El Poder de La Esperanza

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EL PODER DE LA ESPERANZA 1 Peter 1:3-9 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, y
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  EL PODER DE LA ESPERANZA1 Peter 1:3-9Blessed 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 JesusChrist from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for asalvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for alittle while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the testedgenuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested byfire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of JesusChrist. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now seehim, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.The apostle Peter took up his pen 30 years or so after the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus,and set himself to write something encouraging to the beleaguered Christians of Asia Minor. Theywere being abused by overbearing bosses (2:18), threatened by unbelieving spouses (3:1, 6), andridiculed by skeptical neighbors and associates (4:14). On the horizon loomed the possibility of amuch more violent form of persecution (4:12–18). It was a very anti-Christian society. The questionraised for these believers is the same that we should pose for ourselves today: How can we have the power of soul in times of great stress and anxiety not just to endure the evil day, but to be joyful andto fill our lives with the fruits of righteousness (Philippians 1:11), with deeds of kindness, with projects of mercy, with labors of love? How, when your  life is in jeopardy, or your job, or your marriage, or your health, or your respect in the community—how can you rise up with joy and blessthose who abuse you and devote yourself to labors of love? To busy yourself for love's sake takes power in the very best of circumstances. But to spend yourself in love to others when your own lifeis falling apart, that takes a power of soul which is utterly beyond us. If that is what we are called todo, then the power has to come from some source greater than the human soul. The Need for Great Love And as you all know, the Bible—especially Peter's first letter—does not ease our burden by saying: When things are tough, don't fret about others; take care of yourself. In fact, Peter seems tosuggest that the tougher the times, the greater the need to live a life of love for others. Listen towhat he writes:Having purified your souls, by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from the heart. (1:22)Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh thatwage war against your soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in casethey speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify Godon the day of visitation. (2:11, 12)Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. Hecommitted no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revilein return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly.(2:21–23)Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary, bless; for to thisyou have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. For He that would love life andsee good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let  him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. (3:9–11)Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. (4:8)There is no slackening in the summons to live like Jesus, even when life is really tough. So Peter doesn't lighten our load by saying we don't have to live like Jesus in hard times. Instead he writessomething to give us the power to love.He begins the main body of his letter: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whoaccording to his great mercy has begotten us anew to a living hope through the resurrection of JesusChrist from the dead (1:3). The power with which Peter aims to equip these beleaguered saints isthe power of hope. If they, or we, are going to love like Jesus loved, even in times of great stressand worry, then they must be filled with living hope. I want to try to answer three questions aboutthis living hope : 1) What is it? 2) How does it arise in our heart? 3) How does it empower us tolove? What Is Living Hope? 1) What is living hope ? The New Testament idea of hope is very different from our normalthinking about hope. We say to someone: Will the North Stars win the Stanley Cup? And they say: Idon't know; I hope so. In other words, hope, as we typically think about it, is a desire for somefuture thing which we are uncertain of attaining. That is not the way Peter, or the rest of the NewTestament, thinks about hope. When Peter says in 1:13, Hope fully in the grace that is coming toyou at the revelation of Jesus Christ, he does not mean we should desire it and be uncertain of it.The coming of Christ is a matter of complete confidence for all the writers in the New Testament.So the command, Hope fully, means be intensely desirous and fully confident that Jesus Christ iscoming again with grace for his people. Another example outside 1 Peter would beHebrews 6:11 where it says, We desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the  full assurance of hope to the end. So we can define hope, in the New Testament sense, as  full assurance, or strong confidence that God is going to do good to us in the future. But there is something even more peculiar about Christian hope: Peter calls it living hope. Whatdoes that mean? The opposite of a living hope would be a dead hope, and that calls to mind asimilar phrase in James 2, namely, dead faith. Faith without works is dead (2:26), James says.That is, faith is barren, fruitless, unproductive (2:20). So living faith and, by analogy, livinghope would be fertile, fruitful, productive hope. Living hope is hope that has power  and produceschanges in life. This is what living' means inHebrews 4:12,where it says, The word of God is living and effective . So Christian hope is a strong confidence in God which has power to producechanges in how we live . How Does Hope Arise in Our Hearts? 2) The second question I want to answer is: How does this hope arise in our hearts? One part of theanswer is given here in verse 3; another part is given in verses 23–25. In verse 3 Peter says, We are born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead  . That is, our hope arises from being born anew, and this new birth comes in some sense through Jesus'resurrection. There is a big gap between the resurrection of Jesus and my new birth 2,000 yearslater. Verses 23–25 help fill the gap. Peter says, You have been born anew not of perishable seed but of imperishable through the living and abiding word of God; for all  flesh is like  grass and all itsglory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lordabides forever. That word is the good news which was preached to you. Connecting the historicalresurrection of Jesus and my life 2,000 years later is the Word of God, namely, the gospel. Thegospel is the message, preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ died for our sins  according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according tothe Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).So in verse 3 we are born anew through the resurrection of Jesus, but in verse 23 we are born anewthrough the living and abiding word, the news of Jesus' death and resurrection. And how these twomeans work together is not hard to understand. The resurrection of Jesus does not produce hopewithout our hearing about it. Before it can beget hope in our heart, we have to get the news. But theother way around is true too. Words by themselves don't produce hope. There has to be someassurance that they are true. We have to have some evidence that Jesus really did rise from the dead.If the Pharisees and scribes had been able to produce the body of Jesus on Pentecost, Peter couldhave preached till he was blue in the face and no one would have been born anew unto a livinghope. That's why Paul, when he defined the gospel in1 Corinthians 15:4, went on to say that after his resurrection Jesus appeared to Cephas, then the twelve. Then he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians15:5–7). Christian hope arises in the heart through hearing a credible testimony to the resurrectionof Jesus Christ from the dead.But two further questions arise: How does a credible testimony to Jesus' resurrection produce hopein our heart? And: Why is this called a new birth? I'll tell you how a 2,000-year-old resurrectionreaches my heart and produces hope. It happens in basically two ways. First, the testimony thatJesus rose from the dead is a declaration to me that Jesus Christ is alive, never to die again, andtherefore is here right now, April 19, 1981, 8th Street and 13th Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota.You know I mean it, Lord Jesus, and I ask you to make your presence known right now.But how do I know his presence bodes well for me? How do I know it is a hopeful presence? Theanswer to this is the second way his resurrection gives me hope. If Jesus was raised from the dead,exalted to the right hand of the father, and is coming as king to judge the quick and the dead, then Ihave good reason to believe that what he said about his death is true. And what he said was that hedied  for me (John 15:13) and that he ransomed me for God  (Mark 10:45). The way Peter puts it in3:18 is this: Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. The resurrection of Jesus certifies to me the efficacy of his death for my sins. AsPaul says in1 Corinthians 15:17, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are stillin your sins. But if Christ has been raised, then all my sins are forgiven if I cast myself on him.And if all my sins are forgiven, then God is not against me but for me. And if God is for me, thenwho can be against me? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us allthings with him? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, yes who was raised from thedead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. (Romans 8:31–34)That's how a 2,000-year-old resurrection reaches my heart and begets hope: it certifies to me that because Jesus bore my sins on the cross, God is for me and not against me; and it declares that thisJesus who loved me and gave himself for me is alive and present and caring at every moment of mylife. Thank you, Jesus!And now why is the begetting of this hope called a new birth? By his great mercy we have been born anew unto a living hope. Have you ever asked the question: What makes you you? What isthe essence of your unique personhood? What is that tap root from which the flower of your individuality grows? I think if you probe deeply, you will find that it is not your actions or thoughtsor ideas. It is your desires. We are most basically what we crave. Ideas and principles will be brought in afterwards to justify our appetites and passions. The primal thing is your yearning andlonging. Your individuality is determined by what you hanker for.If that is true, then a radical change in our desires and longings will mean a radical change in our  personhood. Something new comes into being, and that is what Jesus and John and Paul and Peter   call the new birth or regeneration. The reason Peter says we are born anew to a living hope is because when we cease to pin our hopes (our desires and longings) on things that are in the world,and instead pin our hopes and desires on God, then a new person has been born. How Does Hope Beget Love? 3) And now we will try to see why such a person has the power to love. Notice 1 Peter 1:13–15: Gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to youat the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselvesin all your conduct.The main thing I want us to see from this text is that conduct conforms to passions or desires.Formerly we were ignorant, Peter says in verse 14, ignorant of the death and resurrection of Jesusand all the promises they contain. Accompanying this ignorance was a complex of desires. Notknowing the glory of God and the hope he offers through Christ, you set your hope on things of theworld and your conduct kept in step. But now you are no longer ignorant of God's grace, so hope fully in the grace coming to you at the revelation of Christ. Have a new set of desires and the holyconduct that follows from them, like fruit on a tree.The kind of conduct that hoping in God empowers is holy love. And I want to conclude with threeillustrations of how that works. First of all, hope empowers holy love by pushing out greed and self- pity. When we are anxious about tomorrow and something has happened to make us feel terribleabout what's coming, we generally respond in one or both of two ways, which are just the oppositeof love. Our subconscious may tell us: Well, if things are going to be so bad tomorrow, you may aswell get the pleasure you can today. And it doesn't matter if you exploit others in the process. Amild form of this would be overeating; a more serious form would be stealing. The other way werespond to anxiety is by self-pity or depression. And the result of this is that we are so fretful aboutourselves that we have no incentive or strength to care about others.Against such anxiety we have to throw the forces of hope. We must gird up our minds and be sober and hope fully in God who said in1 Peter 5:7, Cast all your anxieties on me because I care for you. We must argue with our soul and say, Soul, Jesus Christ died for my sins, it has beencertified to me by his resurrection. God is not against me but for me. Why are you downcast, O mysoul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God! And in that way we fight the fight of faith, and drive away the greed and self-pity of hopelessness, and open the gates of love. And sohope is the power for holy love.A second way that hope empowers love is what we might call the inevitability of imitation. Youalways tend to imitate the people you admire most and desire most strongly to be around. Kids tendto dress and walk and talk like their heroes. And so do we adults, though we are less blatant about it.A person who hopes intensely in Jesus Christ, who longs to see him and be with him, will inevitablystart to think and feel and act like Jesus. Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 John 3:3). Strong hope to see Jesus is a strong power for holy love.Finally, one other way that hope empowers holy love is by giving the assurance of God's blessingand care which we need in order to follow through on some of his specific hard commands. There isonly one basic reason why we disobey the commands of Jesus: it's because we don't haveconfidence that obeying will bring more blessing than disobeying. We do not hope fully in God's promise. What did he promise? Peter passes on his teaching like this: Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called that you may obtaina blessing  . He who would love life and see good days . . . let him turn away from evil and do good. You will always be better off to obey than to disobey, even if it costs you your life. Truly I say toyou, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands
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