Listen to audio above while following along with the transcript below (also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)
“We welcome all of you. I want to share a verse. We’re going to look in Peter at the revelation of Christ as the rock, so you’ll see how valuable this verse is after the study but let me start with it. Psalm 95:1 and it says, “Oh, come let us sing for joy to the Lord. Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” So, with that in mind let’s commit our time to Him.
Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have discovered the Lord to our hearts, and we have found Him to be the rock of our salvation. All we can do is sing and rejoice and praise and honor You for such a revelation. Lord, we just pray that You would guide us this morning as we come again to Your word and deliver Your people from anything I say that might be sourced from my own flesh. Just pray that You would protect us and show us the Lord Jesus in a fresh and new way, and then grace us to embrace Him as He is revealed to us. We thank You, Lord, that we can trust You for this, and we ask You because Jesus deserves it, to over-answer our request. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
On the low level of earth this is our fourth lesson in the book of 1 Peter. Don’t say, “Oh, I’m lost. I wasn’t here for the first three.” Every lesson stands on its own and every lesson is a picture of our Lord Jesus. Because we’re presenting Him and not doctrine or theology, you can walk in and walk out anytime with a blessing from the Lord.
We’ve had three introduction studies, and this is sort of transition. It’s going to be the last part of our introduction, but we’re actually going to get into the book itself. It’s a strange start. We’re not going to start in chapter 1 because the last part of the introduction ties into chapter 2, but that will make sense as we go on. This morning, hopefully, we’ll wrap up our introduction and give you a taste, the beginning for the book itself.
I’m not going to review everything, but I would like to review what is the theme, the message of this wonderful epistle. At first as you go through it several times, it looks like the message is, “the pilgrim life.” Christians are pilgrims. We don’t live here. We’re passing through. Our real home is in heaven. For example, in 1 Peter 1:1, we’re only one verse deep, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia.” They’re scattered because they are being persecuted and being killed. I’ll call attention to this in another study, but the word “scattered” there is the word “scattered like seed”. They’re not only running because they’re persecuted. God is sowing them, and it’s missionary, and He’s scattering them.
2 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens, strangers, to abstain from fleshly lust which war against the soul.” So, once again “aliens, strangers,” and if you have the King James Version, “I urge you as pilgrims..” So, you can look at that and say, “The message is the pilgrim life. We’re supposed to be pilgrims. We’re not settlers. We don’t sink roots in this world. We’re passing through. Our home is above. But the prevailing theme in 1 Peter is not that we are pilgrims, and that we’re living as pilgrims in the world. Now, in a sense that’s true, but Peter presents the Lord Jesus as the ideal Pilgrim after God’s heart, and the Pilgrim lives in your heart to enable you to live the Christian life. The Pilgrim, the Lord Jesus, the Pilgrim after God’s heart lives in my heart and expresses Himself, so my life looks like a pilgrim life and so does yours. So, I guess we’re Pilgrim channels. He lives in us, and He lives through us, but the only One qualified to be a pilgrim after God’s heart is the Lord Jesus.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to live the Christian life. I’ve often said, “It’s not hard, it’s easy, it’s impossible. You can’t live the Christian life.” Only the Lord Jesus can live the Christian life, and He wants to live it again in you, through you. So, Peter just emphasizes that fact. We’re three verses deep in the book, and he says, “There’s no hope, except that He has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” What’s a “living hope”? He said, “By the resurrection of Christ from the dead.” It’s the living Christ. I have to see the living Christ, and that gives me hope to live the pilgrim life, the Christian life.
When we left off last time in our introduction, I was contrasting the Peter that we read about in the gospels, we know his story, and we’re thirty or thirty-five years later in 1 Peter. The Peter is the gospels looks qualitatively different than the Peter in the epistles, and there’s a big difference. The point that we made last time is, “Has Peter changed? Has God worked in him so that Peter in the gospel has been changed, transformed, conformed, or whatever word you want to use, into the Peter of the epistle?” And the answer is, “No. Peter is still Peter and he’ll always be Peter and he’ll never change.” Something changed, and the answer is, “His vision of Jesus changed.”
When you see his new vision of Christ, he’s seeing Christ differently. When he was in the gospels he was struggling and trying to live a Christian life and failing all the time, because his vision of the Lord was just small. People say, “You need more surrender.” No, I’m totally surrendered to a Jesus that big. I don’t need more surrender. I need a greater vision, and now I need to surrender to that. Then He shows Himself again, and now I need to surrender to that. That’s what’s happening to Peter, and God has opened his heart and eyes. John 1:42, first words of Jesus audibly that ever came into Peter’s ears, the first thing Jesus ever said, “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John, and you shall be called Cephas.’” I just love that— “You are… You shall be….” That’s what He does for all of us. He’s not changing us, but he’s enlarging our vision, and Jesus is the One who is growing.
So, Peter is still Peter. I gave the illustration; Peter would just dive in. He wouldn’t think. He would just dive in. You are three verses deep into Peter and we already know about persecution, he mentions the foreknowledge of God, he mentions the election of God, he mentions the Trinity, he mentions God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. He tells you the ministry of the Father, the ministry of the Son and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and you’re only three verses deep. He just jumps in. That’s Peter, no introduction! When you get to Paul, “I welcome him and I’m praying for you and God bless with peace and mercy…” and you’ve got all this long introduction. But Peter is Peter and he’ll always be Peter and the only thing changing is his vision of Jesus. If I looked at Peter I’d say, “Wow, he changed.” No, he wouldn’t admit that. He would say, “No, I’ll tell you what changed. I’m seeing Jesus more today than I saw him thirty years ago.” And that’s all that’s going to change in you and me. We have that.
Let me connect that to Galatians 4:19, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” Christ is in you, and He’s being formed, and He’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I’m not suggesting that when Christ comes into your heart He comes in unformed. He comes in with all of God in His fullness, and there’s a stature. So, He’s growing in us, but we’re growing in Him. Ephesians 4:13, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” So, the full Christ came in, but Peter’s vision is, “I only see a little,” so He’s being formed in you, and He’s growing up in Christ. This is just a picture of what we’ve all experienced.
You were created to be indwelt by the Life of the Lord. I was created to be indwelt by the Life of the Lord. When the Lord came into Peter, He didn’t change Peter. He liberated Peter. He set Peter free to be Peter, and Christ in Peter. He was born, he thought, “Now I’m a pilgrim.” No, you’re a Pilgrim channel, and you’re going to learn that through the years. The idea of being conformed to Christ, the more I see Jesus, the more you are going to look at me and say, “Boy, Ed is changing.” I’m not changing. I’m still me, the same old me, and if you want an inside story, see my Lillian. I don’t change, but you’re going to look at me and say, “Boy, he’s more patient and he’s more loving and he’s more kind and he’s more forgiving.” That’s not me. That’s Him in me and Him in you.
Anyway, that’s what we’ve been looking at. We looked at the Peter of the gospels, his increased vision of Peter in the epistles, and I’m going to summarize, and this is review. He finally saw the Lord Jesus in his heart, and he said, “No longer am I’m going to fulfill my calling. I’ve got One in my heart who is praying for me to fulfill my calling. He prayed that when I was converted, I would strengthen the brothers. I’m writing this letter to strengthen the brothers. That’s because I’ve seen Him, His prayer for me. I used to struggle with the will of God. He was going to the cross. And I said, ‘Never.’ I don’t struggle with the will of God anymore, because the One that lives in me does the will of God, and I’m trusting the One who lives in me. I used to try to be brave and strong and stand up for Jesus. I don’t do that anymore. Jesus keeps revealing Himself to me, and when I’m going through stuff now, He fills me with joy inexpressible, full of glory. It’s the Christ in me.”
Peter said, “For example, before Jesus said, ‘Are you armed?’ I said, ‘I’ve got two swords, swords of steal. I’m ready and I’ll cut off anybody’s ear.’ Now I see One inside of me who is fighting all of my battles. Arm yourself with the same Spirit of suffering. Now it’s non-resistance.” What’s changing? Not Peter. He’s seeing Jesus in his heart. He said, “’I used to struggle; how many times should I forgive that guy? How many times?’ but now I’ve got One in my heart who loves, and forgiveness is not an issue, and love covers a multitude of sin. He has seen Jesus, and it looks like he has been transformed. I stood up against Jesus, “Never will You wash my feet, even until the ages of eternity. And now He’s telling me to serve others? But the One who wears the slave apron lives in my heart, and He’s serving through me.” Anyway, that’s what we’ve been looking at. Peter in the gospel, seeing Jesus, and Peter of the epistles, and it looks like he’s changing, but he’s just manifesting a fuller Christ the more he goes on with the Lord.
I want to show you one more, I say it’s the end of the introduction, and go back to the gospels once more, Peter in the gospel. I want to show you how he saw Jesus, and how in the epistle it looks different. I’m referring to Matthew 16:13-19, over against 1 Peter 2:4-9, the contrast, the passage concerning Jesus as the rock. There’s so much emphasis on this in 1 Peter, I couldn’t just pass over it. We’ve got to stop here. As I said, this is a double lesson, it’s closing the introduction and it’s also beginning.
I think we’re familiar with this great confession of Peter at Caesarea Philippi, but let’s just read the text, beginning at Matthew 16:13, “When Jesus came to the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, and others say Elijah, and still others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I’ll build my church, and the gates of hell (hades) will not overpower it.’” Now, He said more, and I left out all that He said about the keys and all that He said about binding and loosing, and so much more.
This passage has been called by my commentaries, “the most controversial passage in the Bible”. Well, as I’ve come to know the Lord, depending upon who you’re talking to, every part of the Bible is controversial to those whose hearts are closed to the Lord. I don’t know how it’s possible to say that this is more controversial than that. The truth is always going to be questioned by unbelievers, and since there is no bottom to it, even believers are going to interpret it one way, and another believer is going to interpret another way, but in this particular case, I think the meaning of what happened at Caesarea Philippi, if all you had was Matthew and Luke, I don’t think you would get the point. Peter explained it in 1 Peter, and without his explanation, you’re going to have controversy, because you are going to say, “Well, it says this, and it says this, and that’s what it means,” and on and on and on. We’re not always going to see eye to eye with each other, but if we’re seeing Jesus, we’ll always see heart to heart with each other, and it doesn’t have to be dividing.
I want to focus on the expression in verse 18, “I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I’ll build my church.” There are different views on the rock, on the church, on the keys, on the binding, on the loosing, and different people have approached it differently. I want to look at this comment to Peter, “You’re Peter, and on this rock, I’ll build My church.” I’m convinced you don’t know what that means until you get to 1 Peter. He explains it. It’s wonderful. But whatever He meant at this time, thirty years before, he didn’t get it. He heard it, “On this rock I’ll build My church,” but he didn’t get it. One illustration is what happens next. Right after that revelation Jesus, the true Pilgrim, the ideal Pilgrim, tells him, “I’m going to Jerusalem and I’m going to suffer and I’m going to mistreated and they’re going to kill Me.” Matthew 16:22, “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” So, Peter rebukes Jesus and says, “That’s not going to happen to You.” That’s because he didn’t understand what he had just heard.
What did Jesus mean in verse 18, “You are Peter, and upon this rock…?” I want to present to you, and I don’t want to get theological, but I want to present the three chief views of that particular expression, “You’re Peter and on this rock…,” and then I want to show you how in 1 Peter, marvelous by the Holy Spirit, Peter takes all three views and puts them together, and he says, “Here’s the truth.” So, that’s where we’re going this morning, Lord assisting, Lord willing. We’re going to look and see what the common denominator is.
First, let me give you the views. The first view is, “Thou art Peter, and on this rock…” Peter is the rock, no reference to Jesus and no reference to anything else. Jesus said, “Peter is the rock.” Basically, that’s the Roman Catholic approach to this, that Peter is the rock on which God will build His church, and they would say, “Give me a break. The words are clear. What’s the rock? Peter! Peter is the rock on which Christ will build His church.” Although there is no actual historical evidence, they back it up by saying that Peter was the first bishop in Rome. There’s no history on that, but they make that claim.
It’s interesting in the Bible record to read, whether you are in the gospels or the epistles, that Peter never refers to himself exclusively as a rock. I think if Jesus said to me, “You are the rock,” I might make that the theme of a lot, “Pay attention, folks, I’m the rock.” When Jesus said, “On this I’ll build My church,” you’ve Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and this is the first mention of the word “church”. If you look through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it’s only mentioned one other time. Only two times in all four gospels, here and in Matthew 18, when He said, “If somebody sins, then you go to them, and if he won’t listen you bring a brother, and you go, and if they still won’t listen, tell it to the church.” Those are the only references to the church. “Ecclesia” is the word, and they had no idea when Jesus said, “I’m going to build My church…” What is he talking about?
They had that word in the Old Testament. They talk about the church in the wilderness in the book of Acts, but it’s more a gathering, God’s people, the gathering, the community, God’s own, and it was used in that general way. In that sense they understood the word “church”, but this one interpretation, that Peter is the rock, and therefore the first pope because he’s the rock and the church is going to be built on him. I never went that far and said that Peter is the first pope, or that I’m the first pope, but I used to think that, and I lived that way for a long time. I thought Jesus was depending on me to build the church, that I was the rock and that He needed me, somehow, and without me there would be no church, so I would keep it together, and all of that kind of thing. I thought the responsibility that I had was to sort of guide God’s people and affect their lives, and God is going to build on me. Then I went into, “Now He’s giving me keys, and now I have authority, too,” and all that foolishness. Anyway, that one interpretation that Peter is the rock.
The second interpretation is what I call the extreme Protestant view, which I think is a reaction to the Catholic view, and I think what they’re saying is, “What are you doing claiming Peter is a rock. The rock is Christ, and there is no reference to Peter. It’s Christ.” They say that it’s Peter and no reference to Christ, and these say, “No, it’s Christ, and no reference to Peter,” but then they want to, because they’re Protestants and they want to quote verses, say, “Let me show you Deuteronomy 32:4, ‘The Rock, His work is perfect. It’s God and all His ways are just. God of faithfulness without injustice.’” He’s everywhere in the Bible as the Rock. They say, “In Exodus He’s the rock that was smitten,” and, “the rock that was cleft,” and in Numbers He’s the living rock, “speak to the rock, and if He can’t hear you, He’s the living rock.” Isaiah 28:16, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I’m laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes will not be disturbed.” In Daniel 2, He’s the rock made without hands. So, they say that the rock is Jesus, not Peter, and don’t fall into that it’s Peter. It’s Jesus, and the Bible, they say, is full of that truth of the rock is Christ. Ephesians 2:20, “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.”
So, the first view leaves Jesus out, and the second view sort of leaves Peter out, and that’s also part of my history. I was teaching Christ in such a way that was more Christ centered than the Bible is Christ centered. It’s Jesus, and then my responsibility was nothing, and I just sit back and let Jesus do everything. I was preaching, “It’s not man; it’s the Lord Jesus.”
Here’s the third view. The rock is not Peter by himself, and the rock is not Jesus by Himself, but, and this is the majority Protestant view, and they say that the rock is the confession that Peter made. Matthew 16:15, “’Who do you say that I am?’ Peter said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Peter didn’t figure that out with his brain. He didn’t get it from some Bible school. He was taught by God, the Holy Spirit, God the Father revealed that to him.
So, there are some who say, “It’s that on what he builds His church. It’s the confession that comes from God. When God opens your eyes and you see who Jesus is, He’s going to build His church on that confession. The rock is not Peter by himself, and the rock is not Jesus by Himself, but it’s the confession that Peter got when the Holy Spirit opened his eyes. That’s the rock.”
Now, those who study these things call attention that there is a little play on words in the original Greek language. I’m quoting this because I don’t know Greek, but they say that the name Peter is “Petras” and that’s masculine, and it means “rock”. “You are Petras.” But when Jesus said, “On this rock I’ll build My church,” He changed the word. He didn’t say “Petras”, masculine. He said “Petra”, feminine. He changed it from the masculine to the feminine. There’s a slight difference in the word. One is, “You’re a rock,” and petra is more of a bedrock. In the margin in the NAS it leads you to see that, and so they say, “Peter is a rock, but God is not going to build on him, but He saw in Peter a bedrock, a confession, by the Holy Spirit,” and He said, “Petras, I see Petra in you, that confession, and on that I’ll build My church.” So, that’s the third view, that they have something solid on which to build, and that is the confession.
I want to present what I guess I’ll call the fourth view, but it’s really Peter’s explanation of the whole thing, and this is in 1 Peter. 1 Peter shows how Peter’s vision of Christ changed, and before I look at 1 Peter, I want to summarize what I think He’s teaching, and then we’ll go to 1 Peter, and see if I’m right. I’ll give you the principle, in other words, and then we’ll go and look at 1 Peter.
I say that the rock is not Peter by himself, and the rock is not Christ by Himself, and it’s not the confession by itself, but the rock is all three. The rock is Peter joined to Christ, confessing Christ by the miracle of revelation. That’s a big sentence but see if you can get it. The rock is Peter, but Peter joined to Christ, and joined to Christ confessing Christ by the revelation that he had been given from heaven. Before we go to 1 Peter I’m just going to ask this question, not to be answered, but to mediate on, think upon and ponder. “Can I claim the truth that Christ wants to build His church on me? Can you claim the truth that Christ wants to build your church on Me?” The answer is, “If you are joined to Christ, and confessing Christ by the miracle of revelation, absolutely He wants to build His church on you, and he wants to build His church on me.
It’s not just Peter, and Peter is not just representing the leadership, doing it with the leadership, but He’s saying that every Christian, young or old, male or female, trained or untrained, gifted or not gifted, if you are joined to Jesus and confessing Jesus by a miracle of revelation, God says that you are a rock and I want to build My church on such a person as that. I believe that’s what 1 Peter is elaborating on. The promise that Jesus gave Peter belongs to every Christian. It’s not just for Peter, and it’s not just for elders or leaders, but it’s for every Christian. “I’m the rock in the sense of being joined to Jesus, confessing Jesus, by the miracle of revelation.” You’re the rock in the sense of being joined to Jesus, and so on.
This idea that what Jesus said in Matthew 16 has nothing to do with Peter, great day it has everything to do with Peter. I can’t do it by myself. Jesus could, but He’s not going to do it by Himself. His plan is “Me joined to you; let’s do it together.” That’s what this is all about. Peter was the rock, not as some superior Christian who could be exalted to a pope. Not that, but as a humble believer, united, joined together to Jesus Christ, confessing Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, the miracle of revelation.
Alright, let’s go to Peter. 1 Peter 2:4, “Coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this contained in Scripture; ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and He who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense: for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”
Let me begin by giving you the key, at least I think it’s the key, and it’s 1 Peter 2:7, “this precious value, then, is for you who believe.” Sometimes the KJV can throw you off a little bit, and it says, “To you who believe, He’s precious.” And this says that the precious value is for you who believe. The difference I think is this. The KJV makes you say, “If you really believe, you are going to know Jesus is precious.” That’s true; Amen. That’s a glorious truth. The more you believe, the more precious Jesus becomes, but that’s not what this verse is saying. We all know that He’s precious. That’s a given, that Jesus is precious. What he’s saying here, “to you who believe, we share His preciousness.” It’s not knowing He’s precious, but because I believe, I am now joined to Christ, sharing what is His, joined to Him, confessing Him by the miracle of revelation.
Because God has given us logical minds, and some people like to follow things in order, let me give you four characteristics of the stone in this little passage. Peter’s eyes have been opened, “I’ve seen Christ as the stone.” Characteristic number one, verse 4, “Coming to Him as a living stone.” His first eye opener was that Christ is a living stone. And to those who believe we share His preciousness. So, then we read, verse 5, “You, also, as living stones, are being built up.” Do you see what I’m saying? He saw Him as a living stone, and then all of a sudden, he saw Peter joined to Christ. Oh, we are also living stones, and now he’s sharing in the preciousness of who Jesus is. Christ, the living stone, and everyone joined to Him becomes a living stone. If you have something iron and you touch a magnet, the iron become magnetized. I’m suggesting that if you touch Jesus by faith, then His preciousness, you are going to become magnetized. He’s the living stone, and you are going to become a living stone, and on these living stones He’s going to build His church.
I’ve got to give this because I can’t think of Christ the living stone and not think of this example. Let me leave Peter for a minute. I want to go to Daniel 2:34-35. I don’t know a better picture of the life and ministry of the living stone than right here. Daniel is describing the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. He said, “You continue looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” That stone is growing, that stone is living.
He’s interpreting the dream, and he pictured the kingdoms of this world as a giant. The head of the giant was made out of gold, and its breast and its arms were made out of silver, and its belly and thighs were made out of brass, and its legs were made out iron, and its feet were made out of iron and a mixture of iron and clay. It’s this big giant, but it’s all the kingdoms of the world. Then he saw a stone coming out of heaven, like a meteor, not made with hands. It’s a supernatural stone, and it came down, flying down, and it hits the feet of the kingdoms of this world. The stone came down and hit the foundations of this world’s kingdom. It was huge and it began to totter and go over with dust everywhere, and it was like the threshing floor with the dust and the rubble was everywhere. Then all of a sudden, a wind came, and it said that everything the stone knocked down the wind blew away. Anybody have a suggestion who the wind might be? The Spirit of the Lord. What Jesus knocks down in your life, the Spirit will blow away. You don’t have to knock down anything. He’s the living stone and hits the foundation of the kingdom of this world, and the whole thing comes down, and then He begins to grow, and He replaces the kingdom until it fills the whole earth. It’s the exchanged life. It’s just a marvelous illustration in the Old Testament.
Daniel 2:35, “The iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver”—get to the end of it—the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. Do you see, dear friends in Christ, that’s what happened to Peter, and that’s what happened to Ed Miller, and that’s what happened to you when Jesus came. You used to pray sort of a ritual religious, “Thy kingdom come,” but now God has opened your eyes, “Thy kingdom come, my kingdom go.” That’s how it has to be, and the rock hits your kingdom and down it comes, and you’re all in a mess, and then God sends the Holy Spirit and blows it away, and Jesus begins to grow and fills the whole landscape… That’s what Peter saw, Christ the living stone, and we also are living stones. I’m just thankful that I don’t have to… There was a time when I had to quit this and quit that and with some Christians, “I’ve got to quit smoking and I’ve got to quit drugs and I’m addicted to this and that.” You don’ t have to quit anything if Jesus the Living Stone strikes at the foundation. He’ll knock it down and the Holy Spirit will take it away. It’s a marvelous, marvelous picture. So, we are united to that Living Stone.
The second characteristic, 2 Peter 2:4, “Coming to him as a living stone which has been rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God.” The stone is not only a living stone, it’s a precious stone. It’s a gem, a jewel, a precious, precious stone. 1 Peter 2:6, “For this is contained in Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” This is quoting from Isaiah 28. 1 Peter 2:7, “This precious value, then, is for you who believe.” He’s a precious stone. Yeah, and it’s also for you who believe. “Just as I became a living stone by being joined to the Living Stone, I become precious. This precious value now belongs to you who believe. We are precious in the sight of God, if we’re joined to Christ, confessing Christ by the miracle of revelation. As you are a precious gem and I am a precious gem, we saw that in Exodus 28 with the priests carrying the precious gems. We are precious gems. What is the ministry of a precious gem that has seen a precious gem?
2 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, holy nation, people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness.” So, we are just proclaiming how excellent Jesus is. You might look at me and you say, “Well, you don’t look like a precious gem. You look rather dull and unattractive,” and I’ll confess that’s true, but I’ll tell you this, when I’m joined to Christ and I’m confessing Christ, by a miracle of revelation, in God’s eyes I’m a precious gem, and in God’s eyes you’re a precious gem. You are not only precious to Him, but you are also as precious as Him. He sees you as He sees His Son. He prayed at the end of the wonderful priestly prayer, “Let them know the love that You love Me, You love them with the same love.” God the Father doesn’t love the Lord Jesus any more than He loves you, or any more than He loves me. These are big and marvelous things.
Let me give the third characteristic. Verse 6, “For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believe in Him will not be disappointed.’” I might say, “I can see being united to Christ and I’m a living stone, and being united to Christ I’m a precious stone, but I think you’re going too far if you say that I’m a cornerstone.” Do you realize this, brothers and sisters in Christ, joined to Christ, confessing Christ by the miracle revelation, you’re also a cornerstone? I know there’s a sense in which Jesus alone is the cornerstone, and I’m not suggesting that’s not true. Ephesians 2:20 says that. I told you in man’s eyes I might look dull. Do you know the cornerstone, what is one of the main purposes is? It’s the uniting stone; it holds things together.
Don’t think that God hasn’t called you to be a uniter, union. You’re a cornerstone and I’m a cornerstone. You might say, “Yeah, well I don’t feel like I’m anything in the kingdom of God.” You are strategic in the work of God; I’m strategic! If you’re joined to Christ, and if you’re confessing Christ, by the miracle of what God has shown you in Christ, you are a living stone, you are a precious stone, you are a cornerstone. Peter is writing to those who have been scattered by persecution, by the cruel hand of Nero and some of the edicts that he made. They were nobodies in this world. They were just scrap; they were nothing. But in the eyes of the Lord He said, “I’m scattering my seed. This is redemptive and this is missions. They’re joined to Christ, confessing Christ, living stones, precious stones, cornerstones.
We want to share what is true of Jesus in Peter’s life, and I think he explains the Matthew passage here. In 2 Peter he uses these words, 2 Peter 1:4, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” Isn’t that wonderful, partakers of the divine nature. Of course, it’s not of the divine essence. That can’t happen, but Christ lives in you. He lives in me. He’s the stone, the living stone, but I’m joined to Him, and I’m a living stone. He’s the precious stone, yeah, but I’m joined to Him, and I’m a precious stone. He’s the cornerstone, and so am I, because I’m joined to Christ, confessing Christ by the miracles of revelation.
The last characteristic, 1 Peter 2:8, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense…” Alright, now, I don’t mind being a living stone joined to Jesus, and I don’t mind being a precious stone joined to Jesus, and even though it’s hard to take, I don’t mind being a cornerstone. I’ll try to promote unity and not disunity, but I don’t want to be a rock of offense, and I don’t want to be a rock of stumbling. May I suggest that if you are joined to Jesus and confessing Jesus by the miracle of revelation…. You know where I’m going. It’s unavoidable. You will be to some a rock of offense. You will be to some a stumbling stone.
There’s a wrong way to be a stumbling block and God addresses that. 1 Corinthians 8:9, “Take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” In Leviticus He gives a big warning to those who would put stumbling stones in front of the blind. He warns us about that, but that’s a subject all its own. What does it mean to cause someone to stumble? It doesn’t mean that you’re disagreeing. Even if you disagree, you haven’t caused stumbling. You haven’t caused someone to stumble unless you cause them to sin. That’s a study all its own, but it’s a precious study. I used to think, “I don’t want to argue theology because I don’t want to cause them to stumble.” You aren’t causing them to stumble. Get into those good, vibrant theological bull sessions, and it’s alright to disagree, but don’t do anything that would make anybody sin.
So, there’s a right way to be a stumbling block, but there’s also a right way…. God will sometimes have you be a stumbling stone, and there’s a right way to avoid that, and there’s a right way to be that. I’ve often prayed, “Lord, please, I don’t want to cause anybody to stumble.” I can’t pray that anymore. Actually, I pray to the Lord, “Lord, make me a stumbling block, Lord. I don’t want to be popular anywhere Jesus is unpopular. He lives in me, and that is going sometimes pay a cost and sometimes dear Christians are going depart from you not because you’ve taken a rugged stand, but that Christ has manifest Himself through you. Sadly, it’s not only the unbeliever that is going to separate from you, but it’s also many, many Christians.
I used to think that, “I want to be a pure Christian and I want to live a holy life. I’ve got to get rid of the legalists out of my life.” You don’t need to get rid of anybody. You just live a life joined to Jesus, confessing Christ, and they’re going to leave you. They are! Even Christians, if you’re joined to Christ and confessing Christ by the revelation of God, you will gravitate to those who are joined to Christ and confessing Christ, and others will try to avoid you, because they want to discuss politics or hunting or sports or whatever, because they aren’t comfortable. All you want to see is the Lord and talk about the Lord, and that makes people very uncomfortable, and off they go, and so on.
So, the more you’re joined to Christ and confessing Christ by the miracle of God’s revelation, the more you’re going to enter into what Peter says, “I have learned what it means now to be a living stone. I have learned what it means to be a precious stone. I’ve even learned what it means to be cornerstone. And believe me, I’ve learned what it means to be a stumbling stone. It’s all part of our union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Not all Christians go that way. There are mega churches, and I’m not sure they’re all made of living stones. I think they are a big rock pile. They’re rocks and I don’t doubt their salvation, and all, and I don’t want to judge them, but it’s organic, brothers and sisters. We are living by being united to the Lord Jesus. One reason is that once you are united to the Lord and you begin to see Him by revelation, and then confess what you have seen, everything becomes Jesus. It’s just Jesus alone. And they say, “We’ll take Jesus, but we need to supplement Him. Can you please change your message? You are always preaching Jesus, Jesus. Preach on missions, preach on stewardship, preach on discipleship, preach on the cross, preach on spiritual disciplines, preach on prophesy, preach on spiritual gifts, and on and on they go. You say, “Well, you aren’t going to miss all that if you’re joined to Jesus and confessing Jesus by the miracle of revelation.”
You don’t give somebody something to accept, unless you give them something to reject. I can go to the biggest legalist in town and say, “Look to Jesus.” They’ll say “I agree with that, look to Jesus.” If I said, “Look to Jesus and not missions, look to Jesus and not the ordinance, don’t look to the bread and the wine,” they’ll say, “What are you talking about?” If I say, “Look to Jesus and not to discipleship. Look to Jesus and not finding a good church. Look to Jesus and not Christian fellowship.” They can’t believe that. And then if I say, “Look to Jesus and not family.” They’ll say, “That’s too much. I’m leaving.” They don’t understand. This whole point that joined to Jesus, confessing Jesus by the miracle of revelation, that’s how God opened his eyes from the first time when he stood up and said, “This will never happen to You.” Boy, his eyes have been opened. So, ask the Lord to make you the right kind of stumbling block.
I want to do one more thing. I’ve got three points to my one more thing. Peter is trying to encourage the Christians. They’re being persecuted and being scattered. In many of their minds they don’t even know that they’re being sown like seed by the mighty hand of God for redemptive purposes. Peter has been made alive with the living hope, the living Christ in him to encourage them. They had this idea, “They chased us out of house and home, and we’ve lost everything. Because of persecution we’ve lost our inheritance. That’s 1 Peter 1 :4, “To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed…” He said that you didn’t lose your inheritance. You’ve got one that is imperishable and undefiled and doesn’t fade away.
They say, “Well, thank You very much for encouraging us, but when they kicked us out of Jerusalem and we had to go north, all the way up here into Asia Minor, we lost the temple. You don’t understand Jewish and our background. Everything is the temple. We were brought up in the temple. The education is in the temple. If we get kicked out of the temple, we can’t go anywhere.” In the temple they had a court for gentiles. Gentiles could go into that court of gentiles. “We accepted Christ, and we’re not allowed in the court of gentiles anymore. We lost the temple.” Peter said, “You didn’t lose the temple. You’re a stone in the temple. You’re a priest in the temple. It’s organic and it’s living. You have lost nothing if you are joined to Christ and confessing Him.”
So, they say, “Alright, I’ve got a different inheritance and a different temple, but the reality is that we were Jews. You don’t know our heritage. My father was a Jew, my grandfather was a Jew, his father was a Jew, we were enculturated in Judaism all our lives. That was our nationality. We’ve lost that.” He said, “No,” listen to verse 9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…” He said, “You didn’t lose your nationality. You’re a holy nation.” In the Old Testament God worked through a nation. Now He works through his church, through His people. If you would ask Peter in the gospels, “What is your nationality?”, he would say, “I am a Jew.” If you asked him in the epistles, he would say, “I am a Christian.” That was his nationality. That’s the answer to all his problems, the international race problems. We are a race; we are Christians. That’s our nationality, and he was just encouraging them, “You’ve lost nothing, if you are joined to Christ, and confessing Christ by the miracle of revelation.
So, Peter takes that great revelation in chapter 2 and says, “Now I understand what happened at Caesarea Philippi. I didn’t know before, but now I do.” So, we’ll close there and next time we’ll continue reading the book. We opened with Psalm 95:1, and I’d like to close with that. “Oh, come let us sing for joy to the Lord. Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” Let’s pray together…
Father, thank You for Your precious Word. Again, we have to add, not what we think it means but all that You know it means. Will you work that in us and open our hearts and eyes to the great reality that when we’re joined to Christ, everything that is His becomes ours, all of His merits and all of His perfections. And Lord, we just rejoice that we can be living stones, that we can be precious stones, that we can be cornerstones, that we can be stumbling stones, in order that others might come to you. Work these things in us. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.