Peter mentions this effect of the Word of God in verse 23: ‘since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.’ The apostle tells his readers that the instrument which God used to give them spiritual life was his Word. This is the case with all of them, although there would have been diverse ways by which each of them came in contact with the Word and how they were affected by it.
Some people are converted when they read or hear one verse of the Bible. I suppose the verse that has been most used in this way is John 3:16, but there are many other verses that have spoken strongly to individuals and given spiritual life to them. Others may read many passages of the Bible before signs of new life appear.
Some will find that initially the Word of God speaks to them about their sins and shows them that they are condemned by God; others will find that the Word of God initially speaks to them about the distinctive features of Jesus and the uniqueness of his death. There are many different ways in which the Holy Spirit uses the instrument of the Word of God to bring spiritual life into the hearts of sinners. This is one reason why it is foolish to think that someone else’s conversion experience should be the model for the conversion of anyone else.
Peter describes the Word of God as living and abiding. He does mean that the Scriptures cannot be destroyed, but I would suggest that he is also saying to his readers, ‘The seed that was sown in your hearts cannot be destroyed.’ Perhaps they were concerned that their environment would hinder any effects that the Word should have. They would have needed encouragement because of the difficulties they were encountering.
Peter’s comfort, as he strengthens his brothers, is not to say anything about possible beneficial changes in circumstances; instead he assures them that God’s Word will be effective, whatever happens. After all, it worked in their hearts when they were separated from God by their sins. So why should it cease to work now that they are reconciled to him? The fact is, the Word of God would continue to work.