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.
– 1 Peter 1:3
Peter begins the body of his first letter with a shout of praise to God: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Greek word for “blessed” is eulogetos which is where we get our word “eulogy” from, and one of its definitions is “praise.” Peter is giving God a eulogy (a good one, to the living God). Peter sandwiches this in between great theological truths. High praise is due to God because he has foreknown us, elected us, sanctified us, and sprinkled us with Jesus’ blood (vv. 1-2). And high praise is due to God because he has caused us to be born again to a living hope that gives so joy and fulfillment (vv. 4-9).
“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” Again we see the doctrine of election. How were we born again? According to God’s great mercy (cf. Eph. 2:4; Tit. 3:5). God has caused us to be born again. R.C. Sproul writes, “This emphasizes that salvation is based entirely on God’s loving initiative.” God has done the work; he makes people Christians; glory alone goes to him. A human baby contributes nothing to make himself alive and it is the same way with the Christian. The word used for “caused us to be born again” is anagennao and it is more active than simply gennao (which would be like an earthly father’s passive action in the birth of a physical child). God, on the other hand, has actively pursued us, wooed us, called us, and caused us to have faith so that we would be born again (Matt. 11:27; Jn. 6:44; Acts 13:48; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Thes. 1:4; Heb. 3:1).
Christianity is about the loving, sovereign, holy, infinite God of the universe giving his people grace and faith to love and trust him. Our response is faith to what God has initiated in us. We have the ability to respond because he has caused us to be born again. Could anything be more clear? Religion, on the other hand, is man’s attempt to cause himself to be born again (or saved, etc). There is nothing in our souls that desire God (see Romans 3). In fact, by nature we are runaways and rebels.
Lest we simply know the theology of the Bible with our minds (and 1 Peter 3:1) and have no heart connection, let us look at the practical application that Peter gives us. What have we been born again to? We are born again to a living hope. It is not a dead hope. It is not a corrupted or wicked hope. It is life and peace and joy and fulfillment. This is explained more in the verse 4, however we can be sure with our verse that this hope far outweighs anything this life can offer us. This hope is a perfect hope that will never disappoint (cf. Rom. 5:5). We have been given this hope “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The word “through” is dia in Greek and it is the same word used in verse 23, “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through (dia) the living and abiding word of God.” The living and abiding word of God is the whole redemptive plan of God: that he sent his Son to save sinners. Dia modifies the phrase “born again” in verse 3. Because of (through) Christ’s resurrection we now have a living hope that will one day bring us new bodies that are sown imperishable, that we may experience the inexpressible joy that comes with the salvation of our souls (vv. 8-9).
It’s clear that Jesus died to bring us great joy and satisfaction in him for his glory so that we might live with and worship him for eternity. Christianity is not about rules, regulations, trying to get saved, and attempting to find God. That is religion. Christianity is about God coming to us by his mercy and causing us to be born again so that we might have the greatest happiness in our lives — a happiness that is imperishable.
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