The Hopeful Christian in Hopeless Times (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #47)

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TEXT: 1 Peter 1:3-9

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

The Hopeful Christian in Hopeless Times (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #47)

Many people who are dissatisfied with the leadership of this country have begun looking at the twenty candidates who are now running for president. Over the course of the next few months, many will put their hope in one candidate or another whom they believe can resolve the issues in this nation and tackle problems that we are facing around the globe. Of course, the leaders that we put in place are important, however, we are told in Scripture not to place our confidence, our hope, or our trust in man.

What do we put our hope in? What do we hope for as Christians? When we speak of the Christian’s hope, we mean something different than what the world means when it speaks of hope. Worldly hope is an expression of a possibility with an element of doubt. For example, you might say, ‘I hope the Dallas Cowboys win this football game.’ You are expressing a real possibility that might or might not happen. However, when the Bible speaks of the Christian’s hope, it is referring to our belief in an absolute certainty.

In the classic Christian allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan shows the pilgrims, Christian and Hopeful, receiving a vision of such a certainty for every believer. The story reads:

By this time the pilgrims had a desire to press forward, and the Shepherds agreed that they should do this. So they all walked together toward the end of the Mountains. Then the Shepherds said to one another, “Let us show the pilgrims here a view of the gates of the Celestial City, provided they have the skill to look through our perspective glass.” So the pilgrims gratefully accepted the invitation; hence they were led to the top of a high hill called Clear and given the Shepherds’ telescope to look through.

Then they attempted to look ahead, but the remembrance of the previous sight that the Shepherds had shown them made their hands to shake; with this impediment they could not look steadily through the telescope; yet they thought they saw something like the gate and some of the glory of the place.

Then they went on their way and sang:

Thus by the Shepherds, secrets are revealed,
Which from all other men are kept concealed.
Come to the Shepherds then, if you would see
Things deep, things hid, and that mysterious be.

The pilgrims were offered a glimpse of their eternal home. What they were shown through the telescope was not fantasy or just their imagination. There really is a place called Heaven, a Celestial City, where every pilgrim will make their eternal home. When a Christian says he has the hope of Heaven, he is not talking about an uncertain possibility, but an actual reality. As John Piper said, “biblical hope is full assurance, not uncertain desire.”

Our passage for today reveals four things that give the Christian hope in this world — four certainties that we can depend on.

First, we have hope in God’s mercy. Verse 3 states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy…” Notice the word “abundant.” God does not grudgingly show mercy to his children. He is eager to give it, and he gives it in abundance. We must remember that the very first infraction against God’s law was enough to condemn us to death and hell instantly. But look at us now — still alive. God has given us his abundant mercy. We have received an innumerable number of second chances because of God’s mercy.

You can have hope in this world because God is merciful. The Bible says his mercies are new every morning. You will never experience this type of mercy from another human being. When you think about it, it is not even natural for us to expect — much less receive — the mercy of God. The English novelist, Graham Greene, said, “You cannot conceive, nor can I, of the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.” God’s mercy is indeed foreign to us. However, the Psalmist declared, ‘I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my cry for mercy. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.’ The mercy of God is one thing that gives us hope as Christians.

Second, we have hope in God’s salvation. Peter says that God’s “abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” God is the one responsible for our being born again. We did nothing to make that possible. Because of God’s abundant mercy, we have been born, “begotten,” into the living hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Every day, we ought to realize that our eternal future is secure only because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. We are new people only because of Jesus Christ. We are no longer bound to sin and the punishment of sin because of Jesus Christ. We have a living hope.

What is a living hope? Theologians have described it as “a strong confidence in God which has power to produce changes in how we live.” No matter what is going on around us or in our own lives, we ought not to be hopeless or discouraged because, unlike many in the world today, we have salvation through Christ — a new birth from God that gives us a lively hope.

Third, we have hope because God raised Jesus from the dead. The Bible says that God “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact. It happened because God ensured that it took placed. First Peter 1:21 states, “God, that raised [Jesus] up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” We all know that we will die one day, however, the Bible promises that we will be raised up from the grave and that our bodies will be transformed so we can live forever with God in Heaven. This is not a probability; this is a certainty. We have hope that God will raise us from the dead because he raised Jesus from the dead.

Fourth, we have hope because of God’s promise of an inheritance for us. Our passage states that God “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” When Christian and Hopeful looked through the telescope from the hill called Clear, they caught a glimpse of their inheritance — the Celestial City which they were striving to reach. In the Bible, we receive a glimpse of Heaven — a glimpse of God and those who love Him being united for eternity.

No matter what happens in this world — be it personal trouble, spiritual trouble, financial trouble, wars and violence, or political turmoil — we can have confidence and hope. Our hope is not wishful thinking or uncertain belief. Our hope is not in the people or places around us, but in God who is merciful, God who has given us new life through Christ, God who raised Jesus from the dead (who will also raise us), and God who has promised a glorious inheritance for us.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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