Summary: When a person is genuinely born from above, their first desire will be for the nourishment of the Word of God.
23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, 25 BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
I have heard it preached that in our world today there are more Christians being openly persecuted and killed for their faith on a daily basis than in any period of the history of the church; even from the first century.
That should give us pause, here in America, for serious reflection. Because if that assertion is true, then it is only a matter of time before we find ourselves subject to the same.
Peter wrote this letter to Christians going through persecutions and trials and his counsel to them just may be what the wisest of Christians in today’s church will seek after and take to heart and put to action.
A point that should be of great interest to us is that scholars put the date of the writing of this letter at approximately 64 A.D., which would have been just before Nero’s great persecutions against Christians, wherein many were killed violently.
So considering the Holy Spirit’s timing in getting these words out to the churches throughout the Rome-controlled regions, it may be very sagacious of us in a time of relative peace and prior to out and out persecution of the church in our own day, to take a careful look at the encouragement Peter has to give.
Now he begins his letter encouraging them in reference to trials they are in and are facing in the future, giving them assurance of their salvation and hope for an eternal outcome.
Then he goes on to exhort to holy living and the expression of Godly love among the brethren, and he quickly gets to the heart of where their help lies for living this existence of mutual love and support and joyful confidence in their secure place in Christ.
I want to go straight there today, and jump right in at verse 23 of chapter 1.
THE LIVING AND ENDURING WORD
23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
Everything Peter has been saying up to now has led to this word ‘for’. For you have been born again.
Believers, that is the very heart, the very foundation, the very center of all the New Testament epistles. All encouragement, all exhortation, all predication and prediction is built up on the fact that you have been born again.
We’re most familiar with the term from the third chapter of John’s gospel and Jesus’ discourse with Nicodemus. He said, ‘you must be born again’. It is the imperative upon which hinges death and life, spiritual understanding or spiritual darkness, eternal life with God or separation from Him.
But when we come to the epistles we see ‘you have been born again’. Peter begins this letter telling them that God caused them to be born again to a living hope.
Christians we should be overcome with rejoicing when we contemplate what God has done for us. He has caused us to be born again! A second chance. A second start. But this time it’s different.
This isn’t a second chance in the sense that He has wiped your slate clean and now you begin all over and try hard not to blow it again.
Peter says ‘not of seed that is perishable’. By that choice of wording he is contrasting your new spiritual birth to that of the physical birth, which doesn’t last.
Your human father’s seed was of the flesh. As all physical life begins with a seed, so does ours. It is perishable. Peter uses Isaiah’s words to drive the thought home (vs 24).
But this time, he says, you are born of imperishable seed, the seed of the Spirit through the living and abiding Word of God.
You had no part in it. It was all God’s doing. You had no part in your physical birth, and you had no part in your spiritual birth from above.
God caused it, and now you have been born again to a living hope; to a life that does not perish, through the Word which does not perish.