Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 Living Building-Stones
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4--12 (The Living Bible)

 

4 Come to Christ, who is the living Foundation of Rock upon which God builds; though men have spurned him, he is very precious to God who has chosen him above all others.
5 And now you have become living building-stones for God's use in building his house. What's more, you are his holy priests; so come to him--you who are acceptable to him because of Jesus Christ--and offer to God those things that please him.
6 As the Scriptures express it, "See, I am sending Christ to be the carefully chosen, precious Cornerstone of my church, and I will never disappoint those who trust in him."
7 Yes, he is very precious to you who believe; and to those who reject him, well--"The same Stone that was rejected by the builders has become the Cornerstone, the most honored and important part of the building."
8 And the Scriptures also say, "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.
9 But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself--you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God's very own--all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were less than nothing; now you are God's own. Once you knew very little of God's kindness; now your very lives have been changed by it.
11 Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls.
12 Be careful how you behave among your unsaved neighbors; for then, even if they are suspicious of you and talk against you, they will end up praising God for your good works when Christ returns.


Introduction:

Is anyone here wearing jewelry?
Any diamonds?
Any rubies or emeralds?
Any precious stones?
We wouldn't normally think of using that word "precious" to describe a rock or a stone, yet we've all heard the phrase "precious stones."
Well, three times in this passage, verses 4, 6, and 7, Peter uses the word "precious" to describe our Lord Jesus and surprisingly, he portrays Christ as a precious stone.
There're a number of titles which have been applied to Jesus Christ which are linked to either his person or His ministry.

As the Messiah, He's been called the Aforepromised; the Anointed One; the Messiah; the Son of God; King of the Jews; the Lion of Judah; the Comforter; the Counselor; the Prophet; the Suffering Servant; the Lamb of God; the High Priest; the Dayspring and Day-star.

In terms of his sovereignty and authority, he is called Lord; Head; Prince; Chief Shepherd; Chief Cornerstone; the Word of God; the Firstborn; the Firstfruits; the Forerunner.

In His work of salvation, he is Jesus; Savior; the Surety and Mediator of the new covenant; the rock and the Author of life.

In the "I am" sayings of John's Gospel, he is the Bread of Life; the Door; the Light; the True Vine; the Way and the Truth, and his disciples frequently called him their Master, Rabbi; Rabboni, and Teacher.

And in this passage, He is the Precious Stone and the Cornerstone.
Precious stones are frequently mentioned in the Bible, and they were very highly valued in Peter's day.
Precious stones are used in Scripture in a symbolic way, to imply value, beauty, and durability.

Then in verses 6 and 7, He is depicted as the Cornerstone, and--
As We Come to Christ, He Becomes Our Cornerstone (vv.4 --7).
Peter begins with the assumption that we have come to Christ for salvation.
He says in verse 4: "Come to Christ, who is the living Foundation of Rock..."
The word "come" is a word of obedience.
This is one of the first commands taught in dog obedience school.
The word "come" appears in the Bible 1,706 times.

When Jesus says, "Come", it's an invitation, but it's also a command.
We can turn toward Him and run into His embrace, or we can turn on our heels and run in the other direction.
Jesus has been saying, "Come!" to people of every generation, and He's calling out the same invitation to you and me today.

As we come to Christ, He becomes our Cornerstone.
Verse 7 tells us He is a cornerstone that others have missed: "The same Stone that was rejected by the builders has become the Cornerstone."
Yes, he is very precious to you who believe; and to those who reject him, well--"The same Stone that was rejected by the builders has become the Cornerstone, the most honored and important part of the building."
This quote is from Psalm 118:22-23, and it's repeated five times in the New Testament, three times by Jesus and two times by Peter, and each time it is referring to Christ.

German theologian, Johann David Michaelis felt this was referring to an event that reportedly took place during the building of Solomon's temple.
It's said there was no sound of hammers or pounding; the temple was being erected in relative silence.
The plans were so exact that each stone was perfectly shaped at the quarry.
When the stones arrived at the site, each one fit perfectly into place.
But one huge stone didn't seem to fit anywhere, and the builders placed it to the side.
Eventually it got in the way, and workmen pushed it over the bank and it rolled into the Kidron Valley.
After the foundation had been laid, the time came to hoist the cornerstone into place.
Word was sent to the quarry, but the masons replied that it had already been delivered.
It was that rejected stone!
When it was retrieved, it slid perfectly into place, serving as the stone that held all the others in position.

When we come to Christ, He becomes the Cornerstone for our lives and for our church.
It seems incredible that He is rejected by men.
In their stupid, selfish, incompetent blueprints for life, insignificant, shortsighted men can find no place for their Creator and Redeemer.
Just as there was no room for Him in the inn, so there is no place for Him in the plan of their lives!
But it's not man's opinion that counts.
In God's sight the Lord Jesus is chosen ... and precious.
He is chosen as the Suitable Stone, and the Indispensable Stone.
And His value to God is incalculable; He is precious beyond computation.
If we are going to be used in God's building program we must come to Christ.
The only way we can be suitable building materials is through our relationship with Him.
We are only important as we contribute to His glory.

That leads to the second part of the equation:
If He Is Our Cornerstone, We Are His Construction Project (vv.4--5).
Ever heard the phrase: "Please be patient; God is not finished with me yet"?
We're all under construction.
The Lord is building "a spiritual house;" and the emphasis isn't just on His work in us as individuals, but as a church.
Notice how Peter described the church: Living stones being built into a Spiritual house, a holy priesthood, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, aliens and strangers in the world.
The spiritual house is built up of all believers in Christ, and therefore, it is the same as the church.
The church has this in common with the temple of the OT; that it is the dwelling place of God on earth.
But it's different from the Temple, which is a physical, tangible building made of beautiful but lifeless, perishable materials.
The church, on the other hand, is a structure built of living stones.

Now the picture changes swiftly from a spiritual house to the holy priesthood that functions in connection with the house.
Believers are not only living building blocks in the house; they are holy priests as well.
Under the Mosaic Law, the priesthood was limited to the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron.
And even those who were priests were forbidden to approach the Presence of God.
Only the high priest could do that on one day of the year (Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), and he had to follow the precisely ordained procedure outlined for the occasion by the Lord.

Today, we live in the new dispensation we call the age of grace, where all believers are priests with instant access to the Throne Room of God, anytime day or night.
As priests, we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices, which are in contrast to the animal, bird, and meal offerings of the Mosaic Law.

There are five spiritual sacrifices for the NT priest:
1. The presentation of the body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
This is an act of spiritual worship (Rom. 12:1).
2. The sacrifice of praise.
"That is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15).
3. The sacrifice of good works.
"Don't forget to do good. ... "
This sacrifice is pleasing to God (Heb. 13:16).
4. The sacrifice of possessions, or pocketbook.
"Don't forget ... to share."
This sacrifice also is pleasing to the Lord (Heb. 13:16).
5. The sacrifice of service.
Paul speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles as a priestly offering in Romans 15:16: "But even so I have been bold enough to emphasize some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder from me; for I am, by God's grace, a special messenger from Jesus Christ to you Gentiles, bringing you the Gospel and offering you up as a fragrant sacrifice to God; for you have been made pure and pleasing to him by the Holy Spirit."

These sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
It is only through Jesus Christ, our Mediator that we can approach God in the first place, and He's the only one who can make our offerings acceptable to God.

All that we do--our worship and our service--is imperfect, flawed by sin.
But before it reaches the Father, it passes through the Lord Jesus.
He removes all the sin, and when it reaches God the Father it is perfectly acceptable.

It was Michelangelo that carved the famous statue of David.
It's an enormous work of art, carved from a block of marble eighteen feet high.
But perhaps you didn't know that Michelangelo wasn't the first person to attempt to craft a statue from that chunk of marble.
There was an earlier artist named Agostino di Duccio who selected that stone forty years earlier and had begun working on a statue of either David or an Old Testament prophet.
But it was a difficult piece of marble to work with; described as quite thin and misshapen.
Di Duccio gave up; it was reported that he said, "I can do nothing with it."
In 1501, when Michelangelo was commissioned to create the statue of David, he used the same block of marble, and with his superior skill carved the David that has thrilled the world for 500 years.
You and I are difficult, misshapen blocks of marble, but Jesus Christ is a Master Sculptor, and He is chipping away, carving, polishing, and making us into His own image.

If you have ever watched a church building while it was under construction, then you know that the foundation was laid first, then the walls, then the roof.
But that building isn't the real church.
The real church is made up of the people who come into the building, and they are under construction, too.

God is building His church.
We are His construction project.
Friends, God is making, developing, growing, and building you, too.
God is building a temple out of living stones (Eph. 2:19--22), and we are privileged to be part of it.
We are built on Jesus Christ, so there is no way the temple can be destroyed.

That leads us to the third part of the equation:
If We Are His Construction Project, We Have a Divine Purpose for Our Life (v.9).
No one ever constructed a temple or cathedral without having a vision for it--of what it could be for the glory of God.
What does God intend for us?
What function and role has He designed for us?
Verse 9 says: "...for you have been chosen by God himself--you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God's very own--all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."

According to the New Testament, all believers are "priests," which means we have the special privilege of unlimited access to God, and the opportunity for ministries in His name.
Believers are instructed to speak publicly of the wonderful things the Lord has done.
They are to become part of the total work of the church--both worship and service.
Some believers are called to special ministry roles--for example, to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. 
That's what it says in Ephesians 4:11: "Some of us have been given special ability as apostles; to others he has given the gift of being able to preach well; some have special ability in winning people to Christ, helping them to trust him as their Savior; still others have a gift for caring for God's people as a shepherd does his sheep, leading and teaching them in the ways of God."

Others are to serve as "ambassadors for Christ" (2 Cor. 5:18--20).
Listen to what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20: "All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into His favor and be reconciled to him. For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men's sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you--be reconciled to God.

All believers are urged to meet the needs of those experiencing sickness, suffering, and trouble, as well as to build up one another in the body of Christ.

Finally, Christians are people who belong to God in a unique way and they're of special value to Him.
The last part of verse 9 describes the responsibility of those who are God's new race of priests.
We should proclaim the wonderfulness of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Once we were groping in the darkness of sin and shame.
By a stupendous deliverance we have been transferred into the kingdom of His dear Son.
The light is as clear and brilliant as the darkness was oppressive.
How we should shout the praises of the One who did all this for us!

If He Becomes Our Cornerstone, then we are His Construction Project, and if we Are His Construction Project, then We Have Divine Purpose for Our Life, and we Should Live Accordingly (vv.11 --12).
Verse 11 tells believers to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world.
That means to refrain from doing certain things, going certain places, and indulging in certain habits.
The Christian life is a restrictive life.
Jesus talked about self-denial, and the Bible frequently uses the words "discipline" and "self-control."
Many things may be fun for the moment, but only at the expense of our welfare and testimony.
But the positives of self-discipline outweigh the negatives, and the blessings are far greater than anything we give up.

Peter reminds believers that they're in the world only for a short time; they're pilgrims in the world and that fact should leave its stamp on their behavior.

They are pilgrims in the sense that they are obliged to live for a while in a place which is not their permanent home
As strangers whose citizenship is in heaven, we are carefully watched by the world; and we must live to glorify God.
It may be difficult today, but it will be worth it when Jesus returns.

In our day we must not pattern our lives after the world.
We should be marching to the beat of a different drummer.


Conclusion:

If we come to Christ, He becomes our Cornerstone.
If He becomes our Cornerstone, we become His construction project.

If we become His construction project, our lives have divine purpose.
And if our lives have divine purpose, we should live accordingly. For to us who believe, He is precious.

Do you mave any questions or comments?

 Charles Schulz consistently provided helpful and humorous insights through his Peanuts comic strip. In one run he showed Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, struggling with her memory verse for Sunday. She was lost in her thoughts trying to figure it out when she recalled, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.” She never did find her memory verse but she sure gave us something to remember when it comes to studying the Bible. We should always read it with the intent of reevaluating our attitudes and actions to make sure they are squaring up with the truth of God’s Word.

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