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1 Peter 2:4-10: A Display of God's Glory Print E-mail
1 Peter
Sunday, 01 April 2007

One of the more tragic events in Church History is the Childrenís Crusade, which apparently happened at the beginning of the 1200s.  The Roman Church had been sending men to Jerusalem to recapture the Holy Land for years.  Some of the Crusades were more successful than others.  Yet, one of the last Crusades was composed of a 1,000 children who were deceived into believing that God was calling them to go and fight against those in control of Israel.  The Crusade was a complete failure and the kids who did not die were made slaves.  Although some think it never happened and the details are sketchy, there is evidence that something happened.

Of course the question that immediately comes to mind is why would parents allow this to happen?  Why did they believe that God wanted their kids to recapture Israel?  Or why did the kids think that God was calling them to this mission?  I think one of the main reasons (although others could be mentioned) is that they did not have the Word to correct their erroneous thinking.  The Word had not been translated into the common vernacular and they were dependent upon others to tell them what it said.  Thus, if the Church taught that God wanted the Holy Land to be controlled by Christians at all cost, then they would believe it and go to their death or even send their kids to their death.

Oh what a difference 1 Peter 2:4-10 could have made.  The whole premise for the Crusades was wrong.  The thought that God is glorified by control of a piece of land is false.  Rather, as Peter tells us in our text this morning, God is glorified through His redemption of a people.  He is not after physical structures or buildings built by man.  No, He is building a spiritual house, the Church, which will bring Him glory in this age and the one to come.  Mark Dever has a booklet entitled ĎA Display of Godís Gloryí (which is where I got the name for this sermon - Free Download HERE).  Guess what this book is about?  It is about Church government, or the structure of the leadership within a local Church (which I highly recommend).  Yet, are we not tempted to disagree with the title?  How can the polity of a local Church have anything to do with Godís glory?  Well, when we look at the very purpose of the Church in the New Testament, we see that she is to be a visible display of Godís glory in all that she is and does.  Thus, the title is appropriate and the error of the Crusades obvious.

Our text this morning teaches us about Godís glory in the Church.  In order to see this, I want to break the text into two parts and offer a summary statement for each section.

First, through Christ the Cornerstone, God is building a house with His people (v. 4-6).
This is what God is doing in the Bible.  He is sending Christ to redeem a people who will be His.  Look how Peter describes it in verses 4-6.  Peter calls Christ the Cornerstone of the house, or temple, that God is building.  It is Christ who has freely given His life to redeem a people.  Thus, the whole building is held together by Him, the Cornerstone.  Likewise, Peter calls Christ a living stone.  This is an odd description because we do not usually think of stones as living.  Of course Peter is referring to Christís resurrection and we do not usually think of men who have died as living, but Christ, though crucified and dead three days, is indeed living.  He is the living stone that holds the structure together.

In verse 5, Peter calls his readers living stones as well.  All those who believe in Christ are now being built up as a spiritual house.  This Ďhouseí reminds us of the temple in the Old Testament, the place where God specially dwelled with His people.  In a real sense, as we gather this morning as the redeemed, we know that God is specially with us.  This is not because of the building that we have gathered in, it is because we are His building as believers in Christ.  Not only are we the temple, but Peter tells us that we are a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  Again, this reminds us of the Old Testament, where the Levitical priests would daily offer sacrifices to God.  Yet, it is different.  All believers in Christ are to be a part of the holy priesthood.  This privilege is no longer reserved for one group of Godís people.  No, we all together make up the priesthood and we do not need someone else to be a go-between for us and God.  Our great High Priest has secured that privilege for all of the redeemed.  He has freed us from our sin that we might offer our lives as living sacrifices to God.  Our obedience to His commands is the sacrifice we bring.

As we stated earlier, this is Godís plan.  Peter supports his argument by quoting from Isaiah 28:16.  Through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke of sending a stone to Zion, a cornerstone chosen and precious.  This prophecy is ultimately fulfilled by Christ.  He is the stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.  Thus, God had a plan to send Christ to be the Cornerstone that those who believe in Him might be built into Godís house.  Godís house is no longer a temple built by hands.  No Godís house is the temple of His people, the Church.  His glory dwells there. 

When I went to Jerusalem and saw the temple mount, I must admit that I was disappointed.  It was just an old building, almost in ruins.  Sure, it was a sight to behold, but it was just mortar and stone.  You want to know where I really saw the glory of God on that trip?  One night when we were staying in a hotel near the Sea of Galilee, some college students from the group I was staying with decided to meet together to sing and praise together.  We gathered in one of the meeting rooms of the hotel and sang songs about our Savior and spent time in prayer together.  In the midst of those students from Michigan, singing of their redemption through Christ, is where the glory of God was most clear.  Through Christ, God is building a house with His people where His glory would dwell on the earth.  This is His plan.  Yet, who will be a part of this house?  How can we be a part of Godís people?  This leads to the second section of our passage.

Second, only those who believe will be a part of Godís house (v. 6b-10).

Notice how the quotation from Isaiah 28 ends.  Look at verse 6 again.  Peter picks up on Isaiahís mentioning of belief and comments on this in verses 7-10.  Peter speaks about those who do not believe as well as those who do.  So, what does he say about those who do not believe?  First, he says that they have rejected Christ in fulfillment of Psalm 118.  Christ, who is the Cornerstone has been rejected by men.  Those who do not believe will be held accountable for rejecting Christ.  If you are here today and have not repented of your sins and followed after Christ through baptism and involvement in the local Church, then you have rejected Christ.  And you cannot reject Him and be a part of Godís people, for He is the Cornerstone.  Thus, I plead with you to repent and follow Christ.

Second, those who do not believe were destined to do so.  Look at verse 8.  This is a difficult verse.  How are we supposed to take it?  Well, we must at least affirm that the rejection of Christ was part of Godís plan.  He is not surprised or overwhelmed by unbelief.  Thus, Peter is encouraging his readers who were facing persecution and us as well.  God is not surprised by the unbelief of the world.  In fact, it is part of His plan for His sovereignty stretches even over the rebellion of men.  Now, this does not mean that unbelievers are off the hook or that God is the author of sin.  No, as we have already said, unbelievers will be held accountable for their sin.  They are responsible for rejecting Christ.  How can this be?  How can God be sovereign over evil and still hold men accountable for it?  I can only answer with Paul who is addressing the same question in Romans 9: 19-21, You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?  Let me be honest, these are difficult ideas to understand.  I struggle with Paulís answer.  Yet, who am I to question God or His Word?  These passages, as difficult as they are, are meant to encourage us.  Paul goes on in Romans 9 to speak of Godís glory being revealed through His mercy to His people.  I cannot understand or explain it all, but I remain amazed and humbled (floored) at Godís grace, which leads me to my next point. 1

If this is what is true of those who do not believe, what about those who do believe?  Peter describes them as a chosen race (note the emphasis again on Godís sovereignty in election), a royal priesthood (as we commented earlier on verse 5), a holy nation (this goes back to our call to be holy, even as we have been set apart by God), and a people for his own possession (referring to the fact that through Christ, we now belong to God).  What a glorious description of the Church.  She has been chosen by God before the foundations of the world (see Ephesians 1).  She has been given the privilege to offer acceptable sacrifices to God, namely our very lives (see Romans 12:1-2).  She has been set apart from the nations to be Godís very own people.  As Peter explains in verse 10 (alluding to Hosea 1-2), she is made up of all nations and is not limited to ethnic Israel.  The promises to Israel have been fulfilled in Christ and all who are Ďin Himí through faith.  In Him we have become the people of God.  In Him we have received the mercy that we never deserved.

Yet, why has God done this?  Why has He chosen a people and redeemed them through Christ?  Peter answers in verse 9.  Look at it again.  If you are a believer in Christ, then here is the glorious privilege of your life: to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  This is the call and privilege of the Church.  We have gathered this morning not to exalt ourselves or anything that we have done, but to proclaim the excellencies of God, who has taken a sinful, wicked people and has made them His own through their redemption in Christ.  If you are looking for the display of Godís glory on the earth, then you have come to the right place.  Look around at what He has done in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Look long and hard at what He has done to make us clean and new.  Godís glory is most clearly displayed in changed hearts, forgiven souls, and holy lives.  May we never forget this glorious privilege and may Godís glory be ever on display in the lives of the members of Trinity Baptist Church.  Amen.

1 For more on this verse, see Wayne Grudem, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Peter (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), p. 105-110.

~ William Marshall ~

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