Sermon April 5, 2015 Resurrection Sunday 1 Peter 1:3

1.Resurrection Sunday 2015                “Resurrection Worship”

1 Peter 1:3                                                  April 5, 2015

Pastor Louis Prontnicki                       Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

 

There are two ways to celebrate this day.

The first way is to celebrate it as “Easter,” as the rough beginning of spring; to emphasize bunny rabbits and colored eggs. The word “Easter” is taken from a prehistoric name of a pagan spring festival, and all over the world, there are traditions and rituals associated with this time of the year.   If you celebrate this day just as “Easter”, you might have a good time today, but then your life will go on the same as usual.

The second way to celebrate this day is as Resurrection Sunday, as the remembrance of God’s powerful raising of Jesus Christ from the dead. It’s a day when we recall that Jesus Christ was raised to newness of life. We remember that death could not hold him in the grave, and that He came out of the tomb in power and with glory! And we remember that all who put their trust in Jesus will also be raised with him… so that death has no final power over us.       Now… if that’s how you celebrate this day, you will not only have a good time today, but you will have an outstanding eternity!

To help you see the difference in these two approaches to today, I’d like you to think about Peter the apostle.

Peter had been Jesus’ disciple, his student, and a very close friend. (Think of a really close friend, or a mentor, in your life). And Jesus had stuck with Peter even through Peter had said and did some foolish things. And then, just when Peter thought that Jesus was really going to bring in the Kingdom of God… everything fell apart. Jesus had been telling Peter that Jesus had to suffer and die, and that when that happened, Peter would deny Jesus and fall away from him.         And then it happened.

Peter is so full of shame and grief… he denied even knowing Jesus, just to save himself… and then watched helplessly as Jesus was tortured and given a public execution on a cross.

His best friend is dead. The one who gave him hope is buried in the tomb. His band of friends is in hiding. Peter’s life has no meaning anymore. He is crushed and depressed.

Now, do you think if his friends came to him and said, “Hey Pete, cheer up. We brought you some colored Easter eggs and a chocolate bunny. Come on, let’s go outside. Spring is here. The flowers are blooming and everyone is coming for a big dinner. Let’s all have a happy time!” … do you think that would do much for Peter? Would it do much for you?

Of course not.

But when the women who had gone to Jesus’ tomb, early that Sunday morning, come running back to tell Peter, “We have seen the Lord! The tomb if empty, Peter! He is alive!”…well, was does that do for Peter? He soon becomes filled with wonder and joy!

You see, Christ’s resurrection was a life-changing experience for Peter. When Christ died on the cross, Peter’s hopes were smashed. He could only think of his own denials.

But when Christ rose from the dead, Peter had new and certain hope! For the resurrection of Jesus did much more than simply bring back Christ to Peter. Jesus’ resurrection was the crowning jewel of Christ’s victory. It meant that Christ had triumphed over sin, over Satan, over death, and over all of Peter’s doubts, sins, and despair!

My friends, colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, and spring flowers couldn’t do it for Peter; it was only the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that could charge his batteries!

 

In light of all that, look at what Peter wrote, years later, in his letter, in 1 Peter 1:3

“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

 

Now consider HOW Peter writes here. Is he saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to give you a discourse on the following topics: God, Jesus, God’s mercy, the subject of the new birth, and of course, since it is that time of the year, some of my thoughts of the resurrection.”     Is that how Peter writes? Of course not!

Rather, Peter is bursting with praise and blessing to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! He’s excited about these truths. Why?

Well, for one thing, Peter’s entire life has been transformed by these realities.

That’s why he begins his letter to people who are suffering for their faith with this joyous note of worship and praise: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Would you look with me at this one verse, and behold four wonderful realities that sparked Peter’s praise, that gripped his mind and heart, and that should grip us as well.

 

1. God’s Great Mercy “In his great mercy…”

Have you ever asked someone for mercy? Maybe you’ve stood before a judge for a ticket you’ve received… or for a serious crime you’ve committed, and you asked for mercy, knowing that the judge has every right to punish you to the full extent of the law. And if the judge showed you mercy, you left the courtroom a very happy person, right?

My friends, at the end of our lives, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Of ourselves, we don’t have a leg to stand on before Him. He is holy and righteous, and each of us is sinful and deserving of His just punishment.

But in Christ, God the Father show us mercy….He shows us great mercy, much mercy. In fact, He lavishes us with His undeserved kindness and grace, when we only deserve his wrath.   Titus 3:4-5 “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

Do you know the great mercy of God is your life?

 

2. God’s New Birth “In his great mercy he has given us new birth…”

Here’s the second reason Peter is exploding with praise: Because God has given us a new birth. His great mercy has produced a new being, a new entity, called a child of God, when previously, each of us were spiritually dead orphans.

Now the term “Born Again” has been overused and misapplied. But Peter isn’t talking about reincarnation, or a sports star or a celebrity who makes a comeback.

   Let me ask you a question: How do you know if you were born physically?

How would you answer that? Would you say, “I have this birth certificate?” Or “I did some research at the local hospitals and I have this footprint with my name on it?”

Of course not. You would answer, “Because I’m alive! I’m here. I exist. Cogito ergo sum. I know I was born physically because I am physically alive.”

Let me ask a follow-up question: “How do you know if you have been born spiritually?

That is, “How do you know if you’ve had a new birth?”

How would you answer? Would you say, “I was baptized as a baby?” Or “It says “Christian” on my birth certificate?”

I hope that isn’t your answer. For if God has given you a new birth, then you’d probably say something like this:

“I know I have had a new birth because I am alive to God right now. I have a living hope. I have spiritual appetites and spiritual enjoyments. Once I was spiritually dead, but now I am alive in God. I know God; I love Jesus; the Holy Spirit is alive in me. I trust His promises. And that is why I know I have been born spiritually.”

My friends, the new birth is something supernatural that God gives to us and works in us. It’s the power of Jesus’ resurrection transforming our hearts and our lives, from the inside out. It’s also all of God; it’s what He does for us and in us; not what we do for God.     That’s why Peter is full of praise to God, because his spiritual birth and life is all of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

 

3. God’s Living Hope   “He has given us new birth into a living hope…”

Springtime brings with it lots of tentative “Hopes”: I hope the Phillies win the World Series. I hope we’ll have good weather soon. I hope our vacation plans work out this summer.” But all these hopes are “crushable” hopes; that is, they are wishful thinking that can easily be crushed: The Phillies stumble; it rains your entire vacation, and the deer eat all your vegetables. How easily our hopes get crushed, don’t they?

But Peter writes of a living hope? Not a sort of “I hope so” /wishful thinking kind of hope, but an enduring and eternal hope that can rebound from suffering and setbacks and even from death. How is that possible? Because it is the hope that God gives us in the resurrection of Christ. Jesus was crucified and buried, and it seemed that all hope was dead with him. But when God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, it gave us a Living Hope, a hope that is as sure as the living Christ! It is a hope that grows and increases in strength year by year. It is not surprising that such hope is particularly evident in many older Christians as they get closer to death. 1 Peter 1:13 “…set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed….”

 

  1. God’s Work of Raising Jesus from the Dead “…into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

Here is the source of our new birth and of our living hope: Jesus’ resurrection.

Christ’s resurrection gives us new birth and living hope, because it means that not only does Jesus live; but it also means that we also live – in Him, and with Him. That is, the resurrection not only carried Christ out of the grave and to His Father’s throne; it also carried us out of the power of death, and united us with God forever, with Christ.

When Christ rose, we rose with him. In giving life to Christ, God gave life to us.

The resurrection is about God. God did it, so we trust God. We hope in God, and we respond with praise to God for raising Jesus… and raising us one day as well.

God establishes our new birth, our living hope, in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Our hope is sure, because God has already accomplished his salvation in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

So what are you celebrating today? Easter? Or Resurrection Sunday?