Love and Believe What You Cannot See

2nd Sunday of Easter

Love and Believe What You Cannot See  (because Jesus gives)

1. Hope
2. An Inheritance
3. Joy

Text:  1 Peter 1:3-9

Intro      

I go to church every single Sunday.  I was there on Easter when we had the massive crowd last week.  I attend every Bible study.  I read my Bible on my own.  I pray as much as I can.  I try my hardest to live according to my faith.  I do all of those things . . . but still nothing.  I haven’t seen any results.  I haven’t seen life get any easier.  I haven’t seen anything get better.  And I certainly haven’t seen Jesus.

What if this religion stuff is just made up?  What if God is just a placebo—something fake people use to make them feel better psychologically?  I want to believe in God.  I want to believe the Bible.  But where’s my proof?  When is my life going to get better?  When am I going to see some signs from God?  When is God going to talk to me?

These are tough questions for Christians.  Our faith could be so strong.  But then life happens.  Problems occur.  Sicknesses and sorrows plague our hearts.  Suddenly what we thought was a sure foundation seems to be sinking sand.  So we start to ask questions.  We wonder.  We doubt, just like Thomas in the gospel today.

Peter wrote to encourage Christians like us.  His encouraging words are in verses 3-9 of 1 Peter 1.  This morning Peter tells us why we can Love and Believe What We Cannot See.

I.

We all have many hopes and dreams in this life.  We hope to be successful.  We hope our family is successful.  We hope our children grow up well.  We hope to stay healthy and happy.  We all also have other hopes that are more on the big side.  We hope for no more terrorist attacks.  We hope for world peace.  We hope to be rich and maybe win the lottery.  We hope to live in a mansion some day.

But in our culture hope is a very weak word.  The way we use the word hope, we almost don’t expect that desire to ever happen.  For example, I hope the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl during my lifetime.  The only thing weaker than that would be hoping that the Jacksonville Jaguars win a Super Bowl.  Sometimes we say things like, “I hope it doesn’t rain when I go to the beach today,” or “I hope my UPS package is delivered on time.”  When we use the word hope there is often almost no hope at all.

Maybe that’s because we know who we are.  We are humans.  We have no special powers.  We have no special capabilities.  We have hardly any control over hardly any things.  What can we change?  What can we do?  What difference can we make?  We are only puny little humans!

More than that, we humans are also sinful humans.  We are used to imperfection.  We are used to failure.  Those are things that are regularly a part of our lives.  We are imperfect every day.  We fail every day.  How could we expect anything good in this world when we fail so miserably to obey our God?  Why should we expect him to do anything good for us when we rarely do things right for him?  When we use language like we do, when we think thoughts like we do, when we act the way we do, why should we have hope?  All we should really expect is God’s wrath and anger.  When we sinful humans use the word hope there is often almost no hope at all.

But not when it comes to God.  God has power.  God has the capability.  God has the control.  God is perfect.  God never fails.  God never falters.  God always delivers on his promises.  Listen to how Peter begins in verse three this morning:  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Praise God, for he has given us a new birth into a living hope!  Our lives will never be the same.  Christ died to remove all of our guilt.  Jesus paid for all of our wrongs.  He substituted himself to take our punishment.  This gives us a new spiritual life.  This gives us a new and a living hope.  We now have the hope of heaven.  We now have the hope of eternal life.  We now have the hope of joy and perfection forever.

How do we know this is real?  How do we know this isn’t some weak hope that will probably never happen like most of our hopes in this life?  Because Peter says this new life and new hope are, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  When Jesus rose from the dead, he proved his victory over sin and death.  When Jesus rose from the dead, he proved his power and ability to do anything.  When Jesus rose from the dead, he proved that we will rise to life too.

This changes everything.  Now we have something to look forward to.  Now we have something to get us through everyday life.  Now we have something spectacular waiting for us after this life.  It’s not a fake hope.  It’s a real hope.  Hundreds of people saw and witnessed Jesus alive with their own eyes.  The resurrection isn’t a made up story.  That means our hope isn’t made up either.  Love and Believe What You Cannot See, because Jesus gives us hope, the sure hope of life forever in heaven!

II.

The hope we have in Jesus is amazing!  But in the back of our minds, we still think that it sure would be nice if we would see some tangible results.  Why does it seem like all the wicked of this world have life so easy when my life is so tough?  This last Friday seemed to be ultimate evidence of this.

If you missed the event that over a billion people watched, Prince William of England married Kate Middleton in London on Friday and became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  Soon enough they will be the king and queen of England.  But England is a notoriously apathetic country that has little care for religion at all.  This is quite evident when you note that our church body has zero missions in all of Great Britain, but we have thousands of Christians flocking to our missionaries in China and our own seminary for training pastors in Hong Kong.  They speak our language in England!

But when they have a special event, then they surely act “religious.”  So there stood Kate Middleton in grand Westminster Abbey, donning over a million dollars in jewelry, going through the motions with the rest of the crowd.  It was pathetic to watch all the attendees going through the motions of singing fantastic hymns like Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah and Love Divine, All Love Excelling.  There was a magnificent arrangement of Psalm 118 (This is the Day the Lord Has Made) commissioned just for this royal wedding, of all things.  And I thought for a moment that my mind was going to explode when I saw billionaire Elton John in worship standing next to his “life partner” actually singing some of the great Christian classic hymns of all time.

How can this be?  How come they can have all these riches and all this success and live the good life, when I scrape by in a mediocre house in northeast Florida?  Why should they have it so good when I have it so bad?  I actually like Jesus and being in church!

Ah, but listen to Peter!  Starting at the first verse again, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth . . . into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”

Someone needs to break the news to Kate Middleton.  Yes, you are living the princess fantasy—a commoner who is now in line to be queen.  You will have access to all the jewels in London Tower.  You can wear a million bucks for your wedding.  But none of it will last.  That’s true for all people in this world.  Jesus once said,What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul.”  What does it matter if you have all these things in the world but then you die and go to hell and you can’t take any of those things with you?

Peter reminds us that we have something much better waiting for us.  We should be in hell.  We should have everlasting punishment.  But we won’t.  In his great mercy,” Peter says.  In God’s great love he has forgiven all of our sins through his Son Jesus.  Jesus proved through his victorious resurrection from the dead that we now have an inheritance waiting for us.  It won’t perish.  It won’t spoil.  It won’t fade.  Eternal perfection, eternal joy, and eternal life are waiting for us and will never go away.  That’s our inheritance through Jesus.  How do we know it’s real?  Because Jesus is risen from the dead!  Again, Peter teaches us to Love and Believe What We Cannot See because Jesus gives us an inheritance that is eternal in heaven.

III.

It’s no wonder that Peter begins these verses the way that he does:  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”  It is a great and mighty wonder that God would give us such a sure hope and such a sure inheritance as we do have through Christ and his resurrection.  It’s life changing!

Yet still, we don’t always act like it.  We still have days of sorrow and sadness.  We still have days in which we feel like nothing is going right and nothing ever will.  We still have days that are filled with suffering.

But listen one more time to Peter about how God has changed our lives, even here now in this world.  Peter says in verse 5 that, [You] through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”  God is going to keep you safe by his mighty power and shield you from all harm and danger until Judgment Day or until he brings you to heaven through death—whichever comes first.  So he continues in verse 6, In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Yes, we may suffer grief and all kinds of trials right now.  But these happen so that our faith may be tested and strengthened.  These happen so that God receives honor and we do not.  These happen so that we learn that eternal riches are better than earthly riches.

 And so he concludes, Though you have not seen him, you love him; and though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  This is life changing!  Our daily lives are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy because we know that we have received the eternal salvation of our souls.  Just like all the riches of the world, the sufferings of this world are only temporary.  But life and heaven are forever. They were guaranteed to be ours when Jesus rose from the dead.  So we Love and Believe What We Cannot See because Jesus gives us joy in what he has done.

Conclusion

We live in a world that abides by the mantra, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  “Ok, prove it,” we say.  So often our worldly minds become confused and perplexed as we wonder and worry about Jesus.  Even his own disciple Thomas did the same.  But Jesus told Thomas, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  We are even more blessed than Jesus’ own disciples because We Love and Believe What We Cannot See.  We cannot see Jesus.  We cannot see forgiveness.  We cannot see heaven.  But we know it is all true because Jesus rose from the dead and hundreds saw him alive, and his own Word, the Bible, tells us what truly happened.  So we are blessed.  We are blessed with hope.  We are blessed with an inheritance.  We are blessed with joy.  We are blessed through our faith that Loves and Believes What We Cannot See—our real and true Savior, Jesus Christ.

AMEN

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Posted on May 1, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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