We know what we have been ransomed from.
1 Peter 1:20-23
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. ESV
Love one another
Last week when we looked at our passage and found that Peter’s command to “love one another” doesn’t stand alone. It is sandwiched between two statements with each providing a reason or a basis for such love.
A sandwich needs two slices of bread to give it structure and make it possible to handle. So it is with the love that is commanded for the Christian life. It’s not just to be a vague gooey idea like sixties notions of love. Rather, it stems from the solid realities that Peter mentions.
So, the command to “love one another” is like the sandwich filling and it is between two reasons which are like the slices of bread. We see the first slice of bread in the preceding statement where we read: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love”. You see, it’s “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth” that you’re commanded to “love one another”. This loving one another is on the basis of “Having purified your souls”.
Having considered the first slice of bread that makes up the sandwich served up by Peter let’s examine the second slice.
The Second slice of Bread
The second slice of bread is contained in verse 23 where we read: “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable”.
You see, Peter’s command for them to “love one another” was “ since you have been born again”. This loving one another is on the basis of having been “been born again”.
It is clear that Peter’s command to “love one another” wasn’t wishy washy idealism but the result of concrete realities in the lives of his readers. They had purified their souls and they had been born again. I suggest that purifying your soul and being born again are essential prerequisites for obeying this command to “love one another”.
So, before we consider the command itself let’s see what Peter meant by “Having purified your souls” and “have been born again”.
We see that in verse 23 where we read: “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”. You see, the command to “love one another” is not only because of “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth”, it’s also “since you have been born again”.
Now, do you notice that there is a significant difference between the two slices of bread?
With the first slice we noted that Peter’s readers had been active in purifying their souls by obedience to the truth. With this second slice we find that Peter’s readers had been passive. Instead of “since you have done something” Peter is saying “since something has been done to you” and that something is “since you have been born again”.
You see, human beings are no more active in being born again than babies are active in being born physically. Remember that back in chapter 1v3 Peter said: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”.
You also see, it is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” who has “caused us to be born again”. It wasn’t our doing; it was His doing. He caused it. He brought it about.
Now, it seems to me that it’s very important to maintain the distinct emphases of these two slices of bread if we’re to have a Biblical and balanced understanding of the gospel and how it is worked out in people’s lives. On the one hand we must recognise that the working out of the gospel depends fundamentally on God working in sovereign power in bringing about new birth.
If you don’t recognise that then you essentially have a man centred gospel.
However, as we saw previously, we must nonetheless do the believing. For sure, we can only do that once God has “caused us to be born again” but we must believe. If you don’t recognise that that is something that we must actually do you enter into the realms of hyper-Calvinism and then preaching the gospel to every nation as Jesus commanded becomes pointless and urging people to repent and believe becomes pointless.
How does Peter’s assertion “since you have been born again” support the command to “love one another”?
I suggest it does so in two ways.
Firstly, being born again gives new life. It’s a new type of life.
Notice that Peter describes it as being “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable”. He goes on to say that that is “through the living and abiding word of God”. We’ll think about that in more detail next time but, for now, we simply need to recognise that being born again is to be born to a new, spiritual life which enables us to love in a way that natural life in this fallen world doesn’t. It provides the power and ability to love one another because it gives us new Christ-like nature.
Secondly, being born again supports the command to “love one another” because we’re born again into a family. It provides us with the context in which to love. It provides the “one another” to love.
In our next post we will look at: The filling.
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!