The Enduring Word!
General idea: This passage is the "therefore" of the first chapter! The word "therefore" is referring to the results, conclusions, or applications that are to be in our lives from the reasons given. This is about what we are to do with the information we have been given by our Lord. This is then combined with what Peter is saying now, such as, by being cleansed of our sins, because of our new life, and because we made our commitment in Him, we "therefore" have the call and opportunity to respond to it. We have been given the inconceivable, amazing gift of eternity and ultimate hope, contrasted to the hope we have in this world that will fade and die in meaningless and helplessness. Because we now have the Good News in us, we can get rid of all that blocks us from growing and responding to Christ as our Living Lord.
The call for us is to love, as also stated in many other parts of the Bible; we are to love authentically and sincerely. We are to love our fellow Christians and others around us without hypocrisy. This means we are not to come against others, manipulate them, or seek to control, subvert, or be jealous of them; rather, we are to encourage and spur one another on in the faith, to cooperate one with another, and by synergy, together further the Kingdom of God. We are to do this with vigor and earnestness in an active pursuit from our heart that is in Christ. This cannot be done by pretending; it has to be real, as we are called to be real in all that we do and in the stricture of love!
Vs. 22-25: We have the "right" to put our hope in whatever we feel like, such as money, career, education, position, or power; however, such hope will not last and will become meaningless. We may think these things work, but do they? Just as a cut flower will stay in a vase of water for a while but will eventually wither and die, so will our human based hopes. Our hope must rest on nothing but the real, living Hope-who is Christ the Lord! His hope will never fade because it is living and eternal. His purchase of our souls is the ultimate hope that our Living Word promises!
· Purified your souls/purified yourselves refers to the O.T. purity laws that stated that a priest must cleanse himself before entering the Lord's Temple so he does not bring in defilement. This was both a ceremony and an actual washing to remove dirt from oneself (Isa. 1:16; Jer. 2:22; 4:14). For the Christian, it means we are called to moral and spiritual purity and holiness, to be in the world but not touched by the world (Acts 15:9; Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8). We are purified when we obey the Truth, which enables us to grow in our spiritual formation, and show love and self-sacrificing character (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35; 1 John 3:14-18).
· Love of the brethren simply means to love one another. This passage in 1 Peter gives us a list of reasons to do so because of what Jesus has done for us (John 13:35; 1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:7-11).
· Born again means regeneration (John 3). The emphasis is on the past tense as it has already happened. We have been given a new nature, one that is in Christ; thus, what are we doing with it now? Being born again means we are born from above by God. It is the work of the Spirit (John 3:3-6; Rom. 8:14; 1 Cor. 12:3; Gal. 4:6; 5:22-23) while the Word of God presents the gospel as the testimony (Deut. 6:4-9; 11:17-20; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). The point here is that our new life must produce results (Titus 3:5; James 1:18)!
· Corruptible means human corruption contrasted to God's Holiness and Word (Luke 8:11).
· Seed, meaning "divine life," was a colloquialism for God's Word as "seminal" (similar to "logos" of John 1), from "Plilo" which is a philosophical term meaning it is the divine influence for us (Isa. 40: 6-8; Luke 8:11; 1 John 3:9). God plants this in us, but we are required to care for and cultivate it for its continual growth in us.
· Through the living and enduring word of God. Word refers to God's self- revelation, both spoken (by the prophets, who wrote it down for us) and written (all that we have today) (Deut. 6:4; 11:13-20; 1 Kings 12:22; Psalm 30:5; 33:9; Luke 3:2). This phrase means God's Word is inspired, continual, real, relevant, imperishable, living, and lasting; it is the instrument through which Christ is revealed to humanity from a God who is all powerful, never failing, and who keeps His promises (Isa. 55:10-11; Heb. 4:12; James 1:18).
· All flesh is grass. This is a quote from Isaiah 40:6-8 from the "LXX" (Septuagint, a Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures, 3rd century B.C). The phrase implies that God will redeem His people; our own efforts for redemption are in vain (Isa. 52: 7-8). Our life here is temporary and preparatory as our true home is eternity in Heaven (Matt. 19:28; Acts 3:21; 2 Cor. 4:17; Heb. 6:18-20; Rev. 21:1).
Faith produces faithfulness; this comes from believing that God will do what He says and looking to Him, not our circumstances. It is about control-if it will be God or me. It is trusting in His tug on my soul and not mine or the worlds, so I can make the best righteous decisions. It is like a switch that turns God's power and Spirit unto us. Faith is the key to removing hypocrisy because it focuses us on Christ, whereas insincerity and pretence focus us on our personal, sinful agendas.
· Newborn babies refers to rebirth, to those who are new in Christ. It infers dependence on Christ to be fed. When we become Christians, it is not a done deal; our salvation is, but our faith, growth, and commitment need to be fed. We are to crave the Word so we can grow in Christ! It is having the appetite to pursue Him and the things of Him.
· Desire/crave means the passionate, eager, yearning desire for real spiritual food so we can grow.
· Pure milk means certified and unadulterated, as a document of authenticity. There is no deceit; the milk has not been diluted. Here, it refers to God's Word as pure, nourishing, and rational. These are not the elementary instructions of 1 Cor. 3:1-3; we are to teach the elementary aspects of God's Truth, but also go on to the deeper things (1 Cor. 3:1-4; Heb. 5:11-15; 1 Pet. 1:5, 9)!
· Tasted means tasting something for the first time and finding it so good that we desire more of it. We are exhorted to seek after more spiritual food. Our character must reflect this new nature and the leading of the Spirit, both publicly and privately. It is not because of insistence or feeling, but of gratitude and fact.
· Gracious means the kindness of God is delicious, from Psalm 34:8. We are called not be corruptible-rather, to be incorruptible!
What does this all come down to? Remaining in Christ against all that buffets us in life. Do not try to predict or dread them; rather, be prepared by your trust and obedience in Him. The Christian journey is about growing in faith and maturity-both spiritual and social-in the church, then applying it in the market place of life. When we withstand the tests and trails, we become stronger and of better use to God and others. When we remain loyal, looking to Him and not to what is happing in life, we gain His favor and blessings. This helps produce our growth now and our reward to come. He will give us the strength to bear it while we learn from it (1 Cor. 10-11-13). He will give us victory, but we must be careful that we do not become conceited. If we do, the next trial will be much smaller and we will fail it, as it will knock us down fast and hard.
The classic definitions of faith include the expression of ideals, loyalty, allegiance, adhering to principles, and belief in something, someone, or God without evidence or reason. Some secularists define faith as "an allegiance in something subjective or objective without reason or evidence, by science or observation, or in spite of which there is no proof." However, this is blind faith without merit or reason. Christian faith is a gift from God that allows us to believe and trust in His love and providence. It is the acceptance of God's Word as true, what Jesus has done as real and true, then trusting and obeying Him. But, real Christian faith is far deeper because we have evidence and reason and God's Word. His historicity and care through time is demonstrable. God's trustworthiness has always been true, so we can have complete trust in and commitment to Him for all of our lives.
Both Christians and secularists agree that faith does affect the fundamental matters of life and the self. But, for the cynic, this is wrong; for the faithful, this is what is sought. Because of whom God is and what He has done, our faith becomes more real and effectual as it encompasses our identity, confidence, conviction, and purpose. Thus, our faith is a growing process that affects our life, moving us to action. It is not an intellectual concept or a mysterious guidance, nor is it based solely on experience. Rather, it is trust in His guidance obtained from His Work that we can experience more and more as we move on in life. James' assertion that faith without actions is dead come to us from God because real and true faith affects our behaviors and actions (Matthew 8: 5- 13; Acts 11:22-24, 27:21-25; Romans 4:18-21, 1 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 11; James 1:2-4; 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:7-9; 2 Peter 1:2-9; 16; 1 John 5:4).
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me? How am I encouraged and strengthened?
4. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
5. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
6. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
7. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
8. What can I model and teach? What does God want me to share with someone?
1. Do you have a favorite food that you crave? What would it mean to crave God's Word the way we crave our favorite food?
2. What does "therefore" mean to you? What would be the result from the information our Lord has given you?
3. What does it mean to you to love? How would you define love? How would you explain it to someone?
4. What would it mean to love with vigor and earnestness? Why can't love be done with pretense?
5. How can a Christian have love for his or her fellow Christians or neighbors and at the same time manipulate them, seek to control, subvert or be jealous? How would one rationalize that this is a good practice and is acceptable God from what this passage states?
6. Do you cry out for greater depth and implication of the Word? Do you seek greater awareness of God's precepts so you can grow more and be used more? If not, what and why do you think you are here? Consider church, family, work, and life in general.
7. Have you realized the depths of His grace and that you have been given the incredible, wondrous gift of eternity and hope? If so, what have you done with it? If not, what would it take for you to further reason, trust, and believe in the incredible impacting grace of our Lord?
8. What do you need to do to grow in the Word? What needs to take place so you can respond to the "therefore" God gives us?
9. How can you make sure that you do not trust in anything that fades away?
10. What happens when we put our hope in whatever we feel like, such as money, career, or power? How have you experienced that this does not last and becomes meaningless? What must our hope rest on? What are you going to do to further this idea in your life?
11. How can being purified help you obey the Truth? How would this enable you to grow? What would your life look like in this paradigm?
12. What can you do to be more "dependent," as in being dependent on Christ to be fed? What would this mean for your personal and spiritual growth and commitment? What will you do about it?
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org/