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Location: 6425 Jefferson Rd.
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Easter: A living hope

Jerry Varnado, pastor
Gateway Church, Athens GA

April 23, 2006
First Sunday After Easter

  • Main Scripture text: 1 Peter 1:1-9

  • Peter is writing to "God's elect." Scripture tells us elsewhere that this means people who God foreknew would respond to the gospel, and who have been predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.

  • Being conformed to the image of Christ is accomplished by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

  • Peter tells us what all this is for: obedience to Jesus Christ. This is what God is after. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

  • Next, Peter talks about "sprinkling by His blood." God's elect are continually cleansed by the blood of Jesus which purifies us from all unrighteousness.

  • Peter then tells the elect of the "gift of God's mercy" -- the new birth, which, when received, produces living hope through the Resurrection. It is a living hope because it starts now and extends beyond the grave into the life to come.

  • Peter says our inheritance in Christ is guaranteed. We are co-heirs with Christ to the Father's Kingdom.

  • Peter then gives us two important points about this inheritance: 1) never perishes, spoils of fades. And 2) it is kept in heaven for us. God Almighty Himself is keeping it. We can be sure that it will there for us when we arrive.

  • Not only is God keeping our inheritance in heaven, He also "keeps" us on Earth until we get there. Through faith, Peter says, we are shielded by God's power (vs. 5).

  • Then Peter says to, "Rejoice, even though now you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." God has a purpose in our suffering. It is, Peter says, so that our faith may be proven genuine.

  • This is not proof to God. He knows all. It is proof to the powers of darkness, to the world around us, and to ourselves.

  • Our genuine faith, Peter says, is "more valuable than gold." God can use our faith to bring others to the knowledge of truth. Plus it results in praise, glory, and honor to God, both on earth and in heaven.

  • Suffering is also part of the process by which God fills our lives with hope. Biblical hope is not wishful thinking -- it is the "anxious anticipation of fully receiving all the promises of God."

  • This true hope produces joy in us which is inexpressible and glorious, a joy that's the result of receiving our salvation. Peter uses the present tense. We are now in the process of receiving God's salvation!

  • It is through this salvation, worked out day-by-day through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, whereby we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus and thus prepared for eternity with God.

  • The Bible says that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." All you and I have to do submit ourselves to Jesus and cooperate in the process.

  • God will see to it that the work is done, and we are ready at the sound of the last trumpet call.

  • Our hope is a living hope, and what we hope for is guaranteed to us by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Supporting texts: Romans 8:29-30 | Luke 11:28 | 1 Samuel 15:22 | 1 John 1:5-10 | Romans 8:15-17 | John 6:39-40 | Job 1:6-12 | 1 Peter 3:15 | Luke 15:7 | Romans 5:3-5 | Hebrews 11:1 | Philippians 1:4-6

A mp3 audio file of this sermon is here (39 min.).
(Download to a PC by right clicking on the link and choosing "Save Target As." Mac users: click, hold, and choose "Download Link to Disk." Depending on your connection speed, the file may take several minutes to download.)

An audio tape of the sermon summarized above is available free of charge (U.S. requests only).

Request a tape by
calling or writing the Gateway Church office.
Please specify tape number 060423a: Easter: A Living Hope.

© 2006 Gerald R. Varnado

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