Posible ba sa isang tunay na Kristiyano na hindi lumago sa pananampalataya at buhay? Paano ba lumalago (mature) ang isang taong niligtas, pinatawad, at binago ng Diyos?
- Brief recap: (1 Peter 1:13-25) – Past two sermons, the outworkings of the believers’ salvation and eternal security
- Holiness before God
- Love for one another
- Today: Chapter 2 — Continuation of Peter’s exhortation for practical living
- TEXT: vv. 1-2
- Gr. Verse 1 (not separate imperative) (***No need for technical grammar!)
- vv. 1-2 are one sentence only: “Putting away (Laying aside) all malice… like newborn babes, long for the pure milk… that you may grow up”
- The whole sentence emphasizes the goal: Spiritual growth. Christians are not just called to be holy and love one another. We’re also called to grow.
- And we grow by:
- Negatively, while putting away sinful attitudes & conduct
- Positively, we must long for the Word of God
- Like Paul in Ephesians 4, “putting off… putting on”. Sanctification: Mortification of sin, vivification of righteousness/good works.
- Things to put away (not exhaustive, but linked to loving one another)
- Malice (pinag-iisipan o pinagpa-planuhan ng masama)
- Deceit and hypocrisy (panloloko)
- Envy (Inggit)
- Slander (Paninira sa iba, pagsabi ng masama laban sa iba)
- What to long for: “the pure spiritual milk” (The focus of our sermon today)
[TRANSITION]: What does it mean for Christians to long for the pure spiritual milk and how?
SERMON POINT 1: Christians long for the Word like newborn infants
TEXT: Verse 2a
- “Pure spiritual milk” — In contrast to the physical milk. Obviously, the Word of God, which is pure and perfect (cf. Psalm 19).
- “Like newborn infants, long for it…” — Common words founds also in Hebrews 5:12-14 (READ).
- “Milk” — Basic principles/teachings of God’s Word, for the immature
- “Meat” — Profound teachings, for the mature.
- But Peter is not using the same words to say that they are “immature” and what they need is the “basic teachings of Scriptures.” Rather, the comparison is in the way infants long (crave) for the milk of the mother.
- IMPLY: There is not a single point in our Christian life when we don’t need to grow. Christians will always be like newborn babies in need of spiritual nourishment.
- Related texts (READ): 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 9-10
- “Exiles” — Perfect imagery for Christians (sojourners, pilgrims) in a lifelong journey.
- ILLUSTRATION: Hiking a mountain. Milestones before summit
- Likewise, we may reach certain “milestones” in our Christian lives, but until we reach celestial city, we still have more to learn and progress in our faith.
- APPLY: Hence, we must always long for the pure Word of God.
- Long (crave). Strong desire for something, implying need. ILLUSTRATE: How does a baby crave for the milk? (Crying, trembling, reddish face, anytime of the day)
- How does it look like?
- Psalm 119:25, 28 — Desperation
- Psalm 119:97 — Love and delight
- Acts 2, 5:42 — Regular feeding
- Reformation days/Puritans — 2-3 sermons/LD, 1-2 sermons weekday
- RELATE: Contrast with today, yung i-dedicate na lang natin yung mismong Araw ng Panginoon para makarinig ng Salita ng Diyos—minsan hirap na hirap pa tayo.
- Clarify: Does it mean we must be in church everyday?
- Whole written Word of God to be read anytime (unlike the early church)
- Online resources
- Conferences (Nov. 1 Conference)
- Weekly Bible Studies
- CONCLUDING POINT: We all need to grow, and the primary means God uses to bring about our salvation and growth in salvation is his Word. Just as an infant couldn’t live a day without milk, we too cannot live without regular intake of God’s Word.
So let us make most of the opportunities that God gives us to feed upon his Word.
[TRANSITION]: Now, we must be careful, however, that we do not approach and receive the Word of God the wrong way. CLARIFY: Longing not just for knowledge, but for spiritual growth…
SERMON POINT 2: The Word of God is for our Spiritual Nourishment
*Not to repeat the same things mentioned in previous sermons (i.e., Christianity is not just knowledge, but holiness and love for one another). But will elaborate on it.
TEXT: v. 2b “… long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”
- “into salvation” — Not “grow up in order to gain salvation,” but “grow up in respect to salvation [which you received].” Referring to sanctification, the progress in one’s converted life until the end.
- This is the purpose of the spiritual milk, the Word of God. Not just for our knowledge, but for our nourishment and growth
- ILLUSTRATION: Even milk is not simply to ease the hunger of a baby, but to give satisfaction and nourishment. And so the mother must also be healthy to provide pure milk.
- RELATE: Joel Beeke’s book, Reformed Preaching, preface — “Well instructed, but poorly nourished.”
- CLARIFY: Impossible to be well-nourished without being well-instructed. (Example: Junk food cannot nourish)
- But possible to be well-instructed but still not nourished. (Example: Puro gulay lang. It must be a complete meal)
- How can we be well-instructed by the Word but still not well-nourished?
- When we approach the Bible as simply a book of abstract and scholastic doctrines
- When we listen to the Word only for knowledge without experiencing it in our lives
- When we know what is true and right about God, ourselves, and salvation—but we are not moved by it in our hearts and lives.
- EXPLAIN: Friends, true faith is experiential
- Cf. v. 3 — if you have “tasted” that the Lord is good. Not if you have “known” that the Lord is good. Clear experience as if by the senses
- Saving faith through the Word of God must progress and be experienced for it to be real. (i.e., para masabi natin na totoo ‘to)
- CLARIFY: Experience alone does not equate to salvation (Ex: Grief and discouragement. Though we have doubts, we are saved not by experience/feelings but by faith).
At the same time, experience must be consistent with the Bible in order to be a valid Christian experience.
- POINT: But although we are not saved by experience, the salvation that God gives to us through faith in Christ is something meant to be experienced in our whole person.
- EXAMPLE (READ): Acts 2:37
***Many possible implications/application but focused on preaching
- IMPLY: Major implication for us ministers (and future ones). (For congregation: This is how we should look for men who will fill our pulpits)
- The goal of preaching is not just instruction, but nourishment… with the goal that we all grow in our faith and walk before God.
- Colossians 1:28 — “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
- Sometimes, it’s easy to reason with the mind, but it’s hard to appeal to your heart and will of our hearers to submit and apply God’s Word
- EXAMPLE: Bryan Chapell: “So what?…” “Now what?…”
- EXAMPLE: John Calvin sermons / Institutes, application consumes more time than exposition
- Though we study God’s Word in its original context, we preach it to us believers today. It is one thing to speaks the truth of God. Yet harder to apply it to our individual lives today as parents, children, etc.
- APPLY: So pray for us ministers and future ministers. That we do not only instruct you but nourish you with the Word of God. Which means that we ourselves should personally experience God’s grace and spiritual growth in our lives.
- APPLY: Likewise, let us pray for ourselves, that we will come to the Word profitably. Not just knowing it, but applying it and growing in it.
- John Calvin: “We do not come to the preaching merely to hear what we do not know (new/impressive), but to be incited to do our duty.”
- Pray that every Lord’s Day, we don’t leave this church unchanged, forgetting everything we just heard.
- Rather, pray that as we hear the Word of God, we will go out to the world with increased strength to say “no” to sin under temptations. That we will grow more in trusting God in times of trials.
- … That God will convict the sinners. That God will break the proud. That God will warm the cold heart. That God will strengthen the weak. Refresh the broken-hearted. And comfort those who grieve.
[TRANSITION]: We will get back to how we should listen to the Word profitably. But let us ask the question, “Why we should pray for these things?”
Because at the end of the day, it is God who gives us both the desire for his Word and the growth that comes from it.
SERMON POINT 3: We desire his Word because the Lord is good
TEXT: v. 3 — “Long for the Word that by it you may grow up… if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (Or “now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
- Many commentators believe that Peter took this statement from Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the LORD is good!”
- This is because in 1 Peter 3:10-12, Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-16 (*no time to look at it. But just for reference.)
- It is possible that Peter was meditating on Psalm 34 while writing to these believers.
- For context, Psalm 34 is David’s song of thanksgiving when he fled from the king of Gath in 1 Samuel 21.
- Fleeing from King Saul, David fled to Gath (land of the Philistines). But the king and his servants recognized that David is the one who killed thousands of Philistines. Because of that, David must be a threat and they could kill him. He was much afraid (1 Sam. 21:12). So David played to be a mad man (baliw) and he was thrown away (pinalayas).
- And Psalm 34 speaks of David’s thanksgiving for the deliverance and relief from God.
- Likewise, Peter was writing to believers who were under the threat of persecution and trouble. But he reminds them that they already tasted the goodness of God in their salvation.
- So Peter’s logic is straightforward: “Crave for spiritual milk since you [already] tasted that the Lord is good.”
- IMPLY: No matter how much I tell you to crave for the Word, you never will unless you first tasted the grace and goodness of God.
- The desire and understanding of God’s Word is not natural to us human beings. (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). It is the evidence of the Spirit’s regenerating and converting work in us.
- We will never desire unless we understand and experience:
- Deliverance from our sins and curse of sin through the death of Christ
- Relief in forgiveness of our sins and justification
- Increasing victory over our sins and struggles.
- APPLY: Unbelievers/covenant children, perhaps you haven’t experienced his goodness yet…
- Still go to the Word of God, because it is the only means that you will know God and his grace.
- Isaiah 55:6 — “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.”
- Jeremiah 29:13 (to Israel) — “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
- He promised that those who come to Christ in faith will find salvation.
- PRAYER: As you hear the Word, “Lord, change me and I shall be changed.”
- Believers, there are still times when we don’t crave for God’s Word (because of sin, weaknesses). But God continues to bring us to his Word.
- And precisely because we experienced his salvation, God urges us to crave for more so that we will grow and press on in this life full of tears and trials.
- EXAMPLE: Myself very tired this past week, and tempted by various sins and worries. Thinking, “Nood kaya muna ng movie to rest my mind.” But was reminded the real rest and comfort, and even strength against temptation is found in God through his Word.
FINAL EXHORTATION AND APPLICATION
Many ways we feed on God’s Word, but let me apply this on the primary means of grace we receive every Lord’s Day—which is the preaching (sermon)
- Let us take heed the warning of Paul in (READ) 2 Timothy 4:3-4
- May we not grow weary of hearing pure proclamation of God’s truth
- Let us keep longing for preachers who are never ashamed of pointing our sinfulness and hopelessness and leading us to the perfect righteousness of Christ and the glorious grace of God. Who will teach us the whole counsel of God that we may know how to live not for ourselves but for the glory of God.
- Let us crave for the pure spiritual milk. How then should we listen to sermons profitably? How should we make most of the sermon?
- Prepare (hindi puyat, pray)
- Listen attentively (no work, note-taking)
- Reflect on it (even during sermon, pray for the things that convict you)
- Converse with others (Prayer Meeting, Example: Me & Yeng on Mondays)
- Apply / Obey
- Expect God’s blessing (cf. Isaiah 55:10-11).
Because we received God’s goodness and he promised to bless his Word, may we continually crave for it for our spiritual nourishment—that we may grow in our salvation, out of gratitude to God, and for his glory.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.