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The Believer and the Bible (8): Food to Develop God’s Children

G Hutchinson, Belfast

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Mt 5.6)

Christians have a responsibility to grow (1 Pet 2.2; 2 Pet 3.18) and the Scriptures provide a staple, varied and full diet. In 1 Pet 1.22 — 2.3, consider how this growth can be nurtured.


Christians are a target for attack (1 Pet 5.8) and it is therefore important for us to work together in mutual support. In our primary passage, Peter outlines some important principles on Christian love:

Foundation: Far from being empty or sentimental, Christian love is founded on "truth" (receiving the gospel as taught in Scripture - 1.22). Part and parcel of the Christian diet is the combination of love and truth (1 Cor 13.6).

Features: The standards for Christian love are high (1.22) – it must be genuine rather than pretend, stemming from a clean heart and marked by fervency.

Focus: Peter speaks of "love of the brethren" (see also 3.8). Top of our daily "to do" list must be love for fellow believers which, in itself, promotes individual and corporate growth.

Flows: The references to "divine love" in the epistle are worth a study (1.8; 1.22; 2.17; 3.10). The order in the first chapter is important: love for the Saviour is our first priority, but it should then flow out to one another. Note the "one another" ministry of the epistle (1.22; 4.9; 5.5; 5.14).


Peter asks his readers to reflect on their salvation (1.23 – having been "born again"). Remembering "what I am" should influence "what I do" (activity) and also "what I want" (ambition).

Birth: Salvation is both a second birth ("again" — 1.3) and spiritual birth ("from above" — Jn 3.3). To produce Christian fruit (loving fellow believers), Peter considers the root — the new birth which gives us a supernatural capacity to love (Rom 5.5).

Bible: Instrumental to the believer’s salvation and development is the Word of God (1.23-25a). The passage reminds us that the Scriptures are vital for growth (just as seed is to plants) and incorruptible — presenting absolute truth (a key attribute of God, 1.4; 1.18-19). They also have a divine origin (1.23) and are therefore immutable (impossible to change) and durable (unlike the grass and flowers of the field - Is 40.6-8).

Blessing: The Bible contains the "gospel"; that which the believer has received (1.25b) and which the angelic servants desire to comprehend (1.12).


As with any diet, the believer needs to refrain from certain things (2.1) and work to satisfy their appetite with the Scriptures and the Saviour (2.2-3). In this section, consider the

Terminology: We are exhorted to "lay aside" those things that are inconsistent with our new nature. It is worthwhile reading some of the other verses in the New Testament where similar phrases are found (Rom 13.12; Eph 4.22,25; Col 3.8; Heb 12.1; James 1.21). "Peter’s words picture someone flinging off a badly stained or infected garment" (D E Hiebert, 1 Peter, Moody, 1992).

Types: The list may be brief but the implications are widespread. We are to remove the following: "malice" (general New Testament word for depravity, cp. 2.16); "guile" (deceit, cp. 2.22); "hypocrisy" (duplicity, cp. Mt 23.28); "envies" (discontentment) and "evil speaking" (defamation; the word is rendered as "backbiting" in 2 Cor 12.20).

Teaching: It should be noted that the particular issues to "lay aside" relate to the areas of attitude and speech. If we allow these vices to take hold then we fail to nurture spiritual growth and it will become evident to others.


Far from being empty, believers are to fill themselves with the Word of God.

Description: Peter having just spoken on the "new birth" (1.23), it is unsurprising that the believer is then likened to a "newborn babe" (2.2). This is a vivid reminder to feed on that which develops spiritual health and energy — the Word of God.

Diet: The "milk" is further described as "sincere" (pure) and "spiritual" (see NIV rendering). As a child of God I must feed on the Word of God. A systematic and regular reading of the Bible will ensure that the diet is educational, varied and stimulating (cp. Job 23.12; Ps 119.103; Jer 15.16).

Duty: The extent to which we feed on the Word is a useful barometer to assess our spiritual health. Peter states that we are to "desire" (or long for, cp. Rom 1.11) the teachings of Scripture.

Determination: Peter’s ministry echoes the sentiment: "Once bitten, forever smitten"! He states that having tasted (literally experienced) the goodness of Christ (cp. Ps 34.8) we will long for more! How strong is our appetite for Christ? How often do we return for more?

Development: Although the context (and tone) is different, it is worth reading in parallel 1 Cor 3.1-2; Heb 5.11-14. In summary, the staple diet of the believer is the Word of God and it is all that we need for spiritual progress.


In avoiding sin (outlined in 2.1) and feeding on the Scriptures and the Saviour (2.2-3), the believer is sure to grow in grace. This growth will be:

Virtuous: Peter states that we are to "grow up in [our] salvation" (2.2, NIV). The reading of Scripture is a virtuous circle for it develops our knowledge of salvation and the blessings we have in Christ – and that will inevitably impact on others.

Continuous: Christian growth does not happen overnight! As the Apostle Peter himself would testify, there are inevitable ups and downs, but we need to keep going in our reading and study of the Word.

Obvious: Others will be able to observe the growth, detecting those who spend time with God and His Word (Acts 4.13).

To be continued.


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