THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE
Delighting in the Word
The saints of God have often stated their delight in he Word of the Lord. Their articulations reveal a desire for the pure milk of the Word. "Thy words were found and I ate them, And Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart" (Jer 15:16, NASB). "I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12). "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life" (John 6:68). Wherever this attitude is found, the blessing of the Lord will follow.
In Christ, this is not an optional attitude, it is a necessary one! Jesus excluded all from the Kingdom that did not have childlike qualities. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all" (Mark 10:15, NASB). Our Lord was not confining this trait to our initial reception of the Kingdom. This is an enduring quality, required to realize continued participation in the glory of salvation. The reason for this requirement is apparent. We are not in heaven yet! Quite to the contrary, we are in a cursed realm, hounded by a fierce adversary, and dwelling in a house of clay. Competing influences exist within and without, luring us away from the means of our salvation. To be "like a child" is not to be simple and unlearned. It is to be dependent and unquestioning. This is the trait of which Peter speaks--an unquestioning and strong yearning for the pure Word of God!
The relative scarceness of this attitude in the average church is cause for alarm. It betrays a wholly unacceptable condition. There simply is no place in heaven for someone that neglects God's Word. If an appetite for it is not developed in this world, there will be no participation with Christ in the world to come.
Growing Is the Point
Notice the intent of this admonition. Spiritual growth is the point: "that by it you may grow in respect to salvation." The NIV says, "that by it you may grow up in your salvation." The idea is that we are presently enjoying the firstfruits of our salvation. The bulk of it is ahead, and is yet to be received. Earlier in this book, Peter identified the experience of believers in this world. "Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time . . . For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet 1:5,9, NASB). Here, we are being oriented for glory, prepared for what is to come. We do not yet have the fulness of our salvation, but it is "ready to be revealed." It is ready, but we are not! The Lord is perfecting us (1 Pet 5:10), sifting out of us the things that cannot transfer to the world to come, and enabling us to add eternal attributes to our lives (2 Pet 1:5-11).
The Word of God is the means of effecting this growth. However, the Word cannot and will not be imposed upon us. We cannot be force-fed, gaining the advantage of spiritual nourishment without ourselves ingesting it. In this world, people can be kept alive without personal involvement--by artificial means. They can be fed through their veins, even though they are unconscious, or even comatose. However, they cannot be productive while life is sustained in this manner.
It is apparent that some believe spiritual life can be maintained in the same manner. That is a delusion! Salvation without the involvement of the person is no salvation at all! The Word of God is a primary means of producing spiritual life and causing it to increase. Thus James writes to believers, "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you" (James 1:21, NIV). James has said the same thing as Peter. His word "accept" conveys the same thought as Peter's expression "desire," "crave," or "long." The real secret to receiving is desiring! Those that crave can accept!
A Hearty Appetite
A hearty appetite for God's Word is vital! It is necessary to sustain spiritual life. One of our first and foremost works is the development of a spiritual hunger. The blessing of spiritual satisfaction is pronounced upon those who fervently yearn for it. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matt 5:6, NASB). If you do not long for God's Word--pure spiritual milk--you must seek the immediate correction of that deficiency! The Word of God will nourish you ONLY if you want it, long for it, and fervently desire it!