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Sermon Notes

Please note that these are only notes, not transcripts, and as such are not identical to the recorded sermons. They also contain frequent abbreviations.

Introduction

    1. First Peter begins with a doxology extolling God for His mercy in giving the new birth (“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which hath begotten us again unto a lively hope …” [1:3]).

      1. At the end of chapter 1, the inspired apostle describes this as an incorruptible seed, or, literally, an incorruptible “sowing” (1:23).

        1. This act of divine sowing is the source of the new birth in these elect believers.

        2. God, as it were, had sown the seed of a new life, the life of Jesus Christ Himself, into the hearts of these people, and had made them spiritually alive.

        3. They had been corruptible – in the sphere of corruption and death, in Adam – but God had given them a lively (that is, a “living” hope) and an incorruptible inheritance in Jesus Christ (1:3, 5).

      2. This sowing had been the work of God alone; He had chosen to sow the life of Christ in the hearts of these unworthy sinners.

        1. It had not been their idea to be born again; it was an act of God’s free mercy.

        2. They had not cooperated in the new birth: as a sovereign Father God had begotten them, and as a sovereign Sower God had sown where He desired, and as a sovereign Wind which blows where it desires, the Spirit had regenerated these sinners.

        3. And that same divine Sower has sown the life of Jesus Christ into our hearts.

    2. Having set forth this precious truth – the sovereign, gracious gift of regeneration or the new birth, Peter begins chapter 2 with the word “wherefore” or “therefore.”

      1. God has given you new life, and now you have a calling: live out of that principle of implanted life.

      2. No longer live out of the principle of sin, but put away the evils of the sinful nature.

      3. And desire now the means whereby that new life is strengthened: the Word!

 

DESIRE THE WORD!”

I. The Meaning

II. The Manner

III. The Reason

 

  1. The Meaning

    1. Desire the sincere milk of the Word.

      1. In the text the apostle uses a powerful figure to describe spiritual nourishment.

        1. Milk is the basic foodstuff necessary for the sustaining of life of all babies.

          1. As such, milk is highly nutritious: it is the food which God has designed for the maintenance of newborns. It contains everything necessary for a child to grow; in the early months of a child’s life, he needs nothing else.

          2. Milk is simple and easily digested by infant stomachs and is a very appropriate figure for the simple and uncomplicated truth of the Word of God.

          3. The truth itself is simple: it is the lie that is complicated and convoluted, not the truth (illustrate with predestination and the Canons of Dordt, I, B, 2 [p. 55]).

        2. Milk is not only nutritious but delicious, refreshing and enjoyable.

          1. A tall glass of cold milk on a summer’s day is refreshing; is there any wonder that when God described the promised land in attractive terms He called it the land flowing with milk and honey?

          2. In fact, although for us milk is commonplace, milk in the Bible is a symbol of luxury; it was the food offered to weary travelers.

          3. See, Gen. 18:8, “And he took butter and milk and the calf …”) and Song of Solomon 5:1 (“I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk”).

        3. Sometimes references to milk in Scripture are negative – not because milk is negative, but because the ability to feed only on milk speaks of immaturity.

          1. That is not the case here: the text is a positive admonition to desire milk and the context gives no hint of rebuke that the believers here are immature and must be faulted for drinking milk.

          2. This is in contrast to passages such as Heb. 5:13 and I Cor. 3:2 where believers who should be ready for solid food and strong meat are not able because they are too carnal.

          3. All believers of whatever age ought to desire milk, but not all ought to desire only milk.

      2. This milk is identified in the text as the “sincere milk of the Word.”

        1. Literally, that phrase “of the Word” means logical or reasonable (Rom. 12:1) and is an adjective describing the milk itself.

          1. The idea is that the milk is spiritual, that is, it is suitable for the soul or spirit of a man, as opposed to his body.

          2. That word logical is also significant: the Lord does not feed the soul with feelings, with empty meaningless fluff, but with logical, reasonable, thoughtful milk.

          3. This milk is doctrinal: logical, reasonable, rational doctrine revealed and expressed in words. Only such preaching is nutritious.

        2. The milk of the text is also sincere, literally without guile or deceit: a good translation would be unadulterated or unmixed, pure.

          1. Notice that the Word is sincere. As God gave it, it is pure (Ps. 12:6, “The words of the Lord are pure words”).

          2. The form in which we receive it must be sincere also; and men must not adulterate it; that is, the Word of God preached must not be mixed with the ideas of the minister, or with heresy.

          3. The minister must without guile prepare and preach this Word (he must not deceive the simple but feed the sheep).

        3. This, then, is the milk of the text: rich, satisfying, doctrinal preaching which feeds the soul.

          1. It is not a watered-down insipid drink, a kind of spiritually-skimmed milk, so that the congregation becomes weak and listless, but sound, health-giving doctrine, packed with spiritual protein, vitamins and minerals.

          2. It is not a lethal cocktail of milk laced with the poison of false doctrine, so that over time the congregation is put to sleep spiritually, until they finally slip into a spiritual coma, and die.

          3. But it is the milk which Christ Himself has prepared for the nourishment of His sheep and lambs, the pure gospel of Christ crucified.

    2. Desire the sincere milk

      1. The milk having been described, the people of God are to have the proper attitude toward it: the believer must have a desire for it. “Desire the sincere milk of the Word …”

        1. The verb “desire” means to put one one’s passion upon something, and denotes an ardent, passionate longing after something.

          1. Often the word is used negatively, as in the 10th commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” Or in the many prohibitions in the NT against lust.

          2. But here it means something positive. It is good, it is necessary, to desire this milk. It is a sign of life and good health to desire this milk.

          3. A listless child who does not desire milk is an unhealthy child. It is greatly to be feared that one who shows no desire for this milk is dead, and not a child of God at all.

        2. It is noteworthy that the Apostle commands us to desire this milk.

          1. Just as we are responsible for our actions, so we are responsible for our desires; to deny this is blatant Pelagianism, the idea that sin does not corrupt man’s nature, but is found only in the deeds.

          2. Desiring milk is a struggle for the child of God and he must stir himself up to have the proper desires, because the child of God is spiritually but a newborn baby who has the old desires of the flesh to contend with.

          3. Desire, commands Peter, desire ardently, make this milk the focus of your most tender affections; as much as you desire to be spiritually strong, desire this milk.

      2. This text is very fitting for an inaugural sermon for a new minister because it has important application both to the congregation and to the minister.

        1. The congregation must desire this milk.

          1. The believer must not allow his desires for other things to cloud his desire for this; he must attend diligently to the reading, and especially the preaching, of the Word of God.

          2. The believer must pray to God earnestly to increase in him the desire of this milk, and when he feels his appetite waning for the Word, to view it as a very serious spiritual malady.

          3. The believer must not complain when he receives such milk, but thankfully drink it for the nourishment of his soul. He must not be like a child with reflux who vomits up milk because it does not agree with him.

          4. The believer must not go elsewhere where this milk is not administered to him, or worse, go where he will be fed spiritually-skimmed milk, or milk laced with poison.

          5. And the children, too, must desire this milk: this will be seen in their attitude to catechism instruction, as well as their attention to the Sunday sermons.

        2. The minster must see it to be his solemn calling and high privilege to dispense this nutritious, health-giving milk to the congregation. I must see this to be my calling.

          1. The Lord dispenses the milk of the Word by means of the faithful preaching of the Scriptures, and woe to that minister who does not feed the flock.

          2. The providing of pure, spiritual milk requires diligence and care: just as a mother carefully prepares a bottle of milk for her baby – by keeping it sterile, feeding the baby the right quantities and feeding at regular times – so the minister must carefully prepare sermons and catechism lessons for the congregation.

          3. Christ will hold the minister accountable for how he feeds the flock: He will not ask the minister, “Did you make them feel good, or did you entertain them, but did you feed them with the wholesome milk of my Word?”

          4. This is my calling as your new minister: pray for me, admonish me, hold me accountable; my sermons must be edifying, they must carefully and faithfully explain and apply the Scriptures.

  2. The Manner

    1. To emphasize the intensity of the desire for this milk, Peter uses another figure, that of newborn babies. In this way, after this manner, we are to desire the milk of the Word (“As newborn babies, desire …”).

      1. You who have had babies in the house know something of this figure of a newborn baby.

        1. Newborn babies are not aware of much, and they cannot do much – but they do experience the feeling of hunger.

          1. Babies know instinctively when it is time for a feed; some mothers will tell you that you can set your watch by them.

          2. When it is time for feeding the baby screams for her bottle; she cannot be pacified until she is fed; she will not accept substitutes; she will not wait.

          3. And the only way in which a baby can express her desire for milk is by crying for it.

        2. Let little babies be your guide here, beloved.

          1. The Lord has made little babies, utterly dependent on their mother’s milk, to be a picture of the great spiritual reality of Christians’ urgent need for the milk of the word.

          2. Just as a baby will die without regular feeding on her mother’s milk so the Christian cannot live without the Word of God.

          3. You have cried to your Heavenly Father and to your spiritual mother, the church, and the Lord has sent you one whose calling it is to give you this milk. Do not allow that desire for the Word to wane, beloved.

      2. The reality of the figure of newborn babies is the beautiful truth of regeneration or the new birth; these Christians are baby Christians, that is, they have just been reborn (that is the force of the words “newborn babes” in v. 2).

        1. The new birth is the source of the desire for milk found in these believers (that word “as” could be rendered, “because you are newborns …”).

          1. The saints to whom Peter writes had once been dead in sin, condemned in Adam, their first father.

          2. But God had had pity and compassion on them, and had breathed new life into them, by the power of the Holy Spirit so that now they live out of that new principle.

          3. Under the power of death they had no hope of life and no right to life, but Jesus went to the cross to purchase for them the life of the Spirit.

          4. In this, they had tasted the grace and abundant mercy of God. He had planted into them the very life of the risen and exalted Jesus Christ, so that they could never again die.

        2. This new birth is necessary for the existence of such spiritual desires for the milk of the Word.

          1. The natural man – without regeneration or the new birth – does not and cannot desire the sincere milk of the Word because he is spiritually dead.

          2. The unbeliever hates the Word of God and when he tastes it, he spits it out with disgust and will not drink it.

          3. Perhaps it looks interesting to him for a while, perhaps he is attracted by its novelty, but he soon shows his disdain for the milk itself by refusing to believe and obey it.

          4. And this is his great sin: he despises the Word and refuses to desire it. God will punish the sinner for his disdain of His truth.

        3. To express this theologically, regeneration comes before faith, and faith is the fruit, not the cause of regeneration.

          1. The error of all freewill theology is the teaching that the sinner can will something good and can be spiritually active in a positive way before being spiritually alive.

          2. But, can a dead child desire milk? Neither can a dead sinner desire Christ.

          3. Yet, as soon as a sinner is regenerated, he desires the sincere milk of the Word; that’s the transformation of regeneration!

    2. We also desire the sincere milk of the Word by laying aside everything which would hinder our spiritual appetite, by putting away the vices listed in verse 1.

      1. Since the Apostle commands us to lay aside these things we know that these evil fruits reside in us by nature.

        1. These vices are in opposition to the fruits of regeneration mentioned in the previous chapter, especially “unfeigned love of the brethren” & “fervent love” (1:22).

          1. Malice and envy arise from the enmity of the heart which wills ill upon his neighbor and hates him because he has something which we want to have.

          2. Guile and hypocrisy are deceitful thoughts and actions which oppose unfeigned (lit. “un-hypocritical”) love.

          3. And evil speaking is all slander and backbiting, a grievous sin against Christian charity.

        2. All these are like weeds, which, if left unchecked, will strangle our desire for the Word.

          1. It is impossible profitably to listen to the Word of God when your heart is in such a disordered state as to will ill to the neighbor in the church.

          2. A malicious, deceitful, hypocritical, envious slanderer cannot feed on the milk of the Word: the Word condemns him, and he must repent.

          3. Let us put away all such evils from us so that spiritual nourishment can take place.

      2. Our text with its two commands – laying aside […] and desire the milk, really sums up the Reformed doctrine of conversion.

        1. The lifelong calling of the child of God is to mortify the old man: to crucify the sinful flesh with its lusts; we do that by hating our sin and by fleeing from that sin by the power of the HS.

        2. The lifelong calling of the child of God is to quicken the new man: to love and delight in the will of God in all good works.

        3. We can only mortify the old man and quicken the new man by feeding the life of regeneration by the Word of God; the new life needs food, and God gives it in the Word.

  3. The Purpose

    1. The purpose of desiring the Word of God, as newborn babies crave after milk, is to grow (“that ye may grow thereby”).

      1. Just as babies which are fed on pure milk become larger and stronger physically, so the children of God who have a good spiritual diet grow spiritually.

        1. To grow spiritually means to work out the principle of life which Christ has implanted into us by regeneration.

          1. To grow spiritually means to know Christ more intimately and to love Him more ardently as one is more and more conformed to His image.

          2. To grow spiritually means to have a more intense hatred of sin.

          3. The whole Christian life is growth – either upwards in grace or regression into sin; there is no standing still.

        2. Spiritual growth is not automatic: God uses means both in the physical and in the spiritual realm.

          1. Babies drink milk, then they are weaned, and they begin to eat solid food, and as they grow and develop the time comes when they can eat strong meat.

          2. In this way, babies become toddlers, toddlers become young children, young children become teenagers, and teenagers become strong men.

          3. That is the meaning of the word “whereby” (through this or by means of this you will grow).

        3. The reason why many Christians’ growth is stunted is a poor diet.

          1. The result of a poor diet is flabby, listless and spiritually unhealthy Christians who do not desire the milk of the Word and do not grow.

          2. Those who do not grow are easy prey to false teachers (Eph. 4:14), and they float from one meaningless experience to the next, but they never increase in understanding of the truth.

          3. False and unfaithful teachers are mainly to blame but they too are responsible for willfully listening to false doctrine, for not demanding of their teachers the milk of the Word, and for making little effort to seek the Word of God.

    2. This means, of course, that God’s purpose for His children is that they do not remain newborn babies.

      1. That is the other aspect of the figure “milk” in the NT Scriptures; milk is good, always good, and the most mature Christian can benefit from milk, just as an adult can enjoy a glass of milk, or a milkshake or another milk based food.

      2. But to drink exclusively milk, no matter how sincere and guileless that milk is, is a sign of immaturity; Christians must grow up into Christ, and desire not only the milk, but also the strong meat of the Word.

      3. That is why we must be a Word-centered church. Only where the Word is front and center, and where the appetites of the people are such that they hear that Word, is there spiritual vibrant growth. Desire the Word, beloved, Amen!