Posted: 23 Nov 2010 11:00 PM PST
ONE OF THE GREAT PRETENSIONS OF human existence is that this mortal life lasts forever. Though young people theoretically know there is an end to each human life, they act as if death will never catch them. Decades later, they know better, but even then most act as if their families will inevitably continue, or at least their culture or their nation will survive.
The most farsighted know it is not so. Individuals die; so do family connections. For all but those most committed to genealogical archaeology, we do not know much about our past families beyond three or four generations back—and we ourselves will not be remembered a few generations hence. Mighty empires fall. They are partitioned, sink into vassal status as third-rate or fourth-rate powers, or dissolve into oblivion. We may have an immortal destiny, but nothing restrictively bound up with this life is secure, nothing is changeless, nothing endures. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall" (1 Peter 1:24).
Yet there is one more line in this quotation from Isaiah 40:6–8: "but the word of the Lord stands forever" (1 Peter 1:25). It follows, then, that human beings who hunger for the transcendent cannot do better than align themselves with God's unchanging and enduring word. And there are several hints in this chapter as to what that means in practical terms.
(1) "And this is the word that was preached to you" (1 Pet. 1:25): the very Gospel that was declared to Peter's readers is the word of the Lord that stands forever. Adherence to the Gospel is adherence to that which endures forever. The same cannot be said of adherence to a political system or an economic theory or professional advancement.
(2) More precisely, Christians have been "born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23). That which has transformed us and granted us new life from God himself has not been physical impregnation, but spiritual new birth, brought about by the enduring word of God.
(3) The word mediated through prophets before Jesus looked forward to the revelation that came exclusively with him (1 Pet. 1:10–12). That means it was all one: this was always the plan, however much those Old Testament prophets had or had not grasped of it.
(4) The "new birth" (1 Pet. 1:3) that we have experienced by the action of the enduring word of God introduces us to "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power" (1 Pet. 1:4–5).
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