What a Word!

What a Word!

I Peter 1:22-2:3


We're pursing some studies in the book of I Peter because it is a book which has to do with hope.  Over and over again Simon Peter writing this book says to you and to me that it doesn't matter what the circumstances may be, whatever you're going through, there is hope.


In Romans 15, verse 4, the Bible says that you and I through the patience and the comfort which the scriptures provide can have hope.  What that verse is saying is that as long as you have a Bible, there is hope.  As long as God has given you a word, there is hope for your life.


This whole passage of scripture has to do with the Word of God.  The focus is the last sentence of chapter 1.  It says, "And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."  It's almost as if Simon Peter was saying, "Do you see that book in your hand?  Do you see that book that the preacher is holding in his hand?  This is the Word.  What a book.  What a word is the Word of God."


This passage does two things in terms of the Bible.  First of all, it tells us what the Bible is; and second of all, it tells us what the Bible does. 


For instance, it tells us what the Bible is in verse 23. 


Those two statements at the end of the verse tell us what the Bible is.  It tells us first of all that this Bible you hold in your hand is a living book. 


The Word of the Lord lives, and it is a present tense verb which means that it is continuously alive.  Spurgeon said that if you cut this book into a thousand pieces, every part will grow and live.


The Bible is a living book.  It speaks in contemporary relevance and power to every generation.  I'm standing here and holding a book which is thousands of years old; and yet I know that according to the Bible, when I preach what this book has to say, it comes as if it were written this morning and it comes with fresh living power.  This Bible is a living book.


The second thing it says is that the Word of God is an enduring book.  It is a lasting book.  He says the Word of God lives, but he also says the Word of God abides forever.  That means that it is continuously alive and it goes on and on. 


He makes a comparison here between the Word of God and between life as people experience it.  He uses an illustration about the grass of the field and the flowers of the grass.  He points out the fact that everything living we know in terms of our universe is something that is in the process of dying.


Somebody says that we are in the land of the living.  The truth of the matter is that we are in the land of the dying.  Somebody says, "I'm living it up."  The truth of the matter is we're living it down or dying it up.  We should live like we are dying because we are dying.  We are like the flower.  We are like the petals on the flower that begin to fade and fall, and they ultimately die.  But in contrast to this, the Bible says that the Word of God is enduring.  It continues to live on.


Everything you see in this world is dying.   The Word of God is living.  Everything around you in this world is passing, but the Word of God is lasting.  Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall never pass away."  So that's what the Bible is.  It is a living book.  It is a lasting book.  No wonder Simon Peter says, "What a word.  What a book.  This is the word that by the gospel is preached unto you."


But the primary focus of this passage of scripture is upon what the Word of God does.  He makes a very simple statement here about what the Word of God does and I want to lay on your heart.


I. It Saves People.


The first thing he says that this book you hold in your hand does is it saves people. 


In verse 23 it says, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible." Being born again is the new birth experience.  That's what it means to be saved.  We are converted. 


He says that this Bible is like a seed which produces eternal life.  That's a beautiful picture of the Bible.  The Bible is like a seed.  You take a seed, and it looks very small and it looks very insignificant, but you can bury that seed and an unbelievable life can grow from it. 


I read a number of years ago about an Egyptian pyramid.  In that pyramid they found some seeds that had been buried for thousand of years.  They took that seed and they put it in the ground, and that seed began to grow. 

There was life all along in that seed.


I was watching a cooking program recently and they were using Heirloom tomatoes or heritage tomatoes, that is they are grown from seeds that are at least 75 years of age or older (prior to hybrids). Put them in the ground and they will grow.


The Bible is like seed, and the Bible says that it is not corruptible seed like the seed we find, but the Bible is incorruptible seed.  It is through the truth of the Word of God, when people hear the Word of God, believe what it says, and act upon what it says, that people are born again and become members of the family of God.  There is no other book written that can do this.  There is no other message.  There is no other word.  There is no other book that can produce life that can save people when they apply what it has to say to their heart.


Here's a man who comes to me and he says, "I've got real problems, preacher.  I need something I don't have in my life and I'm afraid I'm going to die and go to hell.  I want to go to heaven when I die. Do you have any word for me?"  I say to him, "Friend, I'm here to tell you that five times five equals 25."  He looks at me and that's true, but that won't produce any life for him.  


Another man comes up to me and he says, "I'm lost and my life is all messed up and I need to be born again.  Do you have a message for me?" I say, "Friend, let me share with you that H2O equals water."  That is a true statement, but there is no life in that statement. 



But if those individuals come to me and say, "Preacher, I am in sin.  I'm shackled by the bondage of my sin.  I want to be set free.  I want to go to heaven when I die."  I say to that individual, "God loves you so very much that He sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross for you that if you would receive Him into your heart and into your life you will be saved."  If he does that, he is born again.  It's the only book I know that can save people.  The Word of God saves people.  No wonder he says, "What a word.  What a book is this book!"


II. It Sanctifies People.


I want you to notice the second truth which emerges about what the Bible does in these passages.  The Word of God not only saves people, but the Word of God sanctifies people.  The word sanctifies means that it cleans people up. 


He says in verse 22, "Seeing that ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth." 


He's speaking in this verse about the initial cleansing of God's Word in a person's life.  The Bible is a cleansing agent.  I say this reverently, but the Bible is the greatest bar of soap there's ever been. There is a miracle cleansing power in the Word of God.  It has the power to clean people's lives up.  It has the power to purify their lives.


There is an initial cleansing, an initial sanctification which God does.  It says in verse 22, "Seeing that ye have purified yours souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit."  In other words, when you receive God's Word into your heart, God does a sanctifying work. 

God does a cleansing work in your life.  The Bible says that when God does this cleansing work in your life, it means He forgives you of your sin and it means also that God begins to work in your life through obeying the truth.  


Verse 22 says, "Seeing that ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." 


When a person is saved, God cleanses their heart.  They are forgiven of their sins and God begins to put His love in their heart.  God begins to teach people to love other people, and God begins to teach us to have unfeigned, unhypocritical love.  He teaches us to love people fervently, which means to be stretched out, extended.  So there is this initial cleansing of the Word of God which God does.  "Seeing that ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth."


For those of you who are computer literate, let me illustrate with something you will understand.  When you change settings on your computer, like the desktop for instance, there is a little block that says “apply."  Now if you ignore the "apply" and click "o.k." you will discover that it doesn’t do any changing whatsoever. 


The same thing is true in the Word of God in your heart.  God's Word has the ability to clean up your life.  It can cleanse you.  It can take the hate out and put the love in.  It can take the sin out, and it can put the love of God in but you have to apply it.  You have to obey God's Word in your life. 

Put it into application in your life.


There is the initial cleansing which God does.  But He doesn't leave us out of the process. 


In chapter 2, verse 1, it says, "Wherefore, laying," and some translate that rid yourself and some translate that clean house. 


He is saying now that as you begin to study God's Word, having received Christ, and as you begin to look at the scriptures and see what God has to say in His Word, the Lord will use that word to help you get some things out of your life that should not be there. 


For instance, in verse 1 of chapter 2, he names about five germs that make us unclean.  He's saying that you need to get rid of these things.  "Rid yourself" he says of, "all malice."  That means a bitterness in your heart, a vicious disposition of bitterness toward someone else.  It means congealed anger in your heart.  Is there anybody in this world that you have anger toward?  Are you bitter toward anyone?  Do you have a vicious disposition toward someone, to desire ill and harm to them?


I read sometime ago about Leonardo da Vinci as he was painting his famous "Last Supper."  He had an enemy and he wanted to do damage to that enemy so he painted in the face of his enemy where Judas was to be.  Then when he came to paint in the picture of Christ, he discovered he couldn't do it.  He couldn't paint the picture of Christ.  So he finally had to wipe out the picture of his enemy in Judas and only then could he put the picture of Christ on the painting.

The Lord says to get rid of that viciousness.  He says to get rid of that wickedness, get rid of that malice.  Rid yourself of that.  Then he says, "And all guile."  The word there is a word that means to catch a fish with bait.   He's saying here to get rid of the deceit, get rid of the trickery in your life.  Don't live on the basis of deception.  He says to rid yourself of deceit.


Number three, he says hypocrisy.  The word hypocrisy means to put on a mask.  In those days actors would put on a mask and they would act out a part.  Hypocrisy means that your face and your heart don't send the same message.  It means that you pretend to be something that you are not.  God says to get rid of all of the hypocrisy in your life.


Then He says to get rid of all the envies in your life.  Envy means that you are jealous of what someone else has and you wish they didn't have it.  It means that you are not happy at the good fortune of others. 


The Bible says to get rid of all of that envy in your life.  Envy in your life is mental cancer.  Get rid of it.


Then He says, "Evil speakings."  The word there is slander.  Get rid of those unkind things you say about other people.  Get rid of those things you say behind people's back.  He saying that this Word of God, this Bible we hold in our hands today has the power to sanctify your life, to cleanse your life of the things that shouldn't be in your life.  What a Word.  What a book!






III. It Sustains People.


Then there's a third thing he says about this wonderful Word of God, the Bible.  He says that it saves people, it sanctifies people, and he says also that this Bible sustains people.  It has sustaining power. 


He has used the illustration of the Bible being like a seed which can produce life.  Now he is going to use the illustration of the Bible being like a food that can sustain life. 


He says about the nature of the Bible in verse 2, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word."  The word sincere means unadulterated, nothing added.  God's Word is nurturing.  God's Word is full and rich in nutrient power for your life.


The American Medical Association says that in a lifetime the average American will eat about 50 head of cattle and 2,400 chickens.  They will eat about 310 pigs and about 26 acres of grain and about 50 acres of fruit and vegetables in a lifetime.  Let me ask you a question?  How much of the Word of God do you feed on?  How much time do you spend feeding your heart with the milk of the Word? 


I'm also told that there are some birds that go nine days without food.  Some dogs, they say, can go 20 days without food.  Some turtles can go 500 days without food.  They say some snakes can go 800 days without food and some fish can go 1,000 days without food.  And yet I know some children of God who can go day after day after day after day without the food of the Word of God. 


How do you ever expect to grow?  How do you ever expect to be what God wants you to be if you don't feed on the Word of God?  "Desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow by it."


Suppose you come up to see me this morning and I look at you and you are all weak and emaciated and so frail and I ask, "My, what's the matter with you?"  You say, "I don't know.  I'm just so weak.  I feel faint.  I don't know if I can make it through the service, preacher."  I ask, "My gracious.  Did you have anything to eat?"  You say, "Oh, no.  I just eat every Sunday.  I don't eat anything the rest of the week.  For six days a week I don't eat a thing.  I just eat something on Sunday."  I will look at you in utter disbelief and say, "Brother, what you need to do is go and get a good meal!" 


There are some people that the only feeding of the Word of God that they get is on a Sunday morning.  They go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and all day Saturday, and they never feed on the Word of God.  Then you wonder why you are so weak and emaciated spiritually.  "Desire the sincere milk of the word."


Notice that he says, "Desire the sincere milk of the word."  The word desire is the idea of craving the word, to long for the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby.  He uses another beautiful picture here. 


The Bible just abounds in beautiful pictures.  If you have imagination you can see these beautiful pictures.



The Bible here uses a picture which shows how you and I are to be sustained and how we are to grow by reading and studying our Bible.  He says, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word."  The word newborn babes literally means as just now born babes.


Did you know that when babies are born they are born with a natural craving for milk?  They are born with a natural desire for milk.  He's saying here that if you have been born again into the family of God, like a baby you should have the desire to have God's Word.  There should be that natural craving. 


I am prepared to say that if a person has no desire whatsoever to hear the Word of God and has no desire to study the Word of God and has no desire to apply the Word of God to their heart and life, it raises a question mark as tall as the Trump Tower Plaza as to whether or not you have truly been born again.  "As just now born babes desire the sincere milk."


You don't have to teach a baby to want milk.  You don't have to get in the delivery room and when the baby is born say, "Now, baby, look up here at this black board.  Here's the way it works.  This is milk.  You need milk.  You have a mouth and what you need to do is to get that nipple that has the milk into your mouth and then you have to begin to suck on that nipple."  You don't have to go through that with a baby. 






The moment a baby is born, that baby starts looking for the milk and the moment the baby sees the milk, he goes straight to the milk.  The Bible says that's the way you and I should be in our desire to know God's Word.  There should be that natural, intense craving and longing for the Word of God.


It says in verse 3, "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."  The word tasted means if so be that you have experienced, if so be that you have found it true that the Lord is gracious, that the Lord is good, that the Lord is kind.  In other words, as you study the Word of God, you will find Jesus.  When you experience Jesus in His Word, there is something tremendously sustaining and satisfying about the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Jesus sustains the heart.  Jesus satisfies the human soul.  God has so constructed you that you have a God created vacuum in your life, and that vacuum will never be satisfied with anything or anyone except the Lord Jesus Christ.  "Since you have tasted, since you have experienced that the Lord is good, the Lord is gracious."


Have you noticed that grocery stores have started handing our samples?  Sausage and crackers, granola and bananas. . .  Why?  If they can get you to taste it, you jyust might buy it!


Do you know what this verse is saying here?  You just try Jesus, just take a little taste of the Lord.  If I could take what Jesus means to me out of my heart and put it into your heart for just five seconds, you would never let Him go.



That is the message of this text:  there is a Savior who loves you, who went all the way to the cross of Calvary to pay the price for your sins.  He wants to come in and save you.  He wants to come in and clean you up.  He wants to come in and sustain your life.  All you need to do is try Him and see.


Let's bow our heads in prayer.



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