1 Peter

1Peter 2:4-10    —    THE STONE THAT THE BUILDERS REJECTED

This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on April 24th, 2005.  Unfortunately there is no audio.

Take Up Your Calling to Be A Priest!

“ As you come to him, the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, through Jesus  Christ.  For in Scripture it says; see, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

God is Building A House of Priests:   It may actually be more helpful to our modern minds to think of the metaphor of a sports team.  God is putting together a team of priests, where every member gets to play together for His kingdom.  Peter uses the more Scriptural metaphor of a building.  But this building is something outside of our experience – it has stones that are alive.

How is God building this house / team?  As people come to Christ, they are (1) being made alive spiritually, and (2) being made into living stones that will fit into this house that God wants to build.  What is the goal of this house / team?   Each living stone / player is going to do the job of a priest.  What do priests do?

(1) They pray for the people of God, for those in need and for the lost.

(2) They speak to the people about who God is and what He has done.

(3) They care for the sick and needy.

(4) They themselves live holy lives.

This is what God wants to do with our lives – in whatever vocation we follow, wherever we live, whoever we move among.  God wants us to function as priests. This work is precious to God, and those who come to the living stone and become living stones themselves to be priests and to fit into this house.  Those who become part of this living house will never need to be ashamed for their sin.

Reject the Pressure to Build God A Political House.

“Now to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the  builders rejected has become the capstone’, and, ‘A rock that makes them fall.’   They stumble because they disobey the message, which is also what they were destined for.”

Some Oppose the House God is Building:  Those who do not believe are not happy about this spiritual house God is building.  Speaking specifically about the Jews, and ancient Israel, Scripture says that they rejected the idea of a spiritual house – a kingdom of people who would act as priests.  Instead, Israel wanted to be a political and military world power.

(1) because it would make them feel safe from their enemies.

(2) because it would look impressive and gain them the respect of the world.

They became disobedient to the calling of God – to be priests.  And so the more they tried to be a military world power, the more the Israelite kings tried to build impressive fortresses and palaces, the farther they wandered from their spiritual calling.  They disobeyed the message!  God wanted a people who would be a light in the world – a witness to the world.  Their disobedience, however, caused them to stumble in this calling, and to fail to live as the people of God.

They Opposed Jesus:  When Jesus came, this situation was already set up!  Those who had chosen for Israel to be a world power were destined to stumble when jesus came.  In a sense, they rejected him, along with God’s plan, before he was ever born.

But We Have Been Called in Jesus to Be the Priesthood People of God:     But you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”     But the followers of Jesus – those who hear his call to become a spiritual people – to be priests – have become the people belonging to God – a chosen people – a royal priesthood – a holy nation.

We Cannot Build Both a Spiritual and Political House:  This means that we cannot be both (1) A royal priesthood, a spiritual house, and also (2) A political force who demand that America – or any other nation – be a Christian nation.  That would be another building – another house.

This is where Ancient Israel failed by demanding a king – by trying to make Jerusalem a world power.  It is where the ancient kings of Israel failed by pouring money into their fortresses and palaces, while allowing idolatry to continue in the land.  This is where the NT Jews failed, by trying to gain political power against Rome.    And this is where American Evangelicals are failing, by trying to gain political power and make America a Christian nation.

(1) We want to be safe from our enemies – but Christ has told us to love and pray for our enemies.

(2) We want to look impressive to the world and gain its respect – but Christ has called us to be priests – humble servants – and even to be despised and rejected by men – for his sake.

Take Up Your New Identity As The Spiritual House of God.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God;  once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Take Up Your New Identity:  So what are we supposed to do about this?  How can we respond to such a large scale issue in the church?   We can take up our calling as spiritual priests in Christ, and begin to do the work of priests.

(1) Pray for Revival in God’s Household –  Right now most people in America don’t even know what Christianity really is.  There are a few very loud voices for Christianity that are talking about politics – about hating people who struggle with certain kinds of sin – about how believing in God is a great money making scheme –  and about how Christians are going to rise up and assassinate the Antichrist at the end of the world.

The Gospel of grace, forgiveness and new life is rarely mentioned.  Pray that the central message of our faith would be the message that people hear – the message that Christians would come to be known for.

(2) Pray for and love your enemies – back up the message of the Gospel by living it out.  Be a priest to people – too many Christians respond to their enemies and to conflicts just as hatefully as the world – this is not fitting for those called to be a light and priests.

(3) Speak the truth that people don’t know about Christianity.

(4) Care for and love those in need.

(5) Be Holy, so that people can see what new life looks like.

Become A People:  Peter writes something shocking to his readers, who are mostly Jewish.  He says; “Once you were not a people…”.  In other words, before you came to Jesus you had no national identity.  These are people who, all their lives, thought of themselves as Jews.

The point is, that if you have come to Jesus, the living stone, you are now a living piece of what God is building – you are now a member of the people of God – and no other identity you have has any meaning in comparison – it means nothing.  This is the only identity that means anything – that is lasting.  It is valuable because Jesus bought it for you at great price and it makes you a Child of the living God – so take it up!  Live as God’s priest – a member of his people.

Live Under Mercy:   God has shown us mercy – through Jesus.  But Peter makes it plain here that God had a purpose behind showing us mercy – to make us into a holy people, who live as priests in the world.

We have been shown mercy so that we would then take the message of mercy to other people – so that we could restore people to a relationship with God.  This is the point of our priesthood – what God wants to do through us.  We are a house – a team – of God’s children, helping to shape and build a spiritual house in which others find the mercy and grace of God, and come to love him as we together learn to live holy lives as the people of God.

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