Whether you have a really great memory or a poor one, I would guess you could remember day you were baptized. I’ve heard some of you tell the stories of being baptized in ice cold rivers – and some ice cold baptistries! Have you thought about what that motivated you on that day to secure your life in Jesus by joining him in His Death, Burial and Resurrection (Romans 6)? What were the feelings you experienced after baptism? Relief? Freedom? Closeness to God? Joy? Feeling like you were getting a new start. The truth is everyone needs to make a new start.
Last Sunday around the world Christians remembered the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the most basic element of our faith. Without the resurrection we would have no hope, and no reason to follow the teachings of Jesus. When we are baptized we are starting a new life – but for many of you that was a long time ago. There is one startling reality that every baptized person faces:
We have a Brand New Life, but we still live in the Same Old World!
Our outlook on sin, following Jesus, the world changed. The world, however, continues right along. Peter’s first readers understood:
*Being a Christian did not eliminate their problems – in fact it increased them in persecution.
*They had a brand new life, but the world hated them.
Do you think they struggled to stay faith-filled? The Apostle writing them knew what it was like to have faith, to fail, and to experience a Brand New Life Once again.
Peter’s Story is One of Faith and Failure.
When we look at the life of Peter we can see both stunning faith, and embarrassing failures. He had faith enough to leave his life and follow Jesus. He was an outspoken leader. He was a part of the ‘inner circle’ of Jesus’ friends. What kind of guy do you have to be to be one of the best friends of Jesus? He even asks Jesus boldly to let him walk on water –and he does! The first Gospel Sermon – Peter stands up to preach. It’s Peter who has the reputation of being one of the pillars of the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2:9). What an amazing Brand New Life Peter has received from following Jesus Christ!
Don’t forget Peter’s failures. He walks on water, but he sinks after just a moment because he took his eyes off of Jesus. He assembles with the others at the Last Supper, but refuses to let Jesus wash his feet (until rebuked!). He corrects Jesus’ prediction that he is going to die. (CORRECTS JESUS???!!!) He lies, curses, and denies knowing Jesus. He ditches his commitment and goes back to old life.
This man of faith and failure – remind you of anyone?
This man of faith and failure is used by God to write to some Christians who are on the run and away from all the security and safety of home. They’ve got a new life in the same old world. Would his message to them resonate with you?
– Power to Live the New Life in Your Old World –
1. New Hope
1 Peter 1:3 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
When hope runs out, there’s new hope every day. (See Acts 2:22-24)
2. New Inheritance
1 Peter 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you
When we find ourselves in the failure column, don’t give up. The inheritance God gives can survive every trauma, setback, problem, hurt, anxiety, and mess.
3. New Faith
1 Peter 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
This is not faith that comes and goes, weak n watery. You are guarded by God’s power for a salvation that’s already ready to be revealed – not ‘maybe’ ‘could be’.
4. New Challenges
1 Peter 1:6,7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Grieved by trials – not just traffic jams! Your faith is more than your trials … the Devil may try to convince you that you don’t have the faith but your faith is solid gold. These challenges cannot overcome God’s work in you.
Psalm 16:1,2 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
5. New Joy
1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory
The joy we have in our faith is a glory to God.
John 20:29 “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
6. New Outcome
1 Peter 1:9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
When Peter, man of faith and failure, wrote to the persecuted Christians who wondered if they were going to make it or not – he affirmed that every day was New in Christ! What is your struggle today? What causes you to question your faith? Your own habits of sin? Your finances? Your marriage? Your job? Your not-so-good choices in friends? All these things – and more – can seem like mountains we can’t climb!
The new life in Christ is amazing – and it is a renewable resource – even if you gave your life to Christ 50 years ago or more it is new every morning. It Springs from the Mercy of God.
“Life with Christ is an endless hope, without Him a hopeless end.” Bill Bright
Who could blame God if He sent us all to hell – who among us deserves His love and grace? His mercy leads him to want to go to great lengths to see that we are saved. In all of Peter’s failures, Jesus never walked away from Peter. The resurrection teaches us God is on a mission of mercy to save us and keep us saved!
The empty tomb answers the question: If God wanted to show us how far he would go to save us, what would he do?
1. There’s an old saying about material possessions that indicates we like them ‘until the new wears off’. Can you name something you once had that you thought was the best – until the new wore off – and then what did you do?
2. Mercy is God’s favor extended toward those who are helpless (which in one way or another includes all of us). What kinds of things make it hard for us to extend the mercy of God to others around us?
3. A painter on a Paris sidewalk set up his easel, opened his paints, and started to paint a picture called “Life.” He noticed pigeons in the park, tulips blooming, the bustle of people on the street. But he messed up his painting. His colors weren’t true and his perspective was poor. Looking at his work with disfavor, he threw it away. He took another canvas and started “Life” all over again.
-What could keep us from believing we could start all over again?
-If you could start your Christian journey all over again, what would you do differently?
-What are some ways we can communicate to those who have been failures that they can start anew and be people of faith once again?
– Anyone have a story about starting over again in faith they’d be willing to share?
4. This morning John noted several things from our text that are ‘new’ in Christ. Which one means the most to you and would you tell the group why?
– New Hope (1 Peter 1:3)
– New Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)
– New Faith (1 Peter 1:5)
– New Challenges (1 Peter 1:6,7)
– New Joy (1 Peter 1:8)
– New Outcome (1 Peter 1:9)
5. Peter writes about the trials we face and says that they test the genuineness of our faith.
– How is it that trials test the genuineness of our faith?
– What does this say about the severity of our trials?
– Is he talking about any difficult events or only persecution for our faith?
6. Several times in this short section of text we are drawn back to focus on God. Read through the text one more time and take note of the references to God and Jesus Christ. Discuss how we can keep our focus on God who is near when we are hurting or in trials.
*LifeGroups will meet next week (Senior Sunday) but not the following week (May 7th, Family Day).