Born to hope

“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 NASB).

From a human, earthly perspective, when one stands outside the window of a hospital nursery admiring the newly born babies within, the highest hope for any one of those new lives which is experienced is that he or she will have a long and happy life. All in that position are fully aware that every brand new baby comes with the reality of ultimate death. All hope and expectation are tempered with that knowledge. No matter how many years may be granted, nor what wealth, honor, fame or other accomplishments may be gained, physical life is limited in duration and will always end in death.

Peter’s words describe a different birth with different expectations. The new birth instituted by Jesus (John 3:3-8) produces eternal life, without end. Peter refers to it as “living hope.” This is hope without limit, with no presuppositions of disappointment or cessation. Those born of the Spirit enter into the realm of timeless, boundless expectation. Our phrase, “The sky is the limit” does not apply, because living hope transcends earth, heaven, sky, space or any other material location.

Birth’s potential is generally conceived as encompassing time (long life), accomplishment (success), and personal fulfillment (happiness), at the very least. These same elements relate to the living hope promised with the new birth. However, in this realm those categories expand to unlimited dimensions.

Eternal life is that which never ends because those born of the Spirit will receive bodies which are immortal and incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:53-57). When Jesus returns, the dead will be raised and all who trust in him will be gathered to an eternal, unending home (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) where “there will no longer be any death” (Revelations 21:4). Never again will potential be subjected to a clock or calendar. There will always be “enough time” to accomplish whatever might be imagined or desired.

Very little is said in Scripture about the possessions or activities of the resurrected in Heaven. Heaven itself is described in terms of luxury and beauty (Revelation 21:10-21). Inhabitants of Heaven are described as praising God repeatedly, but otherwise little is said of how they spend their time, other than that it will not include any sorrow, pain, parting, darkness, or evil (Revelation 21:4, 27; 22:3-5). Without those things that corrupt and limit human hope, our expectations are without limit, promised by God who “Is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

The search for happiness, never perfectly realized in this body, is fulfilled in Heaven. John’s description of the place where God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4) is positively understood as “there will be perfect happiness, which will never end.” This happiness should not be understood in the sense of fun and pleasure, but rather in complete fulfillment or satisfaction.

Those born of the spirit have a living hope of endless fellowship with God and his Son, Jesus Christ. There will be nothing to interrupt or threaten that fellowship or to put at risk the inheritance promised to his children (Romans 8:17). Time will not rob us of vitality or opportunity. Nothing will grow old. Our Father promises, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son” (Revelation 21:7).

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