Description / Transcription
I invite you to turn in your copy of the Scriptures this morning to 1 Peter in chapter 2. As you turn there, let me pray once more.
And now, our Father, it is well with our soul. Nothing in our hands do we bring simply to your cross do we cling, it is well with our soul because we have much of Christ. You have given us all things necessary for both life and godliness. You’ve given to us Christ, and so we would pray this morning. O Father, that You would send forth Your Holy Spirit in such a way that the words that we will interact with today will find their target, that You would minister to men, women, and boys and girls this morning, that we would see much of Christ, that our hearts would be lifted high to exalt Him and to praise Him, both today and forevermore. We thank you for this rich privilege and we pray that You would give us the joy of our Savior, commending these things for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
When I was growing up in San Diego, rather near the beach, my favorite pastime was not surfing. You might be surprised to learn that, as much as I talk about my love of growing up where I grew up. Surfing was not my favorite pastime. For me it was the desert. Get me on the back of a dirt bike in the wide open desert, let me light my hair on fire and see what happens. [laughter]
There’s a particular weekend that is indelibly marked in my memory. We had been out in the desert where we must have been a thousand times before, and some of us were on dirt bikes and one friend was in his 4-wheel drive pickup truck, and there’s a place east of San Diego in the desert that’s called the Salton Sea. Some of you might be from that area, you know the Salton Sea. It’s a rare lake in the sense that it is a saltwater lake and it sits immediately on top, directly above, the San Andreas Fault. This is the largest fault line in the Pacific Rim.
In this particular day we had ridden out to that lake and most of us stopped where the desert sands turned into lakeshore sands, but not my friend in his truck. He wanted to see what would happen, so he went for it. And about a hundred yards or so out he realized he could go no further; he was stuck. And so when this happens, no big deal, you just reverse. And as he tried to reverse, he realized he was in real trouble. He couldn’t go forward, he couldn’t go backwards. He realized he had driven his truck into a massive quicksand disaster. And we all stood a hundred yards away as we watched my friend’s truck get sucked into the sand and the more he tried to spin his wheels to get out of that sand, the further into the quicksand my friend’s truck went. Soon we could see maybe half or so of his truck as it was slowly disappearing out of sight, and my friend’s panic was unimaginable. So we quickly dispatched a couple of us on the motorcycles and rode across the desert to the nearest gas station and came back with help and they were able to pull my friend’s truck out. And the man that was helping us, I’ll never forget, said that if we had been about 30 or so minutes later, his truck would have been gone forever. I remember him saying you can’t imagine how many trucks and Jeeps are buried right out there. [laughter]
Well, if I can speak of that in a more optimistic way, the things about quicksand and the desert is that the more you dig, the deeper you go. The more you dig, the deeper you go. Peter is inviting us this morning to dig deeply and to find that the more we dig into the Gospel, the deeper you will find the treasures to be. The more you dig deeply into the inexhaustible Gospel, the more you will find the treasures of the Gospel to be.
Some of you have been walking with Christ for many years and you will testify of that. The further you dig into the Gospel, the deeper you find the treasures to be.
And this morning there are two great treasures that we will lay hold of. Beginning in verse 4:
“As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 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. 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.’
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,’ and ‘a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
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. 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.”
There are two very precious treasures of the Gospel that stand out to us in this text. The first of which is Peter’s use of the word “stones,” “as you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men, but in the sight of God chosen and precious.” This is the One to whom you’ve come.
I wonder for how many of us these might be such familiar words that we simply blow right past them. We’ve become so familiar with these words, so familiar with the concept of Jesus Christ being the precious stone and perhaps others of us we’ve simply never really understood what does this mean the Jesus Christ is the chosen and precious stone and therefore we in Christ are called the living stones, no longer dead, but alive and affectionate towards the things of God.
It’s a startling comment that the Apostle Peter made. This is actually the second time that Peter has made this reference. If you want to turn back to Acts chapter 4, here Peter is in Jerusalem with John. Peter and John are together in Jerusalem, it’s the earliest of the eras of the apostolic time. Acts chapter 4. So early, in fact, that it’s the same high priest, the high priests in this era are turning over with some regularity, and so here we find these two high priests that are related to each other by marriage. Their names are Annas and Caiaphas. These are the same two high priests that interrogated Jesus in John chapter 18. Annas and Caiaphas have, have pressed into Jesus, asking Jesus who He is, interrogating Him in this kangaroo court of a trial, and Jesus is busy in John 18 giving to them answers of who He is and why He has come, and then soon He will go into silence and He is convicting these two men and the whole time, off in the shadows, is our very own Peter. As Jesus is being interviewed by Annas and Caiaphas, Peter is over here and he is busy denying this very Jesus.
And now here’s this same Peter, now empowered by the Holy Spirit, standing before the same two men, Annas and Caiaphas, only a matter of weeks later. In Acts 4, verse 10, Peter says “let it be known to all of you and all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is” what? “The stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.”
This is Peter’s favorite way of describing the Son of God, the stone who was rejected by men.
But I want you to notice, if you’ve read Acts 4, keeping your finger in 1 Peter 2, I want you to notice how he expands his thought in chapter 2. “You come to Him. a living stone rejected by men but,” Peter says in chapter 2, “in the sight of God chosen and precious.”
So this is where I want us to camp a little bit. “In the sight of God, chosen and precious.”
Marvelous collection of thirteen sermons written by one of the Puritans of old on Psalm 42 and 43, which together are called “A Lifting Up for the Downcast.” I’ve read all of them, I’ve given some time to them. “A Lifting Up for the Downcast.”
I want to ask you, my friends. I’m certain I know the answer. Surely some of us in this room feel what the psalmist felt in the 42nd Psalm that his soul is downcast, he is struggling, questioning whether or not God can love you. Can God possibly? Is it conceivable that God could love such a vile sinner as you? Surely some of us in this sanctuary struggle with that. “A Lifting Up for the Downcast.” My friends, nothing will lift the soul of the believer like the fixed and absolute certainty of God’s love for the Son.
I want to camp here because I want you to put your minds around this: God the Father’s delight in God the Son, and what that means for us. God the Father’s delight in God the Son. Jesus, the Son of God, is a delight to God the Father. And do you know what that matters? I’ll say it like this: All eternity hangs on the hope that God the Father delights in God the Son.
One of the last books in the Old Testament, Zephaniah, ends with these words: “He will rejoice over you with gladness.” Such good news. “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will exult over you with loud singing.”
We ask the question, how can that be? How can God rejoice over me? How can God exult over me with loud singing? The answer is it’s not random. It’s not God simply sitting back in heaven and saying “oh, why not?” No, God’s love for you is anchored in something. God’s delight in you is anchored by His delight in God the Son.
I’m going to try and unpack this very briefly. Again, turn back in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 17. If you’re newer to the faith, Matthew is the first book in the New Testament. Matthew 17… This is the transfiguration, and we don’t have time to unpack all the full significance of the transfiguration, but Jesus takes three disciples, including Peter, and James and John, and that mountain, verse 2, Jesus is transfigured before them, His face shown like the sun, His clothes became white as light, and Peter does what Peter does. He starts talking, “Lord, it’s good that we are here, it’s good for us to see this, it’s good that you’ve brought us out to this place.” It’s Peter doing what Peter does, he’s interrupting a sacred moment.
Every parent knows the struggle of their children who interrupt. I don’t know how many times every parent tells their kid “stop interrupting,” right? Let me tell you, the most remarkable thing happened to me today. I, it was, I can only, I can’t repeat this at all. I’m going to say this only one time, “Daddy, can I have an egg?” “Oh, do you have to interrupt me at this moment? Stop interrupting.” If there was ever an interruption that was worth happening, it’s when God the Father booms from heaven to interrupt the Apostle Peter. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
The language behind that phrase “well pleased” is the language “ratsah.” It means “in whom is all my delight.”
God the Father standing before these three apostles, Peter, James, John, watching Jesus of Nazareth be transfigured into this glorious, majestic scene. And if that wasn’t enough, God speaks from heaven, stopping Peter in his tracks. “This is my beloved Son in whom is all My delight.” God the Father delights in God the Son and that changes everything.
This living stone, chosen and precious by God the Father, “precious in My sight.”
There are more than five, let me give you five brief reasons why the Father delights in the Son.
Number one. The Father delights in the Son because God the Son was perfect in all His ways, learning obedience, even obedience unto death, Hebrews 5. God the Father delights in God the Son because the Son was faithful to the covenant, Ephesians 1. God the Father delights in God the Son because God the Son was perfect and sinless and fulfilled the law, Matthew 5. Because God the Son is the exact imprint of God the Father, Hebrews 1. And because God the Son qualifies sinners to inherit the kingdom of God, having reconciled them by His grace, 2 Corinthians 5. God the Father delights in God the Son.
And isn’t it remarkable, then, that Paul would say of the believer, yes, even to the foulest of sinners, that you are the aroma of Christ before God? Do you know that God says that of you? If you are in Christ, you are the very aroma of Christ before the face of God.
Do you struggle with your assurance of salvation? God’s love for you? How can it be? How can God possibly love? If He only knew. How can God possibly love someone like me, on a treadmill doing more and more and more to please God, but your life simply doesn’t change. Think less of yourself then. Think less of what you do, think less of what you can do, what you cannot do, and take hold of God the Father because He delights in God the Son.
Not only does the precious and living stone draw our hearts heavenward, but it must also drive our knees downward because the Father delights in God the Son, and if that is true, how does that affect us? If God the Father delights in God the Son, mustn’t we delight in God the Son? If God the Father lifts the Son, mustn’t we fall before Him?
Gonna pull the curtain back a little bit. When I was writing this portion of this sermon, I must tell you that I stopped in my office and I prayed for this congregation, “O Lord, give them more love of Christ.” The cry of every pastor, that my people would, would love Christ all the more. Why do I exist? Why am I called to be a minister of the Gospel? Because I want you to love Christ all the more and I want you to anchor your love of Christ in God the Father’s delight in His own Son. Because you are living stones being built as a spiritual house.
That means you are becoming like Him, with renewed affections and renewed love, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of God and being transformed from one degree of glory to the next. Stones, living stones, living stones.
Don’t you love these biblical paradoxes? That doesn’t make any sense, living stone. On the one hand, stones don’t live. Stones don’t change. They don’t move, they don’t grow, they don’t learn. That’s why God is called the Rock of our salvation, because He doesn’t grow, He doesn’t change, He doesn’t learn, for He knows all things. But on the other hand, Jesus is not just a stone, He is a living stone. And in the same way, we are like living stones, being renewed day by day, and built into something greater than the self.
That’s what leads, then, to the second treasure of the Gospel here. We are being built into a spiritual house, a royal priesthood. And if we are being built into a spiritual house, my friends, what must be true of us? What must be true of us? The answer to that comes to us in the Gospel in two verses, verse 9 and 10, “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 has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you have not received mercy, now you have received mercy, ” that you may proclaim the excellencies of God. That’s the goal, that’s the ___2212, that’s the end purpose, for which God is renewing you and me to be a spiritual house, which He defines as a chosen race. What is God doing in the world? God is making one race out of every race, a whole new humanity united together in Christ. A royal priesthood, clothed with the linens of the glories of Christ, no longer with veiled faces, made for worship, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, separate from the world because the peace of Christ rests upon them. That’s what the riches of the Gospel have conveyed to every believer and I am convinced few of us lay hold of that as we ought. These are the riches of the Gospel, a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a holy nation.
Not so that we can be puffed up, not so that we can pat ourselves on the back. I’ve noticed since, since we moved here, people, when I was growing up out West, when you got to a certain point in high school, if you were an athlete, then you got to wear a lettermen jacket. Even know what those are here? Nobody wears them here, but other parts of the country it’s a big deal, right? And you put these patches on and the more accomplishments that you get, and you walk around, and these are my patches. These are the badges of the Gospel: A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Not so that we can say “why, look at my badges,” but so that we can give them away. That you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who save you, and transferred you out of darkness and into His glorious light. A chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation.
One commentator put it like this: “As a skilled pastor, Peter now addresses them personally. He says that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, everywhere they should vocally proclaim God’s praiseworthy virtues, His deeds, His power, His glory, His wisdom, grace, mercy, love and holiness, that everywhere they should vocally proclaim.”
Do you know that old thing that said “preach the Gospel everywhere, and if necessary use words”? [sound effect], wrong. [laughter] Here, Peter says you must proclaim, you must vocally proclaim all the things of God to this dying and fading world.
Do you want a banner over your life? Do you wonder what God is doing in your life? What is my purpose? Why do I have this job? What will I do? What is God calling me to do? What am I good at? Whatever it is, at the center of it, to proclaim the excellencies of the God who saved you, the excellencies of Him who has made you a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, a people as Hosea says, who once were not a people, but now are God’s own possession and inheritance, a people who once had not received mercy, but a people now who through Christ have received mercy in its fullest measure.
We are coming off of an excellent Missions Week, where we’ve been challenged to not waste our geography, and we’ve been thinking hard about the nature and the scope and the mission of the church, and here it is in ___ and simplicity: To proclaim the excellencies of Him who saved you.
What are we doing here? We’ve got this beautiful sanctuary. What are you doing in your work? You’ve got this successful career. What are you doing with your family? You’ve got these beautiful children. You must be proclaiming the excellencies of whom, who saved you.
When I was younger, I received a distressing call from my father. He and my mom had recently retired to Phoenix and they were on a long road trip to Canada, and as they were beginning that long trip, my mother felt something amiss in her abdomen. We had just been with my parents that previous week over in the wine country and she was healthy and happy. A day or two later she felt something amiss. And what she felt turned out to be a large tumor in her intestinal system, and she stood little chance to survive. A year later, we will never forget the very week that my wife was having our third child, my mom was scheduled for one last ditch surgery. And as it happened, the surgery was the same day, the very same hour that Anna was in labor, giving birth to our daughter Kate. And the doctors learned about this, and the rest of my family was gathered in the hospital in Phoenix and Anna and me were gathered in a hospital in Fresno. And our doctor learned of my mother’s illness, and he said “if it’s the last thing I do, we’re going to get this baby girl before your mother passes to glory,” and so the race was on. And the baby was born, and the doctor called out the time, and then turned to me and said “check your phone, is your mom still with us?” And she was. She lasted a couple more months before she entered her eternal rest.
And when she died, there was only thing I wanted. As she was dying, there was only one thing she wanted from me, which was to live long enough to see the baby, which she got to do a couple of weeks before she died, and after she died, there was only one thing I wanted from her. She always wore this necklace, this gold chain that had little hearts every two or three inches all the way around it. I don’t have a single memory of my mother without that gold chain on. She was a tiny little thing, she was only this tall and this thing came to here on her, and it was my goal in life to someday reach as tall as her necklace. And so every so often I would stand in front of her and I would measure myself by this gold chain. And when she died, that’s all I wanted. I wanted it because it was a perpetual reminder of who I belonged to.
Now my wife, or even one of my daughters, might wear that, and it’s a precious family item to us, because it helps ground me in a very certain and unshakeable way of my time and my place. It is for me an adornment.
My friends, our Father in heaven has adorned you with a very precious jewel. And it may capture in these words, that you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Once you were a people far off, strangers to the covenants of promise, and not a people, but now by grace through faith you are My people, My heritage, My inheritance, a people for My own possession.”
As we come to the table this morning, we come to Him who is the chosen and precious one. Oh, that you would lay hold of that. We come to the One who is the chosen and precious One in whom God the Father takes all His delight, through whom God has made you into a whole new people, ransomed according to His body and blood. Would you take delight in Him? For through Christ, He takes delight in you.
Let me pray for us. Our Father, we have given but few precious minutes to the treasures of the Gospel. We are made a glad people, that You have adorned us with these things. It is a lifting up for the downcast to remember that You take all your delight in God the Son. Lord, I thank You that through Him we are called the friend of sinners. We thank You that You have given to us, one another, that we may be this chosen race, this royal priesthood, and a holy nation, a people for your own possession. And now I pray that You would minister to us according to the means of Your appointment. Lift our hearts that we may lay hold of these treasures of the Gospel. For we pray these things in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen.