1 Peter 2: 4-10
Our identification as a "corporate" church is not a building; rather, it is a relationship of community, where we are His priests! The entire sacrificial and priestly system, as God directed Moses to set up, is now obsolete. It has been replaced. Its purpose was to point to Christ and get people ready; now, He is here. He is the sacrifice, the Altar, and the Temple, and we are the priests (Ex. 19:1-9). The key is that we have to listen to His Word; we must relinquish our self-absorbed mindsets and focus on Christ as Lord over all.
The Living Stone, our temple, is He who gives us grace and comfort and does not disappoint! How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our continual comfort. At the same time, a warning is given to those who reject the Living Stone. He still gives us His grace-until it is too late and we are called to account. Do not be the one who rejects the Living Stone! Allow your faith to empower your obedience because obedience is what pleases God; disobedience, from a lack of faith, is detestable to Him!
· Acceptable to God. God accepts us by His sacrifice for our sins (Heb.13: 15-16)! Because of His work, we are complete in Him, we are deeply loved and accepted, and we do not need to have acceptance by any other person or means to be fulfilled (Col. 1:21-22; 2:13-15; James 1:4; 1 John 4:9-11)!
· Behold I lay in Zion is a quote from Isaiah 8:14; 28:16 and Psalm 118:22. Here, Christ is the true God and representative of us all. This is an image of how God delivered Israel from slavery to the Promised Land, and how He delivers us from sin, from darkness to Light. The same stone they worshiped is the stone they stumbled on because they refused to understand (Rom. 9:30-10:4).
· Cornerstone. This was a large stone laid at the foundation of a building to be a "footer," and to "plum" the rest of the building so it was square and secure. This was essential to the structure of the building. These buildings were laid by cut stones, interlocked by gravity and force, and without mortar, all relying and leaning on one another. Without proper stone placement, buildings in the ancient world would not last long or would fall during construction. Here, we have an image of how our Lord is our cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20). Chief cornerstone means the chief, the head of the corner; for our Lord, it means He is our All in All-we can trust in Him (1 Cor. 15:20-28)!
· Living stones…spiritual house. Together, these refer to a living, sacred temple, empowered by God to worship God. Some Jewish sects saw themselves as living temples or a new temple, such as the Qumran community that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. Our dependence must be on Christ, as He is the One who supports us, lifts us up, and houses us in His presence (Ex. 19:6; Mark 12:10-11).
· Stumble, meaning disobedient, refers to condemnation and Judgment, because a person is so "self willed" and prideful, he or she is not willing to acknowledge God as his or her Lord.
· Were appointed alludes to the total Divine Sovereignty of our Lord; He is in control. This also means we have the responsibility for our faith and actions (Rom. 9:14-24).
- But you are means we are destined, we have a purpose, and we have status before our Lord! This passage is almost a direct quotation from Exodus 19:6; referring to our sharing in God's Covenant, both as Jews and Gentiles. Our identity in Him must affect us personally and publicly, then synergize into a community (Gen. 12:1-3; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
- Proclaim. Peter has already stated our election in Christ in the first verses of the first chapter. Now, he uses it to call us to service because of what Christ has done for us. Our call is to be a joyful, mature, obedient witness with love toward others.
- Out of darkness refers to God having redeemed us out of the darkness of sin into the Light of His presence (Isa. 60:21; 61:3; Jer. 13:11).
- Who once were. Peter again quotes the O.T.; here, it is Hosea 1:10, 2:23. This means how God reversed His verdict of Judgment upon Israel for their continual disobedience and gave them restoration and the promise of Christ (Isa. 19:24-25; 56:3-8; Hos. 1:6-9; Rom. 9:24-26).
- The people of God refers to Israel. Now, it refers to all those in Christ, no matter what their heritage is (Hos. 1:6-10; 2:1, 22-23; Rom. 9:25-26). It shows how God elected the Israelites, they rejected Him, God judged them, and then He restored them. It is all about God's gracious mercy that we do not deserve.
· Spiritual sacrifices means that Christ's work on the Cross-which is "spiritual"-replaces the "material" sacrifices of the O.T. because His sacrifice is complete for us (Psalm 51:16-17; Heb. 8:13; 10:9-18; 13:5; Rev. 8:3). This is called "propitiation." It means that Christ took our place in life and in death because we cannot be saved by our own actions. We cannot rely on our own efforts, skills, personal connections, family background, or our beliefs. Only Christ can wash us clean and declare us righteous, so we are saved from our sins (Eph. 2:8-9). God imputes His righteousness unto us by declaring us righteous because of what Christ has done (Rom. 3:21-26; 5:10-19; 10:3; 12:1). This declaration means we, as the elect, are free from our debt of sin. But, we as debtors are to be witnesses to the lost! We are to respond with our sacrifices of praise (Phil. 4:18; Heb 13:15-16).
The Living Stone is defined as a dwelling! Dwellings need to be cared for, maintained, preserved, and, of course, used. His dwelling is where we can take rest and comfort out of the "weather" of life, and then regroup, recharge, and go out into the world with His Word. The incredible news of this is we still remain in His dwelling. When we go out, we are still inside His presence and care! His Living Stone is also the mobile Stone; thus, wherever we go, we are still under His shelter and care, no matter where we are or what we face.
- What if you could "rebuild" your church (building and/or people); what would it look like?
- How can the precepts of this passage help you become a more joyful, mature, obedient witness with love to others?
- Why does your faith need to grow in you personally before it can move into your community?
- What would it mean for you to have a faith that is a "living stone?"
- What does it mean to you that you are acceptable to God, deeply loved, and complete in Him?
- How can this mindset enhance who and how you are?
- How can your faith and conviction be strengthen by knowing deeply that wherever you go, you are still under His shelter and care-no matter where you are or what you face?
- What can your church do to be more like this passage? For example, how can each person interlock with one another, fastened by the mortar of the Holy Spirit in a healthier way?
- What would your church look like if this were so?
- What needs to be done to make your church more like Christ and what He called you too?
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org