1 Peter 2:1-12 1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– 5 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. 6 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.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, 8 and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, 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. 10 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. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
What an incredible moment. To be sitting in the center of a God-given dream is the thrill of a lifetime. So much prayer, so much thought, so much time, so many sacrifices, so many resources, so much heart and passion have been poured into this building design and process. Several years ago, about 60 of us did a prayer walk on this property and actually buried Scriptures underground that had to do with occupying the land and being fruitful in the land that God had given us. In a very vivid sense, we are reaping what we have literally sown. We have prayed in faith, walked in faith, worked in faith, and are still trusting God to provide the resources we need to sell our former property and to pay this property off.
But here we are, together. God has done a marvelous thing in our midst. We may have built a building, but please understand, God is building something much larger than a building through us. He is building something much more spectacular through our obedience than this beautiful building. If our mission was about a building, we would be through, but listen, God isn’t through with us, and He isn’t through with this valley. He is a builder, a builder who doesn’t stop building.
(move to slide even though I won’t say, “God, the Builder”)
God, the Builder.
I am here to tell you that God builds more than walls! God builds people. He builds lives. He establishes homes. He transforms communities. God is a builder. He said in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” God is in the building business, and just as there were plans for this building and just as this building was built according to a determined, specified blueprint, God has plans that He intends us to execute as we partner with Him. His plans go way beyond the design of a building that could never stand the test of time. His plans are ongoing and eternal, and His plans include utilizing you and me. This morning as we examine God’s plans, I want us to ask ourselves two questions: Who are we? What do we live for? Let’s talk first about our identity.
Our Identity-Who Are We?
God is the Builder, and we are the Living Stones He is using to build His Kingdom. (Vs. 5)
From the rock pile to being placed securely on the Rock-from no name to beloved-from without mercy to having everything needed for life and salvation-from darkness into God’s marvelous light, we have been transformed into Living Stones, and God has strategically allowed us to come together in a way that will advance His purposes in this region.
Why can I declare to you this morning that we are Living Stones? We are living stones because Jesus is alive! We stand in the power of His resurrection. His life has become our life. He is alive forevermore, and He is the chief cornerstone in God the Father’s master plan. I Peter 2 tells us that although He was rejected by men, He was chosen by God. Though He was rejected by men, He was exalted by God. He is the foundation for our identity, meaning and purpose. We are alive because He lives.
We are alive because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, lives inside of us. God is recreating the life of Jesus inside of us as the Holy Spirit has room to live and breathe in us, and every time someone comes to faith in Christ, another stone is quarried out of the pit of sin and is cemented by grace into God’s eternal building. This is a foundational truth upon which we stand this morning:
Ephesians 2:19-22 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
God is building His church as He breathes life into us by His Spirit, and what God inhabits cannot be inhabited by the devil or his imps. What God indwells cannot be destroyed by the powers of darkness. “No power of Hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand.” We remain Living Stones in the hands of the Almighty God NO MATTER WHAT.
We are also Living Stones because we stand upon the Word of God. Verse 8 of our text tells us that the people who rejected Christ did so because they rejected the Word of God. They rejected the message. We live because we embrace the Word of God that gives life. Just as Jesus is alive, His Word is also alive. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
We are Living Stones who adjust our lives according to the truth of God’s Word.
We are alive because Jesus is alive. We are alive because His Spirit lives in us, and we are Living Stones because we follow the living Word of God.
We are Living Stones that have been hand-picked by God, and we have an incredible worth and value to Him. Our priceless identity comes from the fact that we belong to God. When it comes to our value to God, it doesn’t get any more awesome than Peter’s description in verse 9: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. Do you know how special that makes us? We are chosen by God to belong to Him, and God calls us holy because of what Jesus has done for us. He also calls us royalty, and He thought we were worth dying for. Not too shabby, right?
Ephesians 1:4-6 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
We are wanted and we are welcomed by God into His eternal plan to be used as Living Stones in His grand design. As Christ-followers, not only are we Living Stones, but I Peter helps us understand here that we are
Living Sacrifices (Vs. 5 and 9)
Twice in our passage, Peter refers to believers as priests. He calls us a holy priesthood and a royal priesthood. In the Old Testament time period, God’s people had a priesthood, but today, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we ARE a priesthood. Each individual Christ-follower has access to the Holy of Holies. Aren’t you thankful you have access to God’s throne room? We can go directly to God to confess our sin and to unload our burdens. That is what the priesthood of believers is all about.
And in verse 5, Peter says that as priests we are to be offering spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to God. What does that mean? What kind of spiritual sacrifice would be pleasing to God? Romans 12:1 helps us understand what our role as priests entails: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
As a Kingdom of Priests, we are to offer our whole lives as Living Sacrifices unto the Lord. Oh, we aren’t bringing animal sacrifices to God like the OT priests did, but we are to bring our total selves to the Lord instead. Our spiritual sacrifice is the sacrifice of ourselves, our bodies, our wills, our worship, and the good works we do in God’s name. It isn’t about lip-service, but life-service. It isn’t about one moment in time a few times a year, but it is a daily offering of our all so that God can use us the way He sees fit. Being a living sacrifice means that when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we mean, “And start in my heart, Lord. Start in my mind, Lord. Start in my will, Lord. Start with me. Accomplish Your work in my life as You see fit.” And as we lay ourselves down, He builds His church. He accomplishes His work.
Remember, we are Living Stones, and to be Living Sacrifices, we need to remain in the hands of our Lord who is the Master Architect and Builder. He chooses which stones go where, and He may do some shifting around from time to time. He may sometimes work on us rocks in order to chisel us into the right shape or to smooth off the rough edges so that we can be perfectly placed. If we commit to being Living Sacrifices, then we will be willing to undergo some shaping and some smoothing from time to time. If we are Living Sacrifices, we are willing to be used as God desires.
Remember, a huge part of sacrificial worship in the OT was the surrendering of life at an altar. Old Testament priests surrendered the life of an unsuspecting and unwilling animal. As NT Priests, we are called to voluntarily surrender our lives as Jesus did in order that that God might work out His blueprint according to His design. I will tell you that Goff Architecture was very open to suggestions and changes as we saw fit to make them. I can tell you that Pray Construction has been very accommodating when we had a desire to take a wall out or to change the way something was configured. But as living sacrifices, as priests unto the Lord, we live to please God without trying to control the process. We live to please Him without questioning if He knows best. We live to submit to His leadership without making suggestions based on what we think or feel.
Read it again. Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
It is in our living that we worship God. It is in our living that we prove we love God, that we show He is our treasure, that He is our Lord. Let every part of our living, let every facet of our lifestyle point to the fact that God is in control of our lives and we are surrendered to His will and His way. We need to commit that every act of our living will mean death to anything that dishonors Christ. That is the way we are faithful to our calling to be priests unto the Lord.
So, that is who we are. We are Living Stones and Living Sacrifices. We are Living Stones because of what God does in us, and we are Living Sacrifices as we willingly surrender to God’s work in us.
God’s Designs-What do we live for?
- God desires that our lives will be pleasing to Him. (Vs. 1, 11)
This is part of God’s blueprints for our lives, and it ties into the Living Sacrifice piece. If something we do, if something we are thinking, if the things we are saying aren’t part of the blueprint, we willingly give them up. Peter says we are to rid ourselves of malice and deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. These kind of things crowd God out of our lives and destroy our witness for Him. Verse 11 says we are to abstain from sinful desires. We cannot live for the flesh and the things of this world and please God at the same time.
But listen to me, if you put Him first, I guarantee you, He will make sure you enjoy life and that you live it to the full. That is the promise of Matthew 6:33. If you make Him your highest priority, things will flow into your life the way God desires for them to flow, and He is a Blesser of His children. He will give you contentment, satisfaction, and joy like you have never known. The joy the world can give you is a short-term, one-night-only kind of joy. Jesus can give you a joy the endures even the darkest night. He can give you satisfaction and peace that the world and Satan can never take away.
I love what the martyred missionary, Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
You give up the pleasures of sin, and live to please God, and He will give you pleasures forevermore. The Psalmist testified that what I am saying is true in Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
God’s blueprint for your life isn’t to make your life a drudgery. He isn’t a kill-joy. He is the Giver of Joy that lasts forever, and the blessings of God that I have been describing, come to the persons who live to please Him.
- God desires that we pursue intimacy with Him. (Vs. 2)
Peter tells us here that we are to grow up in our salvation. It isn’t enough to show up to church, but we must grow up in our salvation. What is Peter saying? He is saying we need to continue to deepen our love-relationship with God. Think about it. The better you know someone, the more you know what pleases them. After 20 plus years of marriage, Thom knows the way to my heart is to change the light bulbs and empty the dishwasher!
God is well-acquainted with you. There is nothing about you that God doesn’t fully know. He wants to invite you to discover more and more about Him. He doesn’t just want us to know about Him or to acknowledge that He exists. Even Satan and the demons acknowledge His existence. He wants us to truly know Him. How much do you know about Him? How much do you know about His Word? How often do you talk to Him? What stops you from intimacy with God? How well do you know God?
Let me ask this: How well do you know your smart phone? How well are you acquainted with its features? It is a sad but true commentary that as a society we are probably more acquainted with, more connected to, more dependent on and more in tune with our cell phones than we are with God. In a study conducted in 2016 it was discovered that the heaviest smartphone users click, tap or swipe on their phone 5,427 times a day. Now, that’s just the top ten percent. Ok. We would expect that number to be excessive, right?
However, the rest of us smartphone users touch, swipe, or click that addictive device 2,617 times a day on average. No small number, would you agree? The people in the study were shocked to see how much their phones were part of their everyday life.
Question: How many taps, types, swipes and clicks are taking place between you and God in a given day? How often are you reaching out to Him for information or affirmation? How often are you taking your rants to Him? How many times a day do you call on Him for direction? How often do you quiet yourself to hear Him tell you how much He loves you?
God is inviting us as Living Stones, as Living Sacrifices to come close and to let Him breathe His life into ours. That is pretty intimate. Think about breathing life into someone. You would have to literally be face to face with that person, right? To be able to breathe life into them? That is the kind of relationship God is offering us. That is His plan. It is part of His architectural design that you know Him like He knows you.
- God desires that we live to point others to Him. (Vs. 9 and 12)
Verse 9 tells us that part of God’s blueprint is that our lives will be characterized by praise and worship—that we will declare to other people how marvelous, how awesome God is, and that we will freely tell people what He means to us and has done for us. In verse 12 we read that we are to live such good lives and do such great things in God’s name that others will glorify Him because of us.
What has happened here and what will happen here has been and will continue to be all about God, His glory, and His desire for as many people as possible to have a life-changing, eternity-changing experience with Him through salvation. We have come to love a new song recently that says, “My life, for all of your glory.” That’s what it is all about. That is what being a living stone and a living sacrifice means.
Teays Valley Church of God, never forget who you are. You are not the big new church on the hill just east of Rocky Step. You are Living Stones. You are Living Sacrifices.
Teays Valley Church of God, never forget what God desires. He wants us to please Him, pursue Him, and point others to Him.
Our identity is in Christ and in His calling on our lives to connect our community to Him. Our lives must never be about what we think we have built or accomplished. They must always be about His plans and designs. God is a builder. What will He continue to build in and through your life and mine as we have now come together in this lighthouse on the hill?