by Mike Ratliff
since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (1 Peter 1:23 ESV)
The Emergent paradigm contends that the primary mission of our Lord Jesus Christ at His incarnation was to teach Man the correct way to live. I have read the Bible through more times than I can remember and the sense of that contention being the primary mission of our Lord just doesn’t ring true. In fact, His true mission is clearly defined in those sacred pages. He is the Lamb of God. His death on the Cross was necessary in order that those chosen before the foundation of the World (Ephesians 1:4) could be redeemed and saved from the wrath to come. This salvation comes to those who have been born again of imperishable seed, not perishable nor through any mad-made device. Instead, it is only through the living and abiding Word of God.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:14-19 ESV)
In this passage, we see the state of the unregenerate, which is ignorance. The unregenerate are conformed to their passions, which are rooted in ignorance. On their own, they are not seekers of the truth. They are not holy nor will they ever be left to themselves. However, genuine Christians are able to not be conformed to their flesh and its lusts. Instead, they fear God and understand that this world is not their home. They are in exile here and are called to be holy as God is holy. Much of the motivation to live this way comes from the knowledge of the Gospel and what the believer’s former state was. They also understand the cost. Their redemption was the result of God ransoming them with the precious blood of Christ. Hence, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God.
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 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. (1 Peter 1:20-21 ESV)
All in Christ are there because of the good work of God. Notice that Christians are believers in God through Christ. The Father raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave Him glory. Why? Christ being raised gives Christians eternal hope, as He is their forerunner. All in Christ have this eternal hope, which is in eternity, not here on earth. Christ did not come to show Man how best to live, but to make clear the way for His people to have eternal life in Him.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV)
It is a joy to fellowship with other genuine believers. We may be very different from one another. Some are young and some of us aren’t anymore. Our backgrounds are as varied as can be as is our occupations, but it does not matter. All in Christ have an affinity for brotherly love. We pray for one another. We worship together. We share God’s Word with each other. We are commanded here to do this with ἀγαπάω or agapaō. This means “to love through a direction of the will and finding one’s joy in something. This is the love of choice, the kind of love that can respond to a command.” The command here is to love the brethren “earnestly.” This is also translated as “fervently.” It means to stretch the limits. Peter is telling us that only those whose souls have been “purified” have the capacity to love like this. This love exhibits itself by meeting others at the point of their need. The unregenerate are unable to any of this. Only those born of this imperishable seed are able to do this.
The spiritual life implanted by the Holy Spirit to produce the New Birth is unfailing and permanent. It comes through the washing of regeneration.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)
What saves a person from the wrath to come? It comes only through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. This is done NOT according to any “righteous” works done by those being saved, but according to God’s own mercy (Ephesians 2:1-10). The terms Born Again and Regeneration are synonymous. The term “saved” refers to the fact that the regenerate are “saved” from the wrath to come. In any case, the faith of these regenerate is of imperishable seed not perishable. This faith is unfailing and permanent. Those born again according to this seed will persevere to the end and their focus until then is to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) by becoming spirit-filled (Ephesians 5), living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2) by abiding in Christ (John 15).
Soli Deo Gloria!