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I’m Not From Around Here #1 – Get Into the Word 1 Peter 2:1-3

27 May

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles…”

Have you ever relied on the expression “I’m not from around here?” It’s something I’ve said quite often when someone stops me wanting information or directions when I am visiting another city, state, or country. They understand and are quite comfortable “moving on” to find someone who can help them.

Our subject is the pilgrim life (sojourners/exiles) – the fact that we are just passing through this life, journeying toward heaven. We are on this earth only for a short while and we should feel as settled in this world as we would feel if we were traveling in Mongolia. It may be a fascinating place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to sink down roots there.

Being a pilgrim just isn’t the dominant model of the Christian life for our times. Our view of Christianity is often geared to the here and now: What will it do for my marriage? How will it help me raise my kids? Will it help me succeed in my career? Will it help me overcome personal problems?  Will it help me feel fulfilled as a person?

For some, heaven is thrown in as a nice benefit at the end of the ride. But heaven is not our focus. We want to enjoy life now and cling to it as long as we’re able. We don’t view death as the gateway to everything we’ve been living for. We see it as something to be postponed and avoided at all costs. We often don’t view ourselves as pilgrims.

There’s nothing wrong and everything right about enjoying God and the blessings He freely bestows on us in this life. But if we don’t hold the things of this life loosely and aren’t focused on God Himself and on being in heaven with Him as our goal, we are holding to a shallow form of Christianity.

If we’re just living for the good life that being a Christian gives now, we won’t last very long under persecution. We wouldn’t endure much suffering. Nor would we withstand the many temptations to indulge in fleshly desires. The only thing that can steel us to endure suffering and to seek holiness in this wicked world is to live as pilgrims, bound for heaven.

Part #1: Getting Into The Word (1 Peter 2:2-3)

In his book, A Quest for Godliness J. I. Packer reports that a Puritan preacher named Laurence Chaderton once apologized to his congregation for preaching for two hours. They responded, “Sir, Go on, go on!” Ah! Every preacher’s dream! At 82, after preaching for 50 years, Chaderton decided to retire. He received letters from 40 clergy begging him not to, testifying that they owed their conversion to his ministry of the Word (p. 57).

Packer states (p. 98): Puritanism was, above all else, a Bible movement. To the Puritan the Bible was in truth the most precious possession that this world affords. His deepest conviction was that reverence for God means reverence for Scripture, and serving God means obeying Scripture. To his mind, therefore, no greater insult could be offered to the Creator than to neglect his written word; and, conversely, there could be no truer act of homage to him than to prize it and pore over it, and then to live out and give out its teaching. Intense veneration for Scripture, as the living word of the living God, and a devoted concern to know and do all that it prescribes, was Puritanism’s hallmark.” (at a seminar at Harding University, we were told that Martyn Lloyd-Jones spend MANY years teaching just from the book of Romans.)

I assure you that I won’t preach for even 35 minutes this morning. But I this will be my feeble attempt to motivate each of us to get into God’s Word consistently. More than the food we eat, we must have God’s Word!

We must have God’s Word to grow in our salvation. 1 Peter 2:2 (ESV)

2  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—

God’s Word not only imparts life to us, it nurtures and sustains it. Apart from God’s Word, we shrivel and die like a starving child whose mother’s milk has dried up and who has no other source of food. Therefore, we must have God’s Word.

What the Word is like: The word is pure (2:2).

The Greek word means, literally, not deceitful. It means unadulterated, not watered down. Dishonest merchants in that day would add water to their milk to make more profit. This was “deceitful” milk. Peter tells us to long for the pure, not-deceitful milk.

This means that the Bible, if you take it straight, tells you the honest truth about yourself. It exposes the very thoughts and motives of your heart so that you have no where to hide.

It is not uncommon, after I preach, to have someone come up to me and ask, “Did anyone tell you about what I went through this past week?” When I assure them that no one told me anything, they say, “It seemed like you knew everything and you were aiming that sermon directly at me.” It isn’t me; it’s the Bible!

We tend to deceive and flatter ourselves. But the Word of God cuts through the deception and lays out the honest truth so that we can deal with our problems.

That’s like going to a doctor who doesn’t talk about sickness, but who gives his patients sugar-coated pills that make them feel good without dealing with the root cause of their problems.

The Bible declares that the root cause of our problems is our sin. By confronting our sin and presenting God’s remedy for it, the Bible brings lasting healing.

The word is rational.

The literal translation of verse 2 is that we should long for “the pure, spiritual milk.” The word “spiritual” also means “rational” (Greek = “logikos,” from “logos”). The only other time it occurs in the Bible is in Romans 12:1, where Paul says that presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God is our “spiritual (or rational) service of worship.”

He means that it is a spiritual thing to do, since we don’t do it literally (as a burnt offering), but rather spiritually by yielding ourselves to the will of God. And, it is the reasonable thing to do in light of God’s great mercies to us.

This spiritual milk is rational–it is grasped with the mind.

Thus Christianity is essentially rational, but not rational in the worldly sense, but rational in a spiritual sense. Human reason must be subject to the written revelation God has given of Himself in the Bible. But you cannot know God without using your mind, since He has revealed Himself in the propositional revelation of the written Word.

This balance would correct many of the excesses of our day. Some Christians who are heavily subjective. They operate on a feeling level, devoid of solid theological content. Others emphasize theological content, but they’re afraid of emotions. The Word of God ought to fill our minds with the knowledge of God and move our hearts with His majesty and love.

The word is nourishing.

Peter is referring to a mother’s milk, as the analogy of newborn babes makes clear. He isn’t contrasting the milk of God’s Word with meat, as Paul does (1 Cor. 3:2). We are always to be feeding on this nourishing milk. It is simple enough for the youngest infant in the faith, but solid enough for the most mature saints.

God has designed a mother’s milk as the perfect food for newborn babies. It will immunize her baby from many illnesses and nourish her baby for growth. God’s Word will protect Christians from the many spiritual diseases which abound and nourish them to grow in the Lord.

A mother’s milk will make her baby grow for months without any other food. God’s Word will nourish Christians so that they “grow toward salvation” (2:2). Peter means salvation in its ultimate sense, which includes everything that God has provided for us who are His children. We never reach a place in this life where we can stop growing.

One thing about kids is that they’re excited about growing. Just about every home with children has a growth chart. Every few months you measure your kids and say, “Wow, look how much you’ve grown since last time!”

That’s what the Word of God is like: It’s pure; it’s rational; it’s nourishing milk that will make you grow toward salvation.

I didn’t understand this analogy until we had children of our own. Newborn babies have an intense craving for their mother’s milk! It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 a.m. If they’re hungry, they let you know about it and don’t stop letting you know about it until they get what they’re after! You can stick your finger in their mouth and they’ll suck on it for a minute (and what powerful cheek muscles they have!).

How do you get that kind of motivation for the Word of God?

NEGATIVELY, PUT OFF RELATIONAL SINS THAT HINDER THE WORD’S EFFECT IN YOUR LIFE (2:1).

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

   In the context, it is clear that these relational sins (2:1) will hinder your motivation for the Word (2:2). To “put off” means to cast aside like you take off dirty clothes. They are standard operating procedure for many people in the world, especially when they get into a tough situation. But Peter says that they are opposed to spiritual growth and they must be discarded like dirty clothes.

Let me quickly go over the list:

“Malice” is a general word for wickedness of every kind, but especially having it in for someone.

“Guile” originally meant “bait” or “snare,” thus came to mean deceit. It means to tell someone something that isn’t true, so that you trick or mislead them. It involves having ulterior motives in your communication.

“Hypocrisies” (plural) comes from a word meaning to wear a mask and refers to the many ways we can project a false image to people. If we are inconsistent between how we behave at church and how we behave at home or at work, we are engaging in hypocrisies.

“Envyings” refers to the attitude behind much deceit and hypocrisy. It means being jealous of another person or their things. It was the motive behind the crucifixion of Jesus: the religious leaders were envious of His popularity (Mark 15:10).

Envy often works itself out in all sorts of “slanderings.” This word means to speak against someone. The slanderer says nice things to the person’s face but disparaging things behind his back, with the motive of making himself look good in everyone else’s eyes.

POSITIVELY, FOCUS ON THE KINDNESS OF THE LORD (2:3). …if {since} indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Since this is a quote from Psalm 34:8 (LXX), it shows that Peter believed Christ to be God (“Yahweh” for the psalmist).

Psalm 34 must have been Peter’s favorite–he quotes from it again in 3:10-12. Also, the theme of Psalm 34 is roughly the same as that of 1 Peter.

Peter here is referring especially to the Lord’s kindness or grace that was shown to us when we trusted Him as Savior and Lord and followed faith that takes us to a burial in water (immersion) in order to have our sins forgiven.

If you’re saved, you have tasted of the Lord’s kindness, because you know that though you deserved His judgment, He showed you mercy.

The cross of Christ, where a holy God made provision for me, the sinner, so that I could experience His forgiveness and receive eternal life as a free gift, ought to be the focus of every Christian every day.

If you don’t have a craving for God’s Word, there could be several reasons. Maybe you’ve never tasted the Lord’s kindness in salvation. You need to believe that He died for your sins and that He offers His salvation to you as a free gift. Take it! And start feeding on the Bible.

You may not have a craving for God’s Word because of sin in your life. Someone has said that God’s Word will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from God’s Word. Confess and forsake it! And get back into the Bible.

You may have ruined your appetite by feeding on the junk food of this world. Read your Bible! Hunger for God’s truth. Drink it in like a nursing infant. You’ve got to have it above all else if you want to grow in your salvation.

The result?

4  As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
5  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6  For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
8  and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

He closes this first major section of his letter by showing that our salvation must be lived out by being built upon Christ, in Christian community, with witness to the world: God’s people must keep God central, be built together as His people, and proclaim His excellencies to others.

Peter portrays the church as a living, spiritual house, with Christ as the foundation and cornerstone and each believer as a valuable element.

Paul portrays the church as a body, with Christ as the head and each believer as a contributing member. Both pictures emphasize community.

One stone is not a temple or even a wall; one body part is useless without the others.

When God calls us to a task, remember that he is also calling others to work with us. Together our individual efforts will be multiplied.

Look for those people and join with them to build a beautiful house for God.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2019 in 1 Peter, Sermon

 

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