1 Peter. 1:22-25
— 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
We all need to ask ourselves, ‘How important is the Bible to me and my family?’
Is it just something that we hunt for each week so that we can take it to church to make us look religious, or
do we read it as regularly as we eat our meals?
Peter has a great deal to say to us about the importance of the Word of God in these four verses
at the end of the first chapter of his first letter.
GOD’S WORD MUST BE OBEYED
GOD’S WORD MUST BE OBEYED
Peter talks about being made pure by obeying God’s Word.
— 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
Everyone in his right mind want to be made pure. The verb “purified” speaks of moral purity. They themselves have been and are personally involved in purifying themselves.
Peter then answers this question: How does a person attain purity? It’s answered in v22, “…you have purified your souls in obeying the truth”.
Ever since Adam was cast from the garden for not obeying God’s Word, all of humanity has been divided between two camps: those who obey God’s Word and those who don’t. Noah did. The builders of Babel didn’t. Abraham did. Pharaoh didn’t. David did. Most of his sons didn’t. Zacchaeus did. Pilate didn’t.
This is what Moses is at such great pains to communicate in Deuteronomy as he stands on the edge of the Promised Land with the people of Israel a second time. He begins by reminding them that he had stood there forty years prior with their parents, and that their parents hadn’t listened. So God cursed their parents to die in the wilderness. The three speeches, which follow through the course of almost thirty chapters, can be summed up pretty simply: “Listen. Hear. Write down. Remember what God has said. He’s the one who saved you from bondage in Egypt, so listen to him!” In chapter 30, Moses brings the weight of everything he has said to bear on this one command: “Now choose life” (v. 19).
The people of God will find life entirely and exclusively through listening to God’s Word and obeying it. It’s that simple.
Flip over to .
We ask ourselves, ‘Why do we preach the bible, evangelize, make disciples, do the work of the kingdom?’
The simple answer is, Because God says to do these things in His Word.
After all, history is not principally divided between those who evangelize and those who don’t. That’s not fundamentally what defines the church. It’s divided between those who listen to God and those who don’t.
That’s why Matthew reported what Jesus said to Satan concerning man’s living on “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (), as well as Jesus’ final words to his disciples—to make disciples in all nations, baptizing them and “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” ().
That’s why Mark reported Jesus’ parable of the seed that is planted in four different soils as a parable about the Word of God (). Some will accept it. Some won’t.
— 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” 9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
A parable is normally packed with visual images that represent certain spiritual counterparts.
In the case of this parable of the sower, there are three primary symbols.
1. The seed represents the Word of God (, ). A seemingly small and insignificant seed, given the right conditions, produces the mighty redwoods of California, the beautiful palms of Florida, and the stately oaks of the Midwest. When a seed is given enough time, it can cause a sidewalk to crack, a foundation to split, or a patio to break. A few years ago I stood beside a redwood tree 270 feet high and 6,300 tons heavy, an arboreal giant that came from a seed weighing three-thousandth of an ounce.
The Holy Spirit provides the right conditions for the seed of the Word of God to come alive. When this happens, it is nothing short of revolutionary. It saves broken families, troubled businesses, and crushed churches. The Word of God turns cannibals into missionaries and criminals into evangelists. The Word is a living, spiritual seed ().
2. The sower is the one who delivers the Word to others. Whether a polished sermon or a simple witness, a sentence or a song, if it contains Scripture, it qualifies as sowing. It is the responsibility of every Christian to be a sower of the Word, to be responsive to the opportunities that come our way. Much like the seed, God’s Word has the ability to survive the mistakes of those who handle it.
3. The soil represents the human heart. Soil and seed are made for each other. When they come together, wonderful things can transpire. This is the case when the Word of God and the human heart come together.
Listen now to the rest:
Luke described himself as an eyewitness and a servant of the Word (), and
why he reports Jesus’ promise, “Blessed … are those who hear the word of God and obey it” ().
That’s why John reported Jesus’ last words to Peter as the thrice-repeated “feed my sheep” ().
Feed them with what? The Word of God.
That’s why, when the early church in Acts gathered, they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” ().
That’s why Paul told the Romans, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” ().
That’s why he told the Corinthians that the “message of the cross” is the “power of God” unto salvation ():
for “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” ().
And that’s why later he told the same church that he did not “peddle the word of God for profit” or “distort the word of God,” but “[set] forth the truth plainly” for their eternal benefit (; ).
That’s why he told the Galatians that if “anybody is preaching [to them] a gospel other than [what he preached to them] let him be eternally condemned!” ().
That’s why he told the Ephesians that they were “included in Christ [when they] heard the word of truth, the gospel of [their] salvation” (). He also told them that God — “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
That’s why he told the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” ().
That’s why he told the Philippians that, because of his chains, “most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” ().
That’s why he told the Thessalonians,
— For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
And why, later on, he instructed them,
“Brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” ().
That’s why he told his disciple Timothy that the elders he chose for the church must be “able to teach,” while the deacons who served in his church “must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (, ).
In the second letter, he told Timothy that his trade description was centered on one basic thing:
— 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
That’s why he rejoiced with Titus that God had
“brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to [him] by the command of God our Savior” ().
That’s why the author of Hebrews warned,
— 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
That’s why James reminded his readers that God
“chose to give us birth through the word of truth” and to “not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (, ).
That’s why Peter reminded the saints scattered over a number of regions that they had
“been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (),
and that “the word of the Lord stands forever” (1:25). It’s also why he said in a second letter,
— 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
That’s why John wrote, “If anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (); and
why he said, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands” ();
and why he declared that he has “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” ().
That’s why Jude spent almost his entire letter warning his readers against false teachers (), and promising that the Lord was coming to
— to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
And that’s why John, in the book of Revelation, commended the church in Philadelphia,
And that’s why John, in the book of Revelation, commended the church in Philadelphia,
“I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” ().
Friend, the church finds its life as it listens to the Word of God. It finds its purpose as it lives out and displays the Word of God. The church’s job is to listen and then to echo. That’s it.
The primary challenge churches face today is not
figuring out how to be “relevant”
It’s figuring out how to be faithful—how to listen, how to trust and obey.
So in our text a sincere and earnest love, a life given over to the genuine care of others,
is the natural result of being born again.
To highlight the command in the text simply notice the phrase, “love one another fervently.”
To see why we love simply note, “since you have been born again.”
To put the force of Peter’s thought as clearly as possible: when you get a fresh start on life (see 1:3 and its connection to 1:23),
love should happen — 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.