“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you.” – 1 Peter 1:22-25
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not limited to the cross and the resurrection. The Gospel encompasses the entirety of scripture. From Genesis to Revelation we find the message of the Gospel. The Bible as a whole instructs us in what the Gospel is all about and how the Gospel impacts our lives. The cross and the resurrection is at the center of the Gospel. All of scripture points us to God’s redemptive plan made possible by the atoning death of Christ on the cross. The Gospel is not just something we believe in, it is something that we live out in our daily lives. In our text, Peter explains how we live the Gospel. Living in a post-Christian and an anti-Christian world, we are called to live in holiness and in fear of God. But, how do we live such a life? How does it all work? There are two things in particular that must be seen in the life of one who is truly living the Gospel.
Obedience to the truth. Peter mentions that we purify our souls by obeying the truth given to us by the Holy Spirit. What is the truth that the Holy Spirit gives us? The truth of the Gospel. It is in such obedience to the truth that our souls are purified and we are able to be in right standing with God. There are two parts to this obedience. (1) Initial Obedience. The initial obedience to the truth comes at the moment one makes the decision to accept God’s free gift of grace made possible by the blood of Jesus. It is that moment when one repents of their sin and believes on the Lord Jesus. The core of the Gospel is the understanding that we are totally depraved and our only hope is found in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When this initial obedience takes place our souls are purified in the sense that we are justified and adopted into the family of God. (2) Continual Obedience. Once the initial obedience to the truth of Gospel is made, we are then called to a life of continual obedience to the Gospel. This is where Gospel living comes in. It is a daily submission to and obedience to the things that the Holy Spirit reveals to us in the Word of God. So, to live in a world that is more and more hostile toward Christians, we are called to live a life of obedience to the Word of God. In other words, no matter how much the world rejects us and persecutes us, nothing should change. We should continue to live in obedience to the truth no matter what consequences that may bring. In order to live in continual obedience to the truth, we must be knowledgeable of the truth. We must know what the Word of God says. This is accomplished through the careful study of the scriptures. The study of the scriptures comes in the form of daily personal Bible study, being equipped through the preaching of the Word, small group Bible study, etc. However, it must be understood that the Word of God demands a response. Anytime the Bible is read or taught there must be a response. Either it is a negative response of ignoring the truth and disobedience or it is a positive response of adhering to and obeying the truth. Either way, a response is demanded. The problem is that we have a tendency to only respond positively to the scriptures that suit us and our way of living. However, when it comes to those hard and convicting passages, we are reluctant to change our ways and live in obedience. However, we cannot ignore the fact that living the Gospel in today’s world is impossible apart from obedience to the truth.
Love for the brethren. Our obedience to the truth will naturally produce in us and flow out from us a love for other believers in Christ. Notice what 1 John 3:13-14 says, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” The scripture tells us that we should not wonder or marvel at the fact that the world hates us. As believers in Christ, we need to understand that the world will always hate us. As long as we are on this earth we will face persecution and hostility from the world. However, a true believer will not allow the hate of the world to rub off on them. True believers will have a genuine love for each other. This love that we have for each other is described in three ways. (1) Our love is unfeigned. This word basically means genuine, true, or sincere. In other words, our love for one another must be real. Such real love comes out of the love of Christ which is in us. Therefore, the closer we are to Jesus, the more love for one another will naturally flow. (2) Our love is pure. The love we have for one another is a love that comes from holy living. It is pure and undefiled. It is not a corrupt version of love. It is pure and perfect. (3) Our love is fervent. A fervent love can be described as powerful, passionate, faithful, etc. In other words, we love one another with every ounce of energy. It is displayed in our actions toward one another and our concern and care for one another. Living out the Gospel happens when we live in obedience to the truth which produces love for the brethren.
How is the possible? A final thought to consider is how obedience to the truth and love for the brethren is made possible. The answer is found in verses 23-25 of our text. It is through regeneration by the Word that we are able to live in obedience and in love. Peter tells us that we are born again by the Word of God. It is the Word of God, the Gospel; that is planted in our hearts when we hear the Gospel message proclaimed to us. The Holy Spirit uses the Word planted in us in order to draw us to Christ. Thus, apart from the Word of God, we could not be saved. The Word of God that is planted in our hearts is both eternal and unchanging. All else may fail, but the Word of God will last forever. It will never fade away. It is our response to the Word that determines both our eternal destiny and the quality of life that we live on this earth. In other words, we hear the Word as it is presented to us either by a person who speaks it to us or by the scripture itself that we read. As we hear the Word, we must respond to it. If we respond positively and receive the Word we are then born again and brought into a right relationship with God. It is in entering into such a relationship with God that we are given the Holy Spirit which enables us to live out the Gospel that has now transformed our hearts unto obedience to the truth and love for the brethren.