what is our hope?

I Peter 1:13 says that we need to prepare our minds for action (the KJV word picture is to “gird up the loins of your mind” I love that!) be sober minded and set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

If we are going to focus our attention and avoid the distractions of this world in favor of such hope, we need to know what it is. What is our hope? To whom was Peter talking? According to verse 1, he was talking to the elect exiles of the dispersion scattered throughout Asia Minor.

Peter more fully describes the hope he is talking about in verses 3-9:

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, 4. to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5. who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7. 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. 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, 9. obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

and he juxtaposes the hope they have in what is to come against the various trials that are grieving them here on the earth. In other words, the hope upon which they are called to fully set their minds had nothing to do with making their present earthly circumstances better. All of their trials were designed by God to test the genuineness of their faith so that it would result in praise, honor and glory to God at the end.

The hope was and is salvation by Jesus in Heaven where the tested genuineness of their faith would redound to the the glory of God. That is why He saved us in the first place. To the praise of His glorious grace. That is why we are called to share the gospel with others, to increase and magnify the praise of His glorious grace.

Now then, think about the prosperity gospel preachers. What is the hope to which they are calling people? More money, better relationships, better and more satisfying work and career…etc. How biblical is that hope? Whose desires are the object of that kind of hope? Who is at the center of that worldview?

Sean Lucas had a post about Joel Osteen recently that nailed the difference between the true hope of the Bible to which we are called to focus our minds and the false hope of the prosperity gospel. Spend a little time and go read the whole thing. It is great. Here are a couple of pieces of it to get you started:

I think the driving reason that Osteen is hugely popular is that he sells hope. Books like Your Best Life Now and Become a Better You provide a message of hope that my life does not have to be the way it is right now; that God is powerful and able to change my life; that God is profoundly interested in my life and is near to me. And while that message of hope is packaged in the code language of the prosperity Gospel and positive psychology (like the phenomenally successful book by Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier), at the end of the day, people leave Lakewood feeling as though there is a greater meaning and purpose for their lives.

….
The biblical priority is that God in the Gospel rescues, delivers, frees and sustains us to make much of God. He is the great good in the Good News–and it truly is amazing: that God would save his wayward children for the fame of his name; would shape worshippers who will find their deepest satisfaction in making much of God; and would gather together a worldwide body of worshippers who hallow his name

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