Sunday, December 16, 2018


The Spiritual House

In these two verses, Peter gives a summary of argument he presents in the whole passage. He used a metaphor of a temple (spiritual house) built of stones. He switched from the metaphor of infants needing nourishment to the metaphor of stones used to build a temple.

Christ is a “living stone”. He is the first building block of the spiritual temple. He is alive because he was resurrected from the grave and will live forever. Peter got this language from Psalm 118:22, which says the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Psalmist was thinking of Israel. But Peter applied it to Jesus, the true Israel.

Jesus applied this language to himself in the “Parable of the Tenants” (Matthew 21:33-46). That parable involved God rejecting the original tenants who killed his son. He took the vineyard from them and gave it to those who would bear fruit. He removed his kingdom from unbelieving Jews and gave it to those who believed in him and followed him.

He was rejected by men. Many have rejected him. But God chose him. He chose Jesus to be the savior of those who believe in him. That is why he is called Christ, or Messiah, the Anointed One. Those chosen by God for a special role were anointed as a sign of their being chosen.

God chose Aaron to be the high priest. Leviticus 8:12 shows Moses, as God’s representative, anointing Aaron with the anointing oil to consecrate, or set him aside, for his role. Samuel anointed David with oil to show God had chosen him to be king. (1 Samuel 16). God chose Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, to be the savior, so he was the Anointed One.

The Greek word for chosen is “eklektos”. It is also translated as “elect”.  

Not only did the Father chose, or elect, him, but Jesus was “precious” to the Father. He was precious to him because of their relationship in eternity in the Trinity, but also because Jesus agreed to come to earth in human flesh to reconcile men and women to the Father.

Those who come to Christ are built into a spiritual house, a temple. When we come to the Living Stone, we ourselves are as “living stones”. Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the spiritual house is built. We are built on top of that cornerstone as part of the house that is constructed. Paul instructed us that the foundation of this building is made up of the apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 2:20)

The builder of the church is Jesus. He said “I will my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)

Not only are we the stones that are built into the temple, we are the priests who serve in it. Peter said believers are a “holy priesthood”. (5) A priest serves as a mediator between mankind and God. In the Old Covenant, the Levites, or tribe of Levi, were set apart to be a holy priesthood. They continually offered sacrifices to God.

New covenant believers are to offer spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

What are the spiritual sacrifices we are to offer? Peter does not say. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that our bodies are living sacrifices when we live holy lives that are acceptable to God. When we are called out of the world, and do not conform to it, but are transformed by the Holy Spirit, we live lives that please God. This also makes us priests in the sense that our lives witness to the lost about Christ and his saving power. We represent God to the nations.

The writer of Hebrews also says that we should continually offer up praise to God, and that it is a sacrifice of praise. Hebrews 13:15. We used to teach kids a song about this:

“We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.
“We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.

And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of joy.”

Thus, the Old Testament temple and priesthood were types of the church, a people among whom God dwells and who praise God and live for him in witness to the world. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

From Fear to Joy

Luke tells us in Luke 2: 8-14: 
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

I love this story because it has lots of things I’m interested in. It has unusual charactersgloryfear and joy

Unusual Characters.
I do not know why God chose to announce the coming of Christ first to some shepherds. But, it’s interesting. 
These guys were camped out with their flock of sheep in the fields, bedded down with the sheep. Shepherds were not that well thought of. They were transient, moving from field to field. They were not bathed or well-groomed a lot of the time. Even though they took care of animals that would be sacrificed at the temple, the priests and Pharisees would not associate with them. Yet, angels appeared and told them the Messiah had been born.
It is an interesting parallel: those who took care of sacrificial lambs were the first told of the birth of the lamb without blemish that would be the perfect and complete sacrifice for sin.
When the angel of the Lord appeared, the glory of the Lord shone all around them. Angels are the messengers of God. This angel came from the presence of God to deliver God’s message of salvation, and he brought, or reflected, God’s glory with him.
We give glory to God in the sense that we extol his great attributes. But, God possesses glory in himself. We do not add to that. 
His glory is an expression of his holiness, his worth, and his perfection. It is expressed in the Bible as overpowering light. 1 Timothy 6:16 says he dwells or lives in unapproachable light and no one can see him. Angels often reflected his glory when they appeared, showing that they had come from God to deliver his message.

The response to God’s glory if usually fear. Men and women fall to the ground. We are told to fear the Lord. Those who encounter his glory do fear him. Here are many examples in the Bible. 
For example, in Isaiah 6, the pre-incarnate Christ appeared to Isaiah in the temple. The seraphims were calling out “the whole world is full of his glory”. And Isaiah cried out “woe to me. I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty”. Isaiah’s encounter with God’s glory revealed his sin and sent him into despair and fear. 
When Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, his clothes shone with radiant, intensely white light and they were terrified. (Mark 9:2-8)
Sinful men and women cannot bear the glory of the holy God.
The good news is, fear is turned to joy by Jesus. The angel told them not to fear, for he was bringing them good news of great joy. That joy came from the news that the Messiah had come. The one that had been expected since the Fall had finally come! 
Jesus would be the bearer of God’s wrath, the perfect sacrifice for sin, and the mode of reconciliation of sinful children to their heavenly father. 
Salvation brings joy. The end of the story shows the shepherds praising God and giving him glory as they walked down the road. There was joy because there was salvation.
We sing a lot about joy at Christmas. I want us to experience it. Meditate on this passage. 
Lots of people think God is permanently mad at them or out to get them. Notice the last statement in this passage. God is please with those who have put their faith in Jesus. He is pleased with us. 
That should bring us joy. 


Sunday, December 09, 2018

LOVE! 1 PETER 1:20-2:1


There is a bit of a shift in emphasis here that will continue through verse 10 of chapter 2. The shift is from the call to personal holiness to instruction on how to live in the Christian community.

Our salvation should not only lead us to live in holiness, but to live in love, loving especially other believers. When Peter wrote “having purified your souls by obedience to the truth” in verse 22, he referred to their salvation. He could have said “now that you have been converted or saved”.

The impure (unregenerate) heart finds it difficult to love because it is often against one’s self interest to love another person. For example, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:4, says “love is not arrogant”. But, it is human nature to be arrogant if you are successful. We all know arrogant people. Believers should not be arrogant, however, because they know all that they have or do is a matter of grace from God. Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man on the planet in his time, found this out the hard way when God drove him out of his senses to act like an animal until he repented. You can read the story in the book of Daniel.

The pure (regenerate) heart can love sacrificially because God loved us and saved us.  We love our fellow believers (brotherly love) especially. This love flows from Christ our Savior. God puts his love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). The fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal. 5:22) God gave us a spirit of love (1 Timothy 2:17).

It is a love that gives grace, compassion and selflessness. This love does not insist on its own way (1 Corinthians 13:6).

We love earnestly (stretched\strained-as Jesus when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane). It is not always easy to love our fellow church members. We may have to work at that, praying earnestly along the way. But that is what Christ calls us to do.  

It actually is the command of Christ, not a suggestion. He said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this’ll people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35) The converse, or opposite of this statement is also true. If we do not love our fellow believers, no one can tell that we are disciples.

The command to love is based on God’s saving work in our lives. (23) We have been born again (begotten) by the seed of God’s word (the gospel). (23, 25) It is imperishable.   We should love one another because we have been begotten by God.

Peter proved his argument with an Old Testament quote, from Isaiah 40:6-8. The context of Isaiah 40 is a word of encouragement, that God’s word that he will restore Israel will be fulfilled because God’s word stands forever. To use Peter’s term, it is not perishable.

Peter is also saying the word of the Lord, recorded in Isaiah 40, represents the promise that God will restore is people from exile and fulfill his promises to Abraham (as in Genesis 12:1-3, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”). That promise is ultimately fulfilled in the proclamation of the Gospel to these Gentile churches in Asia, bringing the families of the earth into the family of God, the greatest blessing of all.

In loving our fellow believers as a product of our salvation, we must put away some characteristics of our former selves: (1) malice; (2) deceit; (3) hypocrisy; (4) envy; and (5) slander.

Malice is the desire to do harm or evil to another person.

Deceit involves misrepresenting or concealing the truth.

Hypocrisy is a false appearance of virtue.

Envy is wanting something someone else has and resenting them for having it.

Slander is making false statements that harm another person’s reputation.

All of these things are destructive. They can easily destroy a local church. We need to rid ourselves of these traits, both personally and congregational. They are the opposite of love. In fact, Paul, in Galatians 5:19, refers to these things as works of the flesh.

Instead we should long for the “pure spiritual milk” of God’s word. (2:2) The image here is of an infant seeking nourishment. The new believer is like a baby. He needs nourishment to grow. That nourishment is the Word of God. We never outgrow the need. As we understand more, we long to understand even more.

You cannot go wrong immersing yourself in the study of God’s word.

 So, this week, examine yourself prayerfully. Do you love your brothers and sisters as you should? Are there attitudes or actions you need to confess and correct? Dedicate yourself this week to God's word and to loving your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Sunday, December 02, 2018


Having this mindset, we should set our hope fully on our eternal life, our inheritance. Peter here calls it the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus returns, when he is revealed. (13) Our hope is not in our job, our wealth, or our friends. Those things are nice, but perishable. Our hope is in the imperishable, eternity with Christ.

Further, having this mindset, we do not conform our thinking to the passions of the world. Specifically, Peter refers to the Gentiles in their former ignorance. (14) We do not follow our selfish passions. We are obedient to God, as children to holy father. (15) That means we are called to be holy, knowing that God is holy. Paul put it this way: do not be conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

We live in the knowledge of God who judges each ones deeds, so we live in reverence\fear of him. We know that heavenly rewards will be proportionate to our faithfulness.

Paul explained this in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. He spoke of his work of laying a foundation, as in a builder laying the foundation of a house. Some else will build on it. It must all be built on Christ. If one's work is genuine, Jesus will reveal it when he returns (the Day). If it is genuine, the person will receive a reward in heaven. If it is not, that person will experience the loss of reward. The person does not lose salvation, but does lose rewards in heaven.

We also live in appreciating that we were saved out of sin by the blood of Christ. The penalty of our sins was paid for by our Savior. (That is the doctrine of penal substitution.) Knowing that, we live holy lives in his honor.

This idea is intensified by knowing that Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world. God the Father chose him to be the savior of mankind before mankind was created. He was kept a mystery for ages until the Father manifested Jesus as his Son and Christ in the last times for our sake. We know he did this. Therefore, we put our faith and hope in God.

We were also foreknown in Christ by the Father (1 Peter 1:2; Eph. 1:3-4)

This grand plan of God, conceived in eternity before this world was created, revealed when Christ was born, consummated when he returns, was for your benefit, your salvation.

Live in the light of this truth!