Following Easter or any major holiday, there is always a let down of sorts. The house needs to be cleaned if we had company, leftovers need to be put away and we resume our normal activities. However, Easter is different. For believers, this time of celebration should not be a one day event. In fact, we need to live each day in the joy of Christ's resurrection.
Yesterday both our choir and our Pastor gave a message based on the first letter of Peter verses 3-9: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." What beautiful words of hope that should make us rejoice each day as we go about our daily work. Because of the resurrection, we also have that hope to carry us through the hard places in this life. Likewise, we know that we, too, shall rise to new life in Christ as believers.
If we break down these declarations made by Peter, we can see why a Christian should live in daily hope and joy. First, our living hope means that we shall have eternal life in the presence of the Lord. Our destination was purchased by the blood of Christ and His resurrection sealed for us an inheritance that as Peter describes is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. No one can take this from us when we belong to Jesus Christ.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit that comes to dwell within us at salvation confirms to us that we belong to Him. He seals us that we may never lose that which God has graciously provided for us in Christ. Likewise the Spirit leads us into all truth and keeps alive the hope we have in our Lord. Romans 15:13 reads: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." It is the power of the Holy Spirit living in us that keeps our hearts and minds at rest in Christ even in the middle of the pain and trials of life. Having lost a number of my loved ones, I have proven this true. It was the Holy Spirit that kept my hope alive because I knew I would see them and be with them again. Without Christ, I cannot imagine how I could have gone on.
In addition, this living hope defends the believer against the attacks of Satan who always tries to remind us of our shortcomings and inflict us with guilt. However, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is all the defense that we need. We are set free from sin and guilt. Therefore, we need only to quote Scripture when the enemy comes around our door and remind him that he is a defeated foe. This is why it is so important to know and cling to Scripture. It is our weapon that is sharper than any two edged sword. Dear friends, we have the power of Jesus Christ living within us as believers. We belong to the only One who has overcome the world.
Indeed, this life brings with it troubles and persecution, but Peter wrote this that we may see beyond our circumstances which are only momentary. Our eternal reward and inheritance are far greater than what we are going through here on earth. Peter acknowledges that we experience grief here but he encourages us to rejoice for Christ will come again as He said. The linchpin to all of this is the resurrection of our Savior. If death could not hold Him, then He is able to keep our inheritance, and give to us a living hope day by day. There is no need to live life in a hopeless state of mind.
When Peter talks about our trials, there are several things he means in this passage that we need to remember. According to the MacArthur Study Bible (footnote on verse 1:6, pg. 1889), Dr. MacArthur writes: "...trouble does not last ('little while') 2. trouble serves a purpose ('if necessary'); 3. trouble brings turmoil ('grieved'); 4. trouble comes in various forms ('trials') and 5. trouble should not diminish the Christian's joy ('peace'). We need to remember this each day.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus keeps us from the heartaches that come to all men. We have a living hope because we have a risen Savior. Therefore, we need to live each day like it is Easter...because it is. The Apostle Peter said it well in his second letter verse 3A: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to His own glory and excellence...." Because He lives, we also live and have a hope that nothing can steal from us. Selah!