1 Peter 2:4-12 – Building a spiritual house

BUILDING A SPIRITUAL HOUSE

 

1 Peter 2:4 – 12.

                   PART 1.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

As humans we are very good at slotting people we meet into little boxes = we have various social strata = we have different personality types = we judge people by the kind of jobs they do = how they dress = where they live = level of education = etc…..

On a broader scale we have divisions on the basis of language, skin colour, ethnic background, nationality, etc…

These divisions are not always negative but of course they can be.

 

In the passage before us Peter shows that from God’s perspective there are simply two groups = and this division is based on the relationship people have with the ‘Living Stone’ who is Jesus Christ.

Two issues Peter deals with    1) the twofold response to Christ

reject/accept

2) the spiritual nature of the Church

 

So far …. Peter has written about the great joy of salvation [1v3-12] and then shown how this salvation is the basis for the lifestyle the Christian should be living. In this passage before us he is now showing why it is so importance to be ‘connected to’ the foundation-/cornerstone.

 

This imagery of the stone is not new = the Jews would have understood this clearly from the OT Prophet of Isaiah [28:1-37:38] and from the Psalms.

 

The context of the quote from Isaiah concern the sovereign rule of God over history in spite of what the situation on the ground may look like. The leaders of Israel had been given great promises = these are symbolised by a stone laid in Zion [ Zion may refer to Jerusalem itself, or to the Promises may to King David and his descendent or to God’s ‘presence in the City of Zion]

Problem = the people choose disobedience, apathy and self-indulgence = the foundation of Israel/ the City are founded on the promises of God BUT the people do not trust in God.

 

 

They did not take seriously the warning from the Prophets that the judgement of God would come if they continued in their disobedience and self-indulgence. They thought they were safe simply because they lived in Jerusalem – “ God will never destroy his city!!”

 

Isaiah 28:14-18

14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem.

15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death,

with the grave we have made an agreement.

When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us,

for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding-place.”

16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:         “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,

a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

17 I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb-line;

hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding-place.

18 Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand.

When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. (NIV)

 

BUT the very foundation of their faith / the foundation on which Zion was founded was the covenant of God which they were breaking. [Often the picture of God in the OT is of God the Rock – only in relationship with this GOD are the people secure and safe]  And far from it being a secure place from the disobedience it would be the instrument of judgment.

 

Peter picks up on this imagery because as the OT unfolds the ‘Stone’ takes on significance for the coming Messiah.

In the building technique of the day the cornerstone of the foundation would be the first to be put in place = the stone would need to be square and true and very large = from it the level and angles of the walls would be set = such stones were carefully chosen and quite rare thus were very precious. The cornerstone in Solomon’s Temple was enormous = so the people had a visual aid before them.

 

This ‘Living Stone’ laid by God is clearly a ref. to Jesus = he is the one upon whom the People of God are founded.

As Peter writes this he must have in mind the Parable Jesus told about the wicked Tenants [the master who sends servants to collect rent but the tenants beat them = then he sends his son and the kill him = then Jesus quotes from Ps.118v22 “The stone the builders rejected has become the corner/capstone”]

 

 

1. THE ‘LIVING STONE’ REJECTED.

          => by people

In the OT the Stone is God who causes his people to stumble and fall injudgement when they refuse to place their trust in Him. Peter finds the responds of unbelievers to Christ to be just the same = he becomes a source of judgement instead of salvation.

 

Jesus came to his people – the Jews – and for the most part they rejected him …

John 1:11 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (NIV)

The Jewish leaders of Jesus day sought to establish their our salvation by following the written law/code [Rom.10:1-13].

BUT salvation is not in following rules BUT it is in a person, Christ = this Peter boldly declared to the same Jewish leaders after Pentecost = he confronts the very builders who rejected the stone declaring Acts 4:11-12 11 He is

” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (NIV)

 

Those who crucified Jesus had accomplished God’s purposes in spite of themselves and had served to put God’s stone in place.

 

This ‘Living Stone’ is not only rejected by the Jewish leaders of Jesus day but “rejected by men / people” [2v4] Acts 4:27 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. (NIV)

 

=> rejecting the ‘Cornerstone’ results in

                   stumbling/falling through disobedience.

The consequences of rejecting Christ are applied not just to the Jewish leaders but to all people everywhere.

Paul in Athens to the Greeks …. Acts 17:30-31 30 …… now he [God] commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (NIV)

 

The imagery of the Stone is clear. Christ is either the one in whom salvation is found OR he is the one over whom people fall by refusing to trust Him and thus he becomes not their Saviour but their Judge.

Salvation is in Christ alone = there isn’t another Saviour = there is no other cross  or resurrection =  = in rejecting Jesus unbelievers face judgement

 

1 Peter 2:8 8 and,

“A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message — which is also what they were destined for. (NIV)

 

People are not destine for God’s judgement without a choice = like Israel of old  they have the option to obey God and receive his salvation. God takes no delight in punishing people rather his desire is that all are saved ……….

1 Timothy 2:3-4 3 ….. God our Saviour, 4 … wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NIV)

 

No one is destined for judgement willy-nilly = Rather those who through disobedience stumble and fall over God’s ‘Living Stone’ are destine for judgement.

 

APPLICATION:   “Is Jesus Christ your Lord?”

“Have you repented and believed in Christ?”

“True salvation doesn’t allow for a religious veneer over a life

that say ‘I’ll do it my own way!’

Q> “Does God’s truth govern and affect EVERY part of my life or are there still some ‘no-go’ areas?”

 

2. THE ‘LIVING STONE’ ACCEPTED.

 

The stone that the people rejected is the stone that God has chosen.

Remember that Peter was probably at Jesus’ baptism when the voice of God from Heaven said “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” – he was definitely there on the Mt. of Transfiguration when God said “This is my Son whom I love listen to him!”

 

The OT leaves no doubt as to the value that God attaches to the coming Messiah – the NT identifies this Messiah as Jesus = how precious he is to God the Father is beyond question = we will never comprehend the intimacy and depth of love the Father has for the Son = we are told he has been given the highest place of honour in the universe.

He is God’s chosen and precious foundation -/ corner stone

 

          => accepting the ‘Corner Stone’ results in …

                   becoming living stones through obedience.

Jesus is not only precious to God but he also becomes precious to those who trust in him by faith.

 

The wonder of this is that Jesus is the  ‘living cornerstone/foundation’ of God’s ‘temple’ [ not a physical building but a spiritual one] AND that we [Christians] are also ‘living stones’ in the house of God.

He is the ‘Living stone’ but we too are ‘living stones’ because we are born again by his resurrection life.

 

ILLUS.: As a commoner and member of the public I have no access to the queen – however, if through circumstances I happened to become friendly with Prince Andrew and was taken by him to visit the Queen I would be given the opportunity to be in the presence of the Queen.

 

This would only be possible because of my attachment to Prince Andrew {Unlikely}

 

That is a feeble illustration of our relationship to God = we can only become ‘living stones’ part of God’s house by our attachment to Christ by faith. Until we come to Christ for salvation we are dead spiritually [Eph.2 – dead in trespasses and sins] BUT through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ was are made spiritually alive and become members of God’s household.

 

God is busy building a spiritual house – a temple for his glory.

Each Christian is a separate stone = each stone is specially quarried = each has to be shaped individually so that it will fit into God’s plan [ for the individual ‘stone’ and for the building as a whole] = sometimes the shaping can take a long time, in fact a life time = this shaping process can be painful for the believer as the rough edges are knocked off his/her personality [this is the sanctifying work of the H/Spirit [to make us holy] .

 

Each Christian is being made to fit into God building = you can imagine how much chiseling the Master Mason has to do to make each stone fit exactly the place planned for him/her.

 

NB God doesn’t used bricks = they tend to be mass produced and are all from the same mold having the same dimensions = all look the same

When God planned to build his Church he decided to use individual stones hand picked by him and then shaped to fit into an exact and unique place in his building [ the church].

 

No-one comes to Christ in exactly the same way = God’s children are not mass produced = nor are we all expected to fulfill the same roles and tasks in the Church of God = each has a distinct and unique role =

HOWEVER Each is selected and shaped to blend together with the ‘Chief Corner Stone’  and with all the other stones to form the chosen called out people of God, the Church.

 

 

          => built into a spiritual house.

 

In the OT the Tabernacle / tent and later the Temple was a picture of the Presence of God among his people, Israel [ the cloud filled the Temple as a reminder that He was their God and they were his people = in the NT no longer is God’s presence symbolised in a physical building BUT God is present in his people = the living stones that are part of Christ’s body, the Church.

 

It is true that each believer has the Spirit of God living in him/her BUT it is a mistake to think that one can live a Christian life in isolation from fellow believers.

 

Peter’s language here is not individual but corporate.

As westerner we tend to think far more individualistically than Peter’s reader would ever have thought.

 

They would not have thought first of themselves and then of the group to which they belonged [church, synagogue, family, nation …] = what they thought about themselves and what they did was in relation to the group.

The question they would ask in getting to know some would not have been, like ours, “What do you do?” BUT “To whom are you related?”

 

We talk about the Church as a community = that word has been used much in society = probably over used = we have had ‘Care in the Community’ for elderly, disabled etc… the problem is that in many/most cases the community does not care.

 

We talk of the community in which we live BUT do we know the people of the community = community is a group of people who are somehow related [not blood related necessarily] and who relate to each other  NOT JUST A COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS.

 

As Christians we are called by God to live as community = we are blood related = we are united by the blood of Christ through his death [ shedding his blood] that we are related to him and thus to each other.

 

 

We are not just a collection of individual Christians who happen to attend the same Church service on a Sunday = God calls us to:-

  • love one another [deeply from the heart]
  • care for one another
  • bear each others burden
  • be hospitable to each other
  • accept on another
  • forgive one another

 

So that        *together we can grow to be more mature Christians

*we can worship God together

*we can witness to the world around us in the hope that they too               will join us in the community of God’s people  = become living                      stones too.

 

Next week Part 2!!!!

1 Peter 2:4-12  (Part 2)

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

WHAT IS THE CHURCH TO DO?

 

(The Status and Ministry of the Church)

 

ILLUS.: Growing up in RSA as I did it was compulsory to do National Service. After school I was drafted into the Engineers Corps (Sappers) and was trained in the use of explosives, landmine detection and disarming, water purification and bridge building among other things. I was just a soldier / Private (Sapper).

Initial period of training was 1-2 years and then 1-3 month camps every year for the next 12 years.

After I finished my Theological training I was invited into the Chaplians Corps to be a Padre. This carries a high rank in the SA Army; in fact it carries the rank of Colonel. So I jumped from being a Private – which in the army is a nobody – to being a Colonel which is only one or two places below a General!!

 

To say that I had a change in status would be an understatement – As a Pvt I queued for my meals which were slopped on to stainless steel trays – “varkpanne” {pig pans} – and were usually cold by the time you got to eat it. As a Col. is sat in the Officers Mess with white table clothes and was served 3 course meals.

 

1. BECOMING THE PEOPLE OF GOD INVOLVES A CHANGE OF

    STATUS. [2v10]

 

The Christians of Peter’s day = and us today = enjoyed a huge change in status in terms of their relationship to God.

1 Peter 2:10 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (NIV)

= this came about because they had responded to God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ.

 

Peter is drawing heavily on the teaching of the OT.

God had called and chosen Israel to be his people – the 4 terms used in v.9 are drawn directly from the OT [Ex. & Dt] = chosen Race/people; Royal Priesthood; Holy Nation; God’s Possession =  BUT as time went by Israel broke God covenant = they had promised to serve him and serve him alone BUT they defiled themselves with immorality and idolatry.

God warned, through the prophets, of impending judgement but the majority continued in their own way.

In a dramatic object lesson to the people God tells the prophet Hosea to marry a an adultress [Gomer] – possibly a cult prostitute – to show how the nation of Israel had prostituted themselves in idolatry. God had remained faithful to Israel but they had proved unfaithful to him.

Gomer = Hosea’s adultress wife = had a number of children whose names had significance for the nation.

A son, Lo-Ammi [ not my people]

A Daughter, Lo-Ruhamah [not received mercy / not loved]

A gloomy prospect for Israel = to be disowned and unloved = BUT in Hos.2 God give a wonderful promise of restoration. God’s threat of judgement is always balanced with an offer of mercy … I will … make the Valley of Achor [Trouble] a door of hope.

There is always hope with God as long as people repent and acknowledge his sovereignty = God’s offer to Israel was always “… return to me and I will return to you…”

The message of the prophets always contained hope of restoration BUT not only would the remnant of Israel come to worship God but so too people from the nations of the world.

 

Isaiah 19:24-25 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. 25 The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (NIV)

 

God’s salvation and covenant blessing was to shared among the nations of the world.

It is this whole picture that Peter is referring to = in the OT the People of God were Israel although Gentiles could join the Nation BUT could not enter the Temple = Peter is saying the new Temple is made up of people from all nations = in fact the NT Temple is no a Building but the people themselves = a spiritual temple made up of believers whom Christ gathers from all nations.

 

If Israel through sin had become “NOT A PEOPLE” and had lost the right to the covenant promise THEN the grace that can restore Israel to their forfieted inheritance can equally bring unbelieving Gentiles into the intimacy of Fellowship with God.

 

Hosea had foretold this …

Hosea 2:23

23…… ….  I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one’.

I will say to those called ‘Not my people’, ‘You are my people’;

and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ” (NIV)

 

Before Christ Gentiles were excluded from entering the Temple in Jerusalem = but now in Christ things are very different …

 

Ephesians 2:19-22

19 …. you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (NIV)

 

As Christians therefore we have been changed = our status before God has changed from being ‘nobodies’ [ those who were the object of God’s anger] to being God’s treasured possession.

Now our worship is no longer coming with ritual sacrifices and ceremonies to a Temple of Physical stones.

We come now to a ‘Living Stones’ appointed by God  = it is not a physical approach to an earthly edifice BUT it is a spiritual appraoch of Faith in Christ….

1 Peter 2:4-5        4 As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him — 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (NIV)

 

2. GOD’S DESCRIPTIONS OF HIS CHURCH. [2v9a]

[Chosen People/Race = Royal Priesthood = Holy Nation = God’s Possession]

 

Each of these terms is taken from the OT = each is a study on its own

  • CHOSEN RACE / PEOPLEGod’s people is the temple made of ‘living Stones’ = God chooses to dwell in his temple /his people = we sometimes struggle with the teaching of God electing = partly because we see it too individualistically and also because we tend to divorce it from its scriptural context = It can only be received by faith and to receive it one must confess that God is God.                                          OT Israel was chosen NOT because they were better than others BUT simply because God choose them = they are a CHOOSEN people not a CHOICE people == so to us!!
  • ROYAL PRIESTHOOD  – the impact of this is somewhat lost on us who live in a democracy = for the Jews Royalty had untold privilege and to be a priest was not possible unless you were born into the Tribe of Levi = both Royalty and priesthood were unattainable ==if for the ordinary Jews then how much more for the Gentile == YET Peter writing to mainly Gentiles says they have attained this position through faith in Christ — so too us!!    == The task of offering spiritual sacrifices to God is one of the duties and privileges of God’s people. The Church is called to serve and worship the King of kings.
  • HOLY NATION – Holy does not mean super-spiritual, holier-than-thou == most nations could not claim to be holy = most behave pretty badlt at times advancing their our interests at the expense of others == YET God called Israel ‘holy’ becasue they were to be different / distinct from the nations around them because they were God’s people.                                 Peter is saying the same thing abot the Church == she is to be distinct from the world [not isolated from the world]  set aside for works of service for the glory of God.
  • PEOPLE BELONGING TO GOD. – God’s treasure possession {Mal.3:17} == think of your most tresured possession and how you care for it ==== better still think of how you tresure your children/ spouse/ etc and then think how much God tresures us by comparison.

 

What do we notice about these term – esp. the second word?

They are all collective!!

As mentioned last week one of our problems in the Western Church is that we are too individualistic = we tend to think in terms of “me” before “we”.

 

It is true to say “Jesus loved me and died to save me!!” And yes the Church is made up of individuals BUT we can’t claim to be born again into the Family/ household of God and then behave as though we were spiritual orphans. We have been born again into a family – the people of God.

 

Something that doesn’t help our individualistic view of the Christian life is the English language. Most languages have a pl. for the second person BUT in English ‘you’ can mean one person or many people = THUS we often interpret individually what the biblical writers intended corporately

 

ILLUS.: Ephesians 5:18 18 ….., be filled with the Spirit. (NIV)

We tend to apply this personally – individual spirituality yet the context is the congregation = speaking to one another = worshipping together and giving thanks to God  = and submitting to one another = these are the criterea for determining the fullness of the Spirit not some second-blessing emotional experience.

 

We are God’s people / household [v.5 spiritual house or household / family …

 

Mike Griffiths “The congregation is the family of God. We are menat to be able to relax, take our shoes off and let our hair down. Yet so often we dress up and feel very stiff and formal in Church, and some feel that is is only proper and reverent for it to be so!  We have made ‘going to Church’ more like a public occasion with pomp and circumstance instead of a family gathering. The family meets to feast and have fun, to relax and to open their hearts to eavh other. Even the Lord’s supper has tended to degenerste into a formal ceremonial and lost its quality of being a family feast. We may have businessmen’s banquets and missionary breakfasts but oh that there were more opportunity for Christians to eat and drink together before the lord as a congregation!”

 

Christians in other cultures are much more open to this kind of Church family life than we are.

 

ILLUS:. Our experience in Africa amongst Black and Indian congregations

-in Portugal

– in France ==== much more emphasis on fellowship – eating together =

 

The question is “How are we going to realize the goal of making this congregation into and effective community / family of God?”

Some of you may be groaning inwardly at the thought of more gatherings at the Church building —

Is it reasonable to expect folk to increase the number of congregational meetings they attend in the course of a week.

Young couples with children find it difficult to attand evening meeting as one must always be with the children.

Those who commute far to work find eveninf meetings difficult.

Is it realistic to expect the whole church to meet together a few times a week – improving the quality of the meetings may help – a little!!

 

Q> Does the congregation exist only when it meets together?

Q> Is the Church in cold storage from Monday to Saturday?

 

The church is not the building [in some respects building are a hinderance]

The church is the people and it exists whether gathered for worship or scattered for work and home life. === We tend to divide our lives into compartments = church = work = home etc.

Paul in Ephesians – the section we looked at about  [5:18] 18 ….., be filled with the Spirit . -and how it is in the context of congregational life == Paul goes on still about the life of the congregation to talk about relationships in the home, work place, society in general …

 

IN Peter’s letter before us he does the same == following this passage he goes on to write about life in relationship to civil authorities; husbands and wives; life in society in general  = and encouraging the church to be the church in these situations NOT only when they gather!!

 

This is what Jesus meant when he talked about being Salt and light!! [Salt is not only salt in the salt cellar BUT also when scattered.

 

What I am arguing for is that we don’t divorce our church life from the rest of life BUT realise that when we are not gathered but scattered we are still the Church – how we live = relate = what we do = has an effect both on our fellow believers and the world in which we live and their perception of God’s church.

 

Many don’t have much free time = the people of Peter’s day didn’t , many would have been slaves or paid servants few were rich = the plea is that we used the time we have well in developing fellowship/ worship with others in the congregation = one to one; in 3’s and 4’s; in house groups, as families sharing meals togther [include the children – or is all children see formal service in church most of which is over their heads and to them boring!!]

 

And yes of course when we meet together as a congregation on Sundays or whenever – and we need to work hard at making these times meaningful and relavant – all of us not just the preacher!!

 

Christians who isolate themselves by choice will find no support for that in the Bible – the church is a body / family and by whole eharted involvement and love for that family benefits the the Family/Church = enhances the individuals spiritual vitality and brings glory to God!

 

We have focussed on corporate spiritual life  BUT the whole is only as spiritual as its parts = so we are not saying personal spiritual life is less important == so let us remind ourselves of this with the words of Wesley’s great hymn  “And can it be

It reminds us that God loves ME = but remember “Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” [Eph5…]

 

 

1 Peter 2:4-12 (Part 3)

 

OFFERING SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES

AND DECLARING GOD’S PRAISES

 

(Being a Purpose-Driven Church =

= Fellowship = Discipleship = Service = Evangelism = Worship)

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Each family should have recieved new church directory. The 5 purposes outlined on the first page are drawn from a book called “The Purpose-Driven Church” by Rick Warren. [It is a very helpful/challenging book and I recommend it to all who take seriously their responsibilities as Christains and as members of Christ’s Church]

It doesn’t take much to realise that Rick Warren did not dream up these 5 purposes but that arise directly from scripture.  E.G. at the end of Acts 2      [2v42-47] we read that the infant Church ……

  • met together daily for fellowship;
  • they cared for each other – service;
  • they devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching – learning from the apostles – discipleship;
  • others saw and heard their witness – evangelism;
  • they praised God together – worship.

 

In 1 Peter 2 – the passage before us – Peter has been emphasing similar issues = we saw last week the emphasis on community – fellowship; inherent in the concept of Priesthood [v9] is worship and service – offering spiritual sacrifices [v5] has a similar meaning; declaring his praises can included both worship and witness; and clearly the thrust of v11-12 are that Christians will live honest and godly lives before unbeleivers that they will be drawn to Christ – evangelism.

 

Purpose 1. FELLOWSHIP.

 

As Christians we are called to belong, not just to believe. God wants all His children to be vital members in the local Church.

 

In the kind of society in which we live one of the greatest needs in people’s lives is a desire to belong. With the fragmentation of families – more single parent and single person households now than ever before – people often feel lonely and unloved. What is it that draws people to clubs and pub – it is the deep human need and desire to be with others – to belong. You only have to read the newspapers ‘Lonely Hearts’ column to this heart cry to belong and be loved.

 

ILLUS.: Some weeks ago I was watching BBC2 – a programme about a study done by the London School of Ecomonics = It was about health and life expectency

  • In UK the health and life expectency was highest in the 1940’s = Was it just the simple wholsome food eaten during the war/post-war years? NOT entirely – there was also a very strong sense of purpose and  community as people from all walks of life and social classes worked alongside each other.
  • In Romania people were healthier and lived longer under communist rule than when they began to experience more freedom – Life was hard but there was a strong sense of community and helping each other
  • An Italian community is USA – a life long study by one Doctor – they had a fairly unhealthy diet – very fatty – cooked everything in dripping – yet had a longer life expectency than the rest of the USA in general – they had very strong family and community bonding.

The reseachers’ conclusion was simply yet profound – people need people!! As communities/nations become more prosperous they become more isolating and selfish and more unhealthy.

 

The Bible has been saying this for centuries – God created us as relational beings and when we are isolated from other people we suffer as a result!!!

 

Feelowship is essential for a healthy Church – it is also to be a witness to the world …

John 13:34-35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

 

 

Purpose 2. DISCIPLESHIP.

 

Discipleship is the process of growing to spiritual maturity by learning to obey everything Jesus commanded.

God wants all His children to grow to become like Christ.

 

Put simply a disciple is a follower…….

ILLUS.: I expect that children today still play – as we did – ‘follow my leader’ = the purpose of the game is of course to copy /follow the leader – very simple .

 

Matthew 11:29 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (NIV)

 

John 14:15  15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. (NIV)

 

Matthew 28:19-20 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

 

NB what Jesus said = not just teach them = the church can be guilty of thinking that if we simply put converts through a 6-10 week discipleship course they graduate as disciples == NB that Jesus says ‘teach them to obey’ = this is not just a head knowledge but a knowing that changes lifestyle, attitude and touches at the heart and soul of the individual.

teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. -As we look through Matthew’s gospel and the other gospels we see Jesus teaching by word and example – what the kingdom of God is like, the values and attitudes of those in the kingdom etc…

 

Peter who was with Jesus for those years now writes, passing on what he had learned = bcoming a disciple by trusting Christ for Salvation [the Living stone] and learing to have attitudes and action in keeping with that salvation == that is what this letter of Peter’s is about.

 

As Christians we are not only called upon to believe but to be disciples – by a combination of obedience to God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer we are becoming more and more like Christ = that is the goal.

As already in 1 Peter 2 – Be holy for I am holy

 

It is the responsiblity of individual Christians to become disciples AND it is the responsibility of those who are beoming disciples to help others to also become disciples = BE DISCIPLERS!!!

 

 

Purpose 3. SERVICE.

 

God has given each believer spiritual gifts for ministry.

It is His purpose that all His Children demonstrate love by serving others using the gifts He has given to them.

 

There has been so much controversy about the gifts of the Spirit in the Church in recent times = very sad really. When spiritual gifts are seen as my personal possession to be used for my personal gratification and my personal status  THEN they are misunderstood and misused. Sadly this has been the case and is always a temptation.

 

Paul makes it abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians that the gifts are for the good of the whole body = we are to use the gifts and talents and time God has given to be ‘spiritual sacrifices’ to God. God no longer wants dead animals burned on ceremonial altars = he wants the lives of his people dedicated to serving others and thus glorifying his name!!

Jesus said ‘I didn’t come to be served but to serve…’ = as disciples this should be our aim too.

 

1 Peter 4:10 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (NIV)

 

 

Purpose 4. OUTREACH.

 

God wants each of His children to be involved in missions.

He wants us to fulfil His Great Commission locally and to the ends of the earth.

 

What is missions?

Peter has captured the essence of missions in v9 = that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light = he could be talking about worship and that is no doubt included but in the light of the contents of the rest of the letter it seems that Peter has evangelistic outreach in mind.

We need to understand that God’s great purpose and design is to bring people to know him so that they can praise him. To that end God sends his Holy Spirit to convict and convert.

Evangelism has at its centre God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ [1 Peter 1] his life/teachings/death/resurrection.

Evangelism  takes people beyond belief in God, to trust in the cross of Christ and his resurrection.

Without this basic Christian theology there is no basis for evangelism = without the cross and the resurrection we have no message of salvation and no ultimate hope in God!!

 

BUT how is this message communicated to the people of the world?

Clearly not by Christians being condemnatory of unbelievers or by taking the moral high ground. NOR by isolation from the world and then going on evangelistic forays into so called ‘enemy-territory to get a few scalps’.

NOR trying to force people to believe as has been in the Churches past == how many people have been put off the gospel because of having had to sit through boring school chapel period year after year???

 

Peter develops how we are to go about this in his letter 1) First understand what salvation is ==  2) Second live upright godly lives even in difficult circumstances 1 Peter 2:11-12

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (NIV)

3)Third, Out of the context of a godly living then talk about the gospel as you have opportunity …. 1 Peter 3:15 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (NIV)

 

All surveys show that 70-90% of people become Christians through the friendship of a Christian =  “Christian doyou have friends who are not yet Christians who you *enjoy being with and doing things with

* pray for regularly

* care for

* talk to about Jesus when the opportunity arises without                                     being obnoxious and arrogant.

 

The church has often expected unbelievers to come into meeting/missions at the Church [building] put up a banner outside / adverts in the local press and the people will flock in !!! NO! [maybe in the past but not anymore]

 

ILLUS.>  One of the elders inteview a member some time ago – one who is very gifted at talking to and befriending all kinds of people – When the subject of missions and evengelism was raised this member responded “Well if you want to do outreach then you must go out!!”

 

As individuals and as a Church if we are going to fulfil this command of Christ to “.. make disciples of all nations …” it is going to take time and effort and sacrifice == should it take any less when we consider at what cost Christ came to save us and bring salvation to the world!!

 

NB the “..make disciples ..” includes “.. all nations ..” and so our concern for outreach must be local and global.

Christ’s concern is for the world – as his followers ours must be too.

  • Pray for it – be aware of what is happening in the world  – NEWS.
  • FOCUS on one or two specific areas – E.G. as we have as a church -the Smalls in Paris = the Stanford in Bukina Faso = etc…

 

Church is to be Christ’s witness locally and globally …

Acts 1:8 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)

 

To claim to have the gift of the Spirit given to all Christians at conversion and then to fail to be concerned and committed to outreach is to abuse and to disobey the Spirit – The Spirit is given to empower God’s people to be witnesses for Him.

 

Purpose 5. WORSHIP.

 

God wants each of His children to magnify His Name in corporate and personal worship and by living for His glory daily.

 

“ offering spiritual sacrifices..” [ v5] and  “..declaring his praises..” [v9]  is also the language of worship.

 

Boardly speaking everything in the life of a Christian and the Church should be worship because ALL aspects of our lives are supposed to glorify God.

BUT in a narrower use it refers to coming into God’s presence and consciously adoring him in our hearts, praising him with our voices and speaking about him so others may near… Colossians 3:16 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (NIV)

 

One of the main reasons why God calls the Church to gather together is so we might worship him.

 

We don’t have time to look at worship in depth ==

God’s purpose is that the whole creation will praise and honour and glorify his name = all the heavenly beings worship him constantly = God all promisedin the OT that someday a great assembly, not just Israel, but from all nations would worship him before his throne .. Isaiah 2:2-4

2 In the last days

the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established

as chief among the mountains;

it will be raised above the hills,

and all nations will stream to it.

3 Many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us his ways,

so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion,

the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 He will judge between the nations

and will settle disputes for many peoples.

They will beat their swords into ploughshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not take up sword against nation,

nor will they train for war any more. (NIV)

 

In the NT, in Revalation, John as a vision of what the end of time will be like … Revelation 7:9-12

9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing round the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:

“Amen!

Praise and glory

and wisdom and thanks and honour

and power and strength

be to our God for ever and ever.

Amen!” (NIV)

 

Reverent corporate, then, worship is not an optional for the church of God … Rahther, it brings to expression the very being of the church. It manifests on earth the reality of the heavenly assembly” .. [Edmund Clowney]

 

To quote the Westminister Confession our ulitimate purpose is “.. to glorify God and enjoy hom forever”

Paul says a similar thing in …. Ephesians 1:12 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (NIV)

 

As individuals we are called to worship God daily in all we think and say and do = also in specail times of private prayer and scipture reading and worship — no reason why you can’t sing on your won – use song/hymn books in your private devotion = BUT we MUST meet for corprate worship to sing, prayer, study the Bible, celebrate communion TOGETHER.

 

CONCLUSION.

These five pupsoe are not neatly packaged separate compartments of the Christian life – they all overlap.

As we sevre others we have fellowship and learn from each other == in worshipping together we have fellowship and grow in maturity etc….

 

Each Christian has a responsibility to keep these five in balance == as a church we must work hard at all these areas to be a healthy, well functioning body [not just well structured and organised]

 

God wants us to –

  • belong to him and to eath other
  • to grow to be like Jesus
  • to use our talants, time and energy to serve others
  • to show and tell the world
  • to praise and worship him

 

 

THE REJECTED-ACCEPTED ‘LIVING STONE’

 

1 Peter 2:4-12.

 

‘THE LIVING STONE’

          Rejected                                      Chosen

             by people                                     by God

                                                                       (and precious)

              (Matthew 21-33-42)                                    (Matthew 16:13-18)

 

Those who reject …                           Those who accept .

                                     < RESULT >

 

– Stumble / Fall                                     – become ‘living stones’

 through disobedience                        through obedience

 (judgement)                                           built into a spiritual house

                                                 

– Chosen People

– Royal Priesthood

– Holy Nation

– God’s possession

 

       to:-

        offer spiritual sacrifices

        declare God’s praises

 

 

LET’S BE A PURPOSE-DRIVEN CHURCH

 

Purpose 1. FELLOWSHIP.

As Christians we are called to belong, not just to believe.

God wants all His children to be vital members in the local Church.

 

Purpose 2. DISCIPLESHIP.

Discipleship is the process of growing to spiritual maturity by learning to obey everything Jesus commanded.

God wants all His children to grow to become like Christ.

 

Purpose 3. SERVICE.

God has given each believer spiritual gifts for ministry.

It is His purpose that all His Children demonstrate love by serving others using the gifts He has given to them.

 

Purpose 4. OUTREACH.

God wants each of His children to be involved in missions.

He wants us to fulfil His Great Commission locally and to the ends of the earth.

 

Purpose 5. WORSHIP.

God wants each of His children to magnify His Name in corporate and personal worship and by living for His glory daily.

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