Long For the Pure Spiritual Milk
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Standard; 1Pe 2:2 Like new-born infants,  long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation......3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

I have been haunted of late by this idea of “growing up to salvation.” You know the necessity of not being content with where you are in your spiritual journey, but pressing on through faith linked works. Haunted is a good word, because it is scary business to link our salvation with works, and I pray as I speak today that I will not be misunderstood, nor misspeak of God's grace.

Let me first re-emphasize, we are indeed saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves,  it is the gift of God not of works lest any one should boast. There is nothing that we can do to cause the new birth, it is all God's doing.

What does the infant child do to effect his salvation when his parents bring him to be baptized? Nada....nothing. And where does an adult get the idea to be baptized unless his heart has first been quickened by the Spirit of God? Regeneration unto salvation is God's work through and through.

God gets us started in our salvation journey and he prods us along the way  to finish the race. However, we can reject His proddings, we can refuse to move, we can stop our faith journey in it's tracks if we refuse to do those things He has spelled out in His Word. Faith without works (responses marked by reaction and actions to His Words) is dead.

We were saved by grace for a reason. Read the rest of that oft quoted “saved by grace” passage from Ephesians:

 Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

God prepares beforehand works for us to do. Things that show Him, we are listening to His Word, that we have been impacted by His love for us as we love others which is the true evidence of our faith.

In Phil 2:12,13 we read, “My dear friends, you have always obeyed (I take that to mean that they have led good moral lives) ....In the same way continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please Him.”
Again, we see an active movement toward salvation linked with the works that God the Holy Spirit prods us to do.  (These are the desires and actions that please Him.) He does this through the Holy Spirit speaking to you through His Word and then presenting you with opportunities wherever He may have planted you.

Have you heard the news out of Dallas this week? Tony Romo was on his way in to a movie theater and spotted a homeless man, he not only paid for the man's ticket but invited him to sit next to him and watch the movie! At one point during the movie the man (who hadn't showered for several days)   warned Tony about the possibility of body odor and Tony replied, “Don't worry about that, I'm used to locker rooms.

An opportunity placed before Tony Romo and he responded. Now I don't know where Tony is with his faith. Earlier this year you may recall he made news when he helped some people fix a flat tire, but if he is doing these things to stockpile favor with God, thinking it will earn him a spot in heaven, he has put the cart before the horse. The Bible tells us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. If he is doing things to just feel good about himself, “verily verily he has his reward.” If these acts of kindness are performed without faith in the eternal scope of things they don't matter for:

 Heb 11:6  without faith it is impossible to please Him,  that's the horse that pulls the cart of works. Faith must always be the starting point.

So again we see the necessity of faith first.

Still further proof of following up our faith with works is found in Titus 2:14,15

 Tit 2:14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Why did He give Himself up for us? To buy us back from our lawless deeds. (To erase our sins) AND to purify us for the purpose of making us zealous for good thumb twiddling? Good resting on our laurels? Just to produce good moral behavior? No! Good works.
V15 is for me. I am to speak these things....all of them! I am not to stop at the Good News of forgiveness but to exhort you off your butt to do good works and rebuke those of you who refuse to budge.

Look at our text. What does it say? Friends, if you or I are ever going to grow up to our salvation, we need to attack spiritual milk like a newborn baby attacks a bottle. But what is this spiritual milk? Is it the elementary truths of the Gospel? Are we suppose to park our spiritual lives by “Jesus loves me.” Am I suppose to stand up here every week and talk about nothing but love?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, you do need to hear it often and ever believe it. I was reminded of God's steadfast love over and over yesterday as I read the 136th psalm. The phrase His steadfast love endures forever is repeated 26 times in 26 verses! He wants us to get it!

God loves you! You cannot love God or others until you really understand that truth. You deserved to die because of your sin but God loved you so much, He died in your place! But understand this about the love of God for you. If you have truly received it, it will break out in love of others.

 1Jo 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  
13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.  
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.   (Loving)
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  
19 We love Him because He first loved us.
20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  
21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

I believe that this concept that John explains so well is the spiritual milk that we are to eagerly seek. Namely, love from God that breaks out in love for others. Every loving act done in the name of Jesus helps us grow up to our salvation.

 Mr 9:41 For whoever gives you even a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, in solemn truth I tell you, that he shall certainly not lose his reward.
The pure spiritual milk is the love that comes from a heart purified by God just as it says in 1  Peter 1:22: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly (as a baby earnestly goes after the milk) from a pure heart.

You know the story of the Good Samaritan. He had “compassion” on the man in the ditch. The word “compassion” means aching bowels. Where do you head when you have aching bowels? You can't get there fast enough can you? This is where we need to be in our desire to help others. We can't wait to do it!

Earnestly desire to receive love from God and express that love toward others.

These good works of love toward others can play a vital role in the desire for regeneration in others.

1 Pet 2: 12 - “keep your conduct among the Gentiles (unbelievers) honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil-doers they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (The day when Jesus comes knocking on the door of their heart!)

Do you remember the account of the poor beggar Lazarus and the rich man? Every day the beggar was outside the gate of the rich man, waiting for some food or medical care, and every day the rich man ignored him.
They both die. Lazarus goes to the place of eternal comfort, the rich man goes to the place of eternal torment. The rich man had faith. He referred to Abraham as his father, but his circumcision didn't help, his heritage didn't help, he was damned because he ignored Lazarus.  His apathy proved his lack of true faith.

 There is a part of this account I want you to see. It's found in Luke 16:20.

Lu 16:20 "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,

Who laid him at the gate? Who arranged it so the rich man would have to pass by Lazarus everyday  on his way to Starbucks? Was not Lazarus a “good work that God had prepared beforehand for the rich man to walk in? Look what happened as he kept on ignoring it!!

The question for you and I today is this: Who has God laid outside your gate? My gate? The gates of this church? Who is suffering physically? Who is lacking bread? Do you really have faith? Then what are you going to do about it and when are you going to stop thinking about it or talking about it and do it!

To keep ignoring Lazarus is to cease growing up to our salvation. To not love others as God has loved us is to put our very salvation in jeopardy as we stall out in our journey up the mountain.

God didn't ask the rich man to turn over the keys to the mansion to the beggar, He only sought  compassion stirred by faith to help meet his needs. This is what He asks of us as well.
See the need, and respond to it by the means we have been given.

 Mic 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy,  (steadfast love) And to walk humbly with your God?

There is a song we play on the radio by Brandon Heath called “Give Me Your Eyes.” The chorus goes like this:

Give me your eyes for just one second,
Give me your eyes so I can see.
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see.

May this be our prayer as we seek to be more sensitive to those works that God has prepared beforehand that we may walk in them.