the difficulties of life.

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