1 Peter 2v4 (III)


“As you come to Him” (3 of 4)

Peter's first letter

1 Peter 2:1-5 ESV
1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 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. ESV

For the sake of brevity I’m repeating what I have mentioned in my previous review.
In our previous posts we took note that there are two parties involved in this “coming”. There are those who do the coming because Peter says: “As you come” so we’ll need to consider “Those who come”. Now, quite often when we speak of “coming” we’re referring to coming to a place or to a thing or even to an idea but in this instance we see that Peter is speaking of people coming to a person because he says: “As you come to him. There’s a second party involved in this coming and that is the one to whom we come.
Peter is talking about people coming to a person. So, we’ll also need to consider “The one to whom we come”. He tells us more about the person to whom we come as he continues in verse 4 by saying that He is “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”. He then goes on to tell us more about the people who come to Him and the result of their coming to Him in verse 5 where he says: “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”.
We’ll leave our consideration of what Peter says about those who come and what happens when they come until next time.
It’s my intention to consider the four aspects of Peter’s thought beginning the first aspect:
1. The nature of this coming
2. The One to whom we come
3. Man’s evaluation of Him
4. God’s estimation of Him
Today, we’re going to concentrate on what Peter says about:
Man’s evaluation of Him
Despite Peter’s description of Him that clearly shows the superiority of the temple that is built upon Jesus and the superiority of the covenant that centres upon Him we see that Peter says that He was “rejected by men”. That’s in keeping with Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. Think, for instance of Isaiah 53v3 where we read:

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

No doubt Peter particularly had the words of Psalm 118v22 in mind:

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”.

There, the picture is of builders sorting through stones and examining them to decide which ones are suitable for use in their building and which ones are to be discarded. Their evaluation of Jesus the Messiah is such that they toss Him onto the “reject” pile. They don’t consider Him suitable for their purposes. He doesn’t fit into what they’re trying to build. In their human wisdom they reject Him as being unfit for their building project.
Of course, this rejection of the Messiah wasn’t just the stuff of prophecy. When Jesus came into the world that rejection was fulfilled in reality. So, we read in John 1v11:

“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him”.

Jesus Himself had an acute awareness of His being rejected by men as we see from Mark 8v31 where we read:

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again”.

You see, He knew that He was to be rejected and that rejection would culminate in His being killed. That’s exactly the point He made in the parable of the tenants and the vineyard wasn’t it?
We referred earlier to Acts 4v10-11 where Peter was addressing the Sanhedrin and he emphasised the same fact after the event. He referred to “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified” and then went on to say:

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders”.

Their rejection of Him reached its climax in their having Him put to death. That’s a measure of the magnitude of the rejection that Jesus endured.
Of course, the crucifixion of Jesus was a one off, never to be repeated action but we mustn’t think that that means that man’s rejection of Jesus has ended. When Peter says in our text that the one to whom we come was “rejected by men” the word “rejected” is in the present tense so the idea is of a past action with ongoing results.
The fact is that Jesus not only was rejected by men – He continues to be rejected by men.
We know that from experience don’t we? When we present the gospel of Jesus Christ to people the vast majority simply don’t want to know. They reject Him as the foundation stone to build their lives on. They have their own building projects and He is discarded as being of no use to them.
Now, those who are born again and have tasted that the Lord is good are those who do “come to Him”. We must remember that in doing so we come to one who is “rejected by men”. We’re not followers of Mr Popular. We’re siding with the one who is “rejected by men”. So, as we “come to Him” we mustn’t be surprised if we are confronted with opposition and rejection by men for us too. That’s what Peter’s immediate readers were suffering for their faith in Christ.
If man’s evaluation of Him was the whole story it would be a very depressing message. But, throughout the letter Peter been emphasising that despite opposition and suffering, believers in Christ have every reason for rejoicing and a sure hope for eternity. So, as Peter continues, we find a very different and much more encouraging perspective when we see:
Next post we will consider the last of our four aspects: Point 4. God’s estimation of Him
~ Steve
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!

The Life of God in the Soul of Man


Unquestionably, God desires,

and even wills, the believer’s sanctification.

To the church at Thessalonica, Paul writes: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1Thess. 4:3). Thus, the pursuit of holiness, personal holiness, is a non-negotiable in Biblical Christianity. Those blessed with faith in Christ are exhorted to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We must strive for the holiness without which no one sees the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). So, no holiness no heaven.
The question arises. Since, the New Covenant Church is not under law, but under grace, how shall that pursuit proceed? How does one make progress in holiness? In classic Reformed circles, appeal is made to many respectable Confessions. And the Reformed answer goes something like this: We are saved from the Law of Moses in its condemnation. But after conversion, we must return to it for our sanctification. The Ten Commandments are the believer’s rule of life, our standard for holiness, God’s eternal moral law to which all men are bound. So says the Reformed tradition with its Covenant Theology. So says those voices with whom I align myself at many points.
However, when it comes to the matter of sanctification, I contend that the apostle Paul taught no such thing. I do not affirm sanctification needs the help of external Law. It is not my intent to explain myself in great detail here. That is not the aim of this post. For now, it serves my purpose to simply echo Pauline doctrine and affirm that the New Covenant Church is not under Mosaic Law to any degree whatsoever. Indeed, all those who by grace alone through faith alone in and because of Christ alone are justified, pardoned and robed with the redeeming white of Christ’s merit, are under grace! No external Law for the Christian. Nada. Zilch. To echo the apostle again, the Christian, by definition, is one without the need for a “guardian” (Galatians 4:2).
Why that is is simple. The New Covenant! I think Philippians 2:12-13 illustrates the incomprehensible glory of a tremendously weighty reality of the New Covenant. Get this and I think we will be much helped in our pursuit of holiness. The text:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

To focus on “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is, I firmly believe, a huge mistake. Do that, believer, and it will kill you. Of course, we see it there. We must see it and not deny or skirt it. But to emphasize the imperative is to misread not only Paul’s exhortation, but to turn the Christian life on its head. We say a thousand times “Yes, we must work out our salvation.” But (and this is a big but) the grammatical construction linking verses 12 and 13 demands two things:
1. Our work is not independent of God’s work.
2. God is the decisive, determining, energizing, effectual, sovereignly governing reality.
1. First, then. Our working out is not independent of God’s work. Rather, our working out is completely dependent upon God’s working. The conjunction “for” connects, grounds, and gives reason for the ‘working out.’ The imperatival 12th verse and indicative verse 13 must be seen as an indivisible whole, not two verses which give balance to each other! It isn’t that number one, “work out your own salvation” and number two, “it is God who works in you” are two children on a teeter-totter seeking to avoid extremes! No. These two verses must be held together since that is how they are written. As W.D. Dennison writes: “The Christian life is the organic union of the indicative and the imperative.”
Notice also where God is said to be working! He works “in you.” He works IN believers. God is not a distant God, transcendent only, looking down upon us ‘from a distance.’ Not at all. God is also IN you. How this can be I have no idea whatsoever! Who can comprehend the immensity and, yet, at the same time, the absolute immanence of God! But it’s true of everyone in union with Christ by grace alone through faith alone; the sovereign God of the universe dwells not just in the heavens above, working “all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), He also dwells IN you, “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” This is insanely amazing. This is a reality unique to the New Covenant. In the Old, God dwelt in the tabernacle, outside of His people. In the New, he dwells IN his people in the Person of the Spirit of Christ. The need for the external “guardian” is no more!
2. Therefore, second, God is the awesome, decisive, governing reality in our sanctification. He directly works his will in us for his good pleasure. How can anyone see these verses and couch them in terms of balance? Who dares the attempt to set God’s inner working on par with our out-working? To make the attempt would be as futile as measuring a drop of water against the oceans of Earth. The scales would never balance! And for this I, for one, am grateful beyond words.
God’s sanctifying presence in us is the key. This is the context, the atmosphere, the ocean if you like, of our ‘working out.’ What the Law cannot do, God Himself does. How then do we pursue our santification, our holiness, our working out our salvation if not by the Law? One word: trust. Faith. God is at work in you, Christian. Trust Him. He is the determining reality. The life of God in you is not inconsequential. Your sanctification, your working out, your obedience to His will, even growing conformity to the image of Christ, the fulfillment and very substance of the Law, is bound to happen! After all, who is there that can thwart His will and working? He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
For you because of Him,
Todd Braye 

Stability in Chaos


Jeremiah’s book is God’s
spiritual and moral bristle brush

Jeremiah’s book always gives my soul a good scrub when I read it.
Good Application
God, as the prophet tells us, will confront sin.  Chaos is coming.  Why?  Because national religious and political leaders all support evil: the evil of ignoring God’s words and ways.  Jeremiah promises his readers that the stability they long for will be scrubbed away as a result.
Jeremiah’s original audience is the citizenry of Jerusalem just before the Babylonian army besieged the city, sacked it, and dragged away a large number of its citizens to exile.  It’s a book that also applies in stark ways to us as Christians in our respective countries and in the world at large.
A lesson Jeremiah offers is that while the evil of any sinful community will create chaos for others, that chaos will ultimately rebound back on them.  God, however, still works through chaos to provide a secure outcome for those who love him.  He is not the author of evil but he does rule over it.  Yet the impact of societal sin is indiscriminate and widespread so even God’s faithful people are not promised shelter from it.
When in the history of any people the bulging wall of evil will collapse isn’t clear but the principle is certain: as embedded evil moves freely in a realm it eventually shatters the society it inhabits.  Only the particulars are unpredictable.
The problem.  Jeremiah presents evil as a very personal problem: as a heartfelt distaste for God by individuals and by society at large.  Sin is a collective rejection of God’s loving rule.  Yet many of the rebels may claim to be faithful to him.  Why dismiss God outright when he can be seen as a petty figure to be placated with superficial acts of devotion?  The aim of such religion is personal security—to harvest any divine benefits—while not really caring about God or listening to him.
God’s response?  Grief and anger.  He presents himself not as a distant force or an immobile deity but as a hated husband whose wife regularly leaves home to give herself to men around the town.  He finally says, Enough!  “You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the LORD” (3:1).
The rationale of sin.  The people who abandon God start by refusing to take him seriously in small matters.  Their sin is what “everybody does” and they use this relativizing theme to build a false security.  By collectively ignoring what God actually says about himself the religious leaders, the politicians, and the people reduce him to a lucky charm—an object of superstition—rather than as the beloved companion he means to be.  They also start to delight in their own wisdom, power, and wealth (9:23-24).  In the end the whole nation dismisses God and his words from daily life even though some continue to pray for personal security and special benefits.
In Jeremiah’s day God’s temple was an ultimate security blanket—a place God would always protect.  But the people were wrong: “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.  Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD’” (7:4).  In the end the temple was destroyed and so was the nation.
Let me switch gears and suggest something of what we can learn of God here even if it is a bristly lesson.  God’s ambition is not to make us secure in this fallen world but to redirect our hearts away from its false values so we can be ready for any chaos that lies ahead.  A broader frame will help.
God’s first action, after Adam’s fall, was to curse the earth to the process of decay.  The first couple, made from earth, would therefore face a physical death.  They were already dead spiritually and it would not be a grace of God to allow them to live eternally and securely in their sinful independence.  The certainty of physical death forces a dying person to ask questions about eternity.  So the ultimate chaos: a crumbling universe that includes earthquakes, plagues, decay, pain, and death is all the fruit of Adam’s first rebellion.  God is not to be blamed for it.  Sin has its consequences.
Where, then, does this leave those of us who know and love Christ?  With the certainty that our world today is so much like Judea in the time of Jeremiah that we can be sure that chaos lies ahead.  Do we love stability?  Yes!  Does God want us to be stable and secure?  Yes!  Will we find it in this world in days ahead?  Probably not.
The complete fulfillment of our longing is yet to come.  When God’s people are finally fully gathered he will put an end to evil.  He will replace the present realm with the new heavens and the new earth, all finally free from the curse of evil.  Until then we embrace him rather than our circumstances as our ultimate point of stability.  He alone offers a peace that passes understanding because he cares for us, even in a broken world.
Thoughts? You are invited to comment on Ron’s article at Cor Deo
~ Ron
Dr. Ron Frost
Ron served on faculty for more than 20 years at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. At the seminary, from 1995-2007, he was professor of historical theology and ethics. He earned his PhD at King’s College of the University of London. His research featured Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He now teaches internationally while serving as a pastoral care consultant to missionaries with Barnabas International. Ron authored Discover the Power of the Bible and writes on spreadinggoodness.org [See “Resources”].
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