THE EXILES ABILITY TO DIVINE LOVE
1 Peter 1:22-25
On the night Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper He said this to his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35. To the church’s shame, she is at times characterized as self-seeking, contentious and even unloving and quarrelsome. The church isn’t always known for her love and support for one another. Instead of caring for the body we tend to fall into the category of finding ways to pick at each other, put each other down, rather than build up.
Peter calls his readers to be
better than that!
Though they are scattered and facing such sufferings for Christ, they are to pull together and find strength to endure together. By doing this, the church refuses to be broken or weakened from within. Peter does this by helping us to understand about the love that truly lives in the heart of the genuine Christian. You could say this is the evidence, or the mark of the true Christian life, because it’s characterized by true biblical love. This love is an “Agape” which is exercised by the will and truth, rather than emotion and the society around us.
In other words this love is not determined by
the beauty or desirability of the object.
But by the genuine intention of the one who loves “earnestly or fervently” which means “to stretch to the limits of a muscles capacity.” This is an “un-hypocritical love” but a healthy and affectionate love. Our social climate makes it almost impossible to love like this. Because our social climate is filled with hate and bitterness towards anything and anyone; that they deem offence or contrary to them. They see love as a means of self-gratification, it’s manufactured, and this product produces only shallow and cheap results. But Peter says we are to “go all out… to reach the furthest extent of something.” An example of what earnest looks like, we see when Jesus was praying in the garden. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44. Jesus was “sorrowful” this means, to be pressed down or overwhelmed with great anguish. This was fashioned by a foresight of His sacrificial death on the cross in making atonement for the sins of people. So He fervently stretched out to the limit in prayer over this sorrow. An example of this in the church is in prayer when Peter was in prison for his submission to Christ. “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” Acts 12:5. Peter uses the same use of the word earnest love later on in this letter, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
According to Peter our live is to be sincere and genuine; the opposite of this is dishonest and phony. Again, to love like this is very important especially in the social climate we live in today. People say, “To love others is to stay out of my business; and just have acceptance of everything” which is contrary to Scripture. People say “I only want to hear that God is love, and not hateful, or vengeful, because I refuse to worship a God like that.”
But what do you do with
passages like this….
Job 9:13 says, “God will not withdraw His anger.”
Psalm 5:5 says, “You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”
Psalm 7:11 says, “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”
Isaiah 13:9 says, “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.”
Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”
Ephesians 5:6 says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
And yes these portions of Scripture don’t sound very loving and accepting of each individual. But understand, God is just and He must punish the sinner for their willful disobedience and rebellious hearts. Otherwise He is an unjust and corrupt Judge. But also remember! That this can be averted through the gospel of Christ. God has every right to punish every single one of us; but by His divine grace He did something that is scandalous. “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:8-14
This is what love is. Because God is love, and this is how we are to respond to one another in the born again life. This is the love that is absolutely essential to endure trials and sufferings and to keep and protect the church in times like these. This kind of love preserves the body of Christ to remain healthy in an unhealthy environment of sinful people. What Peter wants us to understand here in the text is that there is a parallel with the love that we have in being born again with the Word of God? This love that Peter talks about doesn’t just come from being born again but also through the “imperishable Word of God” To have a second chance to love should come natural for the child of God. But too truly love like Christ, comes also through the sustaining divine word of truth. Why? By what Peter says “since you have been born again….through” (v23) Peter echo’s what James said in his letter, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:17-18
This is why Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6-8, “A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” The Word of God is the seed that keeps you alive; it contains everything you need to live out the exile life. Peter calls it the “imperishable seed” everything that grows from natural seed is a sovereign creation of God. (v23)
all flesh which is human and animals.
all grass refers to wild grass.
the glory like a flower of grass which a scenery of colored flowers.
From common grass to a beautiful field of flowers, will eventually die, but the Word of God will last forever. (v24) What do I mean by that and why is Peter emphasizing this point? Peter uses the word “Logos” for “Word” which is a broader reference to all Scripture. Specifically here the gospel is scriptural truth that last forever, because the Word of God lasts forever. (v25b) “Preached to you” referring to a particular message of the gospel, that which when believed is the “imperishable seed” This seed produces a new life of obedience, to love other, and to secure the child of God, as Peter says, “endures forever”. (v25a)
That is as plain as Peter can make it. The Word of God that he is talking about is the gospel that has been preached to them. The good news that we have been reading about in this chapter, this is the ransom of the blood of Christ. (v18–v19) And the resurrection of Christ (v3, v21), and the keeping power of God (v. 5) This means the bible is alive; it contains within itself everything necessary for life and godliness. Peter reiterates this in his second letter, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” 2 Peter I:3. God’s word, the words preached to you is what transformed your life from death to life in Christ. The Word of God you hold in your hand is living and breathing and it’s the very words of God to a broken and rebellious society.
The Word of God you hold in your hand is needed more than ever in a society who has no fear, or care, of what God says; and what He will do in the coming days. Psalm 14:1-2. Peter is saying these things to comfort the exile child of God as….
They live this life.
They go through struggles.
They go through daily challenges and trials.
They make the occasional bad choices in life.
They make life altering decisions.
They go through sufferings.
Even as they face death.
Jesus said "Do not fear, only believe." Mark 5:36. I remember sitting and reading to a dear man of God of 95 years of age in Manitoba, from my church in Moosehorn; and this dear brother was not long for this life. So I sat with him in his home, and I started reading Scripture, and as I read all his pain and suffering seem to not matter as much….. as he listened to Word of God. After reading for a period of time I went home to get some lunch, to find out that he passed from life to grace, just shortly after I left. This what the Word of God does in all occasions and circumstances of life in the new birth. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28. I know my father in law before he died of cancer, would sit there in his lazy boy chair, listening to the audio bible as he rested each day, and as he went to sleep each night. The Word of God is so powerful it doesn’t remove the cancer. But it produces a peace and re-shifting of thoughts to what matter.
Meaning, it points to “eternal matters,
not earthly where everything is dying”
Shane and Shane have a song called “Miracle” in the second verse the lyrics say, “Today I'm asking for a miracle Anything You got God big or small. I don't need to see the cancer go away. All that I want is to know that it'll be OK…and the chorus says, I need You, Lord. Even more than the air I breathe. I need You, Lord Right away. I need You, Lord Every minute of every day. I need You, Lord Right away. I need You I need You.” This is what Peter is trying to convey to the reader…that everything in this life will eventually die. But the Word of God preached to you will live forever, that’s the power of this book you hold in your hands that comforts you in every heartache and pain in this life. The Word of God give you the capacity to love one another, because without you will only truly love one person? Self
The Word of God………
Sanctifies you now and forever, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17
Produces Faith in Jesus, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
Produces Hope in suffering, “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:49-50
Produces Obedience in Yahweh, “And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” Deut 17:19-20
The unperishable seed of the Word of God is designed to…..
Promoting growth in grace……. 1 Peter 2:2
Building up in the faith……. Acts 20:32
Admonishing….. 1 Cor 10:11
Comforting….. Rom 15:4
Rejoicing the heart…… Psalm 9:8
Making wise the simple……Psalm 19:7
Theologian Phillips Brooks wrote, “Christ is the Word of God. It is not in certain texts written in the New Testament, valuable as they are; it is not in certain words which Jesus spoke, vast as is their preciousness; it is in the Word, which Jesus is, that the great manifestation of God is made.”
John Flavel wrote, “One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men to relieve a distressed soul.”
Warren Wiersbe wrote, “People can't see your root system, but God can. Praying and meditating on the Word of God will cause your roots to go down deep into His love.”
And it’s because of God’s Word we are able to love from a pure heart out of obedience to the Word of God. (v22) The healthy love can only come firstly by the transformed life in the new spiritual birth. The world’s love is a perversion of love as John MacArthur said in a sermon recently. “Whatever God designs perfectly, Satan will counterfeit; and that’s the deception. If the love that God grants us is self-sacrificing and unconditional and relentlessly forgiving, the love that Satan offers will be a perversion of that. It will be self-centered, self-indulgent, conditional, and unforgiving. When the world talk about love, it usually really, simply, means self-love: “I need you to fulfill my desire for my satisfaction.” But the Apostle Paul said we are to be what?, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Eph 5:1-3. Our physical desire, personal passion…. is by nature selfish. People love for what somebody provides for them, gives to them, and does for them. “That’s the satanic option” as John MacArthur says. This love is self-centered and unbiblical; but the love we have in the gospel life produces in us to love like Christ, and not like the world.
God’s imperishable Word abides in us,
and His love is perfected in us.
Understand, as you meditate on this imperishable seed of grace in your life to love from a pure heart. You’re never more like God than when you love sacrificially, unconditionally, and with forgiveness. And we have a model of that, a pattern in the Lord Jesus Christ through the demonstration of the finished work of the cross. We cannot simply read the Bible, put it way, and forget about it. The Word of God shapes us, takes hold of us, and we cannot let go. Scripture is like no other book on this earth. John Piper said in reference to this portion of Scripture. “So the picture is complete: the lamp of love is held up and made possible by two pillars. One pillar is God's sovereign act—his causing us to be born again through the living and abiding Word of God. The other pillar is our response to that divine act: as newborn children of God we hear the Word of our Father and obey by putting our hope in him. And when we hope in him—that the future he plans for us is greater than all the glory the world can offer—then our hearts will be clean, and we will be free to love each other earnestly from the heart.”
This is all made possible because as the Hebrew writer said, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For 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. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb 4:11-16
Why do we approach this throne? Because we will manifest the love of God in our daily experiences. Because we rest in the imperishable Word of God that remains forever. (v25)