May 18 2014 Sermon

1 Peter 2:2–10

ESV 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 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. 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.” 7 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,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But 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. 10 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 the name of Jesus. Amen.

Dear saints of God, you are precious. You are holy, a kingly priesthood. You are a chosen family.

“YOU ARE A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD,

A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION”

(v 9).

 

For most of us today, our self identity is based on false presuppositions. We base our identity on our jobs, how much money we make, our accomplishments, the college we graduated from, our fame in the community, our celebrity status. Or if we don’t have celebrity status, we try to gain a sense of importance by dropping names of someone important that we may have met or know. Or we may derive our self-esteem from how large a home we have, or how expensive a car we drive. Other societies derive their identity by the family belong to, having a good family name is important, or what king or queen they are descendents of. There are many ways humans derive identity.

 

But is there an absolute identity? An identity based on something fixed, an absolute frame of reference? In deed there is. Our true identity is found in God. Our true identity is derived from our relationship to God. It is God who defines us. We are no more or no less than who God says we are. Our true worth and value depend on our relationship with God. Who we are comes from creation. God created you in his image. And from creation came your name, your purpose, your function, your true worth and value: that God created you in his image. He made you a living creature, he gave you a body and filled it with life, with breath and a soul, made in his image, the image of the One true God, creator, sustainer, and ruler of the universe. Whether a baby in the womb. Whether an elderly person in a nursing home. Whether an invalid, mentally retarded, or chronically ill. You are the image of God and crown of all creation. Whether rich or poor, intelligent of not intelligent, American, German, Chinese, African, Hispanic of Amerindian, you are a living creature made in the image of God the crown of creation having dominion over all God’s creation.

And even more, your identity comes from the cross of Jesus. You were purchased by God and belong to him by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are who God says you are, and on account of your baptism, God says that you are his son or daughter. And that means you find identity in your family, that is, the family of God. You are God’s family, God’s children, and all the church are brothers and sisters. Your identity is in Christ Jesus, the head of the church.

I.

You are who he says you are. As holy, kingly, priestly, and his chosen people he has purchased you with his holy blood and innocent suffering and death.

His Word defines who you are. His Word proclaims who you are. By His Word you were created. By His Word you were redeemed on the cross and become his people. God’s Word says: “Grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Pet 1:24–25). His pronouncement of forgiveness endures forever.

You were not always his people. He was not always your God. You had not received mercy. Now, because of the death and resurrection of your Lord Jesus Christ, you are his people. You are the people belonging to God. You have the Lord as your God.

And mercy? You have mercy upon mercy through Christ. Today, Peter calls Christ the living stone rejected by men. He was shown no mercy by God when he died in your place. For you, the wrath of God fell upon him as it should’ve fallen upon you. For you, he suffered and died.

But he is not a dead stone. He is the living stone. God the Father raised him from the dead on Easter morning. The stone that the builders rejected has become the first-laid stone of the Church’s foundation. The stone on which the whole building depends, the cornerstone.

He is chosen and precious in the sight of God. You are chosen and precious in the sight of God in him. Through him, you, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house. A house not made of bricks or stone, but of living stones. A Church made of a holy priesthood offering up sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

II.

Yet, life doesn’t always fit into that beautiful picture of all of us being built together into the Church, does it? There is suffering and pain. Real pain. Real loss.

And the other stones around you? They are no help. In fact, doesn’t it feel like sometimes they try to tear you down more than they build you up? They should be supporting you, not hurting you. Why the friendly fire? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but their words still hurt. And from the very people who should not be throwing stones at you.

Now, if you were honest with yourself though, you hit people with stones too, don’t you? They hurt you; you hurt them back. You are hit with stones, so you hit others with them. Do unto others, stone others, before they stone you.

You should be the one who puts down your stone first! You need to be the bigger person first. You need to apologize first. You need to be the Christian when no one else is being one. You need to offer up your life for them, to priest them, as Christ offered his life for you.

Amidst our being built into spiritual houses, bad stuff still happens. Really bad, unfair stuff is going on all around you. Loved ones get sick. You don’t feel so hot. You want to know what’s going on with you, but you don’t want to find out it’s something bad. And it’s easy to think, believing in Jesus should count for something. It should get me something . . . something more than the other guy who doesn’t believe. It should get me a pass, a get-out-of-suffering-free card. The people around me should be better. God should be better to me. Things should be better than this!

Chosen? Unlikely. Kingly? We aren’t even ruling our little corner of our lives, let alone anything in heaven. Holy? A people of his own possession? Are you joking? There seem to be more stones crushing us than building us up!

III.

All of this talk is just utter unbelief! For your Lord’s words are not a matter of what you see or experience. They aren’t made true by things working out for you or made untrue by things not working for you.

You aren’t kingly priests because you look like kingly priests. You aren’t a chosen family because you act like a chosen family or events turn out your way to prove to you that God loves you. Nor do you do something to make yourself his own possession and make life work out for you the way you want it to work out.

You are who the Father says you are. You are worth what he paid for you. He paid the death of his Son. It’s not a matter of whether you measure up or things turn out the way you plan. Christ did what he did for you, and that makes and defines who you are and what you are worth.

You see—Christ mattered first. He really is the stone the builders rejected. He really is chosen and precious to God. Christ is the stone rejected by men but chosen and precious to God. And after his death on the cross, he was raised as a living stone.

You? you find your identify in him. He’s the living stone. You are living stones in him. But not just you individually. All of you right now are living stones, being built into a spiritual building through him.

His building. His people. He; the Way, the Truth, the Life. You; the ones receiving the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Apart from him, you are just dead rocks. Not God’s people. Unholy priests who deserve no mercy. Just people stumbling around, disobeying his Word.

But in him—through the sacrifice of Christ—God considers you precious. His death for your sins. His resurrection your resurrection. And you are made alive, living stones, built together into his Holy Church. Not just stones, tossed around or hurled like missiles at others.

No, he is working among you. He is building you together. His holiness has become your holiness. His kingliness is now your kingliness. His priesthood, your priesthood. His mercy showered upon you in his gifts.

IV.

All so that you might proclaim the glorious deeds of the one who brought you out of darkness into his glorious light. In order that you might praise and sing to him. To let all know, that the stone the builders rejected has become the foundation. A cornerstone holding the whole building together. You, I, all living stones connected to him building a great big giant building that praises and magnifies the Father.

In him, you really do offer up praises and thanksgiving. In him, you offer up your bodies as living sacrifices for those around you. No longer living in your sins, your despair, your evil, your deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander, or whatever other stones you toss at one another. But loving others, for others, for the sake of others, he takes the stones that fall around you. He builds you all together. He makes you a building, his spiritual building, his Church.

His Word is the final word on who you are and who you will be. And like newborn infants, you long for the pure true milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good (vv 2–3).

Come to his Table today. Taste and see the Lord is good. Believe again who you are, and live from it. You are like living stones being built into his spiritual building. “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” (v 9).

This is who you are. This is who you will be on the Last Day. This is who you are now. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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