by Steven Chan
Having tasted the graciousness of God, who “according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior”(Titus 3:5-6), the apostle Peter wrote that our coming to Jesus is “as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 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.”(1 Peter 2:4-6).
1. Jesus is described as a “living stone”. Though He died on the cross, yet He overcame death and rose from the dead, and lives forevermore as is declared in Rev 1:18: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” So Peter said that God has given us “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, “(1 Peter 1:3-5).
a. The reference to the “living stone” reminds us of the prophecy in Daniel 2:43-45 with regards “the stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands”:
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold–the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”
Jesus was that “living stone” that would set up His kingdom (the church – Matt 16:18-19) during the fourth kingdom as dreamed by King Nebuchadnezzar, i.e. during the Roman world empire as prophesied by Daniel.
b. Jesus was rejected by men, but chosen by God.
This fact was recorded in John 1:10-12: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:”
Indeed God has come in the flesh (John 1:14) and yet, many still cry out: “Show us God and we will believe!” In John 1:18, Jesus said: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Later in John 14:8-11, “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
c. Jesus was “chosen by God”.
The coming of Jesus was not a chance happening; it was planned and orchestrated by God. He was the “chosen stone” as prophesied in Isa 28:16 and quoted by the apostle Peter in I Pet 2:6: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;” The stone was rejected by man but God chose it to the chief cornerstone as prophesied in Psa 118:22-24. According to Eph 2:20, the church, the household of God is “being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”( 1 Cor 3:11)
2. Christians are also living stones.
a. Jesus said that in order for us to live, we must feed on Him: “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”(John 6:57). In John 15:5-6, Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
b. Christians as living stones are “built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”
We are not built up so that we can glory in our achievements. We are not being built up to show people how great we are! The biggest church! The richest church! The fastest growing church!
We are being built up to be a spiritual house or household of God. We are being constructed to be a spiritual family of God. So it behooves us to be live as brethren in the family of God. We are not just any family; we are the family of God. We honor God with Christ as our head. As brethren we have God-given responsibilities with regards our brethren in the same household to be closely knitted in love with one another so that God’s household can be strong.
We belong to a family and are integral living stones in the building being built for God’s glory. We are not deadwoods. As a house comprise more than just one stone or one member, we ought always to value our fellow living stones.
c. Christians are to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The church is not set up to “please ourselves”. It is being built up to offer sacrifices to God – and it is not about offering “any” sacrifices that we may deem fit to offer. The sacrifices must be those that are “acceptable to God”. It’s just like worshipping God. We cannot simply worship God in any way we deem fit. As Jesus said in John 4:23-24: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” It is important to note that God has His preference with regards worship that is acceptable to Him. In Gen 4:1-8, Cain offered sacrifices to God that were not acceptable to God. In contrast with Cain’s offering in Heb 11:4, the Bible explains to us that “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” The same Bible tells us in Rom 10:17 that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It implies that Cain did not act in faith because he did not hear or heed God’s word.
We need to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God. According to Rom 12:1, we need to “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” We need to live holy lives so as to be able to serve Him acceptably. Our lives need to be lived in such a way that they represent “living sacrifices” to God. This means that we need to ensure that we do not live as we please but specifically to please God – that is what we need to set ourselves apart to do as also stated in 1 Peter 3:15-17: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
In Heb 13:15-16, the Bible says: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
We need offer praise to God – a fruit of our lips – whether in songs or prayers – not a fruit of our other talents! Singing with grace in our hearts to our Lord (Col 3:16) is the fruit of our lips that is acceptable to God. Being “verbally thankful” in our prayers to God for His blessings is an acceptable sacrifice of praise.
Doing good and sharing are also sacrifices acceptable to God. As Jesus said in Matt 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Financially supporting our preachers represent sacrifices acceptable to God as stated by Paul in Phil 4:18-19: “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Let us remember who we are and what God expects of us to do for Him. Are we closely knitted in love with one another as a member of the household of God? Do we work together to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God? Is God glorified by our lives in His church, His Household?