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Exhibit A Is Love - 1 Peter 1:22-25
INTRO: Exhibit A of a life changed by the transforming power of the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is love.
In his letter to the churches in Asia Minor, Peter reinforces Christ’s own teaching that... the principal evidence of a soul purified through faith in Christ = love for the brethren
Undoubtedly Peter also anticipates that growth in holiness will lead to deeper love among Christians.
[Let’s look carefully at the passage to which I’m referring.]
Peter has been calling the readers to set their hope fully on the grace that will be completed when Christ returns, and in the meantime to live holy lives….
He says that setting out hope fully will require intentionally preparing our minds for action and being sober-minded (not imagining that it will simply be easy to stay focused on that hope, whether because of suffering under trial or because of the falsely alluring treasure of this world).
He continues that along with setting our hope fully we are to live holy lives (being completely set apart to God in our thoughts, words, and behaviors) because we desire to model our character after the very character of God our Father, and because we should fear his judgment and discipline, and because Christ payed such a high price to purchase us—his atoning death on a cross.
We dare not trivialize such a ransom, but rather we long to live for him who is the cornerstone of our faith and hope.
So in the midst of a command to be holy and stay focused on our hope, Peter transitions to the theme of love among the brethren, what Christ himself described as the primary and supreme evidence that we are set apart, that we belong to God through faith in Christ.
Notice then in the text of vv.
21-25 of ch. 1 that the main verb is to love one another, and yet as we go along, we will see also that every supporting point in the immediate context involves the powerful working of God’s Word to bring about this change in us.
(Peter’s opening phrase in the section is, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth - What does he mean by…)
Purified by Obeying the Truth...
This seems to me to be best understood here as a reference to one’s conversion, the beginning of faith in Christ (as opposed to meaning ongoing growth in purity).
- It’s parallel to the later phrase of “because (or since) you have been born again.”
So here obedience to the truth is synonymous with believing the truth - thus purified, made holy by belief in Jesus Christ: see the two preceding verses, 20-21.
Now in vv.
22-25, what is “the truth” that we have obeyed by faith?
It is the word of God, which is to be understood as the whole counsel of God with a particular emphasis on it’s grand culminating strand—the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- And this purification of our souls by obeying the truth is for…
… for a sincere brotherly love (Gk philadelphia) - this is either a purpose or a result —> Either way, then, our faith in Christ joins us together in a familial bond of love.
Familial love guards and protects, it is powerful and pure, it promotes growth, and it desires to see one another succeed.
With the idea of us being set apart and united in a familial love that is pure, protective, and promoting the good of others, Peter now commands us to love.
- You’ve been placed into this family of love through a gracious and miraculous act of God; now act like it!
Love One Another Earnestly...
If we are placed by God into a familial bond of love in Christ, then why must we be commanded to love?
Why do we need to consciously continue to make the decision, “I will love”?
- Well, let me ask you, do you ever lose sight of what love truly is and how love truly behaves (even or especially in your family)?
Jesus knew that we needed to be commanded to demonstrate our love for him and to love one another as he has loved us.
Peter himself knew all too well that our devotion can be diluted and distracted, and that merely declaring our love is different from demonstrating it.
He knew all too well that he had denied Christ after declaring his devotion.
Seared in his memory was Christ teaching him that genuine love is demonstrated by action (and by an action specifically connected with those who belong to Christ): [This took place after his resurrection and before his ascension.]
Specifically Jesus instructs Peter to shepherd and care for those who belong to Christ… but also overall Jesus clearly means prove it by committed and constant behavior.
- In spite of the fact that Jesus used agape here when Peter said philadelphia, I am not convinced in context of 1 Peter here that we should try to distinguish too sharply what sacrificial agape love is and what familial philadelphia love is… they are closely intertwined.
- But the second then is proof that the first is true, just as in Christ’s conversation with Peter.
So can I give you a definition of biblical love that I believe is helpful to us? - Love is a caring concern / that is committed to sacrificially give / for the highest good of another.
[repeat aloud together]
Our text says to love one another earnestly (with a true love that is fervent and constant) from a pure heart (clean, with right motives) - If we don’t love earnestly, we will quarrel and divide.
If we don’t love purely, we will find ourselves in the same kind of lust and greed as the world… supposedly “loving one another” but actually leading our feet toward adultery… supposedly loving but really seeing one another as opportunity for personal gain.
Tell me, is division in the church and impurity in the church what Jesus is going for?
But is it a common and immanent threat?
- Listen to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:
Are we representing the character of God and the glorious truth of the gospel of grace by divisiveness and impurity and greed?
- So we must see ourselves as we truly are in Christ and zealously strive to love one another the way that Christ has loved us.
Nothing else will do.
Only a caring concern for one another that is committed to sacrificially giving ourselves for the highest good of others is a true reflection of the love of God in us.
[Peter continues] BECAUSE you have been born again!
(Because You Have Been)
Begotten by Imperishable Seed...
To be begotten is to be born of God, to have spiritual life.
Peter loves this perishable versus imperishable contrast.
A perishable seed would be one that cannot produce eternal life, one that cannot produce in us the lasting change that results in loving as Christ loved.
But the imperishable seed of God’s word (with a particular emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ) is permanent, even indestructible.
(as we shall see momentarily when Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah)
The next prepositional phrase is a restatement of what the imperishable seed is to which Peter refers…
The Living and Abiding Word of God.
How is this seed, the word of God, living?
- Some suggest that the seed is the Holy Spirit.
While the Holy Spirit is indicated in the NT as the active agent of the Triune Godhead who generates spiritual life in us through the word of God, the context here clearly refers to the word itself as being this living seed.
- No doubt some of you will think of Heb.
4:12 that says the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Others might also remember that when Jesus taught a parable about a sower, he explained to his disciples that the seed sown is the word of God (Lk 8:11).
The seed (word of God) planted in good soil is equivalent to those hearts who heard the word and retain it, and in them it perseveres to produce a crop.
By calling the seed of the word of God living, then, Peter indicates that it has power to generate spiritual life.
- By contrast, Paul teaches in Galatians that although the law is not opposed to the promises of God, it cannot produce life (Gal.
And in this context of referring to that which is imperishable, this word of God is abiding, meaning that it endures, it persists, it remains.
So too, the living, imperishable seed causes us to be born into an indestructible life.
Superman has his kryptonite and even Thor can be killed by other so-called “gods,” but the Lord Jesus Christ is the one true God and is truly indestructible, and by the power of his indestructible word he grants to those who obey him through faith an indestructible life.
That’s the confidence and hope of believers when one of us dies.
And that’s the confidence and hope by which we live.
Next Peter uses an OT quote to drive home is point about the enduring word.
The passage itself describes... What Fades and What Doesn’t.
Everything Else Fades,
The quotation comes from Isaiah 40, where comfort is proclaimed to Israel because God will work once again and restore them from their exile in Babylon.
The “good news” for Israel (Isa 40:9) is that God fulfills his promises and that the nations of the world that seem strong cannot resist his promised word to deliver them from exile (Isa 40:6–8).
Such nations are like grass and the flower of the grass, which perish when the Lord’s wind blows upon them.
For his purposes, I see Peter using this quotation to demonstrate that Everything that is of this physical, temporal world is fading away.
All nations, all fame and influence, all fortune and even our very selves—it’s all fleeting and fading.
Only God’s truth and that part of us which he has made to also be immortal will last—people’s souls.
- Souls that by grace through faith are transformed by the gospel will dwell forever with God, while souls that reject Jesus remain eternally separated from God in a place of punishment called hell.
But the Word of the Lord Remains Forever.
Do you have any doubt that what God says lasts?
That what God says he will do?
Essential to saving faith is a realization and belief that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do.
Accordingly, Jesus commands us:
Jesus warns us… and challenges us—where you are storing up treasure is a true reflection of your heart.
- If the word of God lasts forever, and in them is life because they reveal God, then what can possibly be better to invest in knowing and obeying in this life?
Perhaps it is good to point out here that the message that the scripture proclaims concerns God himself, and therefore we do not worship the word but the God whom the word proclaims.
[Again, Peter ends with…]
This Word is the Good News That Was Preached to You.
This is Peter’s punchline concerning the word of God, that he is particularly referencing, for his audience, the gospel of Jesus Christ as being the very word of God.
It is a message that has power to produce life, to transform hearts, to empower us to love, and which lasts forever.
Have you received this good news on your behalf in a way that has changed you?
Have you been purified by truth through faith in Christ?
If you claim to be loving toward Christ’s church, it might be helpful to consider what things ought to be perceived as UN-loving toward the brethren.
- being argumentative… bc it’s divisive; thinking more about what you can get from your church family than what you can give, being unwilling to lovingly confront sin
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