The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 12, 2010
1) 1 Peter 1:22-25 (Tom Edwards)
1 Peter 1:22-25
by Tom Edwards
In 1 Peter 1:22-25, Peter writes the following: "Since you have in
obedience to the 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 is by 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 in 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 for us.
Paul also shows this in 2 Timothy 2:19-22, by saying:
"Nevertheless, the firm 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
The love that Christians have for one another is to be an important
part of who they 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 all those 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 in this.
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 Christian.
Peter refers to this "seed" by which we are born again as being not
only "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 in 100 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 in their 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 word are like the grass -- so short lived. Many of these
are already gone. "But the word of the Lord endures forever" (1
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!
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana
Sunday services: 9:15 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 4 PM (worship)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/audioser.html (audio sermons)
Take the Denham Springs exit (exit 10) off of I-12. At the end of
the exit ramp, turn north. Go about a stone's throw to Rushing
Road. (You'll see a Starbucks, Circle K, and two other gas
stations; with each on each corner.) Turn left on Rushing Road,
and go a little less than 0.3 of a mile. Hampton Inn will be on
right. We assemble in its "Meeting Room," which is very close to
the reception counter. Just walk pass the check-in counter; turn
right at the hall. The first and second doors on the left lead to
where we meet.