The reader should diligently keep in mind that the apostle is here addressing the living church of God. He is not addressing potential candidates for heaven and hell, confronting them with “two ways”. But he is admonishing the living church to work out her salvation with fear and trembling since it is God that worketh in her both to will and to do of His good-pleasure! The sacred writer stirs up the living church to walk in the faith and daily, progressive conversion!

The only motive for such a life of conversion is the living hope upon the day of Christ Jesus. We must not say that the more we keep God’s commandments the more we shall hope. Our hoping does not come forth out of keeping the commandments, but our keeping the commandments comes forth out of our hoping. For the Scriptures say not vainly: “And everyone that hath this hope upon him (of seeing God) purifieth himself as He is pure.” Only thus conceived of will we walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and not become entangled in a yoke of bondage! Gal. 5:1; I John 3:3.

Such is also the clear teaching of Peter here in this chapter as we have repeatedly pointed out to you in these essays.

According to Peter hopeful living is holy living. Rom­anism would change this about. Jesus warned against this evil tendency of our proud human nature when he said to His disciples: beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. It is true the disciples were slow to see the import of the warning of our Lord, but Peter really learned this lesson later. May we not be slow to heed this warning of our Savior as this comes to us in very page of the sacred gospel of good things. Standing in this liberty our hearts shall not be troubled, tempest tossed with doubts and fears. Let us stand on the rock and see that sanctification follows from a living hope. He that readeth let him understand.

This hopeful living is the only motive of daily conversion, which is heartfelt and true sorrow for our sins, and true joy in God through Jesus Christ, and more and more with the delight of hope to live for God.

In this hopeful living there are two considerations that constantly spur us on to a full-orbed life of dying unto sin and living unto God. They are the health affording words of what God has done for us and in us in His wonderful work of grace in Christ Jesus.

In the verses 18-21 the Apostle brings forward the salient point of the gospel what God has done for us in Christ so that our faith and hope might be in God. That is a great incentive to a life of daily conversion. Appropriating this great truth by faith we are filled with the almighty power of God that spurs us on to being holy as He is holy. We see that we are to walk in “our part” by virtue of what God has done for us in Christ in His “part”. The new and everlasting foundation of the Testament is once and, for all layed for us. The law is fulfilled. We have been perfectly and completely redeemed by Christ who became unto us from God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and complete redemption.

In the verses 22-25 the Apostle brings up the salient point of the gospel of what God has done in us in Christ, realizing the work of salvation in Christ in our hearts. We are those who are such that we are born again. And this must be the incentive unto the perfect life of hope in Christ’s blessed return so that we love our brother in the Lord fervently and without hypocrisy. For, notice well, that only by virtue of the hope do we live a life of conversion, and only do we hope by virtue of regeneration as this comes forth from incorruptible seed by means of the Word of God. Apart from this work we are without hope and without God in this world! For except a man be born again by the Spirit Who blows where He pleaseth no one can see the Kingdom of heaven. Such is the manner of the love of God. Behold! then, and take careful note of the import of I Peter 1:23-25.

It is a great truth of the gospel that God’s people are a different people than the world. We are a peculiar treasure unto God in all the earth. Ex. 19:6, Ex. 23:22; I Peter 2:9. We have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light to declare His praises. Such is the truth of the gospel. Scripture does not simply teach that salvation has been made possible in Christ but it teaches that salvation has been made a reality. Christ has ascended on high and hath given gifts unto men; He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places even as He elected us from before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love! We are regenerated!

Such is the clear teaching of verse 23. This verse reads as follows: “Being regenerated ones not out of corruptible seed but of incorruptible (seed) through the Word of the living God and the abiding (word).”

We would like to call attention yet to the following in the text.

In the first place we should point out to you, especially to the ministers in our churches, who can check on this in the sources, that the concept here of regeneration is not an abstract one. Peter is not speaking of the “subject” regen­eration in the abstract sense. He does not speak of regen­eration as a concept here at all. He is speaking of living people. He speaks of these living people in such a way that he speaks to them. He is speaking to these living people as they have been made alive and are very much alive. They are those who are such that they possess and therefore will surely receive more and have abundance. Compare Matt. 13:12. And as regenerated ones they stand in the midst of those who are not regenerated, who are not the pilgrims seeking the things above in a living hope.

Peter is speaking to regenerated people, and he is not talking about the subject regeneration. This passage, it is true, affords material for such a subject and we must also have correct dogmatic construction. But in our exegesis we don’t begin there. We arrive there.

Let us remember then: regenerated ones.

These “regenerated ones” are not viewed as they are in the one moment in which they were initially transplanted out of darkness into God’s light, becoming the abode of the Spirit of Christ, but rather as they are in that “moment” and what they are ever afterwards by virtue of the “seed” that remains in them and as they concretely live under the means of grace”, the preaching of the gospel! Thus they are the objects who are very concretely warned to live out what they are in Christ. Never are they told to become what they are not yet. The inexorable rule of Matt. 13:12 is here maintained. The elect obtain more and more while the “rest” are hardened!

That we have here the “regenerated ones” as they are new creatures from the first contact with Christ by virtue of the coming of the Holy Spirit into our hearts is evident from the usage of the perfect passive participle. Three things stand out in this use of the perfect passive participle.

In the first place the participle indicates not so much what we do but rather what we are. See John 3:16; Rom. 1:16, Rom. 4:24—(Holland version)

Secondly the passive idea of the participle indicates that it is God who constitutes us what we are, not simply in the inception and beginning, but also in the perseverance. He preserves us by His almighty redemptive power in the state of new birth, energizing us from on high with incessant power.

Thirdly, the perfect tense in Greek in this passage emphasizes not that God has once and for all made us children, but rather that we are constantly up to the present moment in the state and condition of being reborn ones. We are not simply such as a dead concept, but we are very much living children with constant appetites for the pure milk of the Word, and who must constantly be stimulated to a great appetite and growth in conversion and holiness. In verse 3 Peter employs the tense in Greek known as the Aorist tense. This is the point tense emphasizing that God has done once and for all. But here we see this work of God in the continuity of time, in its true existency!

When Scripture teaches and we confess that it is a matter of factness that we are regenerated then this may not be stigmatized as being mere theory over against existential reality. This concrete existential reality of regeneration is also very much a “matter of fact” in our confession that we are regenerated. It surely is not a matter of fiction, is it? It is the true experience of every child of God. When we say “existential” we do not mean Barthian “Existentialism” in the sense of the Barthian “moment”, but we mean the Christian as he constantly is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Christ in His mind and will, in all his “inward man”. We here militate against the sickly playing out of “theory” and “practice” as this is done by those who really feel that “regeneration” is a dormant entity which somehow man’s efforts must bring into action, rather than that it is the entire living Christian as he blossoms out into a full-orbed Christian life of hope and conversion. Regeneration is a “matter of fact”, the most glorious fact without which there is no factness of blessed hope and the consequent walk in daily conversion and sanctification.

Go to then all those that would disparage this factness of “being regenerated ones” which gives blessed consolation and solid comfort to the weary Pilgrim lest he despair on the way; let no one disturb you, regenerated ones! Keep this great boon in your heart and mind. Let this spur you on. Let it be really a matter of fact, that stands as the rock of Gibraltor. And let all the hosts of hell rage. He that is in you is mightier than the enemy. No one can pluck you out of the hand of your almighty God and Father. Let the devil and his agents sneer: “theory”! You confess in blessed assurance: it is a matter of fact: we are the regenerated ones. Therefore we press on in hope and conversion from strength to strength until we appear before God in Zion above.

In this conversion and life of hope rooted in regenera­tion we make our calling and election sure. We don’t begin with nothing. We are such that have and thus we receive more. We have faith and to this we add even as a chorus leader adds voices in the chorus until it is full-orbed, the full harmony being worked out. So too we press on in hope as the regenerated ones.”

But to return to the text.

The text says that we are such “regenerated ones” out of the seed that is incorruptible and through the word of the living God, that abides forever.

We will D.V. call attention in the next essay on this pas­sage to the means whereby we are constituted concretely such “regenerated ones” who work out a full-orbed salva­tion as wide as the law of God to which there really is no end.

We will then also show that when we work out our salvation under the means of grace, the living word of God, that we will not fall into the error of confusing “basis” and “account” of the hope that is in us. Forsoothe, the working-out of our salvation is not the basis of the hope, but it is the evidence of the hope as this is rooted in and stimulated in us by the knowledge of being God’s reborn children, who will surely be preserved in God’s power even to the end.

Wherefore lift up the loins of your mind and be sober.

Without this sobriety of hope and sanctification no one shall see the Lord. For such sanctification is the fruit and evidence of the unchangeable election of God in our lives.

Unto this God “conditions” us by means of the Word, out of incorruptible seed. He molds us as the potter molds the clay into vessels of honor through the gospel admonitions, warning us to walk in the ways of the elect, through which He works grace in our hearts showing us forth as His regenerated ones! G.L.