Tuesday, 15 October 2019
…as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 1 Peter 2:2
Peter now turns from the negatives (laying aside) from the previous verse, and to a positive. In laying aside that which is unworthy of the life of believers, he shows what should be the greatest desire and yearning for them. This is so much the case that he chooses “newborn babes” as examples.
He is speaking of actual, physical newborn babies, not those spiritually born from above. However, he is addressing those who are born from above and showing them what their spiritual hunger should be like. A newborn baby knows almost nothing because it has had no experience to build on. But one thing that a baby knows (well, apart from crying – which is intended to remedy the other thing!) is that it is hungry.
A baby might need to be taught where to find the source of that which will satisfy his hunger, but once he arrives at that source, he knows instinctively what to do and he does not stop doing it until he has had his fill. The mother’s pure milk, designed by God specifically for him, is what he yearns for. In taking it in, the need is met, and the baby is satisfied.
In like manner, Peter says that believers should “desire the pure milk of the word.” Just as there is a source of life which waits at the mother’s breast, there is also a source of life which is designed by God that flows forth from Him, through His word. The word Peter uses, and which is translated as “desire,” signifies “to yearn for.” It speaks of a longing that needs to be satisfied. It is used by Paul seven times, once by James, and now this is its final use in Scripture.
It should be that our desire to understand our new birth in Christ, and all that it entails, is as great as that of the baby, longing to obtain the milk – the one thing that he knows will satisfy – which is waiting to fill his stomach. And as the source of a baby’s growth is from that milk, Peter shows that it is the “pure milk of the word” which is needed so “that you may grow thereby.”
A person’s doctrine will either be shallow and ineffective, or it will be somewhere all the way up to tall, sound, and well-established. The only way for it to achieve the latter is to first have a thorough knowledge of what the word actually says. Once that is known, even if the theology which comes from the knowledge of the word is not yet developed, there is a basis for higher theology which is sound.
In other words, the word itself leads into doctrines. Doctrines are usually developed over great periods of time, and they are often refined as others provide their own thinking and insight into the particular doctrine. However, if one does not know the word before being handed a doctrine, the only thing that person can do is accept it or reject it at face value, but it cannot be evaluated based on the word itself – because the knowledge of the word is lacking.
However, if a basic knowledge of the word is already at hand, the doctrine can be evaluated and shown to be sound or unsound from the knowledge of the word which already is established in the individual. An example is that either Jesus is God or Jesus is not God. A person is with no basic knowledge of the word is told by a Jehovah’s Witness that Jesus is not God. As he has no knowledge of the word, he is more likely to accept this as true. From that point on, he will always evaluate the word from a presupposition that Jesus is not God, and his doctrinal studies will exclude anything which contradicts that in him.
However, if a person has read the Bible carefully and thoroughly, even once, it is as evident as the nose on the face that Jesus is God. The doctrine of the deity of Christ may be undeveloped, but the basic understanding of the truth of the tenet is instilled in him. Because of this, when he hears what the JW says, he can dismiss it as a ludicrous precept which was obtained through false doctrine.
The problem is that without first knowing the word to at least some extent, we cannot properly evaluate the higher doctrines which are then presented. There is no basis for doing so. This is why we are to yearn after the pure milk which the word of God provides. Only in doing so will we grow. And only in doing so will we grow properly.
Life application: Five times in the New Testament the term “milk” is used. Four of those are applied to a knowledge of the word of God, which is the Bible. Each of those times, it is applied to the very basic knowledge of God and of His works as recorded there. Here is an example from the book of Hebrews –
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12.
Peter is consistent with this imagery. If a baby doesn’t get milk, the result is malnutrition and eventually death. And it is no different with those who receive Christ. Should we call on Him and neglect to grow in Him, we will backslide to a point where we become completely malnourished and we will eventually die.
This doesn’t mean a spiritual death – believers have crossed that chasm and are made alive in Christ. But a failure to pursue the things God would rather have us pursue will eventually result in picking up bad habits from the past – drugs, alcohol, etc. These will naturally lead to the destruction of our bodies and end in death.
This is the case with believers who are mentioned in the Bible, and we are no less immune to such things. So, get into the word, read it, crave it, and grow in it! God has a wonderful plan for your life if you will simply allow Him to fulfill it in you. Don’t waste your life on pursuing the wind. Instead, pursue God and His righteousness during your short walk on this earth.
Lord God, time is tight, many things draw our attention away from what is important, and we find it hard to meet our desires in reading and learning Your word. Forgive us for this and remind us of our priorities, the first and foremost of which is knowing You. Give us wisdom to set aside the trivial things that we often pursue, so that we can purse that which is of eternal value. Hear our prayer, O God. Amen.