May 10, 2020

Peter’s Letter: “The Living and Enduring Word”

Scripture Reading: I Peter 1:22 to 2:2

Let’s begin by thinking about the Gospel. After his opening greeting, Peter declares the gospel very clearly in I Peter 1:3. At the heart of the gospel is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Anything apart from this truth is not the gospel.

Therefore, Gospel proclamation is not the elevation of the human spirit (that is “Jesus lives in my heart”, he makes me “happy” or he “inspires me to live a good life”); nor is it the vacuous values that are so rampant in our society today: Be kind, Be nice, Do no harm, etc. The true gospel is the proclamation of Jesus Christ: crucified, risen, and Lord. Peter would only be wasting our time if he did not declare this truth at the outset of his letter. Without the true gospel all the application which then follows, beginning in verse 13, would be only pious religious platitudes (nice words) grounded in nothing significant.

If you do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, then our text this morning is nothing more than humanism. Think about it, I Peter 1:22 begins our reading saying “Love one another deeply from the heart” This is not an offensive teaching. Stripped from the gospel, it would still be heart-warming and worthy of being painted on a rock. But what happens when we hear it in light of the gospel as the apostle Peter now gives it?

Questions:

Why should we be kind, and nice, and so forth? What’s the reason for “Christian living”? (See I Peter 1:15) Will being a “good person” save you from something?

We are not by nature prone to love God and our neighbour (look up Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 1,2 and 3 if you don’t already know them). What ultimately changes a person?

I Peter 1:23 says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

The seed is the Word and the Word, through the power and working of the Holy Spirit can radically change our hearts. This truth is both exhilarating and terrifying for people. Those who by faith believe the true gospel are filled with a sincere love for their Lord and others. Those who do not have grace or faith often become hard, angry, and even scared of the Word.

Question:

Why do you think some people become angry when they hear the gospel?

At the very end of the first chapter Peter says in verse 25, “And this is the word that was preached to you.” A living, enduring, and abiding Word has been proclaimed within the world and to the churches to whom Peter sends this letter. This powerful Word still comes to us who receive this letter as the Word of God delivered to us from the pen of the apostle. By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in Peter, this gospel word has been preserved and delivered to the Church of Jesus Christ of all times and in all places.

Conclusion:

Who is the prophet that Peter quotes in our reading?

Peter tells us to “rid ourselves” of certain things. What do they mean?

1. Deceit:

2. Hypocrisy:

3. Envy and Slander