Lesson 2—The Living Hope
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:1-5
Lesson Goal: To help you find encouragement in the midst of troubled times.
(Verses 1 & 2) Peter is writing to people who were hurting and suffering, people who were being ridiculed and persecuted because they lived for and were followers of Jesus Christ. This persecution forced many to flee their homes leaving everything behind. Peter is writing to them where they had fled seeking safety and refuge.
Now these believers find themselves not only troubled by their persecutors but having to deal with all the emotions of this persecution: fear, restlessness, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, and insecurity. They desperately need a word of encouragement and hope. Under the authority of God and guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter takes his pen in hand and begins to write.
Peter does not try to pump the people full of positive thinking, nor does he try to offer empty motivational therapy. Instead he wants to help them look back, look forward, and look up.
He wants them to look back and remember who God is and what He has done.
He wants them to look forward and turn their attention heavenward, allowing themselves to see beyond their circumstances.
He wants them to look up and find a steadfast hope in the God they follow.
The words Peter offers to his readers he also offers to you as a believer.
➢ Can you identify with the emotional battles faced by Peter’s audience: fear, restlessness, stress, uncertainty, insecurity?
➢ Have you ever faced persecution as a result of being a follower of Jesus Christ?
➢ Can you identify a time in your life when you were forced to look beyond your circumstances?
Peter Tells Us to Look Back
(Verse 2) Peter begins to encourage his readers by instructing them to look back and review their position. “They are chosen according to the Father’s foreknowledge, made holy and set apart by the Spirit, and consecrated by the blood of Jesus Christ, whom they are to serve through obedience” (Swindoll).
To look back is to remember and to be reminded of God’s grace and love. Peter wants to direct the attention of his readers to the fact of their position. This position is based upon their relationship to God as true believers.
➢ What does it mean to be “in Christ”? (“In Christ” relates to the position of the true believer.)
➢ How does it help you as a true believer to remember your position “in Christ” when you are going through difficult times?
Peter Tells Us to Look Forward
One great word sounds forth like a mighty trumpet in Peter’s writing. Peter is the writer of “hope.” He is exhorting and encouraging his readers to look forward with hope. Just as Paul is the writer of faith and John is the writer of love, Peter is truly the writer of hope.
The hope of which Peter writes is based on the true believer’s position “in Christ.” This hope is not a “maybe, perhaps, possibly, kind of” thinking. Peter’s hope is a sure thing, an absolute certainty for the true believer. This kind of hope does not waver and is not affected by the outward circumstances of life. In fact, the more difficult the outward circumstance, the more resound and intense this hope becomes.
Peter describes this hope as a “living hope” that comes by the mercy of God and reaches to us through His love. This living hope comes by the new birth in Jesus Christ and is based upon the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to live forever.
In the midst of life’s most difficult times the true believer is encouraged to look forward, remembering what lies ahead.
➢ Have you ever witnessed this “living hope” active in someone’s life?
➢ What outward evidences did you witness of the “living hope” in this individual?
Peter Tells Us to Look Up
(Verses 4 & 5) Peter tells the true believer that it is good to look up. Through Jesus Christ, the true believer has awaiting him in heaven “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled.”
In Old Testament times, the word “inheritance” described the appointed portion or lot to be possessed in Canaan by every one of God’s people. The word used here is Kleronomia—“Kle-ro-no-mia.” This usage includes the idea of fully-realized possession of the inheritance, rather than just the title to it. The reader is instructed to look up and remember what awaits him. An inheritance that will be realized which is incapable of corruption, undefiled, and will not fade away. In the poem “When the Stars are Gone,” Robert Louis Stevenson put it this way:
The stars shine over the mountains,
The stars shine over the sea,
The stars look up to the almighty God,
The stars look down on me;
The stars shall last for a million years,
A million years and a day,
But God and I will live and love
When the stars have passed away.
(Verse 5) This inheritance is kept by the “power of God.” This great promise is being kept for the true believer through God’s eternal power. The readers are told to look up for what awaits them one day “to be revealed in the last time.” All of this will be made known one day.
Questions for Life Focus
What does it feel like to lose hope?
How do the circumstances of life affect our hope?
What does Peter mean by “living hope”?
Knowing that as a true believer you have this living hope, how can you help others who may be losing hope?
Discuss what it means to have “hope in Jesus”?