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Lively Hope

by Julius Hovan

Transcribed from Words of Life Radio Program

What a joy it is, my friends, to welcome you to this broadcast of Words of Life. We broadcast on this station on a regular basis. Maybe you have tuned in for the very first time. We ask you to stay tuned, maybe invite a friend to join us as we study the Word of God. And we hope that you will give attention to what God has to say as we turn to his Word and try to recognize his promises and blessings to us.

 

I would like to talk to you today about a lively hope that we have from a living Lord. The apostle Peter, one of the 12 who lived and walked and served with the Lord Jesus and learned from him, opens his epistle this way as he writes to Christians in a very difficult part of the world. They were spread throughout the area. Listen to his words as the book of 1 Peter opens.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the elect, the Christians, sojourners of the dispersion. That is, they had been scattered because of their faith. And they had been scatted to Pontus and Galatia and Cappadocia and Asia and Bithynia according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

As the apostle Peter greeted these Christians in difficult circumstances, he then cannot help himself. He bursts forth into a magnificent doxology of power and thrilling words of praise.

So many other of the New Testament writers did the same thing. Just to mention to them of about the Lord Jesus Christ caused them to burst forth into praise and worship.

So listen to verses three, four and five of 1 Peter one, the words of praise from the apostle.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to his great mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. Who is the you? Who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

These were Christians and Peter is saying to them, “At the end of your life and at the end of the days of time, God has a salvation to reveal to you what a blessing it is.”

Think with me this morning, if you will, as we turn to this passage for some truth from the Word of God, of the characteristics of the Christian faith, of those who lived in New Testament days 2000 plus years ago, of the beginning of the Church and those early Christians who lived under the rule of Rome and many giving their lives because of their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus. Think of the times of revival and reform and renewal that have occurred down through the ages since then among people who call themselves Christians.

All of them had been filled with a sense of wonder and love and praise for God, even those who are going through or those who have gone through trial and tribulation.

I would ask you this morning if you are calling yourself a Christian: Are we going to find this lively hope as a characteristic of your life? Do people with whom you associate witness that in you? How do you feel in spite of your circumstances? What is your responsibility in sharing this great gospel of the Lord?

Oh, we may claim to be Christians. Part of that thing that we do is we celebrate the great resurrection of our Lord Jesus. It is there within us, then, that the same Spirit of the apostles, that Spirit that has lived through the ages, comes and indwells us, this core of the Christian faith, a belief in the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus.

The apostle gives us these words, verses six, seven and eight of 1 Peter one.

Wherein you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in manifold trials that the proof of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes, though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ whom not having seen—you haven’t seen Jesus—but you love him, on whom though you have not seen him you believe and greatly rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

These were Christians being persecuted for the Lord Jesus, but they had not lost that lively hope that comes with that kind of faith.

I would not be surprised if some of you who hear this message today on this Words of Life radio broadcast are living in countries where you and others are being persecuted because of your faith. Let these words comfort. Let them confirm the truth of the gospel, that there is a hope that we have beyond the life in which we are now living.

We do possess a lively hope because we serve and believe in a living Lord, this central and vital part of the Christian message. Our conversion and this convicting proof is for any truth seeker. My friend, you check it out and you will find the facts substantiate Jesus is, indeed, alive today having been raised from the dead and out of the grave. And it will transform your fear into the same joy that we see in these disciples years ago.

Think with me about this lively hope and its meaning.

I suggest to you, first of all, we are not talking about some vague, ethereal pie in the sky type of thing, that vague shadow uncertainty that so many religions and so many beliefs and so many philosophers and philosophies offer today.

Through the many ages this hope has been offered to Christians who will respond to it. Other things, whether politics or religion or whatever it might be offer this false hope. But I want you to put this truth and put it to the test. Expose these others as counterfeit and this one as the true place of finding joy and hope.

Oh Christians on Easter Sunday celebrate that, but the fact is, real Christians celebrate it every Lord’s Day. They meet around the table of the Lord for communion and it is serving a risen, soon coming Savior.

After the dark cold days and death of winter, oh, where are the signs of life? For the Christian those signs are there and we are able to now walk and serve in hope in a very real way.

So we are not talking about a vague hope, but we are talking about a vibrant hope. It is called living and lively. It is the new life of undying hope, a life full of hope.

Jesus put it this way. “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Life now and life hereafter when you leave this earth through the avenue of death or the coming of Jesus.

My friends, here is something substantial. Here is something certain. Here is something vibrant with power. It is really a living hope and it is very practical for your everyday life.

We are not talking about the optimism of a novelist who writes a pretty story. We are not talking about the cheeriness of some politician who with his big words and sweet speech offer you change and hope or whatever it might be. Christian realism does not minister in just good times. It ministers in the difficult times when problems and trials and sorrow comes. It is the Christian hope and faith that causes us and gives us the strength and power to stand. It shows that whatever we are, however bad and dark and ugly and cruel the days, if we are believers, we have a hope to hold us, a hope to sustain us, a hope to enable us, not only just to endure, but to be more than conquerors through him that has loved us.

Go through the worst that life has to offer and for the Christian with this lively hope we can do it with assurance and a sense of triumph.

In my 50 plus years of ministry, I have stood at the bedside of many dying Christians. I have looked in their eyes and heard their testimony. I have held their hand and seen the peace that they enjoy as they take the step out of this life into eternity and take the hand of Jesus and step on the shore of the glorious place of heaven there to be with the Lord. They had that lively hope.

I want to know. Is this your assurance today? Have you realized in your personal life this great blessing? Is your marriage such a relationship that that hope resides there for you and your wife and your family, maybe even in your business in these days of economic turmoil and difficulty? Can you have hope even in the face of that?

What about you this morning, my friends? If the mighty fact of the resurrection, that we have a living Lord providing a lively hope, if that does not give you a sense of certainty and assurance and joy, then we have misunderstood it, to be sure.

What are we talking about? Not some vague ethereal message, but we are talking about a vibrant hope that comes to us through our faith in the Lord Jesus.

We say to you, again, unequivocally, our Lord Jesus following his crucifixion—and he was pronounced without question, completely and totally dead—then laid in the grave, but he came out of the grave in his physical body. The one who was crucified, the one who had died and was dead and entombed literally in that body came forth, not just the personality of Jesus that lives on, not just some principle of truth survived, but listen, the very person of the Son of God.

And the details of the gospel are given to prove this historical fact, this great fact of the resurrection of our Lord’s body and the evidence that it is true is certain as any other event in the history of the human race. He who was divine and glorified became a simple babe in the manger, a human being like us, the lowly one and became a perfect, sinless, sin sacrifice and made it possible for lost humanity, those carrying the burden of sin to come to the place where death need have no more dominion over them because they put their faith and trust in him.

What does the Christian faith do for us? Listen to the 23rd verse of that passage of Scripture in the book of 1 Peter that we have been reading.

Verse 23.

We have been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever.

We have a Word that is alive. We have a message that is alive. We have a hope that is living. We have, when we become Christians, been given new life, created anew for the glory of God. It is no longer having no hope. It is no longer being without God in this age. It is the opposite of all of that. And the only one who can say that they have this hope is the one whose faith has brought him to the source of life, Jesus. And they have been joined with the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been identified. They have made a choice of their heart and mind and will that they want to believe and trust in him and his resurrection and his glorified body we will share in one day.

It is the very picture that we have in the symbol of baptism. Those who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death, like he died and was buried, so do we.

Oh, but then as he came forth all very much and totally alive, so we arise to a newness of life, new creatures in the Lord Jesus.

My friend, the characteristic of the Christian and the Christian faith is this lively hope, not some vague philosophy, but a vibrant truth to be sure.

Now that puts us to a beautiful concluding point as we think about this hope. What about our resurrection? If Jesus was bodily raised from the dead, what is going to happen to those of us described by the apostle Peter in this first chapter? What happens to us when we die?

He refers in this passage of Scripture to an inheritance incorruptible reserved in heaven for us.

How can I attain that? If my body is placed in the ground and it is going to there dissolve into dust, somehow that body must be put back together. It must arise in the resurrection day in that great future glory day. If I am going to go and receive this inheritance God promised to me, my body will have to be raised. And so our salvation by which we come into that relationship to the Lord includes not only life here, but life which is to come, a full salvation ready to be revealed in the last times.

Listen to me this day. There is going to be a last time. You will have the last day. The world, the age in which we live will come to an end.

When I came to the studio to record this radio broadcast the engineer who was in charge told me of a man, 100 years of age, who got up to go to the bathroom and on the way he fell, went on to the bathroom, went back to bed and never woke to life again.

Yes, for him there was a last time. For him, as well as for me and you, for the Word of God says, “It is appointed unto man once to die.” Death is a surety until Jesus comes. Death is your last time. Are you ready for that? The creator who once had perfected man and put him paradise, the place we call Eden, he is not going to be happy, not going to be satisfied until he restores us and puts us back into such a beautiful place in our perfect bodies.

This sin cursed war torn world will never be made good by the effects of man. All of her and his efforts, all of the political schemes will not get the job done. It is man in the first place who turned paradise into a place of shame, but our great God, the original creator of paradise has the power to restore it to its former beauty. He has promised to do that. The whole creation, we are told in the book of Romans, groans awaiting the day when in the regeneration the Son of man will sit on the throne of his glory risen and glorified awaiting the destruction of that last horrible enemy we call death. And this risen Lord Jesus returns as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will destroy all that is sinful and vile and ugly and foul. He will renew the whole creation. We will see the city of God, the new Jerusalem. It is described there so beautifully in the revelation letter.

And God will tabernacle among men.

But, listen. All of this is but a myth if Jesus has not been raised. But, oh, he has. And so here is our attempt this morning to reveal to you this morning the meaning of this living hope, a hope built on the great characteristics that have been evidenced in Christian and the Christian faith and the resurrection of Jesus down through the ages, a hope that says, “We will be glorified in our resurrected bodies and have a body like his. We will be delivered from all the vestiges of sin and shame and weakness and the wildness the world exemplifies today.”

Listen to the apostle Paul as we close this message this morning, the book of Philippians chapter three verse 20 and 21.

For our citizenship is in heaven whence also we wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation that it will be conformed to the body of his glory according to the working whereby he is able to subject all things unto himself.

What a promise.

Is your citizenship in heaven, my friend? Do you have such a lively living hope? Are you trusting Jesus today? That is our hope for you. Please write us. Get in touch if we may be of help. Find a good, Bible believing church. Open the Word of God. Read it. Study it. Respond in fait and you will have a lively hope. That is our prayer for you today in the name of the Lord Jesus and amen.

-Julius Hovan preaches for the Bohon Church of Christ, near Harrodsburg, KY




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10