“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Begotten again, from above!
Into (not merely unto) a living (not lively) hope!
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
By the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to His abundant mercy!
Blessed be His Name!
These are the salient points of this verse of Scripture which ends with a comma, telling us that there is more to follow. The Lord willing, we will call your attention to what follows in our next Meditation; but for now we have enough for our consideration in the points mentioned above.
Begotten into a living hope!
Hope, that is, that spiritual virtue which consists (here at least) in the tendency of our spiritual, regenerated life to surge upward. It is the longing and tendency to be where Christ is! Here, in this world, that hope reveals itself as a two-fold tension. A tension—between that which is carnal and sinful, and that which is spiritual and holy. A tension—between that which is earthly and heavenly.
Always hope contains especially three elements. There is, first of all, expectation—expectation of the future. An expectation which is not relative, but absolute. All our expectations in this present evil world are circumscribed and limited by death, and are therefore not living. But the hope of our text is living. It transcends all earthly expectation. It fixes itself upon the eternal future. There is, secondly, certainty. Hope is not the shrug of the shoulder, which signifies doubt. It is in this sense that we so often use the term. When asked: Are you a child of God? Are you saved? Do you expect to go to heaven when you die? Very often the answer is: I hope so. And the meaning is: I’m not sure. I wish it were true. But the hope in Scripture and in our text is not such a shrug of the shoulder, an exclamation .of doubt, but it is absolute certainty. It can never give disappointment. There is, thirdly,—a longing. O, to be sure, this longing of hope is often marred and opposed by the sinful flesh, and it is not always even bright. Nevertheless, in principle it is a longing for the absolute future, for the seeing of the living God in the face of Christ Jesus, and for the living in His eternal tabernacle.
Into this hope we are begotten again!
We are born for the second time, and that, too, from above!
It is through this regeneration that we become alienated from the world. O, indeed, we read in the context that election is the cause of the people of God becoming strangers. For the strangers are elected according to the foreknowledge of God to become strangers and pilgrims. But the realization of this alienation, this estrangement from the world, is in our regeneration, and that, too, in a double sense. First of all, because by being regenerated we become holy in principle—thus separated from the unrighteous and corrupt world. Secondly, being born again from above, we are no longer earthly in principle. Our life is no longer earthly, but heavenly. We become the citizens of heaven. And this makes us at once, in principle of course, to become strangers in the world.
Each one of the elect strangers is so regenerated. They are given a new heart, and out of that heart, from which are all the issues of life, come into focus the tensions of the living hope into which we have been born again.
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead we are begotten again into this living hope!
The apostle refers, of course, to the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection. Always in their preaching and writing the apostles considered this fact of the resurrection of Christ as the central truth. The Apostle Paul informs us that if Christ be not raised we are yet in our sins and miseries; then all his preaching is vain, and he is found to be a false witness; then all is hopeless. And the Apostle Peter views that resurrection of Christ as the power of a new life and the ground of an imperishable hope.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from, the dead was not a return from the grave, but a going through the grave, the condition of death, into a glorious and heavenly immortality. Lazarus, who also was resurrected, returned from death and the grave, only to return there again when his calling on the earth was finished. But Christ Jesus did not return from, but went through the grave only to issue forth into the glorious heavenly life in body and soul. And the apostle connects our being born again to this resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Literally, it means that we are regenerated through the power of Christ’s resurrection. Not only was there life and power in Christ’s resurrection whereby He was raised from the dead; but by that same power we also are made alive—born again from above.
Not only is the resurrection of Christ the certainty and ground of our bodily resurrection; but it is also the power of our new birth, of our being born again. Regeneration is really the beginning of our resurrection which cannot stop until we also are raised from the grave and stand in newness of life in body and soul in life eternal. This the Lord taught plainly when in John 5:25, 26 He said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” This cannot refer to the final, bodily resurrection; for it is now that the dead hear His voice and live. This is the first resurrection, the second must follow in the day of Christ at the end of the world. Not only, therefore, is the resurrection of Christ the pledge of our final and glorious bodily resurrection, but, it is the pledge and power of our being born again, our spiritual resurrection. There is no bodily resurrection without there first being a spiritual resurrection. And the opposite is also true; namely, that all who are born again from above shall never die but enter into life eternal, which includes also the resurrection of the body.
Begotten again into a living hope by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Begotten again by the Triune God Who is the Father of the complete Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ. Not the Father of the Son, although that is the background of it all. Yet this is not the meaning of the apostle. The reference here is to the Triune God Who is the Father of the Mediator in His human nature, in which He suffered, died, and rose again. God cannot be called God in relation to the Son in the Trinity. But of the complete Mediator, described in the names: Lord, Jesus, Christ, the Triune God is both God and Father. It is He Who begets us into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Notice, we are not begotten of God, unto a living hope, as the King James version has it, and which could imply that something might happen so that we do not obtain the object of our hope after all. But the text states literally that we are begotten again into a living hope. This means that our regenerated life somehow enters into and is identified with the hope. We shall have more to say about this in our next Meditation. Notice also, the hope into which we are begotten again is not a lively hope, as the translation has it. What a lively hope would be, we cannot say. Bather, the text speaks of our being begotten again into aliving hope. It is living because it is connected and related to the new life in Christ.
According to His abundant mercy!
O, indeed, His mercy is abounding!
For it is that grace of God whereby He delivers us from the lowest hell and brings us into the highest heavens. It is that virtue of the Almighty whereby He with cords of unchangeable and eternal love seeks with all that is in Him to make us blessed as He is blessed. Especially is this mercy great when the object; of it understand how unworthy they are of receiving it. We must understand clearly that there is no natural theology here. For outside of Christ, God is manifested only in His wrath. But being in Christ Jesus, and partakers of His resurrection life, all the rays of Divine mercy beam on us. We see that’ mercy in His having chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. We see that mercy in His having sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, our sin. We see that mercy in His having given His Son in our nature unto the accursed death of the cross. We see that mercy in His having raised our Mediator from death and the grave, and having exalted Him at His own right hand. We see that mercy as the Mediator in turn, having received the Spirit of life, returns to us and enters the sphere of our death, making us to become spiritually alive. We taste that mercy when that Spirit testifies with our spirits that we are the children of God, and heirs with Christ Jesus of eternal glory. We rejoice in that mercy that speaks to us of justification, forgiveness of sins, of righteousness, and of eternal glory. We experience that mercy according to which we are begotten again into a living hope, a hope which maketh not ashamed.
No wonder the apostle exclaims: Blessed be God!
To bless Him is to praise, to speak well of Him! It means, negatively, that we never say anything concerning Him which would in anyway detract from His glory. This we would certainly do if we in any wise ascribed any of the work of our salvation to man. Every system of theology and every exposition of Scripture which in the smallest detail exalts man in the matter of his salvation is a derogation of God. Positively, to bless God is to extol the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the God and Father of all our salvation. Not as though by blessing Him we can add anything to Him to enhance His glory. For He is sufficient unto Himself—He needs not the creature to make Him great. But when we bless Him, we merely say, we recount what we actually see of Him, and in so doing praise, that is, speak well of Him.
And if this blessing, this speaking well of God is already the happy experience of those who are begotten of Him into this living hope, and it is; what then shall that blessing, that speaking well of Him be when that hope—which looks forward with longing expectation—shall be realized in all of its heavenly beauty?
Then shall all the redeemed, with all the renewed creation constitute an innumerable host of voices singing paeans of praise unto Him Whose mercy was so great that it brought us into His own everlasting bliss.