DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 28, 1870,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
– 1 Peter 1:3-5
A third blessing strictly connected with this new life, is A LIVELY HOPE. “He has begotten us again unto a lively hope.”
Could a man live without hope? Men manage to survive the worst conditions of distress when they are encouraged by a hope, but is not suicide the natural result of the death of hope? Yes, we must have a hope, and the Christian is not left without one. He has “a lively hope,” that is to say, first, he has a hope within him, real, true, and operative. Some men’s hopes of heaven are not “living hopes,” for they never
stir them to action. They live as if they were going to hell, and yet they coolly talk about hoping that all will be well with them at last! A Christian’s hope purifies him, excites him to diligence, makes him seek after that which he expects to obtain. A student at the University hoping to gain a prize uses his best endeavors, burns the midnight oil, and strains all his faculties, that he may reach the mark which will ensure his passing the examiners. Even thus the Christian with a lively hope devotes himself to obtaining the blessings which God has promised in His Word. The Lord has begotten us to a “lively
hope,” that is to say, to a vigorous, active, operating hope.
It is a “lively hope” in another sense, namely, that it cheers and enlivens. The swimmer who is ready to sink, if he sees a boat nearing him, plucks up courage and swims with all his strength because now he expects that his swimming will be of effectual service to him. The Christian amid the waves and billows of adversity retains his hope, a glorious hope of future bliss, and therefore he strikes out like a man towards the heavenly shore. Our hope buoys up the soul, keeps the head above water, inspires
confidence, and sustains courage.
It is also called a “living hope,” because it is imperishable. Other hopes fade like withering flowers. The hopes of the rich, the boasts of the proud, all these will die out as a candle when it flickers in the socket. The hope of the greatest monarch has been crushed before our eyes, he set up the standard of victory too soon, and has seen it trailed in the mire. There is no unwaning hope beneath the changeful moon, the only imperishable hope is that which climbs above the stars, and fixes itself upon the throne
of God and the Person of Jesus Christ.
The hope which God has given to His truly quickened people is a lively hope, however, because it deals with life. Brethren, it may be Christ will come while yet we live, and then we shall not die but shall be fitted for heaven by a change. However, it is probable that we may have to depart out of this world unto the Father by the usual course of nature, and in expecting to do so let us not look at death as a gloomy matter, as though it could at all jeopardize our welfare or ultimately injure us. No, my brethren, we have a living hope, a lively hope.
Charles Borromeo, the famous bishop of Milan, ordered a painter who was about to draw a skeleton with a scythe over a sepulcher, to substitute for it the golden key of Paradise. Truly this is a most fitting emblem for a believer’s tomb, for what is death but the key of heaven to the Christian. We notice frequently over cemetery gates, as an emblematic device, a torch turned over ready to be quenched. Ah, my brethren, it is not so, the torch of our life burns the better, and blazes the brighter for the change of
death. The breaking of the pitcher which now surrounds the lamp and conceals the glory, will permit our inner life to reveal its lofty nature, and ere long even the pitcher shall be so remodeled as to become an aid to that light, its present breaking is but preparatory to its future refashioning. It is a blessed thought that the part of us which must most sadly feel the mortal stroke is secured beyond all fear from permanent destruction. We know that this very body, though it molders into dust, shall live again, these weeping eyes shall have all tears wiped from them, these hands which grasp today the sword of a conflict shall wave the palm branch of triumph.
My brethren, it were not just that one body should fight and another body should be crowned, that one body should labor and another body have the reward. The same identical body shall rise from the dead at the Lord’s coming, marvelously changed, strangely developed as the seed develops into the fullblown flower, but still the same, in very deed the selfsame, this very body shall be resplendent with glory, even the same which now bears sickness and pain.
This is our lively hope, that death has no dominion over any part of our manhood. There is for a while a separation between the soul and the body, it is but for awhile, there is for the flesh a temporary slumbering in the tomb, it is but a slumber, and the waking shall be in the likeness of Christ. As for the soul, it shall be forever with the Lord, waiting for the latter day, and the coming of Christ, when the body itself shall be raised from corruption into the likeness of the glory of Him who is the first begotten from the dead.
Thus, I have brought you up from the abundant mercy to the new life, and onward, to the lively hope.
To be continued in Part 5