Summary: Foreigners in a Foreign Land The Power of the Word to Create Loving People
Foreigners in a Foreign Land
The Power of the Word to Create Loving People
We are in the first of three mini series in 1 Peter, “Foreigners in a Foreign Land” (1.1-2.10) where we have been looking at what Peter says about our identity, our salvation, our hope, and holy living. In the next few of weeks, we will begin a series called “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land” (2.11-4.11) and then finish in the fall with, “The Church in a Foreign Land” (4.12-5.14). Today's message is “The Power of the Word to Create Loving People.”
Big idea – To be called to salvation in Christ is to be called to love others who are part of Gods family.
We have seen that chapter one is about living with hope in the midst of suffering. Peter emphasizes that salvation is the work of God – God chose them in eternity past, God has caused them to be born again, and God is keeping them through their suffering. He has not abandoned them but is sustaining them. Today we will see a similar theme, God's work in new birth produces loving people.
Overview of text: The command to love is the main point of this passage. It rests on two legs that hold it up, having purified our souls by obedience to the truth and because you have been born again through the word. I propose to you today that the Spirit of God applying the word of God to our hearts is the only way to change the sinful impulses of heart to become a loving person.
The Eternal Word Produces New People who Love
We are told to love one another and as I said this command rests upon two reasons or legs. The first is that our souls are purified by means of our obedience to the truth. Some of you may be thinking, that is odd, why does he not say, 'having purified your souls by faith in the truth.' I think he is saying that our souls are purified by saving faith, which produces an obedient response to the truth of the gospel. Look at 1 Peter 3:1-2, 4:17, and Acts 15:8-9. Paul says his ministry is to bring about the obedience of faith. A purified soul is the fruit of faith in the gospel. The purpose or goal of a purified soul is a sincere brotherly love. Brotherly love is familial love for other Christ followers because we have the same Father and are of the same family, especially in the local church body. Love has a role in mission as Jesus told us that all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. The apostle John is even stronger by saying, loving others in the family of God is the litmus test of genuine saving faith.
The second leg or reason for the command to love one another is found in verse 23, 'because you have been born again.' Let's review this quickly. Theologians call being born again, regeneration. Regeneration is the act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us resulting in our responding to and believing the gospel. In the same way we do not choose to be physically born of our own will power but it happens to us God causes us to be born again. When God the Father calls us through the preaching of the gospel God the Spirit simultaneously caused us to be born again so that we respond to the call by believing the gospel.
Peter then describes the word three ways – it is imperishable, it is living, and it is abiding. In contrast to almost everything in this life which is perishable, decays and rots, imperishable means that the word is eternal, not subject to the effects of this of this age. The word is also living, it is spiritually alive, unlike any other book. It has power to create life and power to transform, and power to sustain us. No other book can transform a sinful, wicked, evil heart. Last when all else fails, it remains, because it is eternal. Then he draws from the OT to illustrate the enduring nature of the word, which he now clearly tells us is the gospel. The grass, in all its glory, just like everything else in this age will not last but the word remains forever. It endures and will produce life because it is based upon the person and nature of God, who is eternal and constant and the source of all Spirit life. It will endure and produce life because He is, He was and He will always be.
Three Characteristics of Biblical Love
He tells us to love only after he told us the means of this love. So the ability to love others comes not from ourselves but from the prior work God has done in us. Our ability to love others is because we have been given a new heart, given the Spirit, and are partakers of God's divine nature. There is power in the present to be loving. But if that is so why does he tell us to love one another? Because there are factors within and without that are against us. Within us is the ever present indwelling sin and without is the ever present struggle to connect with others. There are always difficult people who are, at times, hard to love. Who are difficult people? You and me!