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23You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

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23. Christian brotherhood flows from our new birth of an imperishable seed, the abiding word of God. This is the consideration urged here to lead us to exercise brotherly love. As natural relationship gives rise to natural affection, so spiritual relationship gives rise to spiritual, and therefore abiding love, even as the seed from which it springs is abiding, not transitory as earthly things.

of … of … by—"The word of God" is not the material of the spiritual new birth, but its mean or medium. By means of the word the man receives the incorruptible seed of the Holy Spirit, and so becomes one "born again": Joh 3:3-5, "born of water and the Spirit": as there is but one Greek article to the two nouns, the close connection of the sign and the grace, or new birth signified is implied. The word is the remote and anterior instrument; baptism, the proximate and sacramental instrument. The word is the instrument in relation to the individual; baptism, in relation to the Church as a society (Jas 1:18). We are born again of the Spirit, yet not without the use of means, but by the word of God. The word is not the beggeting principle itself, but only that by which it works: the vehicle of the mysterious germinating power [Alford].

which liveth and abideth for ever—It is because the Spirit of God accompanies it that the word carries in it the germ of life. They who are so born again live and abide for ever, in contrast to those who sow to the flesh. "The Gospel bears incorruptible fruits, not dead works, because it is itself incorruptible" [Bengel]. The word is an eternal divine power. For though the voice or speech vanishes, there still remains the kernel, the truth comprehended in the voice. This sinks into the heart and is living; yea, it is God Himself. So God to Moses, Ex 4:12, "I will be with thy mouth" [Luther]. The life is in God, yet it is communicated to us through the word. "The Gospel shall never cease, though its ministry shall" [Calovius]. The abiding resurrection glory is always connected with our regeneration by the Spirit. Regeneration beginning with renewing man's soul at the resurrection, passes on to the body, then to the whole world of nature.




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