Posted On March 9, 2016

Living Stones and Holy People

by | Mar 9, 2016 | 1 Peter, Featured

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to walk our readers through 1 Peter in order to help them understand what it teaches and how to apply it to our lives. This series is part of our larger commitment to help Christians learn to read, interpret, reflect, and apply the Bible to their own lives.

1 Peter 2:4-10, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do” But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

As we have seen already in this series, Peter spends much time opening his first epistle by talking about the goodness of our salvation, and how we should walk in light of it. We are “elect exiles” (1 Peter 1:1), “born again to a living hope…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:3-4). In light of this good news, we must labor to prepare our minds to strive for holiness by “being sober-minded” (1:13) and “holy in all [our] conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). We not only pursue the Christian life of holiness because it glorifies Christ but also because it is an excellent example of love for our neighbor as well (1 Peter 1:21-22). Some practical ways we flesh this out is “[putting] away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1). It looks like longing for “the pure spiritual milk, that by it [we] may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

These are all well-meaning and appealing commands Peter exhorts us to. However, it is certainly easier said than done, especially when living in the midst of people and culture Peter describes as “darkness” (1 Peter 2:9). The truth is, though we are assured and confident in our election by God that Peter alludes to in the first verse of the book, we are also continually reminded that we are also very much exiles in this world. While most of us do not lose heart in trusting that we have the promise of eternal life to come, we can still fall into losing heart in the day-to-day. We live in what’s often called a “post-Christian” culture, a world that seeks autonomy from God at every turn and resorts to minimizing the gospel message at all costs, even if that means the persecution and ostracism of Christians. How do we live with hope and confidence in not only our battle against our own flesh but against this darkness? Peter is quick to remind us here of some critical principles that we can rest in.

He invites us in for comfort. (1 Peter 2:4)

Arguably the most powerful verse in this passage is the opening verse, and sadly, a verse that probably gets looked over for the sake of what follows. Peter uses a profound conjunction in verse 4 — “as.” What’s the significance of this word? It implies that we certainly will come to him. But it also suggests further that Christ is expecting us, and wanting us, to come to Him. We will not catch Him by surprise; He will already be there when we do come, waiting, with open arms, ready to comfort us. There is a greater level of comfort that Christ can provide us because He Himself has been there. He, according to Peter, was “a living stone rejected by men.” He knows our struggle. He is, as the author of Hebrews states, a sympathizing high priest (Heb. 4:15). Peter goes on to draw this idea out, pointing to “the sight of God,” God’s eyes fixed on His “chosen and precious” saints, whom He loves. Nothing evades His gaze, and we truly have a Comforter when we need Him.

He will not let us fall (1 Peter 2:5-7)

All of the saints are referred to here as “living stones,” instruments and materials of which will make up a “spiritual house.” This is a great metaphorical image because it helps us realize, frankly, that we cannot ourselves build this structure. We are just the instrument. We are inanimate and cannot successfully fulfill the building task, which should be an encouragement. God is the builder, and with excellent craftsmanship, He will build His spiritual house through us, not because of us. Further, the concrete and structural properties of stone are fitting; we will be secured, not like a house built with straw, but with immovable stone, held together by the Cornerstone, Christ Himself.

He uses us for His purposes (1 Peter 2:8)

Most of us do not want our ministry described as being a “rock of offense” to people. We want to be remembered for the significant progress we made for the Kingdom, and we only think concerning visible growth — converts, church sizes, discipleship relationships, Bible study groups formed, etc. — but this is not the goal. The goal is to be rocks, and sometimes that means proving to be an offense, a stumbling block in between an unbeliever and Christ. We should be, like rocks, fixed in the truth of God and unwavering in our proclamation of it. Often, God will use this firmness to be an immovable boulder for some. We should be encouraged by this verse, because it is God who hardens and softens hearts, and while God uses our preaching and evangelizing as instruments, we are not the cause of one’s salvation or damnation. God has elected some, and destined others for disobedience of the world, and it is for His purposes that He chooses to do so. We should strive to be faithful, and let God choose how to use us.

He made us a people (1 Peter 2:9-12)

Finally, we rest in these excellent reminders from Peter. Only by the abundant grace that has been bestowed on us, we have been made a people of God. This is fascinating because we were once not a “people” of God at all (v. 10). Christ’s death has not only atoned for the sins of every believer as an individual, but it has created a community — God’s community — and tossed into a life of rejoicing among the saints. We may be surrounded by the darkness, but none of it can overcome the marvelous light into which God called us into (v. 9).

These five reminders from Peter are not only drawing us into a restful and thankful attitude, but also compel us forward in our ministry, in our evangelism, in our Christian lives. If we seek to live holy lives in a crooked and twisted generation, we must remember these promises. If we strive to be lights to the world, we must trust God to do the building, and to be content with being instruments for His higher purposes.

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