Living Stones in God's House
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Peter moves from an illustration of children of God the Father into a word picture of a building, a temple made from living stones.
He begins with Jesus Christ who is the Living Stone - the one whom God had chosen. He will then reference five different Old Testament passages in speaking about this temple that God is building - the wondrous temple of the church.
Peter is building this spiriitual temple and reminding the believers that as shaped and formed stones - stones that God has chosen - God is now using to build a temple for Himself.
Peter quotes or alludes to five different passages as I mentioned, but I would tonight like to look at these in a different order than Peter does - and by doing so, hopefully, we can understand better the word picture that he is drawing for us.
A Chosen People
A Chosen People
Let’s first begin with the concept that in eternity past, God chose a group of people to become the church - Peter references God’s choosing of Israel - now, we know from Paul that ethnic and national Israel is not the same as the church, but God still has chosen us as His church - His people.
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Looking at verse 5, Moses tells the people that the Lord desires them as his peculiar treasure.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Now, in looking around the church, we might see some odd people - but the word peculiar here is not the concept of weird, but rather unique - one of a kind treasure - picture a cut gemstone that a jeweler has fashioned to highlight the brilliance encased within.
God chose us to become part of the church - but it was not because of something special that resided within us, but rather something that He can create within us - we are his special treasure. His chosen people.
Along those same lines, Peter alludes to Hosea
And I will sow her unto me in the earth; And I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; And I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; And they shall say, Thou art my God.
God chose us - when we were not His people, yet, God in His loving mercy reached down and chose us to be His own children - His church, His family.
Yet our sinfulness would have prevented that - for He is a holy God.
However, in eternity past, the Almighty God decreed that He would come down to earth and be incarnated as a man, live among men, and then die a cruel death upon the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. This gospel plan was set forth in eternity past and depended upon:
The Living Stone
The Living Stone
Peter quotes Psalm 118 and Isaiah 28- which foretold this wondrous story of Christ as the cornerstone
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, A tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: He that believeth shall not make haste.
Even in times like this we have a sure cornerstone - a precious or chosen stone. And God will indeed use this as the foundation for His church. But the Psalmist reminds us that this stone is not acceptable to all men - only those who believe:
The stone which the builders refused Is become the head stone of the corner.
Christ Himself quoted this and both Peter and Paul referred to this passage as well.
It speaks of a Living Stone - one chosen by God, but refused by man.
That Living Stone, Jesus Christ the Righteous, then becomes the cornerstone of the church - the new temple that God Almighty is building, but not with earthly stones, but rather with people - living stones who become like Him and are fitted together into a glorious temple for God’s glory.
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
One of the comforting thoughts within this passage is the concept that we, as living stones, are built up - not by our own efforts, but by God Himself.
The word stone here is not just a rock, but rather a cut, fitted stone - cleaned and shaped ready to be used in building.
In the same fashion, God Almighty picked us up out of the miry clay, the mud of our sinfulness. He then cleaned us up, and during our life He is fashioning us, cutting and shaping us - so that when He fits us together with others in this glorious building He is making - it is not a human buidling, but a spiritual temple - a place where God can be glorifies through our collective effort.
However, it is God that is doing the work - I simply need to be willing and actively participating in the process.
As we look at our church and as we look at our lives personally, it can be very easy to get discouraged - as if it all depends upon us.
Here Peter reminds us that we are simply stones in the hand of the Master Builder - He is the one who is building His church by cleaning, shaping, and fitting us into His master plan.
The Stumbling Stone
The Stumbling Stone
However, the flip side of that building - is that there are men and women who having seen the Living Stone - reject Him.
In God’s sight Jesus was not “rejected” but “chosen” (eklekton) and “honored” (entimon). He is God’s chosen and honored Stone, and since this is contrasted with his rejection by human beings, we probably have an allusion to the resurrection and exaltation of Christ.
This is talking not just about the Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus as the Messiah and crucified Him - it is speaking of that, but it is not limited to them.
This is speaking of anyone who having seen Jesus Christ, actively rejects Him, casts Him aside, and ultimately stumbles and falls to their destruction.
Peter pooints out that the stone that is a sure foundation for the church is a stone of stumbling and offence to those who will not believe:
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Their stumbling over the cornerstone is not accidental, as humans often trip unintentionally while walking. In this instance humans stumble because of rebellion, because they do not want to submit to God’s lordship.
God has not only appointed that those who disobey the word would stumble and fall. He has also determined that they would disbelieve and stumble.257 The idea that calamity also comes from God is often taught in the Old Testament. I will cite three representative examples since to modern people the idea is quite shocking: “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” (Lam 3:38). “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?” (Amos 3:6). “I form the light and create the darkness darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things” (Isa 45:7). The worldview of the Scriptures is that God is sovereignly in control of all things, from the decisions made by kings (Prov 21:1) to the throw of the dice (Prov 16:33; cf. Isa 46:9–11).
God is at work in the church
We are a kingdom of priests - not jsut to enjoy God, but to share Him with others
The church is God’s plan for rescue in this age
The church id required for us to grow into what God wants us to become (we are part of a building).
The Formed Stones
The Holy Priesthood