Serious Love from a Pure Heart

// January 5th, 2020 // Sermons

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series 1 Peter Series

This is Sermon #8 in the series from 1 Peter… You can listen online or download it and listen later…Serious Love from a Pure Heart

Hope in a World that is not our Home!  Since it has been 6 weeks since we were last in 1 Peter, I thought it might be helpful if we do a bit of a recap.

We need to keep in mind that Peter is writing to believers scattered throughout Asia Minor, who are being persecuted for their faith.  The first chapter of I Peter contains two parts.  V. 3-12 describe the blessings of salvation that remain secure in spite of fiery trails his readers were going through.  In light of the fact of the blessings of salvation, starting in v. 13 Peter tells us three ways we should respond.

  1. 13-16 – Be holy
  2. 17-21 – Fear God
  3. 22-25 – Love one another deeply

Today we’re looking at command #3.  You have to know that when it comes to the Bible, there is one theme that is virtually impossible to miss –The theme of love.   Scripture is quite clear that Christians are to love each other.  The main point:  True Christians love each other.

The story is told of a husband and wife who struggled with loving each other because they would always fight over money. The man didn’t like to work but buy liked to buy lottery tickets, hoping for the big break.  The wife wanted money to be able to live at the standard she desired.  Out of frustration, she divorced him.  Surprisingly, a couple of weeks later, after he had won the lottery, she wrote a letter to her husband.

“Dearest Donald, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our marriage. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Maria… P.S., And congratulations on winning the lottery.”  We live in a world where money determines love.

How is your love for the people around you?  We all are comfortable with some individuals and uncomfortable with others.  Some feel that loving preferred ones and ignoring the difficult ones is good enough?

Three questions came to my mind that might have also been in the minds of his 1 Century readers.  These questions will form our outline:

  1.       What is a Christian? – v. 22

Peter has already dealt with this:

  1.    Christian have been ransomed and purified

They had been ransomed from their sin by the costly, valuable, blood of Jesus.  So, a Christian is one whose life has been cleansed by the blood of Christ.  Cleansed from what, some may ask?  Cleansed from Sin.

The very soul of the Christian has been washed clean.  Sin no longer has control of the believer’s life unless we surrender our lives to sin.  And further, the believer does not have to live under the heavy load of a guilty conscience.  By the blood of Jesus, we have been purified.  We are spiritually clean.

We don’t need New Year’s Resolutions to “clean up our lives– we have been purified by the precious blood of Jesus.  The 2nd thing Peter says…

  1.    Christians obey the truth

What truth?

  • The truth about Jesus – who He is, what He accomplished and more.
  • The truth about the gospel – that if we receive the good news that Jesus Christ has paid the ransom for our sins, believe He is the only way to have our sins forgiven and the only means of receiving eternal life, then we are saved.
  • The truth that Christianity – it is not a works salvation.  Tim Keller, in his book, The Prodigal God wrote – “Religion operates on the principle of ‘I obey – therefore I am accepted by God.’ The basic operating principle of the gospel is ‘I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ – therefore I obey.'”

Are you living as one who has been purified?  Are you living in obedience to truth?  Are you a Christian?  The 2nd question…

  1.    What Does a Christian Do? – v. 22
  2. 22, in the Message, reads, “Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it.” A true Christian loves other Christians. 
  3.    Love is a true believer’s natural bent

The ESV uses “sincere brotherly love” – the word used in the original is the word philadelphia – in the NT it is most often in conjunction with the word adelphos meaning, “brother or brethren.”  The original meaning of adelphos is “one born from the same womb.”

The love that brothers and sisters in Christ are to have for one another is based on our common bond in Christ.  We are all born-again based on our relationship with Christ.

Everyone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is my brother or my sister because we are all “born from the same womb.”  That’s why Peter speaks of being “born again” by the imperishable seed of the Word of God (v. 23).  Everyone who belongs to Jesus belongs to me and I belong to them.

As Christians, we share the same Savior, we share the same eternal future, and similar blessings in Christ, and we share a family relationship – we are brothers and sisters in Christ’s body!  They feel like family, and you may even feel closer to some of these people than you do some of your actual relatives.

This family connection came the moment you underwent spiritual purification.  At the time when you believed, you were saved and you were added to the family of God.

And so, you might wonder, if this is the case, why does Peter say, v. 22 – “see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently?

Peter is talking about two different kinds of love.  The first kind (brotherly love) comes naturally when we are saved.  But the second love comes by choice.

  1.    Choosing to Love

The ESV reads, “Love each other deeply with all your heart” – the word for love here is agapao.  This is an active love that does not come naturally.  It sacrifices itself for another – Christ being the supreme example of this kind of love.  It’s a choice that is not based on emotions and doesn’t need a response from the one it loves.

Norman Wright wrote – “Agape is self-giving love, gift love, the love that goes on loving even when the other becomes unlovable.  Agape love is not something that happens to you; it’s something you make happen...”

Peter says it is with this love that we are to love each other.  You see, it’s normal and good for a person to have brotherly love for his fellow Christian.  But we are to move on to Agape love.  This Agape love has 2 characteristics:

  • Purity – meaning that it is genuine and selfless. And,
  • Fervently – means to exert a lot of effort.  Fervent Agape love is hard work. 

“It was about 1490 AD when two young friends, Albrecht Durer and Franz Knigstein, were struggling young artists.  Since both were poor, they worked to support themselves while they studied art.

Work took so much of their time and advancement was slow.  Finally, they reached an agreement:  They would draw lots, and one of them would work to support both of them while the other would study art.  Albrecht won and began to study, while Franz worked at hard labor to support them.  They agreed that when Albrecht was successful he would support Franz who would then study art.

As the world now knows, Albrecht was not only talented but a genius.  When he had attained success, he went back to keep his bargain with Franz.  But he soon discovered the enormous price his friend had paid.  As Franz worked at hard manual labor to support his friend, his fingers had become stiff and twisted. . . He could no longer execute the delicate brush strokes necessary for fine painting.  Though his artistic dreams could never be realized he was not embittered but rather rejoiced in his friend’s success.

One day Albrecht came upon his friend unexpectedly and found him kneeling with his gnarled hands intertwined in prayer, quietly praying for the success of his friend although he himself could no longer be an artist.  Albrecht Durer hurriedly sketched the folded hands of his faithful friend and later completed a truly great masterpiece known as The Praying Hands.”  Then, question #3…

III.  What Motivates the Christian? – v. 23-25

Peter offers two qualifiers that help us understand what brotherly love means in the family of God.  First, our love should be sincere.  The word literally means “without hypocrisy.”  Love doesn’t wear a mask or put on airs.  It doesn’t pretend to be something it is not.

Second, our love should go the distance.  The word translated “deeply” occurs only here in the NT.  Outside of the NT, the word was used for galloping horses.  The word has the idea of love that lasts and lasts and lasts.  It is like God’s mercy that endures forever.

Peter adds two conditions for this brotherly love—our part and God’s part.  Our part is “obeying the truth” (v. 22), which is really a synonym for faith.  God’s part is to cause us to be born again by the “seed” of the Word of God (v. 23).  Peter tells us that the Word of God is “living and abiding…remaining forever”.  V. 24-25 are a quote from Is. 40:6, 8.

Actually, there are two “seeds” – there is the perishable seed that produces perishable human life – listen to v. 24 – “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.”  We are born to die. This is our inescapable destiny.

In contrast there is the imperishable seed of God’s Word.  When that seed takes root in us, it reproduces itself in us.  This is incredibly powerful if you think about it.  The imperishable Word of God that produces new life in us also produces in us an imperishable love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. It produces true brotherly love that is sincere and not hypocritical, that goes the distance even with difficult-to-love people and flows from us as the result of God’s imperishable Word planted in us.

It’s like this:  When we were “born again” we were spiritually re-born.  This new birth was brought about by a seed.  An incorruptible seed – one that will never die.  Because, as believers, we have been given new life by a seed that will never die, it follows that the believer will never have to face spiritual death.

So what’s the point?  Where’s the motivation?  How does our love for each other and the fact that we have been given eternal life by the eternal seed (Word of God) relate to each other?

Bible teacher, Wayne Grudem wrote:  “…Peter is stressing the eternal nature of the fellowship which his readers have come to share- ‘Love one another (vs. 22), for you have all been born anew into a fellowship of God’s people which will last eternally.’ ”

As you look around the room, or think of Christian brothers and sisters that you have known over the years…each one has been given eternal life by the eternal Word of God, and so, you have entered into an eternal bond with each one of them.

This bond is based upon the Word of God which is eternal.  It will never end.  We can’t get away from each other.  You can’t get away from the fact that we are linked to one another.  It will be evident throughout all eternity.  You might as well love me here, because we’re going to spend eternity together!

And further, since we have this eternal bond with one another, we must choose to love each other.  And what has made the difference?  Listen to the last phrase of v. 25:  “And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

No doubt you are thinking, what “word” is that?  Peter is talking about the gospel of God’s free grace, the good news that God forgives sinners on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by faith alone apart from human works.

As we journey from this dying world to the eternal world, God has called His church to be a community of undying love.  In the middle of all the noise, clamor, accusation, bloodshed, warfare and hatred, we are to show the world a better way; the way of brotherly love that is sincere, deep and willing to go the distance.

This is something we can only do because our hope is in the Lord alone.  The world pulls at us, attempts to seduce us, and promises us all kinds of reward.  But, swimming upstream against all the world offers us, we are called to…

  • Renounce worldly glory.
  • Forgive those who sin against us.
  • Return good for evil.
  • Bless those who persecute us.
  • Turn the other cheek.
  • Love our enemies.
  • Bear one another’s burdens.
  • Preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.
  • Refuse to seek revenge.
  • Surrender ourselves to those who can never repay us.
  • Reach out to the lowest of the low.
  • Stand up for those without a voice.
  • Befriend the fatherless and the widows.
  • Go the second mile.
  • Refuse to retaliate.
  • And, accept rebuke without complaining.

By the way, it’s not easy to live that way.  Without God, it is impossible. Unless you hope in God, you will never live that kind of countercultural life.

So how does God teach us to love?  By surrounding us with unlovely people.  There is no other way to learn to love.  If you only hang around nice, sweet, fun people, you’ll never learn to love.  That’s why God has some of you in marriages to some very difficult people.  That’s why you’re working around some people you don’t particularly like.  You can only learn to love by being around hard-to-love people. And God is the one who arranged it.

Marriage is not about your happiness or your sexual fulfillment or all of your needs being met.  Your marriage is about God.

True brotherly love isn’t about you or your friends or your family.  It’s not about the people you like or don’t like.  It’s all about God.  Until you grasp that and come to believe and rest on it, you’ll never have the sort of brotherly love that really goes the distance.

And so with God’s help, we will never stop loving, we will never stop believing, we will never stop serving, and we will never stop standing for the truth.  Because it’s not about us…it’s all about God.

This morning we will again celebrate what v. 18-22 in our text is speaking about – the fact that we were ransomed to become believers, purified, born-again, and brought into the body of Christ, knowing that our sins are forgiven, our guilt is removed, our hope is secure, and our eternity is certain…all by the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus.

We want to remember what He did for us, by eating a small piece of unleavened (symbolizing that Jesus was and is, sinless) bread, and by drinking juice from a cup.  The elements of the Lord’s Supper are to help us remember, to visualize.  Jesus gave His body to be put to death, and His blood to be shed, so that our sins could be forgiven by believing on Him.

We serve an Open Communion – meaning that if you are a born-again follower of Jesus, you are welcomed and encouraged to share in this meal of remembrance, together with the rest of the body here.

If you are not a true Christian or if you are not sure, we would ask that you simply pass the trays along when they come down you row.  And, if you are currently not a believer, I would love to meet with you to help you become a follower of Jesus.

Because we may not have taken the time to prepare ourselves for this, I always like to give us an opportunity to quietly talk to God, right where you are.  If you have sin that you have not confessed to Him, confess it now and He will wash you clean.  If your motives or your feelings about someone are not what they should be, confess that and ask Jesus to make you whole again.

Let’s quietly talk to Him…

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