From Fear to Fulfillment
Love, especially when expressed in praise, is the antidote to fear and failure (1 John 4:17-18). Peter’s readers had been scattered away from their family homes (1 Peter 1:1-2). They felt isolated and some were afraid. Others had wandered away from Jesus, living to please themselves (1 Peter 2:11), and feared His wrath. So, this letter was to encourage them, and us, to respond afresh to God’s love: to praise Him who has given a new birth, a new hope and new peace through His overwhelming mercy and grace. Peter wrote from personal experience. He had once disowned his relationship with Jesus, cursing and swearing that he did not even know his Master (Mark 14:66-72). But after the resurrection the Lord showed mercy to Peter, trusting him again to work for God's kingdom (John 21:15-22). Peter knew that Jesus died to cover his sins as well as ours.
God's mercy does not come because He thinks our sins are insignificant: they are a huge barrier to fellowship with Him. His mercy is great because although our sins are great, His solution was enormously effective although massively costly. God chose to punish His Son Jesus for every human sin, so that all who trust in Him can be totally forgiven (www.crosscheck.org.uk). They receive God's full mercy along with His forgiveness and release from a guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22).
Although most Christians know what they have been saved from (God's wrath and hell to come), many do not know what they have been saved to. Peter encourages believers to live each day in the light of eternity, explaining that there is a whole new life to be lived now and future to be gained beyond death. All who trust in Christ are born again; made God’s own children (John 1:12), and incorporated into His world-wide, heaven-high family. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates that the curse of sin is removed, and heaven awaits. The ‘living hope’ is the assurance of eternal life with Jesus: meaning that death is not the end, and that all who welcome God’s mercy here - are assured of His welcome for all eternity.
Christ's resurrection is God's guarantee of a new tomorrow. Jesus conquered death, so death can no longer have the last word. Jesus' new life in believers assures us that those who are born again have already started their eternal life with Him. The 'hope' of the Christian is not just a vague wistfulness that things might get better - but a confidence that every day we are secure in Jesus, until we meet Him and He rewards our faithfulness. Your friends and colleagues, who do not know Christ, cannot enjoy this freedom from guilty fear or the glorious prospect of all that heaven holds. As we give thanks for God's mercy to us, we need to pray for our friends at work - that they will also welcome God's invitation to receive His abundant mercy, grace and peace which is the essence of lasting fulfilment and the root of praise.
© Dr Paul Adams