1 Peter #5 1 Peter 2:4-10 Stones
1 Peter #5 1 Peter 2:4-10 Stones
As we continue to explore the letter that the Apostle Peter wrote to gentile Christians in Asia Minor he is going to help believers understand who they are in Christ and what they are to do. He is going to use building metaphors, comparing this spiritual journey to quarried stones being used to build a temple, a place of worship and work. Believers as quarried stone are being molded and shaped by God into a cohesive community of faith symbolized as a temple in which the rule of God is lived out. Jesus is not only the cornerstone upon which the foundation is laid, but the capstone that locks all the other stones in place. Peter will then use descriptions from his Jewish background to confirm that they to have become God’s chosen people and that believers are chosen for a purpose.
Let’s feast on the Word
1 Peter 2:4-10 (NIV)
As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-- 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. 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,
"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. 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.
The phrase “as you come to the living stone” does not refer to you’re asking to be saved. The living stone is Jesus, and Peter uses words that communicate that a right relationship has already been established. Recall being a Christian you must ask God to save you. The human predicament is one of estrangement from God, of being outside the realm of His favor and grace, barred from specific blessings, such as guidance and wisdom without which we make relational messes. If you have ever experienced a bad relationship, or one that started well and ended poorly, this is because of this estrangement that we call original sin. Estrangement causes people to be wrongly related to God. Separated from God, humanity is on its own and the resulting relational messes created are called actual sins. Humanity has a sin problem, one of position, original sin, and one of behavior, actual sin. Actual sins cause people to relate wrongly with themselves and with others. It is by acknowledging and owning your sin problems, believing the truth of the gospel that Jesus, the one who knew no sin became sin for you that you could be made right with God (2Corinthians 5:21), willingly sacrificed Himself (John 10:18) to make it possible for you to be reconciled to God (1 John 2:2) and your sins forgiven (1 John 1:9). Your response to the gospel is committing to become a follower of Jesus that enables you to ask and for God to save (Romans 10:13, Acts 2:21). Peter assumes that this event has already happened for you. The phrase “as you come to Jesus” signifies repeated behavior. This repeated behavior is the continual seeking out of Jesus for fellowship and spiritual sustenance, direction and guidance, power and peace (Powers p 81). This is why disciples practice 7 spiritual habits so that through bible reading and study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, and contemplation a soul encounters God. The 7 habits are the way a disciple continually seeks out Jesus.
It is through encounters with God that you become a living stone fit for His purposes. Here Peter uses the word that means not only quarried but cut to fit. Christ followers are cut to fit into a spiritual house that is being built. You have a place. That spiritual house is a community of faith. The word Peter used carries the idea of allowing yourself to be built into community (oikodomeisthei). As you continue in Christ you allow yourself to be built into this spiritual community. Salvation is not a one and done event, it is an ongoing process that requires your cooperation. As you cooperate by your obedience God fits you in and places you where through you, God can do the most good.
Salvation is not a one and done event, neither is it a totally individual process. Within that spiritual temple, that faith community, you are to carry out the duties and functions of a holy priest by offering spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God. You are both privileged and responsible to offer your life to God, which is worship, on behalf of others, which is work (Romans 12:1). (Powers p.83) Being part of a faith community is vitally important to your continued work as a holy priest (Hebrews 10:25). A priest ministers to people. You must have people to be with. It’s you’re loving on them that is an acceptable sacrifice. I’ve been told by folks who don’t understand this that their church is “the mountains,” or “the ocean,” or “reading good books.” They are wrong. As a living stone you are designed for community. By yourself you’re just a paperweight. “The free lance Christian, who wishes to be a Christian but is too superior to belong to the visible Church on earth in one of its forms, is simply a contradiction in terms” (Powers p.87). Community shapes a holy life. Salvation is a “we” process, not an “I” process.
Peter draws his picture of Jesus as the precious corner stone that is rejected from the prophet Isaiah and the Psalms. [note: in the OT the precious stone refers to the nation of Israel]
Isaiah 28:16 (MSG)
But the Master, God, has something to say to this: "Watch closely. I'm laying a foundation in Zion, a solid granite foundation, squared and true. And this is the meaning of the stone: a trusting life won't topple.
Psalms 118:22-23 (MSG)
The stone the masons discarded as flawed is now the capstone! This is God's work.
We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!
Jesus the living stone, is the foundation and the capstone, the start and the finish, the alpha and omega (Revelations 22:13). You take part in His all-encompassing life and are transformed into a living stone (2 Corinthians 3:18) as you diligently follow Him.
The end of verse 8 has often been used to teach that God preordains some to be saved and some to be damned. You can easily see how this could be so, those that stumble were destined (etehesan), or in some translations appointed, and in the New Century Translation “what God planned to happen to them.” It’s the teaching of double predestination but it just doesn’t fit with God’s gift of free will to humanity (Joshua 24:15) nor His will that everyone be rightly related to Him (1Timothy 2:4, Ezekiel 18:32). When a person encounters the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus will either be a step up to salvation or a stumbling block down to destruction. Up or down is a personal choice, the one’s who obey step up while the one’s who disobey stumble. This goes back to acknowledging, believing, committing, and asking to be a follower of Jesus, or rejecting Jesus and continue to do life as you see fit. Choose Christ and you realize that He is the precious living stone upon which all of life rests. You get to choose.
We have learned that Peter wants to reassure the gentile believers that they are part of the family of God. He names Christ followers as “a chosen people (Deuteronomy 14:2), a royal priesthood (Exodus 19:5-6), and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6), and “a people belonging to God” (Leviticus 20:26). These are all descriptions for the people who through Abraham became God’s called out ones. Now by being a follower of Jesus, those who are not born to Jewish mothers, are included (Revelation 7:9). [consider John 10:16]
It's easy to gloss over this portrayal of believers being a holy nation. There is something for us to consider. A nation “denotes a group of people who share common customs, laws, and practices” (Powers p. 86). There is a mutual identity and value system within a nation that unifies it’s members (1 Corinthians 1:10). There are expected behaviors, conventions of society, and assumed rules for decorum and deference (John 13:35). With the holy nation love is the default behavior. When in doubt, love, you can go wrong here. Love for God is obedience to His commands (1 John 5:3). Love for others is looking after what is in their best interest (Philippians 2:4), it is treating others with respect, it is demonstrating that they can entrust you with guarding their heart (Galatians 6:2), you are for them, not against them (Matthew 7:12). Love is the ethic of the Kingdom. Loving behavior is servanthood (Galatians 5:13). You are building a community that can be called the Kingdom of God. Being a holy nation describes the corporate dimension of your salvation. There is no individual salvation without corporate salvation.
Individually one becomes a Christ follower and then the believer takes his or her place as a member of something so much bigger than the individual. The Apostle Paul used the human body as an example (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). You are like an individual cell within the body of Christ. Your well-being and well-doing brings health to the entire body as, though specialized in what they do, all cells work as a unit to thrive. If one cell is sick, the whole body is affected. Paul writes” “if one member suffers, all suffer together.” What you do individually makes a difference for all believers.
When you function well within the body, the entire group is empowered to testify to the world that God’s way is the best way. Within the family of God there is reconciliation and healing. The group thrives in God’s favor, His mercy, His forgiveness, and His empowerment. Out of the darkness of being alone, of being estranged, and of being alienated, the group demonstrates the light of God in which there is acceptance, belonging, mutual edification and encouragement, love and joy. People thrive in God’s light. The idea here is that as outsiders see this light
through the way you live your life in association with other believers, they will want to become insiders. When you live a holy life, you declare the praises of God. That’s what we the individual living stones are fit together into the Church are to do. We are to testify declaring the praises of God.
Here’s what you can put into practice right away.
Jesus is the cornerstone and the capstone, the precious stone. A holy life puts Him in a precious place. That precious place is at the center of your life. Your task is to remove yourself from the center of life and put Jesus there (Philippians 2:5-11). You are to make His way, your way. You make His priority, your priority. You are to make His mission, your mission.
If you are not an active loyal member of a faith community, you are out of God’s will because you are not being built into God’s spiritual house. You need the fellowship of living stones to survive. Make it a priority to fit in. There is no salvation outside of this Temple built of living stones.
When God made you one of His chosen people, He also made you a holy priest. You are set apart to minister to God and to others, living out and speaking out the Good News of salvation shining Divine Light to draw people out of their spiritual darkness. You accomplish this by using the gifts and opportunities the Holy Spirit has given. Allow yourself to be used for God’s greater purposes.
As living stones, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, belonging to a holy nation, live the YES.