Today sees the start of a short 5 sermon series entitled – “RESURRECTION REALITIES” considering some of the blessings on offer as a result of Christ’s resurrection.
The apostle Peter is writing to a group of dispersed believers who were being persecuted for their faith, his message being that they should respond with praise.
How good are you at praising God in all the circumstances of life? Most of us can manage praise when all is well, but we often struggle when all is not well and life becomes difficult. Yet the call of God is to praise him at all times, as illustrated by Paul and Silas in Philippi, where having been falsely accused, stripped of their rights, beaten up and imprisoned with their feet in the stocks we read – “about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16 v 25.)
But if we are to praise in all circumstances then we are going to need some reasons and some motivation, all of which Peter kindly provides:-
1 – God’s Identity.
We praise God in all circumstances because of who he is, he being – “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, was not Jesus’ true father; it was God himself, who here is defined by his relationship to the Son.
2 – God’s Initiative.
God is also to be praised for taking the initiative and acting – “in his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope.” Instead of judging and condemning us, as we rightly deserve, God has lavished his mercy upon us, offering us the gift of new birth, which cannot be purchased, earned or deserved, only gratefully received (John 3 v 3 & 2 Corinthians 5 v 17.) Through this we are reborn and made spiritually alive, as the old is swept away by the new.
From this “new birth” flows a “living hope,” something that distinguishes believers from unbelievers (Ephesians 2 v 12) who are without a secure hope in this world and the next, which is why one of the characteristics prevalent in society today is that of hopelessness. Yet for the believer there is a sure and certain hope of eternal life, both now and in the future.
Challenge – Will you praise God in all circumstances for who he is and for all that he has done?
3 – God’s Implementation.
The “new birth into a living hope” is implemented – “through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.” Were Jesus still in the tomb this would not be possible, because it is the resurrection that guarantees “the new birth into a living hope.” Of which there is no greater example than Peter himself, who having been transformed following an appearance of the risen Christ, went on to boldly preach on the day of Pentecost the reality of the resurrection (Acts 2 v 32) offering his audience that same “new birth into a living hope.”
Challenge – Have you experienced that “new birth into a living hope?”
Theme: “Gifts guaranteed by the resurrection”
Reading: 1 Peter 1 v 3 – 9
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Brian Dickson