Sunday 21 February
Called to be Born Anew
1 Peter chapter 1 verses 17 - chapter 2 verse 3
'Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like new-born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good'.
Over the last couple of weeks we have been building up a picture of how important and how wonderful salvation is and where it wants to lead us. We have not finished covering it yet and from verse 17 on we are being asked to show the effects of salvation by the way we live our lives.
Firstly, we are to live as if we are foreigners. As Christians we become citizens of heaven and that is more important than our worldly nationalities. The ways of this world often conflict with the world we will enjoy in heaven and our priorities ought therefore to be very different from worldly people.
Secondly, we are to live with the utmost reverence towards our God. The Bible talks about having a right fear of the LORD for example, Proverbs 1 verse 7 says fear of God is the “beginning of true wisdom”
In addition to this we are told that God will fairly judge our works for Him.
So we need to live well, seeking to bring honour to our God, working to advance the Kingdom of God – so surely that means winning new converts amongst other things? This and more applies to all Christians.
Verses 18 and 19 continue by reminding us that our lives were empty before we were saved, before we were slaves to lesser things: pleasure, wealth, status, fame, selfish ambition etc. Peter is using that concept of slavery and freedom here. The cost of this freedom, becoming redeemed at the greatest price, was Jesus sacrifice for each and every one of us.
In verse 20 Peter stresses that God’s plan to send our saviour was there before creation. He is not a God who had to react to unforeseen circumstances. He is sovereign and all wise and our salvation was always a part of His plans.
We should also appreciate that Jesus was free to make His own decisions but willingly went to the cross for our redemption. His words affirm the magnanimous power of His sacrifice “It is finished”.
Verse 21 is better translated in the Authorised Version, where it runs on from the previous verse and makes it clear that it is believers, that is, those with faith in God who are afforded salvation. But also note it is faith through Christ – It is now our own faith. I guess we cannot fully comprehend God, but God has planned precious help for us to capture the essence of something that is in effect beyond our human capacity. When we put our faith in the wisdom of humans, we distort the truth and wander from God’s word on matters with consequences that follow. The Hymn in Christ alone sings in my spirit as I type here. However, another commentator suggests Peter is urging us to “Take it to the LORD in prayer” as He is our wise mediator and the one who gives us this faith which is unlike any other.
In verse 22 Peter echoes trusting the truth of God’s word but adds the need to live it out by honestly loving our fellow believers. Obedience is expected, not discord or denials of any bits we think we have better ideas on. How is our love for our Christian brothers and sisters?
The word of truth, the Holy Bible is a life-giving word of God verses 23-25 informs us. We know that God’s word when planted never returns empty. However, it has to be met and received with faith as Hebrews 4 verses 1 and 2 teaches.
'Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed'.
I suspect our commitment to the Bible each day and most especially on the Sabbath informs us of our trust and belief in God’s truth. We all need to ask if it should be more prominent in our lives?
Chapter 2 verses 1-3 highlights the change when we have been born again as John puts it in John chapter 3 verse 3 Verse 3 says now that you have tasted that the LORD is good. Yet chapter 2 begins by urging us to get rid of things which damage us and hold us back. Verse 1 Is telling us that even after conversion we are far from the finished article. Our inclinations can be driven by old habits or worldly desires.
Putting off hindrances frees us up for receiving pure spiritual milk that enables us to grow up in our salvation. Yes beginning like babies but becoming mature Christians is the desired outcome. Giving up poison and producing fragrant heavenly love. Our spiritual hunger here is being questioned and encouraged. Growth brings about a healthy appetite of the right things.
I guess that leaves us with a number of positives to take away with us: -
May each one of us take the seeds of God’s word today and let them grow for our blessing, the blessing of others and the advancement of this wonderful salvation into the lives of many others.