Henry Ward Beecher was a renowned preacher, author, social reformer, and anti-slavery activist who lived in the 19th century. Beecher’s fiery, confident personality was displayed early in life when Beecher’s teacher asked one of his male classmates a question. The boy answered. The teacher angrily shouted at the boy…”Sit down!” Confused, the young boy sat down. Several more boys were asked the same question, gave the same answer as the first young man, and were rebuked similarly. They all sat down.
Finally, Beecher was called upon and gave the same answer as the other boys. ”Sit Down!” the teacher demanded. But Beecher refused and insisted that the answer was correct. The teacher railed at him but seeing Beecher was going to stand his ground, the teacher smiled: ”Well, boys, you were all correct, but Beecher was the only one sure enough to stand up for it.”
In our passage, the apostle Peter is encouraging a group of displaced and dispossessed Christians to stand firm in their faith. He is imploring them not to waver during difficult times because of their answer, Jesus, is correct!
I Peter 1:1-2
These opening verses identify Peter as the author of this letter, and it identifies the recipients as the exiled Jewish believers who were scattered about Asia Minor. These exiles had surrendered possession and position for their faith, and the apostle Peter reminded them of who they are and whose they are.
The apostle’s words are a rallying cry for believers to rely on the hope of Christ amid life’s circumstances and difficult days.
Our hope is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus
I Peter 1:3
As believers, we have hope for living regardless of our circumstances. Peter gives us three reasons for our hope. First, he says our hope is based on our new birth through Christ. We did not have hope before our salvation. Ephesians 2:1 teaches that before Christ, we were dead in trespasses and sin. Death is hopeless; life brings hope. For all who believe, there should be ever-flowing praise to God for the hope we have through Christ.
Second, Peter says we have hope because of God’s great mercy toward us. Mercy is God protecting us from something we deserve. Grace is God giving us something that we do not deserve. Through Christ, God has protected us from the penalty of sin. Not one of us deserves living hope. Our hope comes from God’s mercy toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Mercy is the undeserved kindness of God.
Third, Peter says we have hope because of the resurrection of Christ. He bore our sin. He died our death. Through the miracle of God, Christ’s death is our death. His resurrection is our life and hope. Paul says in Colossians 3:1, our lives are hidden with Christ in God.
Our hope is secure for eternity
I Peter 1:4-5
Through God’s mercy, we were born again into a living hope (present now) and an inheritance (future blessing) that Peter describes as imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is interesting that in verse 3 we see three reasons we can have hope right now and in verse 4 Peter gives us three facts of our inheritance to come.
Peter’s audience was experiencing heavy persecution. These first-century Christians were living with the realization earthly possessions and positions could be lost in a moment. But as children of God, we have an inheritance that cannot be lost and will not lose its value, nor can it be corrupted.
Our hope is displayed through genuine faith
I Peter 1:6-9
Peter encourages his readers to persevere because through Christ they have a living hope, a hope that will cradle them now and carry them to heaven in the future.
And just as these first-century believers were encouraged to persevere, we are to carry on because of the great mercy that has provided salvation for us today and the promise of heaven in the future.
Brothers and sisters…CARRY ON!