Faith and Our Living Hope
FAITH AND OUR LIVING HOPE
Peter wrote in his first epistle of our being “born again to a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3-12). This living hope shall issue in “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (v. 4). Three times the apostle makes reference to the final salvation of our souls as the object of this great hope (vv. 5, 9, 10).
There is a close and intimate connection between hope and faith. Both have to do with the confident acceptance of things not seen (Rom. 8:24; Heb. 11:1). In a remarkable way, faith and hope are dependent upon one another. Hope is built on faith in God’s promises; faith is kept alive and vibrant–even amid trials–by the hope of their fulfillment. This connection is further illuminated in 1 Peter 1. As Peter discusses our living hope, he teaches some valuable lessons on the faith necessary to realize that hope.
First, Peter recognizes faith as the basis or condition for the hope of salvation. We are “protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (v. 5). An obedient faith (one that will lead a sinner to repent and be baptized) is essential for having our sins forgiven (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Here, Peter is referring to the Christian’s final salvation. We are “protected” by God for our final reward, “through faith.” By faith we begin our relationship with God when we obey, and by continued faith and obedience we maintain our relationship to him until the end.
Second, this faith is sometimes tested by the trials of this life to prove its worth. “Now for a little while,...you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor...” (vv. 6-7). It is axiomatic in God’s word that the trials encountered in this life, though unpleasant at the moment, have the long-term effect of producing greater steadfastness (Jas. 1:2-4). It is this aspect of faith—steadfastness or endurance—that most clearly unites the twin attributes of faith and hope, as the next verse reveals.
“And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (v. 8). The third lesson on faith is that the object of our faith is beyond our sight. We look not at the visible things, which are temporal, but at the invisible things, which alone are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). The continuation of faith in the unseen is made possible by the joyous anticipation of the “outcome of your faith”—our salvation in heaven. And upon what does this anticipation rest?
“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry...” (vs. 10-12). The final lesson on faith from Peter’s text is a most essential one: a proper faith, and therefore a realistic hope, must be founded upon testimony, the testimony of God’s word. Faith comes from hearing the word (Rom. 10:17). “Now faith is the assurance [‘substance’] of things hoped for, the conviction [‘evidence’] of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Faith and hope established on divine promises are sure and steadfast, as an anchor of the soul (Heb. 6:13-20). With such assurance, we can say with Paul, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).