In 1 Peter 1:22-25, Peter writes the following: "Since you have in obedience
truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one
another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is
perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
For, 'ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF
GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE
WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.' And this is the word which was
preached to you."
Notice how Peter shows our souls are purified, according to this passage. It
our "obedience to the truth" (v. 22). So it is not all entirely up to God, as some folks
would have us to believe. Rather, we have an individual responsibility toward that,
too. This is why Peter urged those in Jerusalem on the day the church was
established to "...'Save yourselves from this crooked generation'" (Acts 2:40, ASV).
Though man cannot save himself through personal merit, that does not nullify man's
need to obey. For, as the gospel shows, man is responsible for taking heed to the
warnings and submitting to God's salvation plan in order to attain to the grace,
mercy, and forgiveness of God. This can be seen in the very next verse (Acts
2:41). For after Peter had urged the people to "save yourselves," the inspired
account continues by saying, "So then, those who had received his word were
baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls." Receiving
the word indicates their faith and obedience toward it -- rather than being just
hearers only (and not doers), who deceive or delude themselves, according to
James 1:22 -- and part of that faith and obedience involved their being baptized. By
doing this, they were cleansed of their sins, as Acts 2:38 promises. Acts 2:42 then
shows that "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching
and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." So they not only met the
necessary steps to become a Christian, but they also strove to continually live as
one, which is what all of us who are God's people must do as well.
Throughout the Scriptures, we see of the need for individual responsibility
cooperating with God, in order to strive to be the way He wants us to be. For
example, James 4:7,8: "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee
from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands,
you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Notice all these
instructions that require personal compliance. For no one else can do these things
Paul also shows this in 2 Timothy 2:19-22, by saying: "Nevertheless, the
foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His,'
and, 'Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.'
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of
wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if
anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified,
useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts
and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord
from a pure heart." Paul also gave a similar instruction to the Corinthians, by
saying, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from
all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1).
Those whom Peter is addressing had purified their souls "for a sincere
love of the
brethren." So the apostle now exhorts them to utilize that by instructing them to
"fervently love one another from the heart." It was, therefore, a genuine love to be
carried out earnestly and intently. The same Greek word for "fervently" in 1 Peter
1:22 is also used in two other verses in the New Testament in expressing the ardent
prayer Jesus made in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal, just
hours away from the cross (Luke 22:44); and in pertaining to the fervent prayer
brethren were making for Peter who had been incarcerated by Herod who had
already put to death the apostle James (Acts 12:5). Would not their earnest prayers
for Peter be one of the ways in which they sincerely and fervently loved him?
The love that Christians have for one another is to be an important part of
are. According to John 13:34,35, Jesus shows that it is their love for one another
that would indicate to the world that the Christians are truly followers of Christ.
Though it had long been the second greatest commandment, according to Matthew
22:39, to "...love your neighbor as yourself," Jesus now speaks of this "new
commandment" in John 13:34, in which we are to love one another, "...even as I
have loved you."
Love for the brethren is necessary in order that we might truly love God. John
shows this in 1 John 4:20, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he
is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love
God whom he has not seen." Notice, too, what John says about this in 1 John 3:14-
18: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the
brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is
a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We
know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in
need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth."
The early Christians certainly demonstrated this: Acts 2:44,45 states, "And
who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began
selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone
might have need." (See also Acts 4:32-37.) That day of Pentecost, on which the
church was established, had brought Jews from every nation under heaven into
Jerusalem (Acts 2:5). For that was one of the feast days in which it was mandatory,
under the Old Testament Law of Moses, for the male Jews to be in Jerusalem to
observe it (Deut. 16:9-11; Exod. 34:22,23). But while there, on this particular
occasion, thousands were soon converted and added to the church; and it appears
that rather than returning to their homes right away, they had an extended stay in
Jerusalem which led to the need for financial aid. So the brethren were helping out
Though we are to love all -- and even our enemies, according to Matthew 5:44
our love for the brethren should be a special love. We can say this based on
Galatians 6:10, which is seen as an individual responsibility: Paul instructs, "So
then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those
who are of the household of the faith."
Peter than gives a reason in 1 Peter 1:23 for why Christians should love one
another fervently. He states, "...for you have been born again not of seed which is
perishable but imperishable...." The "seed" Peter is referring to is the same one that
Jesus speaks of in His parable of "The Seed and the Sower" (Luke 8), and that
"seed" is the word of God (v. 11). James also taught this in James 1:18, "In the
exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a
kind of first fruits among His creatures." The New International Version renders the
beginning of this as, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth...." Though
the Jew was God's chosen during the Mosaical Period, when the Gospel Age came,
even he had to be born again. Jesus taught this to Nicodemus in John 3:3-5 (to be
born of "water and the spirit"); and John the Baptist also showed the people of his
day that their relationship with the Lord was going to require more than merely being
a descendent of Abraham (Matt. 3:7-9).
Obeying the gospel plan to be born again is not the end of the life of a Christian;
rather, it is the beginning of it! As a newborn babe in Christ, one is to, therefore,
"long for the pure milk of the word," as Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:2, in order that one
"may grow in respect to salvation." The gospel reveals to us the new way of life that
we are to live; and part of that, as we just saw, is learning how to love one another
fervently. We can also point out that the term "Born again Christian," which we
sometimes hear, is actually redundant. It is like saying a "female woman." For
every Christian is born again; and if one is not born again, then that one is not a
Peter refers to this "seed" by which we are born again as being not
"imperishable," but also as "the living and abiding word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).
God's word has withstood the test of time. Many have opposed the word of the Lord
and have either predicted its demise or have personally sought to bring it to an end.
Yet, God's word lives on -- and has already outlived many who have opposed it.
For example, Ingersoll, who was a 19th century U.S. lawyer, political leader, and
lecturer, once said, as he held up a copy of the Bible, "In fifteen years I'll have this
book in the morgue." Fifteen years rolled by, and it was Ingersoll, and not the Bible,
who was laid in the morgue -- the Bible living on!
Another ironic example is that of Voltaire. It is said that he claimed that
years the Bible would be an outmoded and forgotten book, to be found only in
museums. When the 100 years were up, however, Voltaire's house was owned by
the Geneva Bible Society. Again, the Bible living on!
Had these men truly believed the Scriptures, they would have seen the error
thinking. For Jesus states in Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but
My words shall not pass away." That's a promise! God's word will always endure.
The unconquerable and enduring nature of God's word -- in spite of those who have
opposed it -- is well expressed in the following poem by John Clifford, "The Hammer
and the Anvil":
Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith's door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers worn with the beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he; then said with twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."
And so, I thought, the anvil of God's word
For ages skeptic's blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed -- the hammers are gone!
In the words of Peter, we can say that these skeptics who had opposed God's
are like the grass -- so short lived. Many of these are already gone. "But the word
of the Lord endures forever" (1 Peter 1:25).
Lastly and briefly, because the "seed" is the word of God, salvation
is not an
inexplicable thing. It is not merely a religious experience that can be various from
one person to the next. It is not a mysterious event in one's life, in which a person
has no control over. Rather, God's way of salvation is made clear for us in the
Scriptures. John, for instance, writes, "These things I have written to you who
believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal
life" (1 Jn. 5:13); and Jesus says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who
sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the
prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard
and learned from the Father, comes to Me" (Jn. 6:44,45). According to this
passage, and elsewhere, God's drawing power is in the gospel. Man must hear it,
learn it, believe it, and respond to it. It is THE power of God unto salvation (Rom.
1:16); and though it will never perish, we know that one day we will all pass on from
this earthly life. So before that day comes, let us make God's word a part of our
lives by submitting to the gospel plan of salvation and striving to please the Lord
every day, so when our time on earth is through, we will be able to go to a better
place -- where we can be with God and all the redeemed for evermore!
By Tom Edwards
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