1 Peter 1:22-2:3 Desire the Word of the Lord

1 Peter 1:22-2:3            Desire the Word of the Lord            WC McCarter

Last week, in 1 Peter 1:13-21, we were told to be holy and fearful because we have been purchased by God with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We saw that Christ is eternal, but even before the foundation of the world the Triune God had decreed that God the Son would put on flesh in order to live, die, and be raised again in order to pay for the sins of humanity. He was manifest in these last times for us. Through Jesus Christ our faith and hope are in God. Today, we will complete that famous Christian triad by adding brotherly love.

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Love One Another (22)
The command in verse 22, which comes in the second half of the verse, is for Christians to continue to love one another. This love is given two qualifications: it to be fervent and from a pure heart. Fervent, pure-hearted love is deep, stable, reliable, and constant. Christians are to be committed to one another.

The command is to love one another deeply and from a pure heart. The basis of the command comes in the first half of verse 22: you have purified your hearts. While Peter has already acknowledged that the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls, he now says that the beginning of our faith was the purification of our souls. You have had an active part in your regeneration, but it is a completely responsive role that you have played. You have simply obeyed the truth. The truth must refer to what the Christians first heard from Gospel preachers. They had heard the truth of the Gospel of Christ and obeyed it. Remember, Jesus said that He is the Truth. They heard of the Christmas story, His life and ministry, and His death and resurrection. They responded positively to that message of Christ’s atoning work, and you have done the same. You do not earn your salvation. Christ has earned it for you. You do not work for your salvation. Christ’s work is more than enough to save you. Yet, you do obey, and, in doing so, you purify your souls. Notice that even your obeying is not totally on your own. It is through the Spirit. (The NIV does not have this phrase because some early manuscripts do not have the words). Yet, we all know that the Holy Spirit has an active part in the purification of our souls. He does a great work in you that motivates your obedience to the truth. This is the beginning of the Christian life, the new birth. The purity of your souls is also seen in the sincere love you show for your brothers and sisters in Christ. The fruit of a purified soul is the willingness to love others.

Exhortation: Peter commends the Christians for their love of one another and instructs them to continue to love one another deeply and pure-heartedly. The application for our lives is the same. If you have loved one another, you have done well. Now, love one another that much more fervently and purely.

New Birth by the Word (23-25)
For the second time in the first chapter, Peter points us back to our conversion (v3 “begotten us again to a living hope”). He points us to the time when we committed our lives to Christ, when we were born again. He teaches here that the new birth is by means of the word of God. So, we are not born again by any natural means (corruptible seed). Do you remember when Nicodemus visited Jesus at night and talked about the new birth? He could not understand Jesus and asked in John 3, “How am I to be born again when I am old? Am I to climb into my mother’s womb to be born again?” On that occasion, Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” That is what Peter is teaching here. We are not born again through corruptible seed (i.e. human seed) but through incorruptible seed (i.e. the word of God). Of course, the word is going to be put on full display in the next few verses, but we are given two descriptions of the word here: the word lives (active, powerful, and provides life) and abides (constant and enduring). This is a further elaboration to the statement that the seed of the word is incorruptible.

The connection between verses 22 and 23 is clear: you should love one another because you have been born again. The power to fulfill the love command comes in the new birth. It comes by the power of God at work in you.

The OT quote in verses 24-25 comes from Isaiah 40:6-8. We are told twice in this paragraph that we are like grass. Just as grass withers and flowers fade, so, too, are all people. The fact that grass is short-lived serves as a great illustration. Like grass, we are here one day and gone the next. We do not live forever. We are not dependent upon ourselves. God is the giver and taker of life. He alone is the everlasting God. We are physically fragile. We are also morally fragile. We are susceptible to the wiles of the devil, the fallenness of this world, and our own selfish desires. People come and go. Like grass, we spring up for a time and quickly die. Yet, the word of God stands forever. When God speaks, the matter is settled for eternity. The everlasting God speaks everlasting words.

At the end of verse 25, Peter adds a comment to the OT quote and makes clear that the Gospel is the word of God. This living and enduring word of God is the Gospel. Peter and Paul agree: the word of God is living and active; the word is the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.

Exhortation: Put your life in proper perspective. Put the word of God in proper perspective. You will not live forever, but the Gospel word of God enables believers to be born again and live forever in a redeemed and glorified state.

Growth by the Word (1-3)
Based on what has just been said about the word of God, Peter now makes a summarizing and exhorting statement. Because of our new birth by the word of God, we must lay aside (rid yourself) all sorts of sinful thoughts and behaviors. These things destroy love for one another.

Definitions: malice (ill-will, desire to do harm to another); deceit (entrapment, fraud, deviousness); hypocrisy (pretentious, fake); envy (resentful, spiteful); and evil speaking (backbiting, slander, defamation). There is no room for these things in the Christian life. Those who have been born again actively resist and rid themselves of these things in order to love their brothers and sisters fervently and pure-heartedly. This is what the believer does after the new birth. This is sanctification, Christian growth toward maturity.

Peter taught just a moment ago that new birth was through the word of God, and now he teaches that continued Christian growth is through the word of God. You continue the Christian life the same way you start. You finish the same way you start, by faith and by the word of God. You continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, not moved away from the gospel which you first heard. Peter uses a baby as an illustration. Just as a baby craves the milk that will make it grow, so, too, should Christians crave the pure milk of the word which will make them grow. What makes the baby desire the milk? When they get a little taste, then they know they need more. It is satisfying, comforting, filling, and nutritious.

Exhortation: Desire the word of the Lord. Crave it. Long for it. This is how you will grow as a Christian. This is how you will rid yourselves of all kinds of wickedness and be holy like your Father in heaven is holy. You have tasted the Lord’s graciousness, now latch on.

I cannot think of a better message for us as we go into a new year. We want to be those who are full of God’s word, ridding ourselves of sin, and loving one another fervently and pure-heartedly. We are not like those of this world. We have been born again. We have tasted the Lord’s graciousness, and we want more. Let us, together, pursue those things which make for love, holiness, and Christian maturity. Forsake the corruptible things of this world, and chase after the incorruptible things of God.

1 Peter 1:13-21 Christ was Revealed for You

1 Peter 1:13-21   Christ was Revealed for You                     WC McCarter

Reading of the Christmas narrative from Luke 1 & 2.

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Be Holy (13-16)
You have to know what the “therefore” is there for. Peter now wants to gather all of the thoughts of the first twelve verses and give a summary and exhortation. The basis of the exhortation is God’s saving work in Christ. The exhortation is to live a holy life. While God could say, Live a holy life because I say so, He actually says, Live a holy life because I have saved you.

(1) “Gird up the loins of your mind.” Tuck in all of the loose garments to run, work hard, or fight. Pull in all of the loose ends. Get your life in order. Get your mind ready for action.  (2) “Be sober.” Spiritual steadfastness. Disciplined mind. Alert mind. Stop dabbling into worldly things which lull you into spiritual slumber.  (3) “Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” This third directive is the main imperative. Peter has been focusing all of our attention on the second advent of Christ. That is when salvation is experienced in its fullest sense. In fact, the last phrase of verse thirteen is the same as the end of verse seven, “At the revelation of Jesus Christ.” For Peter, “hope” means to trust Christ for the future (Piper).

Now, verse 14 is linked to verse 15. The exhortation becomes blunt, “Be holy.” The current result of setting your hope on Christ for the future means that you will live a holy life now. A girded and sober mind is for holiness in this life. So, he pictures believers as obedient children. Remember, we have been “begotten again,” that is, we have been born again by the power of God. We now belong to Him. We are His children. And as any good children, we should be obedient not so much out of fear but out of respect and gratitude. Verse 14 gives the opposite of holiness- conforming to former lusts and ignorance. The opposite of Christian holiness is to behave like unbelievers. It is to not experience a changed life. If you claim to be a Christian but still continue to live like you always have even before your proclamation of faith, you may want to examine yourself to see if you are really in the faith. I think there is an epidemic of people in this country that have a false assurance of salvation. If you want to know if you have really been born again, here are some tests: do you set your hope for the future on Jesus Christ, do you have a changed life? We are told to be holy because the One who called us is holy. How did he call us? He called us out of death and into life, out of darkness and into light.

Exhortation: Pursue holiness because of the second advent of Christ.

Be Fearful (17-19)
Verse 17 is conditional. “If” you call on the Father, conduct yourselves in fear. While we were commanded in the first paragraph to be holy, now we are commanded in the second paragraph to be fearful. We will talk about why we should conduct ourselves this way, but let’s first look at the description of the Father in verse 17. He is said to be the one who judges without partiality. How can one be sure that a judge passes judgment without partiality? Well, the judgment would have to be based on each one’s work. That is how God judges. There is no preferential treatment. There are no bribes. There are no biases. What a person does is the basis of his/her judgment in the eyes of God. Of course, we know that we are all found to be sinners in that case. We are all guilty, but God has sent forth His Son in order to redeem us.

Now, let’s return to the conditional statement. If you call on the Father, that is, if you claim to belong to Him, if you call out to Him for salvation, then “conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.” If the basis of judgment is our work, then our conduct better be acceptable to God, right? Well, we can come back to that. Notice that Peter refers to the pilgrim idea once again in the phrase, “the time of your stay here.” We are just passing through. We do not belong here. We will not be here for long. But the time that we do spend here matters. It counts.

Look at verse 19: we will be judged by our work/conduct and yet one has gone before us to redeem us with His own precious blood. Now that is a great motivation for reverent fear. If I may speak personally, I want to live a holy life because I have a healthy fear of not living up to the gift that I have been given. Am I trying to earn my own salvation? Certainly not. I’m trusting in the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and yet I want to please the Lord with my life. We are not those who live in terror, but we are those who have a healthy fear.

We are “redeemed” “with the precious blood of Christ.” We have not been redeemed with corruptible things. Christ has not purchased our salvation and freedom with things like silver or gold. No, we have been redeemed by something much more precious than that. No amount of money could buy the salvation of your soul. Christ is our sacrificial lamb. Just as the priests would look at each lamb before the sacrifice to find blemishes or spots, Christ was found to have neither. He lived a sinless life so that He would be the perfect sacrifice. That is the point of Christmas. He had to come. He had to live a sinless life. He had to die.

Exhortation: Notice at the end of verse 18 that it is said that we have been redeemed from aimless conduct. You are a Christian. You have been bought at the highest price that could be paid. You have a purpose, an aim in your life. Trust the Lord for the future. Pursue holiness with all of your being. Keep a healthy fear in reverence to the Lord.

Christmas was for You (20-21)
We learn several things from the last two verses of our sermon text today. First, Christ has always existed. He is eternal. Before the foundation of the world, He was living. Before the foundation of the world, He was foreordained to purchase the redemption of mankind with His blood. Before the foundation of the world, the Triune God had decided that God the Son would put on flesh and be born of a virgin in Bethlehem at just the right time in history. Verse 20 says He was manifest in these last times. He came on the scene at the appointed time. He made a grand entrance, the veil was pulled back, He stepped in at the exact moment that the Triune God had scripted before you were born, before your parents were born, before America was formed, before the foundation of the world. Christ’s blood was shed for you. Christmas was “for you.”


1 Peter 1:8-12 The Salvation of Your Souls

1 Peter 1:8-12     The Salvation of Your Souls                      WC McCarter

Last week we began a new series in 1 Peter. I told you that I chose this book because the first chapter has the advent theme all through it. In the first sermon we saw that Peter was writing to pilgrims, that is, an apostle was writing to first century Christians. The opening lines were packed with theological significance and were filled with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We were reminded that we have been born again to a living hope because of the resurrection of Christ and to an eternal inheritance. We ended last week’s text considering the second advent of Jesus Christ, that is, when He returns in glory, and we are given our inheritance and the “not yet” portion of our salvation. Christ has come, He has accomplished, He has ascended, and He will return again one day. On that day we will no longer be pilgrims!

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Love, Faith, and Joy (8-9)
Although we have not seen Christ, we love Him. Those first century Christians in Asia Minor had never physically seen the historical Jesus of Nazareth, yet they had a profound love for Him. Just think, there were people so close to the Lord Jesus in time but are in the same category as us – having never seen Him. Of course, all Christians have great love for Christ, knowing that He first loved us by laying down His life for us.

Although we do not see Christ now, like the pilgrims who received this letter, we continue to believe. Take a look with me at John 20:29. The basis of faith is not seeing with the physical eye. We will one day see Christ in all His glory with our own two eyes, but until then our faith is in the Gospel message which we have heard and received about Him.

Although we do not see Christ now, we continue to rejoice. Our joy is (1) inexpressible and (2) full of glory.

The point of verse eight is that Christians continue to love and believe in Christ even in the midst of suffering, even though they have never seen Him. Folks want to shake their fists at God when they go through trials, but if they would only know that God put on flesh and came to suffer with us . . . in our behalf . . . in the person of Jesus Christ, they would know that God is on their side.

The end of our faith is the salvation of our souls. Why do Christians continue to love and trust Christ even through hardships? We look forward to the end of our faith. There will be a culmination, a fulfillment, and end. Do not be confused by the word “souls” as if only an immaterial part of us is saved. The world “soul” refers to the whole person. Remember Jesus saying that God can destroy both body and soul in Hell. He saves both as well.

People can be saved from many things: a fireman may save you from a burning building; a policeman may save you from a robbery; an advisor may save you from financial ruin; or a doctor may save you from a disease; but there is only One who can save your soul.

Exhortation: Rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, continue to love and trust Him. In due time you will receive the end of your faith.

The Prophets Preached Grace (10-11)
We have already seen that salvation is through faith in Christ. Now we see more about this salvation: (1) the prophets inquired about it, (2) the prophets searched carefully about it, and (3) the prophets prophesied it. Let’s discuss each of these three parts.

The Prophets Inquired about Salvation:
The prophets surely studied the Scriptures which had been written by those before them; they surely poured over the revelations that they had received; and surely they called out to God in prayer. They were consumed by the story of salvation for mankind.

The Prophets Searched Carefully about Salvation:
What or what manner of time was indicated. This is an emphatic statement. The prophets wanted to know when the salvation plan was going to take place. They wanted to know when the Messiah was coming on the scene. When was Christmas going to take place?

The Prophets Prophesied about Salvation:
How? By the Spirit of Christ in them.
When? Beforehand. (This has always been the plan of God).
What? Grace. Sufferings of Christ. Glories to Follow.

At the end of verse ten, we see the first time that Peter says the grace was going to be for us (he says, “To you”). Christmas is our salvation.

Exhortation: Be assured that your salvation is secure. The coming of Christ in the Christmas story was no accident. The sufferings of Christ were not by chance.

The Apostles Preached Gospel (12)
Apparently the prophets found answers to their inquiries and searches. Verse twelve gives the information: the prophets learned that they were not speaking for their own time, but for those who would hear the Gospel after Christ’s first advent. The prophets were ministering to us. Those godly men of old prophesied of the grace that would come to us, and it did come to us through the preaching of the apostles and the early Christians. How? By the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. What? The Gospel.

The last line of verse twelve is intriguing. The statement is made with no follow-up, no elaboration, not even another reference. Like the prophets of old who inquired and searched about salvation, we are told that the angels desire to look into these things as well. I heard one preacher say that the angels “stretch their spiritual necks” to see what this is all about. The angels in heaven have been a major part of the story of redemption, but they do not have the perspective of men and women. We are those who are saved. The angels do not fully understand why Christ had to come and die in this world, but you know. You know why Christ had to come – to save sinners like you and me. Maybe one day after the second coming of Christ – maybe one day we can sit down with some of those angels and explain to them our perspective.

1 Peter 1:1-7 Salvation Ready to be Revealed

1 Peter 1:1-7        Salvation Ready to be Revealed               WC McCarter

Christmas is not what the world wants to make it: commercialized, materialism, Santa Claus, etc. Christmas is about our salvation.

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From Peter to the Pilgrims (1-3)
The opening verses of Peter’s first letter are packed with theological significance. There is the standard “from” and “to” but so much more. First of all, the letter is from Peter. Many critical readers today claim that Peter did not write 1 & 2 Peter on the basis that the Greek writing is too good for a poor, Galilean fisherman. Yet, the letter states at the very beginning that it is from Peter. From the earliest of days, the church has affirmed that Peter was the author. Peter claims the title of “apostle” in the opening line. While the word could simply mean “messenger” or “sent one,” Peter uses it here in the technical sense. He was commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ as an apostle of a select group for a specific purpose with special authority. We all probably know Peter from reading the Gospels. He was one of Jesus’ inner-circle; he was the leader/spokesman for the twelve disciples; he betrayed the Lord three times; he was restored by the Lord after the resurrection; and he preached the first Christian sermon on the day of Pentecost. His life and ministry was marked by ups and downs, but, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he ended up as a strong apostolic leader of the early church.

After naming himself as the author, Peter then states the recipient of the letter: the pilgrims of the Dispersion. Peter refers to Christians as pilgrims, a designation he also uses in 2:11. The reason for the title is Christians do not belong to this world but are only passing through. Our citizenship is in heaven. That is why it is so sad to see so many Christians tangled up with worldly things. Our satisfaction is not ultimately found in this world. Our treasure is not in this world. Our treasure is in heaven. You know that this life does not last forever. We are only on this earth for a few decades. We are like a vapor which is here for a little while and then is gone. Life is like a blink of an eye. Let me encourage you to not waste your life. If you are older, don’t waste the time you have remaining. If you are younger, don’t waste the time that God may permit you to have. Tomorrow is no guarantee. Long years is no guarantee. Trust the Lord today. Store up treasures in heaven. Stop dabbling into the lusts of this world.

Christians were scattered all over the Roman Empire because of mission work that had been done by folks like Paul. Peter writes to Christians in five different places in the same geographical area of Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey. If you take a look at a map, you will find these places close together. The word “dispersion” is probably related to “pilgrims.” These Christians are not ultimately where they belong, but will soon be gathered together.

“Elect” means chosen and is often used of Israel but now refers to Christians. The election is on the basis of God’s foreknowledge. He looked into the future and knew that you would put your faith in Him. He declared in eternity past that all who put their faith in the Messiah would be chosen for salvation. Then it says, “In sanctification of the Spirit.” You are being made holy. The Holy Spirit comes into your life to put to death the deeds of the flesh. This is part of your salvation. This is part of your election. And so is obedience. As you become holy, you become obedient. Lastly, you are saved by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. He came into the world to save sinners, people like us, by the sprinkling of His blood (His atonement).

Peace was a common greeting and goodbye in the Jewish culture, but it had been transformed by Jesus Christ. He went to the cross to make peace between mankind (those who come to God by faith in Christ) and God the Father. Jesus, on the night that He was betrayed, said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.” After He was crucified and raised from the dead

Our Inheritance (4-7)
Incorruptible- it can’t be destroyed, changed, or taken away.
Undefiled- holy and godly.
Does not fade away- it is not going anywhere, it is eternal.
Reserved in heaven for you- it is reserved in heaven for you. That’s why we are called pilgrims.

Verse five goes on to say that we are kept in our saved state by the power of God. We are not once saved always saved people, but we preach the assurance of salvation. “If” you continue in the faith, established and firm, not moved from the Gospel which we first believed. God’s power keeps us saved through faith. Salvation is an already not yet.

Here is the second advent- salvation will be fully revealed when Christ returns. This is something worth rejoicing over. This motivates joy like nothing else. Even in the midst of hardship, we rejoice. There is a reason for our hard days. Everybody has hard days, whether they are Christians or not. The Bible gives us some answers. There is a God-ordained reason for everything that happens in our lives. One significant reason for trials is to prove the genuineness of our faith. Those trials prove that you have your faith which is for salvation. When the wind of God’s wrath blows, you will stand because your faith has been tested and proven to be strong in the Lord. When He returns, there will be great rejoicing because that is when you will receive your full salvation, your heavenly, eternal inheritance.