1 Peter 2:1-10

This evening I want to begin with a reading of 1 Peter 2:1-10. Please read with me.
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: "Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed." This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone," and, "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

  1. Chapter 2 begins with a powerful emphasis on the new birth.
    1. They must live in the awareness that their baptism was about a birth, a new beginning, a bringing into existent a new being [person] who never previously existed.
      1. In this new birth, Peter emphasized a reality Paul emphasized several times.
      2. This new birth is not about a "membership" in some Roman society or trade guild society or about a "ritualistic rite of passing."
      3. It is about a new beginning.
        1. There was a "past existence."
        2. There was a "new birth," a being "born again."
        3. There was a "new existence" that starts at the new birth and characterized the person's life on a continuing basis.
      4. It was a conscious change of kingdoms.
        1. The word "kingdom" does not exert the same force in our awareness as it did in first century awareness.
          1. Governments then were kingdoms.
          2. They were not democracies as we know democracy that is based on an acceptance of the rights of a person.
          3. The kingdom was important in that world, not the person.
          4. Those people had a ruler, usually some form of king, who exerted absolute control as he considered best for his rule and kingdom.
          5. The citizen existed for the good of king's purposes expressed in the nature of his kingdom.
          6. The citizen's voice was insignificant; the voice that mattered was the king's voice.
        2. They had been citizens in Satan's kingdom in their past life.
          1. Their behavior was consistent with Satan's purposes.
          2. Their attitudes and hearts were consistent with Satan's rule.
          3. If people looked at their lives, listened to their voices, examined their attitudes, they saw Satan. [Many would not have recognized what they saw as Satan or thought what they saw was bad.]
        3. God gave them the choice of changing kingdom's--a choice unheard of in their world [commonly people did not have a choice to or not to be part of the Roman empire!].
          1. However, the choice involved a birth, a new being [a new set of responsibilities].
          2. It was not a just a matter of changing sides, but of choosing to become a different person.
          3. By choice the man or woman who experienced this new birth was becoming a new person.
        4. After that birth, they wanted to grow and mature in being a citizen in God's kingdom.
          1. That meant their behavior would increasingly change as they better and better understood God's purposes.
          2. That meant their attitudes and hearts would increasingly become consistent with God's rule.
          3. That meant when people looked at their lives, or listen to their voices, or examined their attitudes, they saw God--not Satan!
    2. Look carefully; I want you to see for yourself what Peter said.
      1. When this new birth occurs, what do you want?
        1. You want to live, you want to exert your energies to live for God--you cry out for the pure milk of the word.
        2. In Satan's kingdom they lived for the material.
        3. In God's kingdom they have this great inner drive and desire to live for the spiritual
        4. Why?
          1. They have tasted the Lord's kindness [the Lord let them chose to change kingdoms!]--the Lord is kind, Satan is not kind; the Lord helps, Satan exploits.
    3. The result: they changed behaviors because they have acquired a new purpose, God's purpose.
      1. Thus they not longer allow the controlling forces in their lives to be ill-will [malice], deceit [guile], insincere pretense [hypocrisy], desires to have or be what others have or are [envy], and putting others down to destroy them [slander]--those represent Satan's purposes and reflect evil.
      2. Will everyone admire their change? No! Many still live by and cherish the values that reflect Satan and the purposes of Satan's kingdom.
      3. This change that resulted in their new birth began was based on a completely new understanding of Jesus Christ.
        1. Most people then saw Jesus as a trouble maker who was executed by Roman authorities in a contemptuous, heinous manner--he was a lifeless field stone to be rejected as of no value or use.
        2. But those who chose the new birth saw in Jesus something entirely different.
          1. Jesus was God's resurrected son.
          2. They chose to come to him because he is the source of life.
          3. They were dead field stones--he made them living temple stones.
      4. Peter then combined several images that were not commonly combined in that world.
        1. God would make these Christians His temple [which means little to us but meant a lot to them].
        2. At the same time He made them His holy building, God made them priests who ministered in that temple---the power to do that come from the God who raised Jesus from the dead.
        3. The temple would be built around Jesus Christ, the most important stone in the building.
        4. Faith in Jesus would allow the Christian to be part of the temple.
          1. For those of faith, Jesus would be the central temple stone.
          2. For those that rejected Jesus as a lifeless field stone, He would be something they tripped over.
          3. The critical difference was found in believing Jesus Christ was God's gift, or not believing that Jesus Christ was God's gift--acceptance of that led to obedience, or rejection of that refused to change kingdom's.
    4. Then comes an incredible declaration of what God made those who placed their faith in His son.
      1. They were a chosen race [the real Israel of God].
      2. They were a royal priesthood.
        1. They were part of the king's family and a priest who ministered to God--just like Jesus Christ!
        2. This combination was not to happen in the physical Israel of the Old Testament! Thus they become something that God had never before sanctioned!
      3. As Christ's kingdom, God's kingdom, they were a holy nation.
      4. They were a people exclusively owned by God--their bodies not only belonged to Him; their whole person belonged to Him.
    5. Then there is a straightforward declaration of their purpose in God's kingdom.
      1. Their purpose of to show [declare] how excellent God is, the God Who let them chose to change kingdoms, the God Who let them begin again with a new birth, the God Who took them out of Satan's darkness and allowed them to exist is His marvelous light.
      2. God took people who had no identity and made them His people.
      3. It all happened because God is a merciful God--He gives Christians who believe in God's mercy.

  2. I have some questions I want you to reflect on.
    1. Where you baptized as a choice to change kingdom's--leave Satan's and be born into God's?
    2. When people examined your life prior to becoming a Christian, they saw Satan. When they examine your life now, do they see God?
    3. Do you realize what God made you?
    4. Does your whole life now have a new purpose as you constantly grow in an understanding of God's purposes?

Being a Christian is much more than a concern for membership. Being a Christian is about total existence as God's person. That existence is as big as life. A difficult responsibility? Yes! However, the end result of this responsibility is eternal joy. The end result of living in Satan's kingdom is eternal death.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 7 December 2003

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