22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”And this is the word that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:22-25 NIV
In these verses, we are reminded of how limited the English language is in words to express love. We have one word, the Greeks had at least six words expressing different levels and types of love. Philia which means friendly and/or brotherly affection and is the word used here for the “love for each other”. The second word used here for love is agape which is the word that comes closest to expressing the kind of love Jesus showed for us when He chose to die on a cross for our sins. It is a totally selfless, unconditional love. It is a love that is unquenchable and no matter how much it gives, it is never satisfied. It only wants to give more and more. It is the kind of love that God wants us to have for Him and our brothers and sisters, as well as our enemies. The last part, “love for our enemies” is the one that gets our flesh in an uproar.Our flesh screams out, we have been wronged by that person and there is no way that I will ever forgive or love that person or those people. But Jesus told us in His model prayer to pray “forgive us as we forgive others” and we are also told:
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. — Matt. 6:14, 15 NIV
This is a requirement for those of us who have been born again. Our flesh is perishing but we are being renewed daily by the living Word of God. So, we must mortify the flesh and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit that so richly abides within each of us. That leadership will require us to love and to forgive at all costs.
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. — 1 Peter 1:17-20 NIV
There is nothing that we can offer to God that is acceptable for our redemption. Before the creation of the world, the price for our salvation was agreed upon by the Trinity. Nothing less than a sacrificial Lamb without blemish would be acceptable. In the Old Testament, the lamb had to be sacrificed over and over. In the New Testament, the perfect Lamb is sacrificed once for all sins of all times, past, present and future.
25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.— Hebrews 9:25-26 NIV
His work is finished. We, as Christians, have a work to do that will not be finished until the end of this age. We are foreigners, aliens and ambassadors here on earth. Our work is to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ has died and rose again to seal our redemption. Without Easter, there would be no reason to celebrate Christmas, It isn’t just a Christmas story. It is a story that needs to be told everyday, everywhere to every person.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” — 1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV
We are saved by grace though faith and that is the only way anyone can be saved. Good works and good intentions cannot save us, only the grace of God. That is our belief, that is our hope. That hope is eternal based on the mercy and grace of God. We will not know the fullness of His grace and mercy until Jesus Christ returns in all of His glory to receive us into heaven. The eternal hope that we have through the grace of God should fill us with so much love for Jesus that we choose to remain obedient to His teachings and example. Our flesh desires to stay conformed to lusts and other evil desires. But now that we know those are displeasing to our Savior, we should attempt to “abstain from the very appearance of evil”. Is this a call for perfection? Yes. Will we attain perfection while we remain in this tent of flesh? No. But that does not excuse willful, deliberate sin nor is it an out for us to do whatever we desire and ask for forgiveness. Every moment of every day, we are making decisions. Those decisions will either lead us closer to Jesus or take us farther away from Jesus. Perfect? No. Forgiven? Yes. But we must determine at every moment whether or not we will press on toward our goal..
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 3:14,14 NIV
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. — 1 Peter 1:6, 7 NIV
We have to go through trials and tribulations here on earth. This should not surprise us, Jesus said “in this world you will be offended”. There is a specific reason that God allows us to go through these times of testing. And, amazingly enough, it is not to prove to Him how much we love Him, He already knows the answer to that question. No, these tests are so we can know where we are on our journey with Him. The suffering does allow us to realize whether or not our faith is genuine. If it proves to be genuine and our works withstand the fire, that is worth more than anything money can buy. Everything on earth can be and will be destroyed by fire except our faith and our hope. Because we have hope eternal, we can praise Jesus Christ and give unto Him the glory and honor He so richly deserves. It is then that we will realize the truth of what Paul tells us:
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. — Romans 8:18, 19 NIV
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time..— 1 Peter 1: 3-5 NIV
Because of what Jesus has done for us, we owe Him everything and yet we owe Him nothing. Our salvation is free and can’t be purchased, so, in that sense we owe Him nothing. But in the sense that we can be nothing and have nothing without Jesus, we owe Him everything. We owe Him praise, honor and glory at all times. We owe Him our allegiance and our faithfulness. We have to go through trials and hardships here on earth but we have an inheritance laid up for us in heaven. This inheritance gives us a living hope that we are totally secure here and now and for eternity. We are saved now but we will not realize the full extent of what that means until we are at home with Jesus for eternity. But we do know enough to know that we owe Him all of our praises, so let’s just praise Him continuously.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. — 2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV
If we put in the time studying the Scriptures and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we will add all these things to our faith. As we learn God’s Word, we will be able to access more and more Godly wisdom and power. These attributes of Jesus will not only confirm our calling but will also makes us effective and productive disciples of Jesus. If we don’t spend the time we will never be able to see beyond our fleshly desires, thus appearing nearsighted and/or blind. Then we will not be able to lead others to Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate goal of any calling that God has placed on our lives. Unless we continue to study the Word, we will soon forget that we have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb.
So, we need to be diligent and we need to be smart.
Study the Scriptures
Meditate on the Scriptures
Always pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Repeat the story and rehearse all the blessings God has given us
Tell others about Jesus and what He has done for us
Then others will say about us the same thing they said about Jesus.
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. — Luke 2:52 NIV
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love..— 2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV
We have accepted Christ as our Savior, what now? We are now new creatures in Christ Jesus and the new creature needs different food. Our fleshly desires will want us to continue in the old ways consuming the same old garbage, but these ways will not satisfy the new spiritual man. There will be a hunger and a thirst that we have not known before and that hunger and thirst can only be satisfied by the goodness of the Word of God. We need to add some spiritual food to our daily diet. Here in these verses, Peter has made us a short list of what is to be included. The list ends with love, which holds all the others together and without love, the diet would be incomplete and ineffective. We have been saved by grace through faith, now we need to add goodness and the knowledge of God. This is done by studying and meditating on the Word of God. It also includes prayer and conversations with other Christians. God has called each of us to a work that He planned for us long ago. But, first we need some training because God will never send us where He has not prepared us to go. We are sent to make disciples, but first, we must become disciples.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. — Romans 1:16 NIV
This verse must become alive in us and be the force that drives us to be a disciple. It can only be accomplished through “the power of God”.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — Romans 10:9-13 NIV
It is the old, old story, the story that has been told over and over throughout the centuries. It will continue to be told until every nation, tongue and tribe has heard it and Jesus returns. But, it is also a story that we, as Christians, should hold near and dear to our hearts. We should never hear it or think about it without being amazed by the great love shown to us by our Creator. God, Himself, left all of His glory in heaven and came to earth as a man to redeem a fallen world! He could have wiped us out and started over. He could have done anything He chose to do. And He did! He chose to give His life for ours! Love never-ending and beyond our comprehension led Him to a cross and us to eternal life in glory with Him! Then, He trusted a bunch of redeemed sinners to tell that story to everyone we know until the whole world would hear it. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!” May we never grow tired of hearing and telling the old, old story.
1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. — 2 Peter 1:1-4 NIV
How are we supposed to live a holy lifestyle in today’s world? We are bombarded by filth and violence continuously. How do we find grace and peace in abundance in our world today? By accessing the Divine power that raised Jesus from the dead and now gives us everything we need for a Godly life here and now. The word translated “life” here in verse three is the Greek word “zoe” and it means life that is real and genuine, a life full and complete, devoted to God, blessed, even in this world when we put our trust in Christ, and it will be consummated after the resurrection into a more perfect body that will last forever. God has given us “very great and precious” promises so that we can participate in the Divine nature because we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed and cleansed from the corruption of this world and the evil desires of our flesh. In and of ourselves, we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Jesus Christ.
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. — Phil. 4:13 NIV
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. — 1 Cor. 13:8-13 NIV
“Love never fails.” When I read these three words, I am at once convicted, confused and totally devoid of understanding what they mean. In a world where the divorce rate of the general population is at or higher than 50 percent and parents abuse their children, where does “love never fails” fit in? In a world filled with violence and wars over religions, how do we reconcile the fact that “love never fails”? Is it possible that what we, as humans, think of as love, isn’t love at all? Is it possible that what we have come to know as “love” is nothing but an emotion or a word we use so we can have a close association with others? Have our fears of rejection and loneliness caused us to settle for something that is far less than what God intended and demonstrated to us? Do we “love” to get or to give? It seems that humans love to get what they want and/or need and God loves to give us more than we could possibly ever need. As a human, I am not capable of love that never fails, but my GOD IS LOVE THAT NEVER FAILS. We are saved by grace through faith that gives us the hope of eternal life and full understanding one day. All of this because the greatest of all things is the love of God that has never failed and it never will. So, I cling to God and cry out to Him, “teach me God how to love in the truest sense of what You mean by love.”