2067- LIVING STONES
The chapter for the week is 1st Peter 2.Let’s focus in on verses 4-8 1Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
1Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
1Peter 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
In scripture- there are symbols of stuff- the Apostles often use images- types- symbols- to explain spiritual realities.
One of these images is that the church is a spiritual building- a temple- made up of people- called Living Stones.
Jesus is said to be the Chief Cornerstone- the Head- or Cap Stone.
In revelation 21 we see the Apostle John having a vision of a city coming down from God out of heaven- he says this city is ‘The Bride- the Lambs wife’.
It has both the 12 tribes of Israel as part of its make up- and the 12 Apostles of the Lamb are ‘written’ on the foundation.
In the letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul says we are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets- Jesus himself being the cornerstone.
One of the spiritual mysteries that the apostle talks about in Ephesians is the new reality that thru Christ- both Jew and Gentile are now part of the kingdom of God.
This was an amazing thing for the time- because most understood that the Jewish people had been given the promises of God thru the Old Testament prophets.
Yet- Paul shows us that God was inclusive- he brought in an entire new group- the Gentiles- and these would be ‘built together’ into this new temple- this spiritual house- and we would offer up spiritual sacrifices to God thru Christ.
In Galatians chapter 4- the apostle Paul uses an allegory- he says that father Abraham had 2 sons- one born from a slave- one from a free woman.
The son born from the slave woman [Hagar] was a symbol.
His name was Ishmael- and he represented those who were ‘slaves’ in Paul’s day.
Paul was speaking about the Judiazers- these were the Jewish law keepers- who were trying to bring the gentile believers back under the law.
Paul said these were like Ishmael- not being born of promise- but by natural means.
It’s important to see that Paul does not refer to Ishmael as the present day Muslim/Arab people- which is what most bible preachers mention when using this analogy.
No- Paul says that the symbol of Ishmael speaks about JEWS who are under the Old Covenant law- and refuse to move on in the Grace of Christ- the New Covenant- or Order [get to this In a moment].Now- when Peter pens his letter- [1st Peter 2] he quotes an Old Testament Psalm- Psalm 118
Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
Psalm 118:23 This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
The parable that proceeds this quote is the parable of the Tenants.
A man had a vineyard- he leased it out to some people.
When it was time for the fruit- the landowner sent some servants to get the fruit- the renters didn’t want to pay- so they mistreated the servants.
Jesus is telling the story mind you.
So- the land owner says ‘I know what I’ll do- I will send my son- surely they will honor him’.
So- the guy sends his son- and they kill him.
Now- this is when Jesus quotes Psalm 118 ‘the stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner- this is THE LORDS DOING- and it is marvelous in our eyes’.
Jesus foretold of his impending death thru this scripture.
He knew he was to be rejected of men- and to be killed.
Yet- he was the main one- the chief cornerstone.
After his resurrection he would include both Jew and Gentile in this new spiritual temple- the church.
This was the great mystery that the Apostle Paul spoke about- that Jesus reconciled both [Jew/gentile] unto God.
In one of the home meetings I did recently- one of the guys asked ‘do you know the exact measurements of heaven’?
Now- I knew he was talking about Revelation 21- because it speaks about measuring the city.
Yet- I didn’t want to debate at this point- and someone else gave the measurements.
When we read these symbols/types- it’s important to understand that they are images.
In Revelation 21- when speaking about the city coming down from God out of heaven- the bible says this IS THE BRIDE- THE LAMBS WIFE.
She is referred to as the New Jerusalem- the mother of us all.
Paul said this in Galatians 4- that the Jerusalem which is above is ‘the mother of us all’.
He was contrasting ‘her’ with the Jerusalem that is below- who is still in bondage [to the law- they refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah- so in Paul’s example- they were still in bondage under the law].
But- the Jerusalem which is from above- the church- the bride- the Lambs wife- us- this ‘Jerusalem’ is free.
She [we] are the city of God- God dwells in us.
In revelation 21 we read that there is no temple in this city [lots of Theological stuff here- in a nutshell- John was saying that this new spiritual community- was not under the Old Covenant system- so saying ‘there is no temple’ is basically saying ‘no more law/sacrificial system’].
Jesus is the central focus of this new city- Jesus is the ‘temple’ in Revelation 21-
There was no need for sunlight- because the Glory of God illuminates it.
Nothing impure can enter- see?
That’s why John the Baptist and Jesus were baptizing- telling people ‘repent- for the kingdom is here’!
If you want to enter the gates of this city- you must go thru a cleansing- you must repent and get clean- by God’s grace.
I’ll copy the verses at the end of this post-
But what I want you to see today is that Jesus was a rejected stone- a tested stone- one that was rejected by men- but chosen by God.
As Peter penned his letter- I’m sure he remembered his own failure- his denying of Jesus.
Peter said we too are stones in this building.
As a matter of fact- Jesus told Peter ‘upon this rock I will build my church’.
Jesus said this to Peter after Peter’s great confession that Jesus was the Christ.
Yet- we all know what happened to Peter- he let God down- bad.
Yeah- when Peter read the Psalm- that Jesus was the stone rejected by men- but chosen by God.
He knew what it felt like.
These tried stones- these rejected stones- these are what God uses to build his spiritual temple- Jesus being the main one.
Note- in the NIV version of the bible- in revelation 21 it says ‘The old order of things has passed away’.
The NIV says we are in a New Order- which is a better translation.
The New Order- or age- is speaking about the New Covenant- and the symbols we see are really focused around this reality- they are speaking about the New Order- age- that was indeed ushered in by the Cross.
In the gospels we read about the ‘end of the world’.
The actual translation is ‘the end of the age’.
Many of these verses are not talking about the ‘end of the world’ as many end time prophecy preachers say.
But they are speaking about the church- the New Covenant age- and all the symbols in today’s post are focused on that.
The book of Revelation is a great book- that has many spiritual realties in it- but if we don’t ‘see’ the symbols- images- for what they are- then we get into all sorts of trouble.
The great protestant Reformer- Martin Luther- had some doubts about the book of Revelation being in the Canon [in the books that make up the bible].
Some of the early Bishops had doubts as well.
Because many have read/taught the book- and if you don’t ‘see’ it right- you can get into trouble.
On the whole- if you read all the other bible passage [like I quoted] then you see what the images mean- and the book is really beneficial.
There is a verse in the book of Revelation itself- it says ‘the testimony of Jesus is the spirit [intent] of prophecy’.
If you keep this in mind- you will do well.
Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Ephesians 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Revelation 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
Revelation 21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
Revelation 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Revelation 21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
Revelation 21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
Revelation 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Revelation 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
Revelation 22:4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
Revelation 22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
Revelation 22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
As I close this post- let me say a few things about the book of Revelation-
John penned this prophecy on the Island of Patmos- where he was banned for the faith.
While on the island he had this vision- the Christian church was about to embark on a couple of centuries of great persecution.
In the end- Jesus- the conquering Lamb- would win.
The people of God- comprised both of Jew and Gentile [that’s why you see images of 24 elders- 12 tribes representing the Jew- and 12 apostles- representing the Gentile outreach we read about in Acts] would eventually overcome too- seated around the great Supper table of the Lamb- a true fulfillment of the victory of Christ.
He told his disciples he would not drink of this new wine again- until it’s fulfilled in the kingdom.
Yet today- Christians the word over- do indeed partake of this communion cup- both Catholics and Protestants partake of the Lords cup every week- with Christ himself being present in our midst.
We read images in Revelation of myriads of angels and people- numbers you can’t count- gathered around this heavenly banquet.
We read about the Bride- us- the church- being made clean and having intimate communion with the bridegroom.
All of these images are showing us the great realities of what Jesus has accomplished for us- his people- who are indeed called the Bride of Christ.
That is the city- the New Jerusalem- that John described as coming down out of heaven from God.
Jesus said we were born from above- not of the will of man or the flesh- but of God.
In the last 2 chapters of Revelation we read of a pure river of water of life- that proceeds from the throne- from God and the Lamb.
It flows thru this city- this new community of God- it reaches out to the nations.
Jesus said that those who believe- a river of water- the Holy Spirit- would spring from us- life giving water.
Revelation says ‘whoever wants to drink of the water- come- drink freely’.
These are pictures of the restored communion that we now have with God- because of the work of Christ.
It says that on the banks of the river there were these trees of life- bearing fruit- so all who are hungry can partake.
These images are also found in Genesis- I covered the meaning of these trees recently.
In Genesis we see the fall of man- his separation from God because of sin.
Man is banned from the garden- from the tree of life [a type of the Cross] but in the last book of the bible- man is restored once again to his original fellowship that he had with God from the start- like the old rock song says ‘we got to get back to the garden’.
Catholic scholar Scott Hahn wrote an entire book on Revelation- if I remember- its title is ‘the Supper of the Lamb’.
I like Scott’s view- he sees the book as representing the Mass- and the supper we have with God.
Now- I would extend his view- not only applying it to the Catholic expression of the Lords table- but seeing it as an overarching picture of all the Christian churches and our communion with God.
In revelation we read ‘blessed are they that do his commandments- that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in thru the gates into the city’.
But those who practice sexual sin- those who murder- those who practice magic arts- they can't partake- they can’t enter in thru the gates into the city.
John was showing us that we- today- can have true relationship with God.
We too are part of those whose names are written in the Lambs book of life- but that’s if we repent- we turn away for the things that ban us from this city- from the tree of life.
In Genesis God banned Adam and Eve- he put an angel with a flaming sword to keep those who sinned from the garden.
In revelation we see the angels as well- but they are part of this entire panoramic picture of the kingdom- they are revealing to mankind that he no longer has to be banned- from the river of life- from the tree of life.
In the last chapter there is an appeal made ‘let those who hear- come- let those who thirst- come- you can all drink from the river- from the Spirit of God freely’.
But those who practice their own way- those who engage in the things that hurt God- they can’t drink- because of their own choosing.
God offers mankind the choice- the great victory of the overcomer that we read about in revelation ‘he who overcomes- I will grant to sit with me in my throne- as I have overcome and am seated with my father in his throne’.
I was with Lance- the kid I baptized last week.
I don’t know if these guys are ready for all that’s going on- but I felt I would take them as far as I can- and let God do the rest.
The day I baptized Lance in the bay- I stopped in the Cathedral church downtown- and found a confirmation paper in the pew.
I guess they confirmed some youth that week.
I gave the paper to Lance- it had some scripture and stuff on it- I figured it was fitting.
The next day he told me he woke up early- read it- and prayed.
Now- these kids are into bad stuff- really bad.
But- I was happy to see he read it.
He mentioned something- thru out the day- he even told others.
He said he read that we are also seated with Christ at Gods right hand- that we are in Christ and raised with him.
He read this from the paper I gave him when he was baptized.
I told him yes- the bible teaches it.
So- in the book of Revelation God is revealing spiritual realities to us- great things that we have for our benefit- right now.
Over and over again it says ‘these things are coming to pass soon- these things are happening quickly’.
John penned this book at the end of the first century- around 90 a.d.
2 centuries later- Constantine would declare Christianity the religion of the empire.
Yeah- the Lamb did prevail- and to those of us who are thirsty- we can partake too- and sit with Jesus in his throne- like he sat down with his Father.
NOTE- just a few last comments for this week.
I mentioned a few things while teaching this in Bishop yesterday- I spoke about us as individual stones in Gods church.
That we each play a vital role in the Kingdom.
In the Old Testament when they built the temple they used stones- these stones were prepared away from the actual spot where the temple was erected.
Then they were brought to the temple and placed in the spot they were designed for.
God often prepares us- at times in a wilderness place- then when we are ready he places us in the spot where we will have the most impact.
We- as individual stones have minimum impact- but when we are fit together with the other stones [other Christians] then we have a much greater impact.
A sort of synergy if you will.
Now- I didn’t mention this above- but Jesus is not only called the Chief Cornerstone- but also the Headstone- or Capstone.
In Zechariah chapter 4 we read of a vision- an encounter with an angel that the prophet has.
Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
Zechariah 4:7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
The vision is also seen in the book of Revelation.
In this vision- Jesus is seen as the headstone.
Which was the final stone placed at the top when the temple was completed.
So- Jesus is not only the Cornerstone- but the finishing stone as well.
Jesus is called ‘The Alpha and Omega- the Beginning and the End’.
The apostle Paul says the whole building [us- the church] are growing together into the fullness of Christ himself [Ephesians].
So- when we find our spot in the kingdom- we mature as a corporate entity- yes- we also have individual gifts- and we don’t lose our personal identity.
But- we use our particular gifts for the overall benefit of the people.
In the letter to the Corinthians the apostle says all the parts of the Body are important- and if someone has a gift that seems to be less prominent [like serving in a less public capacity] that God actually bestows more honor on that gift.
Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day ‘how can you please God- if you seek the honor of men’.
Our purpose in the Kingdom is not self fulfilment.
Now- when doing the will of God you will find it- but that’s not the purpose.
Jesus gave his men an example when he put on a servants grab and washed the disciple’s feet.
He told them that ‘I your master and Lord- if I wash your feet- serve- then how much more are you required to do it’.
He instilled a servant mindset in the leaders of the church.
He showed them that being part of Gods work was giving your lives in sacrifice for others.
As we close for the week- look for ways to serve others.
Look for opportunities to make sacrifice- give yourself away- your time- your money- don’t see ministry as a means to attain something.
No- it’s an opportunity to be part of a greater cause- something that will benefit the whole.
There are many images of the church in scripture- we are called God’s Garden- a Body- a Temple.
All of them show us that we are part of a greater thing- a purpose bigger than ourselves.
It requires us to carry our Cross- to lay down our lives- our goals- our desires- and to serve like Jesus taught.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBook#] - I have posted lots.