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From the editor: "Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Pet 1.16)

J Grant

It is a trite statement to declare that the Word of God is a unique book. No reader can fail to see the beauty and balance of the text. The sixty-six books are without inconsistencies, no matter how many years, indeed centuries, separated the writers.

The structure of the text can teach us much. Take, for example, the writings of the Apostle Peter. The letter was written mainly to Jews who had been scattered abroad to different areas. One way of looking at this epistle is to view it as being in four sections, each one of which answers to steps in Israel’s history. The first, 1.3-12, sets out God-given promises. Look at vv.4-5 - just as promises were given in Genesis to Abraham and the Patriarchs so they are given to believers today. The second, 1.13-25, brings the reader to the Passover which is centred on the "lamb without blemish" in v.19. The Passover marked the beginning of Israel’s release from bondage. The third, 2.1-10, reminds us that as Israel had a priesthood following their departure from Egypt, so the readers are described as "an holy priesthood" (2.5) and "a royal priesthood" (2.9). The fourth, 2.11-5.11, tells the readers of the enemies they face, those "which war against the soul" (2.11), just as Israel had to stand against the enemy in the wilderness.

One of the features that is emphasised by Peter is the need for holiness. This is found in five verses (1.15,16; 2.5; 2.9; 3.5). He who has called us is holy (1.15), therefore we ought to strive to be holy. Four reasons to encourage us are clearly in the text. From v.15 the apostle impresses on the reader that holiness is part of the change that salvation brings. What then has he to say?

First, holiness has to be our goal because of revelation. "Be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy" (vv.15-16). The authority of Scripture is brought to bear; what the Lord desires for us is revealed and must also be our objective.

Second, holiness must become our goal because of relationship. Peter emphasises this as he writes, "if ye call on the Father" (v.17). If we claim that relationship we must bear likeness to our Father, who is holy.

Third, holiness must be our goal because of redemption. "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…But with the precious blood of Christ" (vv.18-19). Before salvation we were slaves of sin, but now we have been redeemed. The redemption price has been paid at Calvary and at salvation we became free from the slavery of sin.

Fourth, holiness must be our goal because of regeneration. We have been "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible" (v.23). How glorious is the statement. "Born again" speaks of a new birth, a new person. The seed that made this possible was "the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (v.23).

But life must be marked by growth, and this the apostle does not ignore. The opening verses of ch.2 set out the need for us to enjoy the "sincere milk of the word", that which will give growth to those who have been born again. A newly born babe desires to have milk, therefore not only the newly born again Christian, but all Christians, must have a need and a desire to be fed from Scripture. But how is this "milk" to be taken? Three features can be observed in the newly born.

We must feed intuitively. Babes have a hunger for milk without being told that they must drink it. Christians will know that the Word of God is the vital source of their supply, and by it they will be strengthened and enjoy increasing maturity.

We must feed voraciously. Nothing and no one keeps the babe back from the milk. So it ought to be with believers. Without that "diet" growth will be absent.

We must feed beneficially. The milk is the source of great benefit without which there cannot be maturity.

The intention of Peter, however, is that Christians will always have this desire and thirst for the Word of God. They will not always be spiritual babes, but will continue with the same thirst and satisfaction.

What choice advice Peter has given us!


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