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The great mercy of God and the resurrection of Jesus are unchangeable and bring a living hope

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Chris Cookston"Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," 1 Peter 1:3

Imagine being a follower of Christ during Peter's ministry in the first century, to be sure, in the first three centuries many in the church were battered and put to death by people in power who didn't know Christ. This letter (1 Peter) was written to believers who were worn out and facing their own potential death. It's easy to imagine they were tempted to abandon the Savior.

When the waves of trouble begin to hit, discouragement increases. It happens to the father who gets a pay cut and begins to doubt if he will be able to provide that which his wife and children need, like a home, food and clothing. Doubts can lead us to give up on God, but the new life God gives to His children comes from a person that does not change. He gives us no reason to doubt Him. This new life in God is caused by Jesus' resurrection.

A wind analogy may clarify this point. As wind causes a kite to fly, so Jesus' resurrection causes the new birth (that is, makes people born again). No wind, no kite flying. No resurrection, no life. If Jesus did not actually get up from the dead, He cannot do anything, He certainly cannot give life to people. If Jesus didn't physically rise, then no person has ever nor will ever have victory over sin and death ... and all hope is lost. However, all hope is not lost because Jesus Christ did bodily rise up from the dead! The proof of His resurrection is found in the Gospels, Acts, Revelation, and many more places in the scriptures.

Further, Jesus repeatedly said that on the third day following His death, He would be raised to life. After His death when the women entered His tomb, they discovered He wasn't there, but they saw a young man. He told them that Jesus did rise and was going to Galilee, "there you will see Him, just as He told you" (Mark 16:6-7). In the days that followed, the risen Jesus appeared to His disciples at least 10 times, and more than 500 people saw Him in person (1 Corinthians 15:6).

Jesus did indeed rise from the dead! And in the verse above, He reveals to us that which makes us born again is not a decision we make, nor is it by the cleverness of any preacher or easy religion. God sovereignly decides to give birth to His chosen people by virtue of Jesus' resurrection (1 Peter 1:1-2). Thus, our new birth is all of grace, and the newly born one responds appropriately by the faith God gave him.

Also, the new birth is "according to His great mercy." If we received from God what we deserved, we would get punishment for sins. Instead, He shows kindness to His children, causing us to be "born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

The great mercy of God and the resurrection of Jesus are unchangeable, nothing can hinder these things. They are so sure they give us "living hope." Hope that is locked up with our Savior who lives forevermore. And not even death can diminish this living hope, as Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies," (John 11:25). This is real hope! The fiercest trouble in this world cannot weaken it because it is of God.

Chris Cookston is the pastor at Prineville Community Church. He can be reached at 541-447-6315.

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