WHERE DO BABIES COME FROM?
1 Peter 1:23-25
Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
July 7, 2013
Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
-- 1 Peter 1:23-25, ESV
It is an inevitable question. At some point in a child’s life, they are old enough to wonder how they got here and where in the world they came from. And so, they pop the question to mom or dad, “Where do babies come from?” It is a fair and honest question, one that requires a fair and, eventually, a far-reaching answer.
Simon Peter touches on the answer, and more, in this text. Though nowhere in his epistle does he deal explicitly with the birds and the bees, he does speak of the tainted miracle of birth. But, more importantly, he teaches an important lesson about the new birth, about spiritual babies, and the wonderful means by which a person can come to live forever in the kingdom of God.
All people are born to perish.
Milk is made to go bad. On every gallon there is an expiration date. This is true for all food you buy, too. This is why we must go through the repeated process of going to the grocery store. Even in spite of the fact we live in the age of refrigeration, and preservatives, milk and food is bought to perish.
Go to any cemetery and you will find that people have an expiration date, too. Every person on the planet got here by being born, and every human being faces a certain date in the future when their flesh, like withering grass and falling flowers, will perish. All people are born to perish.
If you wish to blame someone for this disease of death, blame your father. It was his “perishable seed” that initiated your birth and enabled you to be brought forth into this world by your mother. Because of him, and his father, and his father, and his father, and so on and so forth, you inherit a “perishable” life, one that is destined to end at your appointed expiration date. This is a biological fact.
It is a theological fact as well. Holy Scripture’s opening chapters, which serve as a grand prologue to the sweeping drama of creation and fall and redemption, tells the story of our first father, Adam. When he sinned against God and rebelled against God’s word, he allowed death to enter the human race (ref. Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). Spiritual death was immediate. Depravity, or the inability to independently seek and know God, became inherit in all of our genes. The clock counting towards his physical death started ticking, too, and every human being became born with one. Death is an inevitable, generational, natural end to all of life.
All people get here by being born. All people are born to perish. And when life ends, no one is going to get to Heaven simply by being human.
Some people are born again to never perish.
But, there is an way to extend life into eternal life. The plan is called “the good news,” or the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is often summarized in one Bible verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). All people are born to perish, but some people are “born again” to “not perish but have eternal life.”
This is where spiritual babies come from, from being“born again.” It is evidently like being born, although there is a spiritual process and event that takes place. God the Father takes the initiative, God the Son pays the price, and God the Spirit is the “imperishable” seed that enters and enables new life to begin and abide. But the miraculous means that brings God’s grace through faith to bear upon the human soul is none other than “the living and abiding word of God.”
Babies come into the world when they are conceived, carried, and born. So do spiritual babies, or children of God. And a critical component of this new birth, God’s means of grace, is“the word of God.”
God’s people are born again through the word of God.
You can hardly know a person until that person expresses himself or herself in words. You can observe some things about them, even important things, but you cannot truly know them until they reveal their true character to you with words, somehow spoken or written.
In a major sense, this is why Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. The Son of God is God incarnate, in flesh, and in words. The Apostle John went so far as to call Him, “the Word” (ref. John 1:1,14).
But to make sense of this passage in 1 Peter, and the referenced passage from Isaiah, and many other texts in the Bible, there is a prophetic and apostolic speech and writing that reveals “the living and abiding word of God.” Precisely, it is “the good news that was preached to you,” or the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, one cannot truly separate the Bible and the gospel, “the word of God” from “the good news.”
The gospel’s foundations and first preaching are in Genesis, and the entirety of the Old Testament. The gospel is most vividly presented in the four New Testament Gospels, spreads throughout the book of Acts, is articulately explained in all of the Epistles, and consummated in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Bible as a whole and the good news, or gospel, as it communicates the truth and glory of creation, fall, and redemption is “the word of God” without which no person can ever hope to be “born again” to live forever.
When a spiritual baby is “born again” into the kingdom of God to live forever, it is because “the word of God” is communicated to them in a clear and compelling way. It is received intellectually, making sense of humanity and deity, death and life, sin and salvation. It is received emotionally, bringing great conviction of sin and desire for forgiveness. It is received spiritually, for through “the word of God” God’s “imperishable” seed, the Holy Spirit, enters to regenerate the soul, impute faith and repentance, and cause a child of man to become a “born again” child of God, made never to perish but to have everlasting life.
This is why “the word of God” is read publicly and preached in Sunday worship. This is why it should be read and studied regularly in the privacy of your own home. This is why it is taught systematically to the members of the church. This is why Christians teach it to their children and uphold it as the spiritual and moral standard of the family. This is why Christianity has spread and how the church has been sustained for two thousand years, and why we will remain, tattered but intact, until our Lord appears again. This is how, as Peter pointed out in 1:3, “God ... caused us to be born again,” Through the inspiration, preservation, preaching, receiving, and believing of “the living and abiding word of God (vs. 23), or “the word of the Lord” (vs. 24), “the good news” (vs. 25), the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most people can remember where they were and who it was that told them about “the facts of life.” It was a most interesting, life changing experience in many ways. But do you remember where you were when you first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where you were when you first really, really heard the gospel of Jesus Christ? Can you recount a time when, like Emmaus Road disciples, God’s word burned inside of you (ref. Luke 24:32)? Can you recount a time when “the word of God” changed your life and it was like, well, being “born again?” Do you carry a constant desire to hear, understand, and live by “the word of God?”
When all the saints gather in Heaven and begin to discuss where we are and how we arrived, no doubt all the glory will go to the God who chose us, the God who died for us and rose again, and the God who came to live within us to guide us through earth and into Heaven. All of our testimonies and experiences will be different, of course, but one thing will ring true in all of us. We were all “born again ... through the ... word of God,” for this is where all spiritual babies and children of God come from.
WHERE DO BABIES COME FROM?
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org