I Peter 2:4-10 The Stone of Stumbling 5/14/2000
#1. The living Stone, fully God and fully man (I Pet 2:3-4, Psalm 34:8)
#2. Why is He an offence? (I Pet 2:6, Isa 8:14)
#3. The stones who are precious (I Pet 2:9)
I Peter 2:4-10 The Stone of Stumbling 5/14/2000
The title for our Sermon today is "The Stone of Stumbling". /\ But Pastor, that is not a nice sounding title for a Sermon on a day like this. Can't you think of something else?
Let me calm your fears. Do you know Who this Stone of Stumbling refers to?
It is the Lord Jesus Christ. Please turn with me to Psalm 118:22-23.
Psalm 118:22 The stone (which) the builders refused is become the head (stone) of the corner.
Psalm 118:23 This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is a parable of course. "The Stone which the builders refused". The root verb where this Hebrew word comes from means, "despised, or rejected". Most of you already know, from reading the parables that Jesus told, that this Stone which the builders rejected is none else than the Lord Jesus Christ. And because the leaders of the Jews rejected him, He was delivered to the Roman authorities, which nailed Him on a Cross. But think of it now, if the leaders of the Jews would not have rejected Him, then the Lord Jesus would not have been crucified, then we would not have a Savior, and we all would be on our way to Hell with no one to rescue us.
But praise be to God that He finished what He began, when He send His Son down to this earth, to take on a human body in the womb of a virgin. The Lord Jesus came to earth to be crucified, so that He would be our Savior. That was God's plan. That is why we read in Verse 23:
"This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes."
We rejoice that God worked out our Salvation in this way; it is marvelous in our eyes. And God continues this parable stating that this Stone became the head of the corner. Which corner?
Psalm 118 does not tell us the whole story. Our next step is to go to Isa 28:16, and there we see that all along God was talking about:
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion …… /\
What is Zion? Take this as a hard and fast rule: Zion is the place where God resides. In the O.T. time God was present in a special way in the Holy of Holies, in the Temple that was in Jerusalem. But in the N.T. time that building ceased to be God's holy place, and the city of Jerusalem East of the Mediterranean ceased to be God's favorite city. God does not place a precious foundation Stone in the city of Jerusalem that has gone apostate. O No! In the N.T. God replaced that building and that city with a Spiritual Temple, which is the souls of all the Saints. There is where God dwells in a special way. Now we realize that the Temple in Jerusalem was only a shadow of the Spiritual Temple, and the Spiritual Temple, which consists of all the souls of all the O.T. and N.T. Saints, is really the substance of what God has in view. That really is Zion, the place where God resides.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner (stone), a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
When we realize that Isaiah was prophesying about the N.T. period of time, then we understand what this verse is talking about, and that our faith is built upon the foundation of which the apostles and prophets spoke, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord. /\
Now we come to that first point of the Sermon outline in your Bulletin.
#1. The living Stone, fully God and fully man (Psalm 34:8, I Pet 2:3)
Please turn with me to Peter, the first letter of Peter, chapter 2, verse 1. (Repeat)
Our Sermon today is based primarily on the first ten verses of I Peter, chapter 2.
1 Peter 2:1 ¶ Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1 Peter 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
1 Peter 2:4 ¶ To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
Let us pause here, because there are here two verses that I want to elaborate on. First in Verse 3:
"If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious". This is a reference to the first half of Psalm 34:8
Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good, ……
When you see the word LORD, with all four letters capitalized: "LORD", it stands for Jehovah. Now Peter was writing about the Lord Jesus, as verse 4 clearly indicates, and David in Psalm 34 was writing about Jehovah. Therefore, since the Bible is One Book, we have here a clear instance that the Apostles applied the divine name Jehovah directly to Jesus Christ. This means that Jesus Christ had to be fully God, just as the N.T. indicates. If you find that surprising, you should know that there are at least 18 such pairs of references, which show that Jesus Christ in the N.T. is identified with Jehovah of the O.T. If you want to know more about these cross-references, see me after the Service.
Secondly, verse 4 says: "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious". Let me put this in different words with the identical meaning:
We who have been saved are drawing near to the Lord Jesus, represented as a precious living Stone, indeed having been rejected by men, but chosen or elect by God.
By whom has the Lord Jesus Christ been rejected? /\ By all men, both Jews and Gentiles: we all, saved and unsaved people are guilty of the blood of Christ. It is an example of the utter sinfulness of all mankind, and that the wrath of God rests on all mankind for our multiple sins.
How then do we dare to draw near to the Lord Jesus? Don't we fear the wrath of God? The answer is: We who have been saved have come to know the Lord Jesus, and He knows us. We know Him as our loving Shepherd who laid down His life for us. And because He was fully man and fully God He qualified to bear our sins before the throne of God; He was crucified and died in our place.
But He rose again from the grave, and that is why He is called a living Stone. Why is He called a Stone? Because He can be depended on as a Rock: a sure foundation. What He said will be done.
1 Peter 2:4 ¶ To whom coming, as unto a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, (Do you see the contrast?)
Christ has been rejected by men, but chosen by God. What was He chosen for?
The Greek word "chosen" is the same as the word "elect". Was Christ elect? Listen to Isa 42:1.
Isaiah 42:1 ¶ Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
And there are lots more goodies there in Isa 42, which we will not get into at this time. But we know, that Isaiah was speaking about Christ. Yes, Christ was God's elect. How did the Lord Jesus Christ go about to build His spiritual house? Well it began with the fact that Christ was God's elect, and therefore all those who are in Christ are also God's elect. As our Representative!
Just like all those who are in Adam are under the curse of Adam's Sin, so likewise all those who are in Christ have been elected to receive the righteousness of Christ. The BIG question is: How do you know if you are in Christ? How do we know if we have been saved? Or can we know?
What does the Bible say? We already know that Christ has been rejected by men. He has been rejected by US, and if it depended on US, nobody will be saved. There is NONE that seeketh after God. If God would leave the decision to US, we all would end up in Hell.
1. But God chose Christ, God elected Christ to save a people for Himself. The Bible says: "The Father hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world", and "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will".
2. Not according to our will, but according to the good pleasure of His will. And the Father did that before the foundation of the world. In many churches predestination is a dirty word these days, and for no good reason. Actually, what was the Father doing when He chose us before the foundation of the world? The Father was choosing a Bride for His Son. What is so bad about that? That was not bad at all!
3. But what was wrong with this Bride. We are this Bride. This Bride was dirty. This Bride was not only filthy and covered with stinking sores; this Bride was dead, spiritually dead like the rest of mankind. This Bride needed to be cleaned up and made alive.
4. That is why the Father sent His Son to this filthy sin cursed world to take upon Himself all the sins of all those whom the Father had chosen, and clean up those sins by bearing the penalty for all those sins. And do you know what the penalty for your sins is: An eternity in Hell. That is what the Lord Jesus had to suffer when He paid for our sins on the Cross of Calvary.
5. That is how He cleaned us up. But we also had to be made alive again. God committed Himself to bring this Good News, this Gospel of Free Grace, to all those for whom the Lord Jesus Christ had died on the Cross of Calvary. This is the action of God the Holy Spirit who brings us under the hearing of the Word of God and gives us a new heart, so that we become willing to seek for God, and so that we become willing to read the Bible and learn to know Him who gave Himself, to be a ransom for many.
That is why I said earlier: "We who have been saved have come to know the Lord Jesus, and He knows us. We know Him as our loving Shepherd who laid down His life for us."
But how can we know that we are among those who have been chosen by the Father to be the Bride of Christ? Well, examine yourself, and see if God the Holy Spirit has given you a new heart. Have you changed? Do you have an ongoing earnest desire to do the will of God?
What does the Bible say here in I Pet 2:5
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Before the foundation of the world, God predestined those who are to become the living stones out of which Christ would build this spiritual house. But what is our task as living stones of the Temple of God? "To offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ". What are those spiritual sacrifices? Let me name just a few:
Do we love the Lord Jesus Christ? How do we know we love Him? Do we love to listen to Him, and to be in His presence? Christ is called the Word of God. Do we love to read the Word of God? That in fact is listening to Christ. If we don't like to read the Bible, we don't love Christ. Plain & simple!
If we love Him, we obey His commandments. Do we desire to be in the presence of His people here on Sundays? Ask yourself that honestly. Do you desire to be in His fold? Or do you skip quite often? Is it no BIG deal to you? I want you to know that it is a BIG deal to God. God says that we are to keep the Sabbath day holy, and in the N.T. time that means the Sunday Sabbath. Now, we know that His commandments are not grievous. Hereby do we know if we love Him or if we don't love Him. If His commandments are burdensome to you, then you should worry if you really have been saved.
Now we come to point #2.
#2. Why is Christ an offence? (I Pet 2:6, Isa 8:14)
1 Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
This is a direct quotation of Isa 28:16. We have already looked at that. But God has more to say about this "Corner Stone" through the prophet Isaiah. Listen to Isa 8:14.
Isaiah 8:14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin (= a trap) and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Again Isaiah is prophesying about the N.T. time. Christ is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both Judah and Israel. That is also what we see today. To most of the nation of Israel the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Free Grace, is an offensive religion.
Why is Christ an offence to them? Look at verse 8: He is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, to them which stumble at the Word, the Logos. He is an offence to those who stumble at the Word of God, which is Christ. That makes Him a Stone of stumbling. They don't like what He says. They don't like this Gospel of Free Grace. They rather have a gospel of works.
You know, that is the reason why Christ is unacceptable to them. They have changed the message, which was brought to them by Moses and all the Prophets, which was a message of Grace alone, and they have substituted obedience to the Ceremonial Law as a precondition to Salvation. Therefore they don't need Christ. They don't need a Savior who was crucified for their sins. They only need to do their part, and God will do the rest and take them into Heaven.
Sadly to say, this is the same box that most churches today have gotten themselves into. They teach that Christ has died for the sins of everyone in the whole world. Therefore, Christ has done all He could, and now it is up to you to take and accept this offer that Christ holds out. Therefore you become the Kingmaker. Everything depends on whether you accept Him or reject Him. You can be saved today. Come forward and accept this offer of salvation. You can do it, by your own free will.
Unfortunately, this is not taught anywhere in the Bible. They teach a gospel that cannot save, because it is not from the Word of God. It is a gospel "that is good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men". It has become a gospel of works. They preach that we only need to do our part, and God will do the rest and take us into Heaven. That is the sad situation throughout most of the churches in the world today. The true Gospel of the Bible is seldom heard anymore.
But now, let's look at the builders. Who is God speaking about?
Who were the builders who rejected the precious Corner Stone 2000 years ago? They were the leaders of the Jews who had no use for the Gospel of Free Grace, but have substituted for it their own salvation by works. Likewise today, those leaders of the churches, who have no use for the Gospel of Free Grace, but have substituted for it their own salvation by works, they are in the same box, I am afraid. They are denying the Sovereignty of God, which means that they are denying the God of the Bible.
But ultimately, who are the builders who are building the spiritual Temple of God? God speaks about that in I Cor 3:9. Please hold one finger in I Peter 2 and turn for a moment to I Cor 3:9-11
where God through the Apostle Paul gives us this information:
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1 Corinthians 3:11 ¶ For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
We all are builders, building on this Foundation which is Christ; but we need to take heed how we build on this Foundation: We build with the Gospel of Jesus Christ given Freely by the Grace of God. Whenever we share this Gospel with anyone, we are labourers together with God building the spiritual Temple of God. What a great honor God has bestowed upon us that we may do this work. But we may never boast of our work, because ultimately "it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
Let's return to the builders who rejected the precious Corner Stone 2000 years ago.
We read in I Pet 2:7-8 these ominous words:
1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner,
1 Peter 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Were they appointed to stumble at the Word? Were they appointed to be disobedient? Were they appointed to sin? But this cannot be true, because God is not the Author of sin.
As always, we have to compare Scripture with Scripture. A parallel passage is found in Acts 2:23. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached to people who were gathered from 16 different nations, and Peter addresses them as "Ye men of Israel ……"
Acts 2:23 Him (i.e. Christ), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
God through the Apostle Peter says here that Christ had to be delivered to be crucified and slain, because the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God dictated that it must take place. But then he added: "Ye have taken Him, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain". Even though it was all in God's plan, it was still their sin. But God in His foreknowledge was able to utilize their sin so that everything still worked out according to God's plan.
It is in this same way that we must interpret I Peter 2:8. Christ was a Stone of stumbling to the leaders of the Jews, and therefore they caused Him to be crucified. It was fully their sin. But God was able to utilize their sin to accomplish His purpose for which the Son came to this earth: To be crucified
These were the stones who were disobedient; they still had hearts of stone when they carried out the death sentence on the Lord Jesus. Instruments of Satan and simultaneously instrum. of God.
Now we come to point #3. God says:
#3. But you are the stones who are precious (I Pet 2:9)
God is now addressing the living stones of Verse 5, which make up the spiritual house, the Temple of God, and God here describes that spiritual house that the Lord Jesus Christ came to build.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
1 Peter 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
God describes us in glowing terms, as His most prized possession. But what is the very first thing that God focuses on? "Ye are a chosen generation". We did not enter into the Kingdom of God by our own free will, or because we were so smart that we understand the message of the Bible, or because we were so humble by believing that Jesus died for our sins. NONE of those actions on our part were the cause of our salvation. God says: "Ye are a chosen generation". We were chosen by Him, according to the good pleasure of His will, and not because of anything we did. Salvation is a Free Gift from God to whom He wants to give it.
We are also called "royal", sons of the King of Heaven and earth; and we are called a priesthood, appointed to bring petitions to God on behalf of other human beings; and we are called a holy nation, which means a nation separated unto the service of God. And because Christ is the Foundation, all these living stones are fitly joined together by Him. We are one family in Christ.
Is it then any wonder that we desire to belong together where people of God are gathered in one place? Today we are officially adding another family of four to our Church family. Of course, they have already been part of our Congregation for many months, but today we call God to witness that we and they belong to the same Corporate Church, which we believe is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice that there is another Gospel home, where the children are fed a healthy dose of spiritual food every day.
But let us get back to I Pet 2:9. There is a word there that I almost missed. God said: "Ye are a peculiar people". There is something peculiar about that word "peculiar", because it does not mean "peculiar" at all, but it means: "A purchased possession".
For example, the same Greek word has been used in Eph 1:14.
Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The Lord Jesus Christ has purchased us body and soul. We have received our new soul, but our redemption is not complete until our bodies also have been redeemed on the Last Day. Can you see how fitting it is that Christ calls us His purchased possession.
When did He purchase us? On Friday, April 3, in the year 33 AD, on the Cross, at Calvary. Did He ask our permission for that? No way. Our own free will had nothing to do with it. On that Friday Christ redeemed a people for a purchased possession, that we in this century should show forth the praises of Him who has called us (like He called Lazarus) out of darkness into His marvelous light.
We were spiritually dead, like Lazarus was physically dead, and He called us and He led us by the hand into His Kingdom of eternal life and eternal light. Did we deserve it? Not at all. He did it so that God may be glorified through all of this.
1 Peter 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
In time past we were not the people of God; we were a people who had not obtained mercy and we were on the way to Hell.
What is mercy? Mercy is God withholding what we do deserve. We deserve to go to Hell. God is withholding that from us, because Christ paid that penalty of Hell in our place. On top of that God is giving us Grace. What is Grace? Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve. We do not deserve to go to Heaven, but that is what God gives us, if we are in Christ.
How can we express our gratitude to God for so much Grace and Mercy? All we can do is nothing, compared with what God has given us through Christ.
Why is He called "The Corner Stone"? Which corner?
Every corner, because Christ is the whole Foundation.
The parable of the stones:
Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but (and) on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
This language speaks of people as stones, because we were born with hearts that are hard as stone.
Therefore we need a heart transplant.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Who is doing all the action? God is.
The stones who are disobedient, stumble on Christ and are broken to pieces. And on the Last Day they will be ground to powder. Not literally, but things hard as stone can be broken to pieces and ground to powder.
Will Christ be hard as stone on the Last Day? Absolutely. The time of mercy will have past.
The verse just before speaks about Baptism:
Ezekiel 36:25 ¶ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.