June 9, 2019
I Peter 2:4-10
Pastor Bryan Watson
This past week as I was driving back and forth to Yorkton in my “Seminary on Wheels”, I was listening to some speakers who were teaching about today’s text. One of them told the story about a pastor who was out playing golf with a new Christian. And the new Christian had a terrible temper… just a really short fuse. And after missing a putt that would have given him a birdie, he began to scream, "I missed, I missed, how could I miss?" And he went into a fit of rage. Doing his best Donald Duck impression, he kicked up a piece of the green and broke his putter, throwing the pieces as far as he could.
The pastor was shocked and decided to warn the young Christian that there were serious consequences to that kind of temper. So he said to him, "You know, what you've done today could result in a very serious response from heaven." He said, "There's an angel named Zapriel and Zapriel zaps people who have bad tempers. His primary mission, in fact, is to search for the worst outburst of anger and zap the one responsible. And when Zapriel is about to zap, a fireball forms in the sky and begins to roll around, plummet to the earth and nails the person who threw the fit. And I want to tell you, you are a likely candidate for zapping."
Well the new convert listened intently. However, just three holes later he missed another one and launched into the same outburst of anger, "I missed, I missed. How could I miss?" And he used his new putter to take a huge divot out of the green. And before the pastor could say a word, a ball of fire began to circle in the heavens, plummeted to the earth and consumed THE PASTOR.
And suddenly a voice came out of heaven saying, "I missed, I missed. How could I miss?"
Aren’t you glad that God never misses? He never misses with His blessings, and He never misses with His judgments, and He CERTAINLY did NOT MISS when He brought you here this morning. You’re here because God arranged for you to be here, a living stone in His Holy House, and the reality is that this place wouldn’t be the same today if you weren’t here.
Our text today is from 1 Peter 2:4-10.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--
5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, "
8 and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
There is so much deep, rich theology in these 7 verses that we could probably preach 7 sermons on them, if we wanted to. In fact, as a preacher, it becomes difficult to know where to stop. Really, we are only going to scratch the surface as we unpack this text, so I encourage you to become students of the Word and take this passage and dig deeper in your own personal studies.
So let’s get started. There are 4 truths that I want to unpack this morning.
Truth #1: We Must Come To Him
The text begins with a simple, yet profound phrase. “As you come to Him.”
This implies to draw near to Christ in intimate fellowship. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
And again, Jesus says in John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
It is in the act of coming to Christ that we are able to find the rest we need and produce fruit for His kingdom. It is in the act of coming to Christ that the remaining truths of this passage are possible. But I don’t want to belabor this point. Let’s move on.
Truth #2: We are Stones in the Same Building
Verse 4 goes on to say that Christ was a living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him. Now, why does Peter call Christ a living stone? Because He’s alive! Sometimes the simplest meaning is the right meaning. Most stones I know are dead. Hence the phrase, “stone dead.” But this stone is ALIVE.
Unfortunately, this stone was also rejected by men. What does Peter mean by that?
Christ’s claim to be the Messiah was examined and rejected by the religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees knew the claims that Jesus was making.
In Luke chapter 4, Jesus is in the synagogue in Nazareth. He is reading a prophecy about the Messiah from the book of Isaiah. 18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." – Luke 4:18-19
When He is finished reading, Jesus gives the scroll back to the attendant, sits down, and says, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) The religious leaders were so mad, they were going to throw Him off a cliff. Why? Because He was claiming to be the Messiah, and He wasn’t the Messiah that they wanted.
They didn’t want a carpenter for a Messiah. They didn’t want a Messiah who came as a servant, lowly and riding on a donkey. They didn’t want a Messiah who described Himself as a shepherd. Shepherds are gross! They stink! And sheep are stupid! When they fall down they can’t even get up by themselves. Was He calling them stupid?
And they for sure didn’t want a Messiah who upset their apple cart (or overturned their money tables, as it were.)
No, they wanted a man of might! They wanted a man who had PRESENCE! They wanted some Zeus-like figure to ride in on His white steed and crush the Romans. They wanted blood, not mercy!
Not unlike today where so many people want the God that they want, instead of the God Who Is. They re-write scripture, being sure to leave out the parts they don’t like. As Peter refers to Jesus as a “stone of stumbling” and as a “rock of offense”, so He is for people both then and now. You can’t just walk around Him and avoid Him. As Warren Wiersbe puts it, “Christ is either the means of salvation if they believe, or the means of judgment if they reject the gospel.” It truly is either one or the other. Either you believe Him, or you reject Him. But once you’ve heard the Gospel, you’ve got to do one or the other.”
And so, like craftsmen examining a building block, the religious leaders examined Christ’s claims, rolling them over and considering, examining, humming and hawing, and ultimately throwing them out. Rejected by men. Like the Bible says in John 1:10-11 – “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
But in the sight of God, He was chosen and precious. Matthew 3:17 – And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Going back to 1 Peter 2, in verses 6 and 7, Peter quotes Old Testament passages that refer to Christ as the cornerstone. The “chief” cornerstone, in fact. Why is this important?
The cornerstone is, as the name describes, the “corner” stone. It is the main stone involved in the building of a house, and it must be perfect. Every other stone must be compared to the cornerstone to determine if it is in alignment, or not.
First of all, it sets the vertical alignment for the house. If the cornerstone isn’t perfectly straight up and down, the walls of the house are either going to lean in or out, but they won’t be straight. The cornerstone sets the correct direction for all of the other stones and their line up and down. In the same way, Christ as the chief cornerstone sets the standard for our vertical relationship with the Father.
Secondly, the cornerstone sets the horizontal alignment for the house. If the cornerstone isn’t perfectly square, the walls of the house are going to be crooked. The cornerstone sets the correct angle for all of the other walls as they extend out horizontally from the corner. In the same way, Christ as the chief cornerstone sets the standard for our horizontal relationship with each other.
Peter goes on to say that we, too, are living stones. Like stones, we were once dead. But through Christ, we are now alive! And we are being built up as a spiritual house.
In the Old Testament, under the Law, the Temple was considered the holy house. It was a physical building. But in the New Testament, under the New Covenant, the Church is the holy house. And I’m not talking about this brick and mortar facility. I’m talking about the Body of Believers. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says to Peter, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone, is going to build His Church, and He is using each of us as living stones to build His spiritual house, placing each one of us where He will.
Now, what do you think happens to a brick or stone house if you just randomly remove a stone from a wall somewhere? That house is weaker. There is hole in the wall that will let in the wind and rain. The walls may shift to compensate for the hole, and the entire house may be weakened or even crumble as a result.
That’s what happens when you aren’t here. That’s what happens when you decide that you don’t need fellowship with other believers. That’s what happens when you aren’t here to join in worship together with this body. That’s what happens when you aren’t using your gifts to build up the body.
The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 that we should “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” You may think that you don’t need church, but believe me that the house is not the same if there is a living stone who goes missing.
Truth #3 – We Are Priests in the Same Temple
Peter refers to believers as a “Holy Priesthood” and a “Royal Priesthood.” What does he mean by this?
First of all, as believers, we obtain our “holy priesthood” and our “royal priesthood” from our Kingly High Priest, Jesus Christ. Christ holds the title of both King and Priest. In Hebrews 5:10, we see that Christ was “designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” In Revelation 19:16, Jesus is described as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
When the veil in the temple was torn in two at Christ’s Crucifixion, that symbolized that as believers, we now have the privilege of coming into the presence of God. In the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and only at specific times. But because of what Christ did on the Cross, we are ALL priests, and we can ALL come into the presence of God, at any time, but ONLY through Jesus Christ.
There is no other way. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”
Through Christ, and ONLY through Christ, believers have the privilege of being priests. In the Old Testament period, God’s people HAD a priesthood, but in the New Testament period, God’s people ARE a priesthood.
While “membership has its privileges” according to American Express, membership also has its obligations, according to Peter. He says that one of the reasons we are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, is so that we can offer spiritual sacrifices through Jesus that are acceptable to God. In the Old Testament, the priests offered animal sacrifices. In the New Testament, we no longer offer animal sacrifices but spiritual sacrifices.
Let me clarify. We don’t offer spiritual sacrifices in order to BECOME saved. We offer spiritual sacrifices because we ARE saved.
Now, what exactly are these spiritual sacrifices? I don’t know if this is a comprehensive list but let me tell you about some of the things I found in Scripture.
We Offer Our Bodies as a Living Sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.”
We are called to holy living, not just in what we do, but also in what we don’t do. I’m not going elaborate on this because Pastor Dennis preached last week about Holy Living. If you missed it, I encourage you to go back and listen to it.
We Offer The Praise of Our Lips
Hebrews 13:15 encourages us to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Not just on Sunday morning, be we should be bringing a sacrifice of praise every day of the week. That’s probably a lot better than some of the other things that cross our lips the rest of the time.
Sharing and Doing Good Works For Others
Hebrews 13:16 says, “do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Proclaiming the Gospel to the Unsaved
Romans 15:16 says that we are “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God,”
Our work in proclaiming the Good News is a sacrifice to God. The church I attended in Regina had a big, bold sign at the back of the sanctuary. It read, “You Are Now Entering the Mission Field.” We would be wise to take that to heart every time we leave this room.
Truth #4 – We Are Citizens of the Same Nation
Finally, Peter says that the church is a “chosen people”, a “holy nation”, a “people for His own possession”. He says that “once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.”
Let me begin with this: Peter is writing this letter, not to Jews, but to Gentile believers. And it is in that context that I am speaking to you today. I am not… and I repeat… I am not teaching a “replacement theology” here where I claim that God is finished with Israel and has replaced it with the Church. Personally, I believe that God is NOT finished with Israel, and I personally believe that the Jewish nation is still the “apple of God’s eye.” There are many promises in Scripture that are plainly for Israel which still must be fulfilled, and I believe they will be fulfilled. However, Scripture makes it very clear that there is only ONE way to the Father, and that is through the Son, and Peter’s letter here is to those who have accepted the Son as Savior. So with that, I am preaching this text as it written in the context in which it was written by Peter.
The first thing that we read here is that we are a “chosen people.”
What Peter is saying here is that, as believers, God has chosen us. Peter draws a strong comparison to Israel in Deuteronomy 7:7-8. Listen to what Moses says, “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.
But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers…”
Likewise, we didn’t do anything to save ourselves or to deserve His mercy. God has chosen us purely because of His love and grace. In John 15:16, Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit…”
Very quickly, the New Testament describes fruit as:
Godly Attitudes (Gal 5:22,23)
Righteous Behaviour (Phil 1:11)
Praise (Heb 13:15)
Leading others to faith in Christ (Rom 1:13-16)
Secondly, we are a “holy nation.” As the Church, we are not merely citizens of whatever earthly country we reside in, but as the Bible says in Philippians 3:20, “our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…” If push comes to shove, we are to obey God’s law whenever it conflicts with man’s law.
Finally, we are the “people for His own possession”. We are “God’s people.” After all, He paid for us. In Acts 20:28, Paul implores us to “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
As this passage closes, Peter emphasizes one more time the purpose for the Church. Being a Christian isn’t just for our own benefit. Rather we are to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
You know, in a congregation this size, I know that there are some of you here today who have yet to make that decision to become citizens of Heaven. Can I encourage you to consider making that decision today? You aren’t here by accident today. God doesn’t miss. You are here today to hear the Good News. God wants you to be a part of his Holy House. If you can feel Him speaking to your heart today, come and speak with myself, or Pastor Dennis. We would love to speak with you about this.
And for those of you who are already citizens, remember that as we leave here today, “You are now entering the mission field.”
Amen. Let’s pray.