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1 PETER 2:4-12
Series:  Living For Heaven In A Hell Bound World - Part Four

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
September 16, 2012

We are going on with our study of 1 Peter - looking at Living for Heaven in a Hell bound world.  Looking at that struggle.  What it means to live in two worlds - being focused on heaven - where we are headed - and yet living on earth - very much a part of a world that is on a trajectory away from God and bound for judgment and Hell.


This morning - we’re coming to 1 Peter 2 - starting at verse 4 - and looking at Living With Rejection.  Let’s say that together:  “Living with rejection.”


(cartoon)  “Dear Contributor - Thank you for submitting your story to our magazine.  To save time we are enclosing two rejection slips.   One for this story and one for the next story you send us.”


(cartoon)  “Is it a good idea for me to ask you out on a date?”  “I don’t know.  How good are you at handling rejection.”


(picture)  If we’ve been living and breathing for a few years we get rejection.  Isn’t that sad?  We can empathize?  Yes?


Would join me at 1 Peter 2 - starting at verse 4:  As you come to him - Jesus - as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 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.


Verse 6:  For it stands in Scripture:  “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”  They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.


Let’s pause there.  Verses 4 to 10 are A Description of Three People.


The first person is Jesus Christ - verse 4.  Peter describes Jesus as a living stone - rejected by men - but chosen and precious in God’s sight.


Living means that Jesus isn’t some prophet or wise dude from 2,000 years ago who said some great stuff and either got himself killed or escaped to the south of France with Mary Magdalene while someone else got crucified in His place.


“As you come to Him” - verse 4 - has the idea that we come and we keep on coming.  Because Jesus is alive we have an ongoing relationship with our living Savior.  Daily - our relationship with Jesus is getting deeper - we’re growing spiritually.  The dynamics of a living relationship.


Stone is an image that’s used all over Scripture describing what is permanent - sure - foundational - the very beginning point of our faith.


The living stone that we come to is Jesus Christ. 


Peter writes that Jesus, the living stone, has been rejected by men.  Which is not a new revelation but a well known reality.


Way back then - when they built buildings they’d cut out new stones from a quarry that was probably some distance away.  Which meant hauling the stone to the site and then cutting it into place.  Less expensive than all that hauling of new stones - less expensive was - since they were probably building on the ruins of some other building - they would take a stone that was already there from the old building and chisel it into shape for the new building.  Its not hard to imagine that the builders - looking at potential stones - might reject some of those stones.


 In Acts 4 - Peter says to the supreme court of Israel, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders - the leadership of Israel - rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone, and there is salvation in no one else, for there is not other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:11,12)

Isaiah writes: 
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”  (Isaiah 53:3)


The Apostle John writes, “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.”  (John 1:11)


Jesus - the living stone is rejected by men - and yet - Peter writes - Jesus in the sight of God is chosen and precious.


Chosen meaning that Jesus is set apart - unique - appointed by God to be the anointed one - the Messiah - the Christ.


Paul writes in Romans, “For while we were still weak - unable to save ourselves - at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  (Romans 5:6)


At the right time means at the time God chose.  At the time God chose - chose before creation was creation - according to the plan of the Almighty Sovereign God of Creation - Jesus the only begotten Son of God - by an act of Divine choice lays down His life on the cross and willfully takes it up again - for us.


Precious means priceless.  The value of Jesus’ blood and broken body cannot be measured with human understanding.  What Jesus gave for us - to buy our freedom from the penalty of our sins - His sacrifice cannot be limited by placing some kind of temporal cheap human value on it.

Jesus Christ is the living stone - rejected by men - and yet in the sight of God - chosen and precious.


The second person Peter describes is someone who’s accepted Jesus as their Savior.  Those Who Believe.  Let’s say that together:  “Those who believe.”   Those who have received Jesus personally as their Christ.  He is their chosen and precious living rock of God.


Who’s Peter describing?  Us.  Those of us who believe in Jesus.


Peter writes - verse 5 - that those who believe are living stones - meaning we’re not dead weight but we’re spiritually alive.  We’re being built up as a spiritual house.  We’re being  chiseled and fitted together into a living building - the church.


This is Ignatius.  Ignatius was a pastor with the Church in Antioch - who was martyred early in the second century - torn apart by wild animals in the Roman Coliseum.  Ignatius was a man of unwavering faith in Jesus.


Just before he was martyred - Ignatius wrote to the Ephesian church - Ignatius wrote, “You are stones of a temple, prepared beforehand for the building of God the Father, hoisted up to the heights by the crane of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, using as a rope the Holy Spirit.” (1)


God’s purpose in that building project is for us to be a holy - meaning set apart by God for God’s use - which is what being holy is about - living stones being built up as a spiritual house in order to be - our purpose - a holy priesthood so that we can offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God.


We can roll a pea with our nose from here down 99 to LA and ask God to accept it as a holy sacrifice and it don’t mean a thing - except pea abuse and we’re gonna need a bandage for what’s left of our nose.


Our sacrifices are acceptable because - when we come to faith in Jesus - God makes our sacrifices acceptable.  Like Cain and Abel - its not about what we say is acceptable.  Its about what God says is acceptable.


Peter writes that the sacrifice God accepts is offered up through Whom?  Jesus Christ.


Hebrews 11:6 - “Without faith it is impossible to please Him...”  When we come to faith in Jesus - as recipients of God’s grace - God’s grace changes everything - when we come to faith in Jesus - what we offer up - in Christ - God accepts.


We’re priests because of our relationship with Jesus.  Unlike the priests of the Old Covenant - we don’t need the blood of goats and lambs and bulls - oh my.  We don’t need to heave this and wave that.  We don’t need no ceremonies to get us in the door.  We already come to our Father through the precious blood of the chosen One, Jesus Christ.

Paul writes - 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.”


As priests - acceptable sacrifice is about daily coming to Jesus - as living stones to the living stone - laying our lives on the altar - from the heart - from the core of who we are - giving ourselves over totally to God to do with whatever He chooses to do with us and through us for His glory.


In verse 6 the last part of Peter’s quote is from Isaiah - “Whoever believes in him - Jesus - will not be put to shame.”


Paul writes to the Corinthian church - 1 Corinthians 3 - Paul writes - for the believer - the foundation of our salvation and relationship with God - is Jesus.  Yet, as we go along we’re tempted to build on that foundation with materials other than what God would have us build with.


Paul writes about silver and gold and precious stones - wood - hay - and straw - as examples.  Think - anything that we might look to for security - that we might place a greater value on than God - maybe even things that we might be giving to God or doing for God that are based not on daily sacrificing our lives on the altar and following God through life - but what we say we’re doing for God and then expecting God to bless it.


Paul writes - in 1 Corinthians 3 - starting at 13 - each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, - when Jesus comes back - when how we lived our lives gets judged by God - its gonna be revealed what our lives were really all about - because it will be revealed by fire, and the fires will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation - Jesus - survives, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, thought he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)


Are we together on Paul’s point?  Paul writes that Jesus is the foundation worth building our lives on and whatever we do with our lives - what gets built on that foundation - needs to come from our belief - the total daily sacrifice of our lives to God.  Otherwise - when we get before the judgment seat of God - its all gonna burn.


Grab the confidence in that.  Because there isn’t anyone of us - apart from what God enables us to do in Jesus Christ - that could ever hope to offer anything even remotely resembling acceptable to God.  But - when we live as a holy priesthood daily offering the sacrifice of our lives to God through Jesus Christ - we will never stand in shame - disgraced - watching everything we’ve lived our lives for go up in smoke.  In Christ - we stand confident - never needing to be ashamed - even in this world bound for Hell.


The third person Peter describes is someone who’s rejected Jesus as their Savior.  Those Who Do Not Believe.  Let’s say that together:  “Those who do not believe.”  They’ve heard the testimony of Scripture - they’ve heard the testimony of God’s people - and they’ve chosen to reject Jesus as their Savior. 


In verse 7 Peter uses two quotes from the Old Testament to describe those who do not believe.  The first is from Psalm 118:22.  “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”


There’s a tradition that the Rabbis used to explain this verse.  Maybe you’ve heard this.


When Solomon was building his temple almost all of the work was prefabricated.  They quarried the stones off site and even cut these massive stones into shape off site because they didn’t want to defile the temple area with the noise of the workman.  So they would drag these huge cut to fit stones to the temple site and assemble them into place.  Like some huge Lego jigsaw puzzle.


According to the tradition there was one stone that arrived that no one knew what to do with.  It just didn’t fit.  So they set it aside and went on building.  Time went by.  Stuff grew up around the stone.  People forgot about it.  Until they realized they couldn’t finish the temple because there was a piece missing.  Ever have that happen when you’re doing a puzzle?


They realized they’d set aside the cornerstone.  They went looking for it.  Dragged it to the temple site and put it into place.  So, according to the Rabbis - the stone that the builders rejected became the corner stone.


I’m not sure how historical that story is.  But it does illustrate the truth behind what Peter is writing.  Which is this:  Someone may choose not to believe that Jesus is God’s living stone - chosen and precious - to reject Jesus as the corner stone - but that doesn’t mean that He isn’t.  Jesus is the corner stone - not because we say He is or isn’t - Jesus is the cornerstone because God has chosen Him to be.


Those who choose to disbelieve have rejected God’s truth but God’s truth still stands.


The second description comes in verse 8 - Peter’s quote of Isaiah 8:14 - to those who reject Him - Jesus has become “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” 


My first car was a baby blue ‘71 Pinto.  It had 13” radial TA’s which gave it amazing traction.  And a 37” glasspack muffler which gave it this amazing sound.  It was wimpy car - complete with exploding gas tank - but cruising - I looked and sounded good. 


When I got down to Biola for college - they’d put in these speed bumps that we’re more like triangles than rounded speed bumps.  And of course being new to campus and not thinking much about those signs that say “slow down”  I went right over the first speed bump and landed my neat sounding muffler right on the point of that speed bump.  Which created a whole new sound for my car.


Every time I went in and out of Biola - no matter how good I looked in that Pinto - cruising through campus - every time I hit that speed bump -  I bounced - scraped - did serious damage to my car.


What Peter is getting at is that someone who rejects Jesus is going to keep stumbling over Him.  Jesus is gonna be an obstacle in their path that they’re gonna keep tripping over.  Why?  Because who Jesus is is a truth that never changes regardless of our attitude towards Him.


The word “offense” - in Greek - “a rock of offense” - offense is “skandalon” which is where we get our word “scandalous” from.  Some kind of shameful action that leads to disgrace.  In Greek it describes a trap that someone stumbles into.


It doesn’t matter how good someone may look - cruising down the road in a tricked out Ford Pinto - by all standards of the world very successful - they will stumble.  Someone who’s rejected Jesus is on a trajectory towards what will ultimately destroy them.


God - by His grace - not desiring anyone to perish forever in Hell - God will pursue us through life - the Holy Spirit working to convict us of sin - to draw us to faith in Jesus - to salvation in Him.  Every time we reject Jesus we stumble - our situation gets more precarious.  One day - we’re going stand before God as our judge - and those who reject Jesus are going to have rejected and stumbled their way into hell.


Three people - Jesus - those who accept Him and those who reject Him.


Let’s go on - verse 9:  But - meaning in contrast - we’re coming back to those who have believed in Jesus.  But - you who believe - you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.


In verse 9 Peter is borrowing language and imagery from the book of Deuteronomy.  Listen to Deuteronomy 7 - starting at verse 6:  “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”  (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

Hold onto the comparison Peter is making.  In a similar way - as God called the people of Israel to be a unique nation with a special purpose among the pagan kingdoms - God has called the church to be a unique witness of Jesus Christ in a world bound for Hell.


Just as Israel was - you - believer in Jesus Christ - you are a chosen race - meaning that it is God’s loving initiative that has brought us into the church. 


You are a royal priesthood - which has two shades of meaning.


The first ties us to Jesus - royally.  Jesus is King and we are His - belonging to His house - together children of the living God with all the blessings and privileges that carries with it.


And we are a priesthood - called to corporate worship, prayer, ministry - offering up even our life as a sacrifice acceptable to God.


Peter writes - you are a holy nation - meaning that God has set us apart for His use.


You are a people for God’s own possession - meaning that we are God’s people.


Verse 10 is a reference to Hosea.  Remember Hosea?  Hosea was a prophet back in the days when God’s people were rejecting God.  God tells Hosea to go and marry a prostitute - Gomer - and have children by her.  God using Hosea as a real time illustration for His people.


Hosea represents God.  Gomer - the prostitute - represents God’s people who are out prostituting themselves committing spiritual adultery with other gods and the stuff of this world.


Hosea and Gomer have three children.  Anyone remember their names? 


The first is “Jezreel” - which means “God scatters” - which is all about what’s about to happen to Israel - military defeat and getting hauled off to Assyria - getting scattered.


The second child was named “Lo-ruhamah” - which means “no mercy” - meaning that God was personally going to punish His people.


The third child was named “Lo-ammi” - “Not My People” - because God had had enough.  He told His people you are no longer My people.


Each child is given their name by God.  Each name shows where the relationship of God and His people have gone - where its going - because of the spiritual adultery of God’s people.


When people saw the child.  When they heard the name.  Point was they should have understood.  Should have been appalled at where their sin had taken them in their relationship with God.  They should have turned back to God.


Imagine how deep in sin God’s people had to have stumbled to come to the point where the God of grace, mercy, and love would tell them, ”You are not longer My people.”


But God’s people persisted in sin.  They continued to reject God’s love.  And God gave them over to the reality of what it meant for them to not be His people - the reality of what it meant for them to live apart from the blessings of a covenant relationship with God.


We’re together?


In Hosea 2 - starting at verse 19 - God tells His people what He - God - is going to do for them.  Hosea 2:19:  “And I will betroth you to Me forever.  I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.  And you shall know the Lord.”


Going down to verse 23 - God tells His people:  “And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, “You are my people;” and he shall say, “You are my God.”


That’s huge.  The eternal God of creation - who could have justifiably spoken one word and none of this would exist - poof - gone - no more unfaithful people.  God - takes His people - who have prostituted themselves with every known form of perversity - and makes them to be righteous - made right before Him as a virgin bride - and justified - set free from condemnation for their sin - and He - God - commits Himself to faithfully pouring out his love and compassion on them - forever.


Are we processing the awesomeness of that?  The comparison Peter makes between Israel and what God does for us?


As we stumble around in sin - rejecting God - God demonstrates His own love for us - meaning that while we were still deeply trapped by our sins with no way out - even rejecting God - Christ died for us.


We’re chosen - not because we’re all that awesome.  In fact - think about Hosea and verse 10 - what Peter is putting together here.  Not only are we not all that desirable to be chosen - but we’re pretty messed up.  By every standard applicable we should have been rejected and sent straight to Hell.  Do not pass Go do not collect $200.


But God’s grace changes everything.  While we were still sinners God makes us to be His people.  When we believe - choose to trust our lives to the living stone - rejected - and yet chosen and precious in God’s eyes - God makes us to be His people.



Look again at verse 9 - Grab onto Peter’s purpose statement - that you - God’s chosen priestly people - may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.


God, because He is gracious and merciful and loving - instead of rejecting us - God chooses us to be His people called together for His unique purpose of witnessing of Jesus Christ - our Savior - in this world of people stumbling around in darkness - heading for Hell.


If you’ve ever warmed the bench because you didn’t get chosen for the team - know this - believer in Jesus Christ - you’re on God’s team - chosen and precious to God.


Peter’s drive it home point of application comes in verses 11 and 12: 


Verse 11:  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.


Did you catch Peter’s implied reality in verse 12:  Not “if they speak against you as evildoers” - but “when they speak against you as evildoers.”  As in “they will.”  Rejection is coming.  Count on it.


This is who?  Dan Cathy - president of Chick-fil-A.  A company that has always been transparent about operating on biblical principles.  Their website says that they exist “to glorify God.”  They close on Sundays so their employees can attend church.


Dan Cathy said this:  “We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit.  We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.  We give God thanks for that.” (2)  


The media - politicians - Gay and lesbian advocates - even the government just hammered Cathy and Chick-Fil-A basically trying to intimidate them and bully them and anyone else that shares their views.  It was a hatchet job.  How many of you watched this?


That’s one issue among many we could focus on.  Time is short.  Point being that this is one issue among many that points to the moral decline and shift in values we are a part of in this country.


James Emery White - senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church made this observation:  “It is a fascinating progression that has taken place in American Culture.  First, classical Christian orthodoxy was marginalized.  Second, it became ostracized.  Third, it became demonized.  Fourth, it became penalized.  And now the move would seem to be to have it criminalized.  Defining disagreement as discrimination, and then that disagreement as a hate crime, is one of the more frightening developments of our time.” (3)

Franklin Graham - in the latest Decision Magazine - Franklin Graham writes this:  “We’re not in a cultural war; it’s a spiritual battle, and it’s a war against Jesus Christ.  The secularists are God-haters, and they hate His Son.  And the church of Jesus Christ within America must wake up out of its slumber and stand up and contend for biblical truth within our society that is increasingly turning its back on God’s truth.  Persecution is coming; Christians in America are slowly being silenced for their faith in Jesus.”  (4)


Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  (John 15:18,19)


Because God has graciously chosen us to live as His people - to witness for Him in this Hell bound world - we will be hated.  But rejection by the world doesn’t change who we are in Christ.  Rejection doesn’t change what we have been chosen to do.  Rejection should strengthen our resolve.


Resolve to live exemplary lives.


Peter writes, “abstain from the passions of the flesh”   The world engages the flesh.  Temptations are there.  Really good ones.  The world is a playground bound for Hell.  For us it’s a battleground where we must stand firm - saying “No” - living different - living based on Scripture and the truth of God’s word.

Resolve to leave no room for slander.


Peter writes, “keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable”  We’re going to get ridiculed.  But is the criticism valid?  Will it stick?  Or, will the charges - when investigated - demonstrate a consistent God glorifying life?


Resolve to do good deeds among unbelievers.


Peter writes, “they may see your good deeds”  The Good Samaritan principle.  Who’s my neighbor?  Don’t stop to check for someone’s Christian ID card before you help them.  Go out and make a difference in people’s lives.  Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)  How’s your light shinning these days?


Resolve to never forget we are being watched.


Peter writes, “they may see”   Meaning, like it or not, we’re being watched.  And the world is very critical - very unforgiving - of Christian hypocrites.  Does our behavior bring glory to God?  If it doesn’t people aren’t going to give a rip about what we say we believe.   





1. Ignatius, To The Ephesians 9 - c. AD 110

2. Biblical Recorder 07.02.12  BRNow.org

3. Quoted in Decision Magazine - 09.2012, page 3

4. Franklin Graham:  “Sound The Warning” - Decision Magazine - 09.2012


General reference:  Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on James, 1 and 2 Peter - Zondervan, 2010


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.