1 Peter 2:4-5 ~ 20081116~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/16 1 Peter 2:4-5 be built together as a house of priests offering sacrifices
1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation-- 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 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.
4 prov on prosercomenoi liyon zwnta upo anyrwpwn men apodedokimasmenon para de yew eklekton entimon 5 kai autoi wv liyoi zwntev oikodomeisye oikov pneumatikov eiv ierateuma agion anenegkai pneumatikav yusiav euprosdektouv yew dia ihsou cristou
Peter has given us five commands on how we are to respond to the initiating grace of God. After describing God's great mercy and the riches of his grace to us, he commands us to set our hope completely on grace - God's grace that is yet to come and will come to us at the proper time. Then he commands us to be holy like God is holy. We are to stop acting like we are still stupid and set God apart and treat him as if he were the most valuable thing in the universe - because he is! Then we are commanded to fear him - conduct your lives in fear - fear that we would offend God by treating the blood of his dear Son as if it were impotent and powerless to accomplish our transformation.
The first three commands are fix our attention on God. The fourth command looks at our horizontal relationships as an outward expression that our relationship with God is on track. He commands love - love one another unhypocritically, earnestly, from the heart.
Next he commands us to crave milk - the pure spiritual milk - so that we will grow up to salvation. It was the word that effected our new birth; it is the word that God gives us so that we will be spiritually nourished and grow to maturity - so develop a healthy hunger for God's word. He has commanded holiness, hope, fear, and love, and he has commanded the means by which we are to accomplish those things - feed on the word and you will grow to maturity in holiness, fear, love and hope.
Then he adds a conditional clause - 'if'. He takes Psalm 34:8 which says:
Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD [YHWH] is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
and changes it to a condition - you will crave milk and grow IF you have tasted that the Lord is good. He is assuming that we have and that we will, but he is laying it out as a question to provoke us to think. Have we tasted that the Lord is good? Do we crave more of him in his word? Do we long, like a newborn baby longs for its mother's breast, to feed on him and have all our cravings satisfied in him? If we do, what comes next naturally flows - we will come to him.
'As you come to him' is a participial phrase that could be translated 'coming to him'. He probably adopted this language from Psalm 34:5,
Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
where 'look to him' in the LXX is the same verb that is here translated 'coming to him'
'Him' in this sentence refers back to the 'Lord' of the last sentence that we have tasted and found good. Peter has lifted 'YHWH' - the covenant name for God in the Old Testament - from Psalm 34 and made it equivalent to 'Jesus' that we as believers come to.
John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
'Coming to Jesus' can describe our initial act of believing in him; But believers come continually and repeatedly to Jesus as an expression of our faith in him. If we have tasted that he is good we will come earnestly and often to him for much needed nourishment.
Peter - (who was nicknamed 'the rock' by Jesus in Matthew 16:18) uses a stone metaphor to describe Jesus. He had used this in Acts 4 in his preaching. He picked it up from Jesus' teaching in Matthew 21. A rock is something solid, unchanging, dependable. When we want to say someone is dependable we say they are 'rock solid'. In C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, Peter is not sure he will survive a battle and tells Edmond to 'say something especially nice to Trumpkin. He's been a brick.' (Prince Caspian, p. 193). Brick is used as an idiom for a helpful, reliable person. When we want to make a memorial that will withstand the ravages of time, we have it chiseled into granite. Peter's readers have nothing solid in their lives - they are aliens and exiles. They have no certainty of the future. They don't know when they might be arrested or killed for their faith. Peter encourages them that they have come to him who is a rock - in the midst of shifting times, they have their hope anchored in the bedrock.
But we use rocks in a different metaphor as well. We might say 'you're as dumb as a rock' and we mean that there's not much activity upstairs. Or we say something is 'stone dead' - it doesn't get much deader than a stone. In fact the bible refers to false gods that were made out of wood and stone:
Deuteronomy 4:28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
Isaiah 37:19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.
Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind, ... did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,
Peter surprises us here with his paradoxical metaphor – Jesus is not a normal lifeless stone, but a living stone. Absolutely steadfast and immovable, but full of life and life-giving to all who come to him. This is the third time he has used the term 'living'; we are born again to a living hope, we have been born again through the living word, and now Jesus is the living stone that we come to.
But he says Jesus is 'rejected by men'; Jesus to many was a rock in the path; he was in the way - an obstacle that you would trip over if you weren't careful, and they cast him aside - they crucified him. Peter has in mind Psalm 118:22 and he quotes it down in verse 7. He also quoted it in his sermon recorded in Acts 4:
Acts 4:10-12 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead––by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
and there he specifically applied it to the Jewish leaders. Here he applies it to mankind generally - Jesus is in general rejected by men.
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
If you want to be popular and do what the majority of people are doing, you won't come to Jesus - not on his terms anyway. Men naturally reject Jesus. That shouldn't surprise us. What should surprise us is when we see a work of God's grace in a person's life where they are awakened to who Jesus is and their blind eyes are opened and they joyfully embrace Jesus as King and Savior. When I look around this room, what I see is evidence of God's grace. No one, apart from God's work of grace in his life, turns to Jesus. That's what Jesus said:
John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Every believer is evidence of God's grace.
Jesus is rejected by men. But God has a completely different perspective on his beloved Son. Men despise and reject Jesus. To his Father, he was chosen - elect or choice - the same word Peter used of his readers in 1:1; and Jesus is precious - or honored, of high reputation with his Father. The rejection of men found expression in their calling him illegitimate, saying that he has a demon, attributing his miraculous deeds to the devil and climaxed in their shouts 'crucify him, crucify him!' The Father's love for Jesus was expressed through the voice from heaven that declared:
Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Luke 9:35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
and found ultimate expression in the Father raising Jesus from the dead three days after the crucifixion. Peter said in Acts 3:
Acts 3:13-15 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
God raised Jesus from the dead. So we come to Jesus is the life giver:
John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. ...25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
John 10:10 ...I came that they may have life and have it abundantly....28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
If you come to Jesus you will live. Jesus was the one who could touch a leper and rather than contracting that infectious disease, his life giving power would make the leper clean. The resurrection life of Jesus is infectious. Come to Jesus and you will live. In verse 5 he carries this metaphor of Jesus as the living stone to us as living stones. Because of Jesus we have life, and because of Jesus we are solid and will last forever.
Now we get to the central phrase of the sentence - 'you are being built up'. Coming to the living stone, you as living stones are being built up. God is implied as the builder, and he has a purpose for you! There are two purpose phrases in verse 5; 'to be' and 'to offer'. We are being built into something so that our identity is changed and so that our actions are changed. God is shaping us with a definite purpose in mind. And the 'you' here is not singular; 'you individually' but plural; 'you all' our 'you collectively'. Of course this has implications for us individually, but Peter's emphasis is on us collectively. Remember his admonition for us to 'love one another'? that fits right in here -
you can't love one another all by yourself. The command to love one another implies connectedness to the group. So here, if you are one living stone out in a field by yourself, you have no potential of being built into anything. We have Lincoln Logs at home. And we have five kids. There's different ways they can play with the Lincoln Logs. They can divide up all the pieces equally so each one gets their fair share. They can move to a corner of the room so that they have control of their pieces. But there's not much they can do with their little pile of Lincoln Logs. They could pretend the logs were people and they could have conversations. But that's not what the Lincoln Logs were designed for. In order to build anything significant, they have to come together and allow their little pile to be used for the common good. Then they can really build something, and they are using the logs for what they were created for. God wants to use us together to build a house. You and I are in the process of being built up as a spiritual house.
But what if the pieces don't fit together? We're simply incompatible - we just can't peacefully co-exist... Lies! Those are lies from the pit of hell. Jesus said he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We reject those lies and submit ourselves to the wise master builder. He looks at us, his living stones, that don't fit together and he says 'hmmm, these stones don't fit nicely together. Look, this one has a sharp outcropping of envy that I will chisel off. This side is all lumpy with hypocrisy and I will grind it smooth. This deceit must go if these stones will fit together as I intend. This corner of malice must be filed smooth. This one is covered with the leprosy of slander and bitterness. I will bake it in the furnace until all the disease is gone. Ahh, now they are just beginning to fit together. These two I will allow to rub against each other and chafe each other until over time they will have worn each other so smooth and will fit so perfectly together that not even a knife blade could fit between them.
Understand, we are talking about a spiritual house - not a physical building. When we believers come together, we are God's house, God's temple. When Jesus on the cross cried out 'it is finished' the heavy curtain that hid the most holy place from view was ripped from top to bottom.
Mark 15:37-38 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
God ...does not live in temples made by man (Acts 17:24). But he dwells in the midst of his people. You and I as living stones are being fitted together in to a spiritual dwelling for the God of the universe!
And our purpose? 'To be a holy priesthood' and 'to offer spiritual sacrifices'. Here the metaphor bends. Now the living stones who make up the house become the holy priesthood that offer sacrifices to God. Under Old Testament law, not just anyone could take upon himself the office of a priest. You must have been a literal physical descendant of Moses' brother Aaron. You had to be able to trace your blood line to the tribe of Levi. The priests were appointed by God to facilitate the worship of God. Only those selected to serve as priests could enter the holy place to offer sacrifices to God, and only after they had been set apart by blood. Only one priest, the high priest could ever enter the most holy place, and he could only enter once a year carrying blood from the offering to present at the mercy seat to make atonement for the sins of the people. Jesus, our great high priest, presented his own precious blood before the throne of God, propitiating our sins and :
Hebrews 1:3 ... After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Hebrews 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, ...
We now together have been set apart as holy to serve as priests to God. But what kind of sacrifice do we offer? Our text says that we offer 'spiritual sacrifices'. We no longer offer the blood of bulls and goats - the once for all perfect blood sacrifice has been made. Our sins are decisively and finally dealt with. So what kind of offering do we make?
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
So we offer our bodies, we preach the good news, we support the ministry of the gospel, we worship and praise God; we do good and share what we have. These offerings that we make are said to be 'acceptable to God.' A priest had to be extremely careful that he did not defile himself and so become unfit to offer sacrifices acceptable to God. He had to check the animal carefully to be sure that it was unblemished so that it would be acceptable to God. The procedure for offering had to be followed exactly so that the sacrifice would be acceptable to God. And the heart motive of the offerer had to be right before God for that offering to be acceptable to God. We are said to be a holy priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. What is the procedure by which we make and offering that is acceptable to God? We certainly don't want to be rejected by God. Our text tells us that we offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. There is no offering, no matter how great it may seem, no matter how deep the cost to ourselves that is acceptable to God if it is not through Jesus Christ. Many try to come to God on their own merits and offer to God their best, but it is filthy rags and rejected by God. Only those that come, not on their own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ as their perfect substitute, can:
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
It is only:
Ephesians 3:11-12 ...in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
Only through Jesus Christ and his precious blood can we find acceptance with God. Only by putting our confidence in the perfect sacrifice that he made can our sins be washed away. Only having been born again by the living and abiding word of God and given new life through the resurrection of Jesus can we approach the Father and find his favor.
So together, as his redeemed blood bought people, his holy priesthood, we together will offer a sacrifice of praise to him. We together will approach the table that God has prepared for us and we will commune with him and with one another. We together will lift up our prayers of worship and adoration to the King who is holy, and in so far as it is through Jesus Christ, we can have confidence that we are accepted by the Father.