1 Peter 1:23 “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
God has some important things for us to understand when he illustrates our coming to faith as being born again. It illustrates our helplessness. You have known people whose pregnancies were filled with uncertainty about the baby’s health. Think of how weak, how frail, and how dependent that little baby is before it is born. It didn’t produce its own life. It simply received life from its parents. It doesn’t choose the day of its birth. When the time is right, mom’s body gives it birth.
There are many parallels with our spiritual life. Because of sin, we are helpless on our own, totally dependent on God. We have no spiritual life until we receive it from our heavenly Father. Before that we are a dead thing. People without Christ are not just spiritually confused or spiritually weak. They are spiritually dead. That was true of each of us. It still is true of our own sinful natures. Since we must be born again, we are utterly dependent on God. He alone can give us spiritual life.
But the really important thing to appreciate is that he does give us spiritual life. We have been born again. Peter reminds us just a few verses earlier, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as gold or silver that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” We live life with faith in forgiveness. God has made our hearts the Holy Spirit’s home. God gives us a new life, a life producing love.
Peter tells us that God has given us this new life through the living and enduring word of God. This word of God is a living word. It has a life of its own. Though you don’t detect a literal heartbeat, though you can’t hear it breathing, the word is alive and active and accomplishes great things. Its heartbeat is the overwhelming love God has given us in Jesus’ life lived and given for us. Its breath is the breath of the Holy Spirit himself. Like a good germ this message of love invades our souls and transforms our minds with the Holy Spirit’s power. It drives out doubt and despair. It teaches us to trust God and know he will take care of us. It overpowers sin and creates a heart that enjoys doing what is good. It is more fully alive than anything else we will ever know.
This word of God is also an enduring word. Peter illustrates this in the words of Isaiah, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” We are all like grass and flowers. We are flimsy and frail. Our health fades with each passing year.
Like grass and flowers, our glory is fading and shallow. Flowers look nice for a while, but their beauty doesn’t really change anything. Then they die. No one will remember our accomplishments a generation from now. How we looked and what we did last year is already a mere memory. The Apostle James once summed it up: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
But the word of the Lord stands forever. Long before our time the word of God was there, the same word we know today. Long after we are gone, the word will still stand unchanging. It will still be comforting, supporting, empowering. It will give birth to new life in new generations.
Our new birth is no more our own accomplishment than the first one was. God’s word is the womb in which he has given new life to our souls.