Built Upon the Rock

Posted: January 3, 2010 in 1 Peter

1 Peter 2:4-10, “Built Upon the Rock”
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Ever seen a house with foundation issues? Doors don’t shut (or can’t be opened), cracks in doorways – things just don’t fit right. Depending on the type of house you have, in order to fix it, you’ve got to install piers that go deep into the soil to jack up the part of the concrete slab that’s sinking (which isn’t cheap!). The best repairs are able to get the jacks/piers all the way past the loose soil or clay all the way to solid bedrock…once the foundation is setting on something that doesn’t move, the house is going to be secure.

The Bible uses a similar analogy for our lives – Jesus makes it pretty plain we can have our lives built on rock or shifting sand…and the rock is far better! Peter picks up with this idea in his letter, and shows that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself IS our foundation stone – and through Him, God is building us up as the church into a spiritual building for the purpose of praise.

1 Peter 2:4-10 (NKJV)
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,

A. Coming to Whom? Jesus! In vs. 3, Peter had assumed that the people he was writing to (the Church scattered across Asia) had tasted of Christ. (per Ps 34:8) He continues the same thought here. Tasting the Lord = coming to Jesus…
__a. We need to come to Jesus: we are sinners in dire need of a Savior – we are those who are dead in dire need of life!
__b. We’ve been invited to come to Jesus: there’s not a single person in humanity that God does not invite to be saved through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Come to Me ALL who labor & are heavy laded & I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)
__c. We need to keep coming to Jesus: Remember Peter is writing here to the Church. We dare not come to feet of Jesus once & never come again – if that’s the whole of your relationship with Christ, it’s likely you never had a relationship with Him at all! We who are in Christ keep coming to Christ, over and over. Not that we need to be saved repeatedly (He does it once & His work is enough), but we have an ongoing community with Jesus – a relationship with Him. He is our living Lord – our Master to Whom we submit all.

B. How do we come? As if Jesus is a “living stone…” The idea isn’t so much of a random boulder (though Jesus is indeed the ROCK); Peter’s analogy is one of building materials – stones ready for use in construction. God is indeed building something, and Jesus is absolutely essential to the structure.
__a. Peter would have been well acquainted with the idea of the Lord Jesus being a rock of foundation…that’s exactly what Jesus praised Him for at Caesarea Philippi when Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Matthew 16:17-18 (17) Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (18) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. [] Wonderful praise from Jesus! But the question is: what is the “rock” to which Jesus refers? Hint: it’s not Peter. Jesus definitely used a play on words with the name He gave to Simon Peter – but Peter is just the “little stone”. Jesus is referring (specifically in the Greek) to a giant outcropping of rock – the bedrock truth of the gospel that Jesus IS the Christ, the Son of the Living God! “This” rock is the truth that Peter had just acknowledged; not Peter himself. Jesus is the rock – the living stone – to whom we continually come.

C. Three-fold description of Christ here:
__a. He was “rejected indeed by men”: Without question, the Lord Jesus has been the most influential man in all history – but He was ultimately rejected by those He came to save. (John 1…His own received Him not…) But keep in mind it wasn’t just the Jews who rejected Christ; Jew & Gentile alike sent Jesus to the cross & nailed Him there… A bloody scene of the Creator God rejected by His very own creation…
__b. He is “chosen by God”: Jesus has ALWAYS been chosen by God – before time ever existed, the Son has always been in eternal fellowship with the Father, and the Son always had a specific purpose to come, suffer, and die for the sins of mankind. Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection was not some random accident of history; it was the Father’s will & pleasure that Jesus would do these things (Isa 53:10).
__c. He is “precious” to God: Some people get the idea that since the Lord Jesus was sent by God to die for mankind that God didn’t really care too much about Him. I.e. God may have loved the world, but He must not have really loved Jesus. God forbid! Perish the thought! The Father absolutely loves the Son – Jesus is extraordinarily “precious” to Him! God’s love for the world is not mutually exclusive to His love for His only begotten Son…if there had been another way to purchase our salvation, God would have done it!
__d. We are to come to THIS Jesus! Come to the One who was rejected by men. Man’s rejection means nothing in comparison to the favor God the Father has bestowed upon Him – Jesus is His beloved Son in Whom God is well pleased!
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5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

A. It’s not just the Lord Jesus who is a living stone; so are we! Now that we are in Christ, we take after our Master – so God uses us a living stones as well (though our life comes only from Him). What is God using us for? As construction stones (bricks), we are being built by God into something: a “spiritual house” – we are the temple of God. Think of it this way: one of the purposes of the tabernacle (later the temple) is that it was the place where the priests went to minister to God. God’s very presence was there, prayers were lifted to Him – that’s where the priest would ‘personally’ encounter God. After the cross & resurrection, there was no more need for a physical temple (Jesus provided the perfect sacrifice in Himself & performed the sufficient priestly service) – but there is still the need for the presence of God, and God goes far beyond what the OT priests ever experienced in that He sends His Holy Spirit to dwell in every believer in Christ Jesus. The moment we are born again (when we repent & trust Christ for salvation), we are born of the Spirit, indwelt with the Spirit, and sealed with the Spirit of God. Thus it follows that we are the temple of the Spirit of God! 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (16) Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (17) If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. [] Both individually & corporately, the church is indwelt by the Holy Spirit & we are His holy temple!

B. We’re not just the bricks; we’re also the priests. Peter might be mixing the metaphors a bit here, but it still works perfectly. We are the “place” in which the Spirit resides, but as we are alive (living), we perform work unto God. Thus we are also (by the grace of God) made a “holy priesthood” – we have been set apart for His service.
–a. This is a privilege for EVERY believer in Christ Jesus! We are ALL priests unto God. The only priest that a Christian has is our High Priest, Jesus Christ – we have no need for anyone else to mediate between us & God because Jesus is our one mediator (1 Tim 2:5). Otherwise everyone (pastors, elders, deacons, layperson alike) are all priests in that we’ve all been called by God to serve Him.

C. As priests, what is it we do? Priests offer sacrifices. Our temple is spiritual, our worship is spiritual, thus our sacrifices are spiritual… We offer up our very lives as a reasonable, logical response to what God has done. (Rom 12:1-2)
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6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

A. Quoting Isaiah 28:16 (LXX)…God had been chastising Judah for their pride & immoral ways & proclaimed there would come a day when those who lie & promote falsehood would face a sure cornerstone of righteousness. Ultimately, the cornerstone laid in Zion refers to the promised One who was to be revealed in Jerusalem – the Messiah – Christ Jesus!
–a. Jesus is elect (chosen) & precious – just as Peter wrote in vs. 4.

B. The point? We’ve got to be built upon Christ! Historically, a cornerstone was not merely a decoration on a building – it served the purpose of positioning the entire structure as a reference point. Once the cornerstone was set, that’s how the whole building was going to go, so it was important that it be set correctly. [] Our cornerstone has been set! We have a sure foundation in Jesus Christ…and without Him, we truly have NO foundation at all! The very reason we were created was to be in fellowship with our Creator – and when people are not, it’s no wonder that they drift into sin & things that bring death. Only when we are built upon Christ Jesus do we experience the life that God intends for us to live – a life that gives praise & glory back unto our God & King in wonderful fellowship with Him.

C. There’s a wonderful promise that accompanies this truth – when we are built upon Christ, we “will by no means be put to shame.” I.e. those who trust Christ Jesus for salvation will never be disappointed; you WILL be saved. God keeps His word! Will there be hard times? Yes. Will there be times of immense suffering? No doubt. But from an eternal perspective, the believer will not be disappointed because of his/her faith in Christ Jesus…Jesus WILL save them & give them life everlasting with Him.
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7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”

A. Quoting Psalm 118:22 – seems to have been a favorite verse of Peter’s…he quoted it when standing on trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4). The Jewish leaders had rejected Christ, but God has given no under name among men by which we must be saved. Interesting contrast here between believers & nonbelievers…

B. To believers: Jesus is precious… What an honor & privilege it is to be called by Him & serve the Risen Lord Jesus! Christian: beware of taking your salvation for granted – beware of your relationship with Christ being a casual throw-away idea. There is no greater honor that could be bestowed on a sinful human being (deserving of death) than to be forgiven & brought into a covenant relationship with God as His own child. And that’s exactly what’s happened to all those who believe! To those who receive Christ, God has given the right to be called the children of God (John 1:12). What a precious privilege!

C. To nonbelievers: Jesus is still the chief cornerstone. Even if you are one who rejects Christ & chooses not to believe & trust Him, you’ve still got to face facts. Jesus IS God. Whether or not you wish to believe it is beside the point of whether or not it is true. People believed for thousands of years that the earth was flat until Columbus proved otherwise; but it did not change the fact that the earth was always round. … Jesus IS God. Jesus IS the chief cornerstone given by God the Father. Jesus DID die for your sins. Jesus WILL judge. These statements are simply truths. Whether or not you believe now merely determines how you will be affected by those truths; it doesn’t change the reality of them in the slightest.
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8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

A. One more note to nonbelievers – Jesus isn’t just the cornerstone; He’s going to trip you up as well. Quoting Isaiah 8:14. Israel had lost the fear of the Lord, and God was warning the prophet Isaiah not to walk in their ways. To Isaiah, God would be a sanctuary, but to Israel God would be a stone of stumbling & rock of offense as they were ensnared by the Lord’s judgment on their sin.

B. Jesus used the same Scripture when speaking to the chief priests & Pharisees in the Parable of the wicked vinedressers… [BIBLE: Matt 21:33-44] We cannot ignore Jesus Christ. We can reject Him, but in so doing we are rejecting the One God has chosen. We can fall on Him & be broken – and whereas that breaking may sting, we can praise God that we were humbled & brought to repentance. Or He can fall on us in His wrath in which we’ll be ground to powder & forever cast away. For the Pharisees, they had to deal with Jesus at one point or another…Jesus knew it & they knew it. Ultimately they rejected Him & were “disobedient to the word” – the prophecies God had given concerning Christ. Jesus came unto His own & His own received Him not (John 1:11).
–a. That’s not just the Jews; that’s ALL who reject Christ. There are very few corners of the world in which the gospel has not been shared at some point. Those who choose to reject Jesus are being disobedient to the word of the gospel of grace given to them.

C. Bring it back to our context in 1 Peter. Not only can the one who rejects Christ NOT change the fact that Jesus IS Christ, they will also be forced to deal WITH Christ at one time or another. Sooner or later, the person who rejects Christ will have to deal with Him. As the Rock, Jesus will trip people up… Those who reject Jesus will be offended by Him & His word… And finally, people will see Jesus at the Judgment and face Him in His terrible glory.
–a. So that’s all for the one who rejects Christ – but what about the person who comes to Christ & trusts Him for salvation? We experience marvelous things! See vs 9…
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9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

A. We’ll take these one at a time – but notice how Peter adapts so much Jewish terminology for this Gentile church he’s writing to. Those who rejected Christ rejected their privileged status & spat in the face of God Almighty. But those who have received Christ have been grafted into the promises of Abraham – and we enjoy the relationship with God promised by Moses when he laid out the covenant law with the Hebrew people at Mt. Sinai. Exodus 19:5-6 (5) Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (6) And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” [] This is what the Jews had in theory – but rejected in reality. Until the time comes when the blinders are removed from their eyes, the Church is the recipients of this promise.

B. “chosen generation”: This isn’t just a single “generation” of 40 or so years – we’re talking about a massive GENERATION…all those who have been born-again through the Spirit because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ are included. We’ve been chosen & blessed by God to have heard the gospel of Christ, received Him as Lord, and be saved!

C. “royal priesthood”: Though the whole nation was to serve God generically, this would have been a tough accomplishment for the Jewish nation to work out specifically. They had kings & they had priests – but never did the two meet together. The kings came from the tribe of Judah (and line of David) & the priests came from the tribe of Levi (and line of Aaron). The one time a king of Judah crossed the line, he got into a lot of trouble! (Uzziah – 2 Chr 26:19) But in Christ Jesus, things changed! As the author of Hebrews showed, Jesus is our High Priest of the order of Melchizedek (re: Gen 14) who was both king AND priest (Heb 7). Because we serve Christ the King who is also High Priest, that makes US a royal priesthood of believers. We share in Jesus’ grand eternal inheritance, and we will forever serve & minister praises unto God.

D. “holy nation”: We are a people who are set apart unto God. We are not isolated from the world around us, but neither are we a part of it; we have been chosen by God as HIS nation of people. We have been set apart to worship God & God alone.

E. “His own special people”: KJV “peculiar” – for some of us, that can apply on more than one level. 🙂 For Peter, we have been marked by the Spirit as belonging to God (His seal). We have been purchased by Him with nothing less than the blood of Christ – we are His redeemed possession.

F. Note we’re a people with a purpose: “that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” … God chose us to minister for His glory!
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10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

A. Do we understand how great this really is? We once had NOTHING. We weren’t even a people group. In the OT system, there were Israelites & the rest of the world (Gentiles). Sure, there were different nations among the Gentiles, but nothing that truly grouped any of them together…and certainly nothing that gave them any covenant relationship with God. But now in Christ, we ARE the “people of God!”

B. As the people of God, we have experienced & obtained the mercy of God. And did we ever need it!

Conclusion:
What is your life founded upon? Everyone is founded upon something – be it their career, their kids, their desire to have “fun”, etc. Whatever you are founded upon will affect every other area of your life, without question. Some people live for the weekend – others live for their next promotion – and they’re willing to sacrifice everything else in order to get it.

For Christians: the Lord Jesus is OUR foundation. Christ Jesus is our living foundation stone – we are built upon Him to give glory to God. Through Jesus, our chief cornerstone we are:
A. The temple (spiritual house) of God.
B. The holy & royal priesthood of God.
C. The people of God (chosen, holy, redeemed).
D. Why? For the purpose of declaring His praises among the world!

Do we understand the honor we’ve been given? The privilege that’s been bestowed upon us? May this be a year of gratefulness – in which we are quick to give praises unto God – in which we do not hesitate to sing to Him in worship – in which we are singularly focused on giving Jesus Christ the glory in all things. Soli Deo Gloria!

For those who don’t believe, the Lord Jesus isn’t your cornerstone; He’s your stumbling block. You may have tripped over Him before – this message today probably offended you at some point. You (like the rest of us at some point) don’t like being told you’re a sinner in need of salvation & that you need to humble yourself before God & submit to Christ Jesus. Maybe you’re offended at the very idea of God at all. Beware not to let your offense be your eternal downfall. The reason the gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive to so many is because it’s TRUE. We did sin against our righteous, holy, Creator God. We are deserving of death and damnation because of our rebellion against Him. But God loved us so much that He did send His Son to die in your place & to take the punishment & death you deserved. Jesus is God & Jesus did rise again from the grave. It’s all true…exactly like the Bible says. Come to the Lord Jesus today & taste of His goodness & grace. Turn away from your sins & trust Christ alone for salvation – and you will not be put to shame.

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