Do you hunger and thirst for the Word of God? Do you long for things spiritual? The apostle Peter points out that, for the child of God born again by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever, it is necessary that the new life within us be nourished and fed. Therefore, the Word of God exhorts the church in I Peter 2:2 that, “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” This is not a popular exhortation in our day. The Word of God becomes more and more something secondary in the “sphere of the church.” And yet, according to Scripture, there is nothing more essential to the life of God’s children.
The apostle uses the figurative expression, “the sincere milk of the Word,” to refer to the preaching of the gospel of Christ. This is evident from the connection of this text with the context, specifically the twenty-fifth verse of chapter one. Peter calls the preaching “wordy” milk. The apostle, in using this figure, does not have in mind the distinction that the apostle Paul used when he made a comparison between the “milk” and the “meat” of the Word. But rather, this Scripture speaks of the preaching as the perfect food for the elect, regenerated child of God. It is essential to their very life and well-being, and is perfectly adapted for this purpose.
The reason that the apostle is able to picture the preaching of the gospel of Christ as the perfect and essential food for the church is the fact that the Word preached is the Word of Christ! It is the Word which Christ expounds to nourish and build up His Body. This is evident when we consider the gospel of Christ in the inspired Word of Paul, as recorded in Romans 10:13-15, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him (of) whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” The point of this passage that is important for us with respect to our topic is that, though it is through the agency or means of a man, Christthrough His chosen and ordained ambassadors preaches to His flock. And when He calls them, they hear and follow Him. The true preaching of Christ is essential to the faith of His children. Truly the preaching of Christ is “milk” for the soul of the child of God.
Further, the preaching of the Word of Christ to His Body is “milk” because Christ Himself is expounded unto the church as the content of the preaching. The Heidelberg Catechism asks the question: “What is thy only comfort in life and death?” To this question the Christian responds: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful savior Jesus Christ.” The child of God who is lost in himself, dead in sins and trespasses, has an absolute need of the testimony of Christ that He has fully satisfied for all of his sins. The believer, who knows himself incapable of any good, needs to hear the testimony that the God of all grace through Christ and by His Spirit delivers from darkness, from the depth of the miry clay of sin, to lead us into His eternal fellowship, love; and covenant communion. And from day to day the true believer needs the gracious and efficacious exhortation and instruction of the Lord to be sustained in the battle of faith, as a pilgrim and stranger in the midst of the world. The preaching of the gospel of Christ is the milk for our souls! That milk we must and we do desire as the seed of the covenant!
By using the “Homey” figure of milk, the apostle emphasizes the importance and the essential character of the pure preaching of the Word for the strangers and pilgrims, elect, redeemed in Christ. Milk is essential to the life of a baby. The milk of the mother is wholly able to sustain an infant’s life. And as the infant drinks in the milk he grows and is strengthened and develops in his new life. The preaching of the gospel of Christ is likewise food to God’s people which nourishes the child of God, causing him to grow in grace and knowledge. And the pure proclamation of the gospel is just as essential (even more so) to his new life in Christ, as the milk is to the infant. For it is alone under the preaching of the Word of Truth that the believer grows in faith to be strong, holding fast to the hope unto which they are begotten.
Unto this end it is important that the milk be “sincere.” Sincere milk is unadulterated milk. Milk, if it is to nourish and strengthen, must be pure. If it has poison in it, the infant nursing shall die. But also if that milk be diluted—watered down—it will not sustain health and strength. The result will be the same, the child becomes weak, frail, and finally dies. Even so must the children of God have preaching that is pure, if they shall be built up and sustained in faith. If the preacher brings in his preaching that which is contrary to the Scriptures, he poisons the congregation! It is no less than this. And be mindful that all which is not founded in the Scriptures is the word of man, and is deadly! And we may not say, “We hear mostly truth.” It only takes a bit of arsenic to kill! God’s church needs nothing less than the true and pure gospel proclaimed from Sabbath to Sabbath and from house to house.
But also detrimental, and most often destructive to the flock of Christ, is watered down preaching. Just as it is true of the infant, preaching with little content will not feed and nourish the soul. The congregation has the right to expect and ought to receive the truth in all its fulness. The preaching must be distinctive, fully expounding the Scriptures. Anything less is diluted milk and weakens, eventually leading to the demise of a local manifestation of the Body of Christ. The full doctrine of Christ, of salvation by grace, of sin, of judgment, is milk that strengthens and nourishes unto life eternal.
Do you desire such preaching of the Word? God’s children do, just as much as the infant desires milk from his mother’s breast. The infant has an insatiable desire for milk. It is almost his only desire; he craves milk and literally howls until he gets it. The baby cannot get to the nipple fast enough, swinging his little head back and forth until he finds his mother’s breast. Then he gulps down the milk till he be satisfied. And that lasts but a short while and he cries for more. But each day he grows, is nourished, and strengthened, and lives.
God’s people are new-born babes, “begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Thus we are become the opposite of what we were. We were dead in sin, but now are alive in Christ. We were alienated from God by our transgressions, but now in Christ’s blood we are made worthy heirs of the everlasting fellowship of God. We were in darkness, but are now called into the marvelous light of God. Principally, by grace, the child of God is made a new creature in Christ! Yet we are always babes. Even the aged saint is a babe in this life, for in this life we have but the beginning of new obedience. Always the old man of sin is present, so that we have a battle to fight—the battle of faith. Thus we need the “wordy” milk. And we ought to desire it even as the baby the milk of his mother. Surely God’s children do! It is the spontaneous longing of the new man begotten unto a lively hope through regeneration and called by the Word and Spirit.
But often this desire is not on the foreground in the lives of the people of God. And this is because of our sin. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life do not desire the pure preaching of the Word. For the Word proclaimed is deadly to our old life of sin. The old man, in us, violently opposes that preaching. For our sins deaden the spiritual taste buds for the sincere milk of the Word.
This becomes evident when we do not take on the appearance of thirsty babes when attending the worship services. Often our appearance becomes the very opposite. Because of the lack of preparation on Saturday evening our eyes become heavy, and while the very Word of Life is proclaimed it falls upon heavy ears that do not hear. Or many times one’s thoughts are so filled with secular things and thoughts that he finds it impossible to concentrate upon the Bread of Life being broken. And how many times do we not become so filled with pride and covetousness that it becomes impossible to worship God with the brethren and sisters of the congregation. And how many are there who, when going to church, know that the “milk” they receive is diluted to the point that it no longer can feed, yet have not the spiritual hungering and thirsting of babes to seek out the pure sincere milk of the Word? Often, rather than living for the Sabbath Day with hungering to be fed by Christ, we so fill our weeks with activity, pleasures, and business that we do not have time to digest the Word of God. The last thought of the sermon preached by the minister on Sunday was when he said, “Amen.” Indeed, we have but the principle of new life!
Therefore, the Scripture admonishes the church to desire the sincere milk of the Word. It requires conscious activity. We have a calling by grace to cultivate an appetite for the true preaching of the Word. This means, that as God’s children we must root out the desires of the old man of sin. It is our calling to flee our natural inclinations and put all sin away.
As Christ applies by His Spirit this Word to His Body, they fall down to their knees before God in prayer. It is the prayer for grace to see their sins. It is the prayer that they may learn to see how they deaden all desire for the Word. It is the prayer for grace to be filled with godly sorrow for that sin, and a prayer for grace to repent. The believer prays that, for Christ’s sake and on the basis of His precious atonement, he may be forgiven, and given grace to flee from all sin. And positively it is a prayer for the sanctifying work of the Spirit of Christ in our hearts that we might be prepared to receive the sincere milk of the: Word as babes. Such prayer on the part of God’s true children shall always be accompanied by a turning from sin, and a thirsting after the only “milk” that strengthens and gives life.
This is the promise of God! Those by grace desiring the sincere milk of the Word shall grow in truth and grace. The more we taste the preciousness of the Word of Christ the more we shall desire it. And tasting that “milk” we taste that the Lord is gracious. Nothing is more precious to the elect sinner. Christ, and Him crucified, is food for the soul of the penitent sinner. It alone satisfies! May we desire that Word unto eternal life.