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 him?  

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 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!       

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; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726
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 the 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.