Living Hope through Resurrection
But new birth is just one of three ideas about salvation intricately interconnected in 1 Peter 1:3. The second key concept is that this spiritual rebirth is “into a living hope.”
Again, what does this mean? Hope might seem incredibly abstract; we understand being born into the world, or in a certain city, or into a family. But into hope?
The word living is the crucial clue to understanding what Peter highlights with these words. He is contrasting our spiritual rebirth with our first birth. With our first birth we’re born into a wonderful world full of sights and sounds, colors and people—family, trees, music, food, sports, sunshine, rain, oceans, and mountains. It’s truly spectacular.
But eventually we grow to realize that this world is also a world that is tragically scarred by suffering and death. God’s beautiful creation has been bent out of shape by humanity’s sin and rebellion against God. It’s a world where each of us experiences pain, struggle, and ultimately death. The sobering reality is that every child enters a world marked by death. Every child born into this world will also one day die.
But when we are born again, we are born into a new life that will not end with death. Though we will still go through physical death, our new life in Christ will continue (John 11:25). And though we will still know suffering and pain on earth, we also know that God is bringing us into a future that is not controlled by death and decay. It’s a future where, with all of God’s children, we will enjoy our new life with our heavenly Father forever—a life of love, joy, peace, and beauty.
That is the new life, the living hope, we are born into. It’s a birth into hope that’s alive because it’s rooted in Christ’s life, a life we can experience now and forever.
I love Easter Sunday. After the somber remembrance of Jesus’s death on Good Friday, on Easter Sunday we joyfully celebrate the resurrection—when Jesus defeated death once and for all. But many Christians seem more aware of what Jesus’s work on Good Friday did than they are of the full significance of Easter Sunday.
This is the final crucial idea that Peter explains in 1 Peter 1:3 when he says that believers are given new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. All of what we’ve described up to now happens through Jesus’s resurrection. How?
The word through points us to a central theme found throughout the New Testament, that of participation with Christ. Unfortunately, this concept, despite how crucial it is for understanding salvation, isn’t well understood.
Our participation with Christ means that we are connected to him; faith is the bond that unites us with his Spirit (Galatians 2:20). Through the Spirit, we become one with him.
The New Testament explains that, through the Spirit uniting us to Christ, we’re included in certain events that Jesus experienced two thousand years ago as though we had been there too. For example, the Bible describes Christians as those who have died with and been buried with Christ (Romans 6:3–4). It also describes us as made alive and raised up with him (Ephesians 2:4–6). It even describes believers as seated “with him in the heavenly realms” with God the Father (v. 6).
This participation with Christ through the Spirit means that we share in his death. Yes, Jesus died for us, but we also died with him. When he died, spiritually we died too: our old, natural self, the person enslaved by sin, was put to death with Christ.
In the same way, Jesus’s resurrection has become our resurrection, our spiritual new life. When he was raised to life, we were also raised to life with him. Now that our old self, enslaved by sin, has died, we’re also raised with Christ as a new creation.
Clearly, the simple word through points to something incredibly profound—participation with Christ in each aspect of our salvation. Through Jesus’s death, our bondage to sin and death dies. And through his resurrection, we are raised with him to an entirely new life.
The resurrection of Christ is as central to our salvation as his death. We might say that the death and resurrection of Jesus are equally essential, like two sides of a coin. We can’t have one without the other. Through Jesus’s death, our sins were dealt with as our old self in bondage to sin was put to death. And through Jesus’s resurrection, the new person we are in Christ was born, no longer ruled by sin or the finality of death. Through Jesus’s resurrection, we are free.
1. Hope is one of the central elements of the Christian faith. Peter says we are born into a living hope, and Paul says that hope is one of the things that remain into the new kingdom. What does hope mean in the present and in the future?
2. Peter says that our new birth and our hope are “through the resurrection of Jesus.” What is one way in which you felt like your life was more connected to the life of Christ?
3. Hope is not wishful thinking. How does Hebrews 11 define hope and how can it make a difference in how you live now?