Sermon: 1 Peter 1:22-25 The Word Produces A Genuine And Earnest Love
Good morning. Let me begin this morning by asking you a couple questions. First, what is the most valuable thing in your life? What is the greatest treasure that you possess? Now let me ask you to consider that one thing that you have admitted too and ask you if that really is your greatest treasure? What I mean is that if it is your greatest treasure, and if this thing is your most valued possession, then it will become evident by the attention it gets from you, the care you give to it, the time you invest into it, the devotion that you give to it?
Peter is arguing in our text today, 1 Peter 1:22-25, that the greatest treasure that we have and the most valuable thing that we have access to is the word of God. Yes, you heard me right. That book that so often sits on a table for days on end is our greatest possession. That book that we say is to hard to understand is our greatest treasure. Peter says that it is the living and abiding word of the Lord. And it is my goal today to try to convince you of this. I want you to be convinced as you leave here today that it would be utter folly to continue to take for granted this Bible that we have been given from the Lord. I want you to be enriched by it, the church to be blessed through its working in your life and for the world to see in you a light, a beacon of hope in a dark world, through it.
So let me begin this morning by trying to build my case for this prior to us turning to our text and working our way through it. I want to do this because once we begin to understand the Word of God the way that Peter understood the Word of God then we will know why he says what he says and why he is convinced that it alone can do what he says it can do. Peter believes passionately that it is the Word of God that can give joy to suffering Christians, that it can save people from darkness and death and that it can produce in them a genuine and fervent love.
Peter is writing to these suffering Christian's a letter. And he knows that this letter has the ability through the Spirit to impart grace to these believers and to impart faith into their heart. And this faith which is genuine will inevitably create hope, joy and love in these people. In view of this let us first look at 2 Timothy 2. Here we will see that the Word of God is valuable because it is not bound by the things of this world. In chapter two Paul encourages Timothy to be strengthened in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. What Timothy has been entrusted with he is to now entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Paul tells Timothy to endure suffering as a good soldier and to not become distracted by civilian pursuits. He is to be a minister on mission, a preacher with a purpose, like a steward who is found to be faithful by the One who has entrusted him with a great treasure.
Now in verse nine Paul says these words, "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the Word of God is not bound!" What marvelous words these are. Paul is in prison and bound in chains but the word is not bound. The word is not powerless in such conditions. It is a great and powerful treasure. And because of this Paul says, "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." I love this. Because the Word cannot be bound by chains or through any other means Paul can endure all things.
So I have to ask myself a question. If I am unable to endure in everything, is it because I am failing to keep the Word of God central in my thoughts and continually on my tongue? Could it be that in all things the one who is the most happy and the most content is the person who sees that the Word is not bound nor is the Word held captive?
Therefore, Paul tells Timothy in verse fourteen that he is to people of these things and to charge them before God. What is he to charge them with? He is to tell them not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Instead, Timothy is to do his best to present himself to God as one approved, a worker that needs not to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth. Then Paul tells Timothy that he is to avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead the people into more and more ungodliness.
Now let me just take a moment and remind you what we are doing right now. I have told you that i am going to try to make a case that the Word of God is your/our greatest treasure. We have already seen that the Word of the Lord is able to strengthen us in grace, that the Word of the Lord cannot be bound, and that the Word of the Lord is the Word of Truth.
We have also seen that if we do not have the truth central in our thoughts, our minds and in our mouths that it will inevitably lead to no good and that it will ruin the hearers. We also see in verse sixteen that it will lead people to more and more ungodliness and that it will spread like gangrene. This is a very sobering and terrifying thought. And although the description of these effects is quite clear, Paul says that all of this is the result of quarreling and speaking irreverent babble. It seems to me we ought to sit up at this point and take notice. We are all to prone to quarrel and to engage in babble. So we need to determine today that we will be a gospel centered and Word saturated people. To do otherwise is to speak babble and will lead to our ruin and the ruin of those who hear.
Now in verses twenty through twenty-five we see that we are to flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (This is the same pure heart that Peter will refer to in our text today 1:22) Timothy is to have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; because they only breed quarrels. The Lord's servant must not quarrel but kind to everyone, able to teach (the truth), patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness (1 Peter ) For by doing so God may grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth and escape the trap of the devil.
Now I have said all of this so far to get to chapter three. We have seen the importance of the Word to the believer and Paul will continue now by showing us what a life looks like when the Word is rejected. Paul says, "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, un-appeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."
What does it mean when it says, "...having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power"? I would say that the context of all of this is concerning the 'truth'. These people appear godly but they deny the scriptures, they deny doctrines, they deny the gospel and they deny the truth. Therefore verse seven says that they are always learning but they are never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. In fact, Paul goes on to say that they oppose the truth and are corrupted in mind and disqaualified concerning the faith. Paul goes on to say that they will not get very far, for their folly will become plain to all. Again, Paul is emphasizing that those who reject the truth will not prosper and it will not end well for them.
Timothy, however, has followed Paul's teaching, his conduct, his aim in life, his faith, patience, love, steadfastness, persecutions and suffering. And Timothy has seen that the Lord has rescued Paul from them all. So what was it that enabled Paul to display all of these things? What was it that produced these virtues and what enabled Paul to endure such hardships? It was the Word of the Lord. It was the doctrines and the teaching of the gospel that did this in Paul.
And next Paul admits that everyone who seeks to live a godly life will be persecuted because people will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But then he says these words emphatically to Timothy, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed. Paul tells Timothy that the sacred scriptures are able to make him wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Then he says, "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete equipped for every good work."
Then, because Paul knows his time on earth is short, he says to Timothy, "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
You know it occurs to me as I read this charge that Paul is giving this to Timothy after many years of faithful service to Paul and to the gospel. Three years ago, Dr. Perry commissioned me as your pastor but I can appreciate the need for my spiritual fathers to do this again and again. Because like these people Paul just spoke of we can all wander off slowly or casually into error. We can creep away from the truth into error. So today I would like to take a moment to address the leaders of this church. I would like to address the elders, the deacons, the C-group leaders, Sunday school teachers, and all who serve this body. I want to charge you all in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is the judge of the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom to preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For a time is coming, and is now here when men will abandon sound teaching and turn and wander off into myths. But you fulfill your ministry!
My friends. Have you seen through all of this that a life centered on the scriptures is a focused life. A life centered upon the scriptures is a healthy life. A life centered upon the Word of God is a productive life. A life centered upon the Word is a God glorifying, Jesus exalting and Spirit sanctified life. But an individual or a church that rejects the truth or wanders from it is unhealthy and dying. The one who is receiving life from the Word is producing great expressions of Christ-likeness while the other who rejects His Word produces more and more ungodliness. So, Community Church, what is your greatest treasure? What captivates your heart and attention? What speaks into your life? What is being produced in your life?
Peter is holding out to us today the Word and asking us to choose it. He is asking us to let our lives be drawn to the gravity of the Word so that we honor God and so that we love our brothers and sisters. It is the Word that produces such a life. So let us turn to 1 Peter 1:22-25 and see what Peter has to say.
One of the first things that we see is that the truth is preeminent in Peter's letter at this point. In verse twenty-two Peter says that it is our obedience, which is our response of faith and repentance, to the truth which has purified our souls. The word 'truth' here is the word 'alathaa'. It is the real truth. It is what lies behind the manifestation and what has been revealed. In other words, Peter has spoken earlier about how Jesus was manifested in these days. The truth concerning this appearing is that Jesus came to save sinners. He came to be the sacrificial lamb on our behalf. The real truth is not found in any other source than the sacred scriptures. In verse twenty-three we find that the living and abiding word of God is the 'logos' of God. This is the revealed word. God has revealed Himself to us through the Word of God. And this Word is living and adidng. In verse twenty-five Peter says that the Word of God remains forever and that this Word is the Good News preached to us. This time Peter uses the Greek word 'rhema'. This is the spoken word. The preached word. We love each other best and most fully when we speak with a tongue saturated in the Word of God. Finally in 1 Peter 2:6 Peter speaks of the scriptures. This is the Greek word 'graphe'. This is the written Word. We come to Christ, the Living Stone, through the scriptures.
In all of these things Peter is showing us the importance of the Word of the Lord in our lives. It is our greatest treasure and it is the most valuable thing that we possess. It it through the Word that we are purified, made clean and cleared from all condemnatory liability before God, and it is through the Truth that we are able to love. This is Peter's whole point in saying all of this. To these Christians who are struggling Peter says take comfort in the Word. To these Christian who are exiles in this world he says to them to become holy through the Word (1:14). To these sojourners Peter says to find their joy in the Word. To these people who are pilgrims, Peter says to them that they are to love the community that has been created by the preaching of this Word through the working of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is imperative that Christians worship together, study together and to do life together
My friends, look to the person to the left and to the right of you. Look at the person in front of you and the one behind you. Every person that caught your eye in here needs your love. It does not matter if they are older or younger; male or female; of high esteem or of low esteem; educated or uneducated. It does not matter if they have things in common with you or if they don't share one thing in common with you. You are to love the brother or sister in Christ. And the way that we are to do this is not in some superficial manner but with a fervent and genuine love.
There are two types of love mentioned in this text. We are to love them with a sincere brotherly love. This is the Greek word, 'phileo'. It is a familiar brotherly love. The second type of love mentioned is an earnest love. This is a love that is self-sacrificing and a love that desires the best for someone.
The word sincere means that we don't love someone with hypocrisy in our heart. This is what Judas did when he came to Jesus in the garden and betrayed Him with a kiss. He displayed outwardly a kind of love and affection but his heart was seeking to betray Christ. The word earnest means that we are to stretch out towards someone. We are to reach and strain on their behalf. We do not simply see them at a distance and wish them well; but we reach out to them to love them.
And we are to do this from a pure heart. This love and the expressions are to be motivated from the center of our new heart. We are not to simply speak of love with the tongue but we are to express it in all ways from the heart. How are we to do this? It is the gospel that creates this love in us. It is a life saturated in the truth that grows in the expressions of this type of love.
Why do I say that it is the Word that does this? Because that is what Peter is saying in this text. He gives us five things to consider about the Word of God and how it motivates love in us for others. First, we have been born-again not by perishable seed but of imperishable seed. Peter says that we have not been saved by perishable seed. This is an important point. Perishable speaks of corruption, decay, and destruction. We are flesh and blood and everything around us is perishing. So what are we to be saved by? There is nothing in this world that we can engage in or do that can stop this. It is only through the Word of God that we escape corruption. We treasure the Word because it is not perishable. It is the imperishable seed. We come to the Word because it it the seed that saves us and produces the fruit of love that Peter speaks of. And the Word is imperishable so our salvation, though everything else is dying, is assured. We are not saved by anything in us that is corruptible and decaying but by the imperishable word of God.
Next the Word of God is living. It is continually and always alive. A word spoken to a person continues to work on them so as to bring forth fruit. This letter Peter wrote to these people had life in it by the Spirit and it has continued to be life to the church for the last two thousand years. It is a living Word.
It is an adiding Word. It will never end and it will never not be relevant to each and every generation that ever lives. It is a Word that never grows old or disappears. Though all flesh fails and all men's glory is like the flower that falls the Word of God endures and abides. The Word has outlived every scoffer who has ever boasted that God is dead and that His Word is a myth. In light of this, if your greatest treasure is anything except the Word you need to know that it will not continue. It will not abide. It will decay.
So in verse twenty-five Peter tells us that the Word of the Lord remains forever. This is our greatest treasure. This is our most valuable possession. It alone remains forever. So we grab onto it and pursue it. We treasure it up in our hearts and in our minds and it transforms us and our churches. And this is the good news that was preached to us.
1. We love people when we speak the gospel to them. When we speak the Word of God to them.
2. When we are in the Word our lives are conformed to true godliness. Therefore we need to keep the scripture as our greatest treasure and as our most valued possession.
3. Galatians 2 Peter continually grew in his understanding of the Word. He was changed by it. He began to love according to the truth of the Lord.