(See previous post for introductory comments.)
Belonging to the Church (Sermon #1)
1 Peter 2:4-8
Exposition: What do we learn about the Church?
1. The Church starts with Jesus Christ.
4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house ... (NIV)
As people come to him, the Church is built. [O]n this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matt 16:18 (NIV)
This is also evident later as we read about Jesus as the cornerstone, the foundation stone of the Church.
People who come to Christ are transformed by him (into something like living stones) and incorporated by him in to the Church.
a. Jesus is the living Stone.
“Stone” has reference to what Peter will have to say later about him as the cornerstone in 6-7 and the stone over which unbelievers trip and fall in 8.
By “Stone” he also means that he is part of the construct of the Church. There is no Church without Jesus. No Jesus, no Church.
“Living” makes clear that Peter isn’t talking about a literal building. Jesus as the cornerstone and believers as stones being built into a house is a metaphor for what the Church is.
And one of its characteristics is that it is alive. Jesus is the living Stone. He is not dead. He has been raised from the dead. He is very much alive, and he is very much at work in the world, especially in building his church.
And the life he has is a powerful life, an eternal life.
And he communicates that life to the Church. There is a Spirit that animates the Church that doesn’t animate the Rotary or Kiwanis or the UN or any other organization—it is the living Spirit of the living Christ.
b. There are opposing evaluations of Jesus.
He is rejected by men, but he is chosen by and precious to God.
Both of these truths are attested throughout Scripture. Christians in any age shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus isn’t embraced by the masses. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Jn 1:11 (NIV)
But what the masses think about Jesus is irrelevant. What matters is what God thinks of him. And to God he is chosen and precious. And therefore the cornerstone of the Church.
The bottom line here is that the Church starts with Jesus Christ. To be a member of the true Church, the universal Church, the one Church, one has to come to Christ. You cannot be a member of the true Church without being a member of Christ. You must be a true Christian in order to be a part of the Church. You must be trusting Christ for your salvation, and you must be entrusting your life to him.
Why doesn’t the true Church have many, many more members? Because many men reject him. But he is approved by God, and those who love him and embrace him as their Lord—they are the ones who are the Church.