“This word is the good news which was preached to you”
1 Peter 1:25b
As a young preacher, I count it a privilege when I get time with older pastors from whom I can glean lessons. Most of these can only be caught because they are almost impossible to teach. One evening, I was sitting in the office of a sage and had an opportunity to hear him read his sermon manuscripts for the next day. I was duly impressed and made the comment, “that will be a powerful sermon”, to which he replied without any hesitation, “Well, I don’t know about the sermon, but the Word, that we can be sure will be powerful.” In the last verse of the first chapter, Peter makes reference to old sermons that the saints had heard and connects them to the powerful word that he had just described (1:23-25a). While it can be tempting to despise the ordinary means of grace in extraordinary times, these suffering saints are reminded not simply of a theological point – the nature of the Scriptures – but of a pastoral point: That it is this powerful Word they had been sitting under. The desired outcome here is that the suffering saints would highly regard that which they already knew and consequently cling to it. To help us do this with them observe with me a few things:
Firstly, note that they have no need for a new word. The old word suffices. The gospel he is applying to them in fresh ways in this letter is the old gospel they had heard in former days. The good news has no expiry date. Do not despise the word you have heard from your pastors over and over for years now and go off searching the bins of the internet for a fresh word. In as much as what was proclaimed to you was the truth of God’s Word, you can trust that in that same gospel, you have what you need to endure the trials of this season. It is important that those who preach God’s Word be affected and informed not so much by their own abilities, or the lack thereof, but by the divine nature of what they handle. Peter will later say, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:10). However, it is clear that biblical thinking about that which was preached is not only aimed at the preacher, it is aimed at all believers. Hence, as Peter wraps up the opening section, he wants them to relate the high view of God’s word (1:23-25a) with the preaching that they had received (1:25b).
Secondly, notice that this powerful Word was conveyed to them through the means of preaching. Twice in this section (1:12, 25b), Peter makes mention of the mode through which this word came to them. There are many modes of taking in God’s Word. However, across the New Testament it is clear that God has ordained the means of authoritative monologue, that is; Preaching. This is the primary way his gathered people are to take in His Word. The imperishable Word of God is superior to all other ideas, propositions and declarations out there. Those who neglect the Word neglect it to their own detriment. Similarly, the church that neglects the primacy of preaching as God’s ordained means of delivery, inadvertently diminishes the centrality of this message in their gatherings. And sadly, this is to the detriment of their health as a church. Weak are the saints who suffer now, while having played at corporate worship in the former days. To have a high view of the Word and a low view of preaching is equal to having a high view of hydration and a low view of water bottles. Let us cherish the message and the mode that God has ordained and we shall be the better for it.
Thirdly, notice the Person that oversees the preaching of the message. “…in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven…”( 1 Peter 1:12 b). Because the message is critical and the mode is important, the man who proclaims that word is helped by God. Even though we all quite naturally find ourselves better served by certain elements or styles of delivery more than others, it is all important that we be gripped with the awareness that when we sit under the Word of God, it is God who speaks. Words that are living and abiding are being proclaimed and the agent at work is more than mortal man – for the Spirit is present empowering the preached truth for the building up of God’s church.
Let us be encouraged today that as a church family, God has been speaking to us through sermons from the Psalms and Isaiah, Acts and Romans. Those sermons are gifts to the church that we can look back to with thankfulness. We can revisit them with eagerness to relearn the things we learnt as we were taught. We can be assured that in as much as his word was proclaimed then, we as saints have been equipped for the trials that we face today and those that we shall face tomorrow. Be on guard as you hear new truths from untested sources. The “good news that was preached to you” will do just fine.