Continuing his preaching from First Peter 2:1-8, Pastor Babij explains how Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian’s faith and of the entire plan of salvation. Pastor also discusses how many stumble on the rock of Jesus because of disobedience to God’s written Word. Pastor Babij concludes by exhorting Christians to see themselves as God sees them: as saints and living stones in God’s holy temple.
We’re in a section of 1 Peter that is now discussing more in detail the practice of holiness. How we are to think about it, how it is to be lived out in society, and what God expects of us. Therefore, we’re looking at the destiny of the Christian, which is understanding salvation and then learning how to practice our salvation in our daily lives. Let’s pray:
Lord, as we put our eyes upon the text of Scripture, I pray, Lord, that is where our eyes and mind would be. As we now consider, in our own lives, what it means to grasp the practice of holiness, and how our lives have drastically changed when we came to Christ. In the beginning, we didn’t know all of that, and some of those things are spiritual changes. I pray, Lord, that You would give us a sense of those changes in our lives, so that we can live and behave the way we ought to, knowing that we are in Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus, we are a new creation, and all things are becoming new. I pray, Lord, that this would be a realty in our life, and that we understand the word of God for ourselves. Then, put our place in the equation of Scripture, so that we can understand it considering what the Spirit of God is teaching us. Thank You, Lord, for this day and your word. In Christ, I pray, amen.
1 Peter 2:4-10:
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” 8and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 9But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
In this section, it is preparing believers and equipping them to live in this world, and to even live in the suffering and hostilities that the world will throw at you. In 1 Peter, you should have been grasping the following:
Since the Lord begot you, you are children that must be holy. Since He is our judge and has ransomed you with so great a price, His children are to live before Him in reverential fear. Since you are born again with the incorruptible seed of the word of God, our relationship with one another should be that of sacrificial love, especially since we are children of one Father and now have an eternal thing going inside of us. Since you have been begotten by means of the eternal word of God, you should long for the milk of the word of God as your true and proper nourishment for every day.
In our passage, we find that the Christian is now meeting together in the church as a gathered people and that it constitutes a temple. A temple is where God dwells, and where the temple of God is, God communicates with His people through the eternal, enduring word of God. When God receives gifts, sacrifices, worship, and prayers from His people, it happens in this new church and community, in which God is bringing us together. Together, Christians are living stones in the same building, and we are royal priests serving the same temple, worshiping the same God, in the same family, and belonging to the same community.
The imagery is coming from the Old Testament, which is a picture or a metaphor of God building the church into a temple. The church being built as a new temple of living stones upon the cornerstone, Christ. When we are looking at the practice of holiness, Christians are living stones assembled into a spiritual house. They are to approach God in a certain way. Hebrews 4:16:
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Because of Jesus Christ, we can go right to God, and the only burnt offering that atones eternally for sin is made by Christ. True worshippers no longer bring their lambs to the alter to receive forgiveness of sins. Instead, they bring a sacrifice involved with praising God for His grace, they declare one’s attention to love God, and they keep His commandments.
Now that animal sacrifice is obsolete, praise and good works constitute the proper sacrifices expected of a Christian. Meaning, we approach Christ as a living stone. That stone, in 1 Peter 2:4, is choice and precious in the sight of the Father, which should also be in our sight. Christ is not a dead idle, nor is He a lifeless monument. Christ is the living, resurrected, life giving One. Therefore, Jesus is the one who gives life to all those who come to Him believing in His death and resurrection.
However, not all who encounter Jesus or hear the message of Jesus come to the same conclusion. Some examine Jesus and deem Him useless like the apostate, religious leadership of Israel. John 1:11:
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
Now, we approach the living stone, Jesus Christ, and assemble in the church to worship Him. In the church, all believers are priests. In 1 Peter 2:5, the picture is drawn from God building His church into a temple, and the purpose of a temple was for the work of a priest.
Again, the Bible is telling us that all believers are priests. Once they become born again, they become priests, who have access to God. Even more so than any of the Old Testament priests had, and only the high priest could enter the holiest place in the temple one time of the year. Hebrews 10:19:
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus
When Jesus died in our place, His flesh being like the veil was rent for us so that we may have complete access to God. Therefore, we are a spiritual house for a holy priesthood. As said in 1 Peter 2:5, priests are to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. Meaning, those sacrifices are clear: we are to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice that is acceptable to God.
While we are doing that, we are making sure that we are not conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our mind, so we know the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Then, we are to worship God by our words, which is praising and thanking Him for what He has done in our lives. That praise and thanks goes on continually in our lives. Also, our works and service of doing good, in which we are serving God.
In 1 Peter 2:6, we are coming together as Christians to share God’s understanding of Christ, which can mean two things: Christ is either an honored cornerstone or an obstacle to stumble over. Because of the word of God, Christians come to an understanding of Christ. For us, Christ is an honored cornerstone to those who believe. Therefore, Christians believe that Jesus is of supreme value and the cornerstone, who binds all the walls firmly together in the spiritual temple.
Without Jesus Christ, everything crumbles, so Christians give honor to the cornerstone. In other words, the honor of Christ is recognizable to you. At one time in your life, Christ was not choice, precious, or of high value. However, now that you have come to know Him, He is of an extreme level of high value, and He is choice in the sense that there is no one else that can take His place. To us who believe, Jesus is precious as being costly. In our text, Peter quotes from Isaiah; though, he says something in a little different way, but in the same way. Isaiah 28:16:
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
There are many disappoints that we will face in this life. In fact, you have probably gone through some already, and you will probably go through more. However, I will guarantee that believing in Christ will not be one of them. By believing in Christ, you will never be disappointed in Him. Though you may sense disappointment, it is only because you don’t know the word. Once the word of God clears things up, there is no ground at all for us to be disappointed.
While Peter uses the term disappointed, Isaiah uses disturbed. Isaiah is using it in the sense of the stone being such an important part of the building, and if it was disturbed, it would all come crumbling down. Because it is never going to be disturbed, it is fixed, firm, and forever. In other words, there will be no adverse influence towards believers.
On the other hand, Peter uses the word disappointment. Meaning, there will be no shame, disgrace, disappointment, embarrassment, rejection, or dishonor, and this is before God. Because of what Christ accomplished on your behalf, your salvation produces for you nothing but joy and stability, which is something no one could take away.
This relationship with Christ is one of no disappointments whatsoever. God’s design for salvation will only bring joy to you, but it will bring judgement to others. There is no in between, and it’s either one or the other. Either we have joy, or we are still under God’s justice. God is a just God, and He will have His justice fulfilled.
The word Zion has a rich history in Scripture, which means the temple area as the dwelling place of God. In fact, in Isaiah, this is where God lays the foundation of the glorified, heavenly city. Many theological ideas are attached to this word Zion, but the dominant idea of Zion is a dwelling place. A place where God is in the midst of His people and is joined to a larger theme that is picked up in the New Testament. When the word of God talks about Immanuel, it means God in our midst. Bottom line, when we are talking about Zion, God is with His people, which is the temple and the temple is the church. In that gathered assembly, it is where God dwells, and we dwell with Him.
As we dwell with Him, we learn more about Him, and as we learn more about Him, our understanding of Christ becomes that of a choice and a precious cornerstone in a building that could never be destroyed. This is for those who believe, and this is a gift to you. If you think of that, then you can only come to this conclusion: God desires for His people joy and peace.
Christ does not go away because someone doesn’t believe in Him. You cannot avoid Christ, ignore Christ, reinterpret Christ, or go around Christ. Christ is an unavoidable obstacle to every human being. If anyone tries to follow any other path to heaven, then Jesus Christ will instead be a large immovable stone lying in their path. Again, either Christ is going to be a choice, precious cornerstone, or Christ is going to be an obstruction or hinderance to you.
In 1 Peter 2:7, Peter doubles up his point. He is saying that this cornerstone anchors the building, and from it, all lines and measurements radiate. The cornerstone is the keystone of the building. If this cornerstone, which is Jesus Christ, is rejected, then there is nothing left but ruin and destruction.
In 1 Peter 2:8, it is a stone of a stumbling, which indicates an obstacle where a person can strike his foot and cause injury. This word is used to refer to the various purposes a stone may have in any building project; however, here it is one of tripping over. Then, it says a rock of offense, and this phrase suggests a trap set to trip up someone.
Instead of being a clear way of salvation to the Jews and unbelieving, Christ becomes a scandal. In Greek, the word offense is skandalon. In other words, He becomes a snare, and cause of ruin, occasion of falling over Him instead of coming to Him and believing in Him. Specifically, this is directed at the Jews, but also for all unbelievers.
If we put all these terms together, it expresses in the strongest way the seriousness of ignoring, forgetting, and rejecting Christ. In the end, if someone does that, God abandons such people to the error of their own ways and the emptiness of their systems of belief, which is a system of unbelief. Therefore, that is the seriousness of Christ, and He will either be one of producing joy and salvation, or one of producing stumbling, rejection, ruin, and judgement.
Also, in 1 Peter 2:8, they stumble since they are disobedient to the word. In other words, stumbling at the word is the penalty for not believing the word. Inevitably, the consequences of rejecting Christ are believing a lie such as, “there is many ways to get to God besides Christ,” or, “there is no hell because God is a God of love.” Also, the lie of, “I’ve been a good person,” or, “nobody really knows the right way.” Satan is a liar and he will lie to you to say that you’re too young to believe and have plenty of time, and when you get old he convinces you that your too old to believe. If those lies don’t work on you, he will come up with one just for you.
In Scripture, spiritually dead people are characterized by unbelief and rebellion. There is an active rebellion and a passive rebellion. It doesn’t matter what kind of rebellion it is, especially since it is still rebellion to reject Christ. In fact, the high ruling body of Israel did not recognize that God was at work in Jesus in a new way by inaugurating God’s sovereign reign in the lives of those who would respond in faith and repentance.
They assumed that they had figured out Jesus, which is what happens when you are reading the gospel. You have a bunch of people who think they have a handle on Jesus. As a result, they got Jesus wrong. They assumed they figured Him out. However, the source of their conclusion was fleshly, worldly, and demonic.
Because of the greatest wickedness that exists among humanity, they got Jesus wrong, which is the sin of unbelief. This is the sad commentary, which is repeated often today. People hear the message on how God provides deliverance through Christ Jesus, and they dismiss it and set it aside as if it doesn’t really matter or apply to them. Certainly, what they are doing is expressing unbelief. They are expressing their deadness to spiritual things or to understand anything about God.
Grant Osborne said, “No one should dare assume to be able to reject Christ repeatedly with impunity. There are consequences and they are eternal.” Peter wants us to understand this in Scripture: there are not many ways, but only one way. In the gospel of Mark, the same subject was addressed by Jesus, and Jesus pressed upon the Jewish leadership their ignorance of Scripture. Jesus speaks to the leaders and teachers of theology in Israel. Mark 12:10:
Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone
He is saying the same thing to them as He is saying to us. The problem has been that they have not been reading the Scripture, and they have not been listening to God’s spokesmen, which were the prophets in the Old Testament. This is the same problem today.
Because I have read the Scriptures, I am able to tell you these things; though, I don’t know all the Scriptures. Because people have not read the Scriptures, it is the reason why they conclude what they do. Historically, this Psalm was composed to express the joy of the people after the Babylonian captivity. Either on laying the cornerstone on the new temple, or on the dedication of the completed temple or structure. Psalm 118:22:
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
However, in Scripture, the builders rejected, which means to reject after scrutiny and full examination. Once you examine it, you conclude that this stone is useless and unfit for this building. People hear about Christ through their life, and they conclude completely in another direction what the Bible says about Him. The point you must make with people: do you believe what the bible says about Jesus? It’s not what you think it says, not what you hear somebody say about Him, but what the Bible says about Him.
Jesus Christ is a God who is full of loving passion. He wants to extend His mercy to people, but He is also a God of justice and judgement. If that mercy is shunned, rejected, or laid aside, then there is no other place for a person to settle, which puts them under God’s wrath.
Jesus himself is the rejected stone, and now becomes in God’s good purpose the chief cornerstone of the building, which is the new temple and Christian church. The chief cornerstone binds together again the two sides of the building. Architecturally, He becomes the most important stone in the structure, which governs every angle in the formation of the building. All the godly who see this strange way of God’s working can only bow their heads in awe and reverence at God’s plan.
Those who do not believe have examined the stone of Christ, and they have determined that there is no value in Him. Both believers and unbelievers examine the stone but come to different conclusions. Therefore, Christ is the only way of salvation and He cannot be avoided, so the person who rejects Him for whatever reason remains in a state of ruin and destruction, which cannot be changed whatsoever unless the person comes to Christ and believes.
In my evaluation, some people might say that 1 Peter 2:8 is teaching double predestination, which means that God predestines people to heaven and hell. However, I don’t believe that the Bible teaches double predestination. Here, it is stating the consequences of rejecting Christ, who is God’s appointed stone, and God punishes those who reject Christ. Those Jews, who have rejected God’s chief cornerstone, will have no mercy in the end, and anyone who does not receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will have no mercy.
God’s mercy is not giving you what you deserve. If God withholds His mercy, He gives you what you deserve. We are sinners, so without Christ, we deserve God’s judgement. God must judge me based on our sin, which separates us from Him. Therefore, God’s justice comes down on all those who have not believed.
Anyone who does not receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will have no mercy. The Living Bible translated 1 Peter 2:8 as such:
He is the Stone that some will stumble over, and the Rock that will make them fall.” They will stumble because they will not listen to God’s Word nor obey it, and so this punishment must follow—that they will fall
God’s mercy is only to be had when one believes whole heartedly in Jesus Christ, but Peter goes on to say, “that is not you.” You believed, so let’s move from this heavy message to knowing who you are supposed to be.
In saying that, if you have believed in Christ today, you are accepted in the beloved, and you have a new life that brings a new identity. You are not the person you used to be, so who are you then? If I were to come up to you and ask, “who are you?” You would reply with, “I’m an American, a Christian, a Sunday school teacher, an elder, a deacon, a husband, a wife, a teacher, a computer programmer, an IT person, a pilot, retired, an office manager, an officer of the law, a truck driver, a scientist, a medical doctor, a nurse, a child and elder caretaker, a counselor, a home manager, a nanny, a mechanic, a construction worker, a secretary, a beautician, a barber, an engineer, a landlord, or a photographer.”
This is probably what you would say, and there are many other things that could be included in that answer. However, I doubt that very much in that answer to that question, you would have said, “I am a saint.” You would not have said that, and why is that?
Some have never been taught differently from the word of God. Others think that it would be prideful to identify themselves as saints. Perhaps because we are saints who sin and think of ourselves more as saved sinners than saints. Being a saint, who is alive and free in Christ, does not mean spiritual maturity or sinlessness. However, it provides the basis for hope and future growth as a believer.
According to Scripture, a believer in Christ is a saint, and Peter is going to tell us who we are. Stop looking at yourself the way you think you are and start looking at yourself the way you truly are. In other words, God now sees you in Christ, which changes everything about us.
Today, we have a lot of problems with self-identify and self-esteem. Because they don’t know what to do with who they are, people run to all kinds of places. When you come to the word of God, you will find out who you were to who you are. When you see yourself like that, everything changes, and your whole mindset changes. Therefore, as stated in 1 Peter 2:9, you are a chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, and people for God’s own possession.
We are to understand ourselves in this way so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him, who has called you out of darkness into this marvelous light. Have you been looking at yourself like that? I don’t think you have. However, we need to because this is how God sees us. When we do, how we see ourselves will change our behavior and the way we live, especially since it changes the way we think of ourselves based on how God sees us. Let’s pray:
Lord, I appreciate the word of God. Lord, I feel like I shouldn’t end there, but the Lord’s table is before us. I pray, Lord, as we think of the Lord’s table, we would consider the very important things You tell us in the word of God concerning You. That is something that You want us to be partaking of on a regular basis because it’s the core of the gospel. The bread representing Your body. That You came into this world as a Man, You lived a sinless life, and You became the perfect lamb of God like no other man. Lord, You died in the place of sinners. Then, You shed Your blood to wash away that sin that separates us from Your very presence. So, Lord, as we come to this time, it would be a time that we really reflect on those things. I pray, in Christ name, Amen.