1 Peter 2:1-10
Living Stones or Stumbling Blocks
INTRO: Last week we began a short series on the letters of Peter. We talked about the man, Peter, formerly known as Simon (hearer), but whose name was changed by Jesus to “Rock.” Peter, the outspoken, foot-in-mouth follower of Jesus who was so excited to be with his Rabbi that he sometimes didn’t quite know what to say. “Jesus, if that’s you walking on that water, then tell me to join you.” Peter, the one who openly, publicly denied association with Jesus.
But Jesus knew something about Peter that I think Peter didn’t know about himself: Peter was a man who could yield to the power and lordship of Jesus Christ in his life. Peter took the experiences of his life—the good and the bad—and could learn and grow from them. It was then Peter who—even before the apostle Paul—was the foremost evangelist for Jesus, leading 3,000 souls to Christ on Pentecost!
In his letters to the Christian churches in what is now modern-day Turkey, Peter encouraged the believers during a time of great persecution and challenged them to remain committed to God even when the culture around them would persuade them otherwise. Last week, in looking at the opening comments of his first letter, we saw that Christians have a LIVING HOPE because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whatever we’re facing is temporary, and because of our relationship with Christ, our eternal future is a glorious one!
This morning we are going to look at portions of the second chapter of this first letter, where we learn that we not only “have” a living hope, but that we are indeed LIVING STONES.
READ 1 PETER 2:1-10. To my knowledge this is the only passage from 1 Peter I have preached on, but it was several years ago and there are so many great biblical truths in this passage, that it bears repeating.
Biblical significance of Stones
Memory stone—Jacob & “stairway to heaven” dream
Stones from Jordan River set up as memorial
Witness to a covenant between Joshua and Israel
David killed Goliath with a stone
Stones were also important for Peter’s analogy of the Christian life
EIGHT TIMES Peter uses the idea of stone or cornerstone
Peter calls the church “LIVING STONES” that God is building into His spiritual Temple…with Jesus as the Cornerstone
Temple built of Stoneà cornerstone was NE corner of foundation—
The stones were selected, cut, and shaped in the stone quarry according to precise plans. Only then were they taken to the building site and set into place.
The most important stone was the cornerstone, which was the NE corner of the foundation.
ALL OTHER STONES LINED UP WITH THAT STONEàKEYSTONE or CAPSTONE
SIZE, SHAPE, STRENGTH OF STRUCTURE depended upon that corner stone
God uses a similar process to build His New Covenant Temple. Its stones (individual believers) are chosen and shaped by the Holy Spirit to fit into God’s master plan for the church. And Jesus Himself is the precious cornerstone, specially chosen and prepared by the Father to be the standard to which all others conform.
I like how the apostle Paul put this idea of being built into a holy temple in his letter to the churches at Ephesus: 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
In the Jewish sacramental system, priests were appointed and anointed to minister in the Temple (and to offer sacrifices). But in the New Covenant with Jesus as our Great High Priest, who offered himself as an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, ALL Christians are “the priesthood of all believers.” Jesus said, “God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and truth.” We are the dwelling place of God!
We are called to offer acceptable sacrifices to God. How do we do that?
Peter is calling the early church into a life of holy living, ridding ourselves of behaviors such as deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.
If we could get just that part right, the church would look a whole lot more like what Christ intends for his Bride to look like!
Spiritual Sacrifice is also an act of worship. We were created for worship!
Look at another part of today’s text: “But to those who do not believe, the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, and, a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
§ The more literal translation is that this cornerstone (Jesus) is “”A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”
§ The word we see here is SCANDALONà (We get word, “scandal/scandalous”): figuratively, it means “an offense, putting a negative cause-and-effect relationship into motion.”
I may reject God’s Son because: (a) I don’t think I need saving; (b) I know I offend God, but I don’t think God can or will save me, (c) I’ve been hurt by church people, or life has been unfair to me so I need God to make it up to me before I’ll accept Jesus; or any number of other reasons I am offended by the Gospel…and that CAUSE leads to the EFFECT of my having stumbled and fallen away into eternal judgment.
Peter warns that those who reject Jesus are destined for the fall…destruction.
The Good News of Jesus Christ IS good news for those who, by faith, turn from sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. But the Good News is BAD NEWS for those who refuse to accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Let me ask: Is the Good News “GOOD” or “BAD” for you? Seriously…stop and think.
Peter rightly states that this Cornerstone (Jesus) is precious to us who believe. Affection for Christ is the bottom-line characteristic of true believers. Believing in Him and loving Him are inseparable. In John 16:27 Jesus says, “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed.” In Matthew 10:37 He says, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Believers have a compelling and surpassing love for Christ.
If Jesus is precious to us, then it stands to reason that THE CHURCH IS SCANDOLOUS, TOO! A stumbling block to those who reject Christ and his church.
See the Paradox? We are living stones used by God as a spiritual temple…but as Christ’s ambassadors we can also be stumbling blocks.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF STUMBLING BLOCKS…GOOD AND BAD KINDS
GODLY KIND…when we are being the church God intends, then we WILL clash with the world…CONTRAST what the world offers. Examples:
Social issues like same-sex marriage; abortion on demand; pre-marital sex; divorce…God’s Word is clear and we are a people of God’s Word.
Economic ideals like greed, materialism, consumerism, VS charity, tithing, and sharing…God’s Word is clear and we are a people of God’s Word.
Religious principles where tolerance has been redefined so that people of faith are not allowed to express it openly in schools and courts…God’s Word is clear that we are to worship the Lord our God in all places and all times and we are a people of God’s Word
PERSONAL STUMBLING BLOCKS…when we choose to ignore traps for our lives… temptations we face and we don’t avoid them or go around them
What issues of thoughts or behaviors are keeping you from becoming the living stone God is calling you to be?
Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors? Jealousy? Bitterness? Un-forgiveness? Sexual sin? Anger? Prejudice or racism?
We have to know our stumbling blocks and either avoid/move them out of the way
CHURCH’S STUMBLING BLOCKS…How are we using our rocks wrongly
Ungodly habits such as gossip or back biting?
Preconceived ideas about who belongs and who doesn’t?
Denominational Wars…thinking our theology is better than others. The unchurched could care less! They just want to know if they will be accepted by us and by God!
WE ARE CALLED LIVING STONES BY GOD’S WORD
You have an Identity in Christà A CHOSEN PEOPLE…A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
A Priestà made sacrifices to God on behalf of the people to remove their sins.
Christ made the final, ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus is our Great High Priest.
General senseà All believers serve as priests, offering spiritual sacrifices that please God
Romans 12:1à Present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Royal Priests and A HOLY NATION (Called to reflect the character of God)
GOD’S WORD TELLS YOU WHO YOU REALLY ARE.
You are acceptable…a chosen people
It’s not about how “good” you’ve been or how much sin you’ve avoided in your life.
It’s also not about how “bad” you’ve been and how much you need to get right with God.
God LOVES YOU because you are created in His Image. God loves you because you are YOU.
YOU ARE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD
1.You are Valuable…God’s very own (“peculiar”) possession
What makes something valuable? Based on WHO owns it and WHAT it COST
You are God’s possession…and it cost God the price of His son, Jesus. That makes you the most valuable thing on the planet! You are worth more to God than all the precious stones put together!
3. You are Lovable…Once we were not a people, now we are God’s people…once we received no mercy, now we have received God’s mercy
This is a cruel world…injustice happens all around us…perhaps you feel you’ve handed a raw deal in life
Maybe you haven’t felt very loved lately. BUT God has shown his love for you by sending Jesus Christ to be your Savior…to be for the world what we could not be for ourselves
i. We can’t perform well enough to meet God’s standard of perfection
ii. We can’t do enough good to make up for all our mistakes and make us as good as God’s goodness
iii. But, as Paul says in Romans, “God showed his great love for us that, while we were yet sinners—enemies with God—Chris died for us.” That’s GREAT NEWS!!!
iv. You are LOVABLE.
You are Usable. I like how the NLT puts it “You can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
Jesus says, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:32) When we glorify Jesus with our lives, others will come.
Jesus talks about being salt and light to the world. We are not to hide our light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world to see so that others will be drawn to the light.
Christ is counting on us to show God’s goodness. Some may be thinking that you don’t know how to do that…you don’t know if you have any usable gifts. Let me tell you that you DO! Look at Romans 12, 1 Cor. 12, or Ephesians 4! Find your path and be usable.
True, our past can affect how we see ourselves and our future…it can be paralyzing if we’re not careful… BUT OUR PAST DOES NOT CONTROL OUR PRESENT OR FUTURE! IT DOESN’T DETERMINE WHOSE WE ARE AND WHO WE CAN BE IN JESUS.
God has called us acceptable, valuable, lovable, and usable.
WE ARE LIVING STONES…WE HAVE A CHOICE:
Will we use our stones to BUILD WALLS to keep the wrong kind of people out…to put irritants in our shoes…to weigh us down….to hurl at those we don’t like…OR
WILL WE USE OUR STONES TO BUILD BRIDGES…PATHS to Jesus…ALTARS TO WORSHIP HIM…
The choice is ours. “And now, God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple…and you are God’s chosen people, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, his very own possession.” WHY? “So you can declare others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” AMEN.