Chosen for Life - 1 Peter 2 — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Chosen for Life – 1 Peter 2 — A Christian Growth Message

A journey through the New Testament Book of 1 Peter, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth podcast.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 4 Sep 2022Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

A journey through the New Testament Book of 1 Peter, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2’s Christian Growth podcast and pastor at All Saints in Woollahra, Sydney.

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Father, thank you that you speak in black and white in the pages of your Word to bring us the comfort and the challenge that we need. And we ask that these few minutes together would be faithfully hearing your Word and in your goodness, faithfully responding. We ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Friends we’re following a little letter written by the disciple of Jesus called Peter. He wrote two letters in the New Testament, especially to encourage and exhort God’s people who are having a tough time being Christians.

And in this letter, he says some remarkable things about being a Christian. things that we would never work out for ourselves. And I thought I’d begin this morning by reading to you the words of a man called A.W. Tozer, who I think is one of the great writers of the last century. And he wrote a little article called ‘The Incredible Christian’. And I’m just going to read you a few lines of what he said before we turn to Peter’s letter –

Tozer said this:

a Christian believes that in Christ he has died, but he’s more alive than ever before. He walks on earth where he was born, but he is not at home here to be safe. He loses his life and therefore saves it, but he will lose it if he attempts to keep it.

He is strongest when he is weakest. He is poor but rich and loses the ability to enrich by becoming too rich. He is often highest when he feels lowest and most faithful when most conscious of sin. He sometimes does more by doing less and can be most useful when staying put. He feels overwhelmed in God’s presence, but there is nowhere he would rather be.

He loves one whom he has never seen and feels no incongruity in so doing. He expects before long to enter the world above, but is in no hurry to do so. He sees nothing inconsistent in this faith, and he cannot understand the unbelievers criticism. Well, I wonder if you understand and follow any of what I’ve just said for a Christian. I think those words of Tozer will not make a lot of sense for the non-Christian. They may seem nonsense.

The reality of the Christian Identity

Christian life is a supernatural thing. It’s not something that you can box in and explain, as if being a Christian just means you’ve joined another club or some company. Now the Christian life is a supernatural thing, and if you think the Christian life is ordinary, you’ve probably never understood it.

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When the disciple of Jesus called Peter wrote his first letter to the Christians, he said things like “this God has chosen you and saved you. But now you will have many troubles.”

You have the promises of God to go on, but you can’t see him. You’ve been rescued by the blood of Christ, but you will still go through things that might make you feel afraid. And everybody is temporary, says Peter, like grass like flowers. But the Word of God and the people of God will last forever.

And therefore you see, as you read the letter of Peter, how Peter reminds us that God brings together the ordinary things and the extraordinary things in the life of those who put their trust in Christ.

And the question has to keep looking at the ordinary. We have to keep looking at things like bus timetables, the news and the weather. We have to keep looking at the ordinary things and we have to keep holding on to what God has said about the extraordinary things, just like a child going off to school. Imagine a child going off to school and the parents say to the child, enjoy your day because tomorrow we move overseas.

Or imagine a patient being told by a doctor “your heart is completely blocked, but tomorrow on this table I will fix it.”

Or imagine a builder saying to a family, “I’m going to demolish the whole back half of your house and it will be a terrible mess. But trust me, it will soon be fixed.”

Are they significant things to say to somebody, the parents to the child, the doctor to the patient, the builder to the couple? Yes, they are significant things, and the people have got to hold on to what’s been said in the face of what’s in front of them.

So see how important it is to hear what God says in his word. In order to get what’s really happening in God’s world and Scripture tells us things that we couldn’t possibly work out for ourselves. One writer has said, I cannot read God’s mind, but I can read God’s Word.

Well, I want to look at the verses that Lizzie just read for us. Those seven verses under two quick headings this morning. The first is the privilege of coming to Christ and we will actually spend two thirds of our time on this.  And then the second point is the privilege of living for Christ, the privilege of coming to Christ, the privilege of living for Christ.

Let’s think about the privilege of coming to Christ, Peter says in Chapter two, Verse four. As you come to him, that is Jesus. You become a part of his house. Now, sometimes the New Testament describes the people of God as a flock, a family, an army or parts of the body. But here, Peter describes the believers as stones in a house. Or we might even say stones in a temple, and he calls them living stones. It never occurred to me that the great missionary explorer in Africa, David Livingston, got his name, probably from this text ‘living stone’.

So the person who comes to Jesus in faith and asks to be forgiven and asks to join him as a disciple becomes a disciple, becomes a child of God, becomes a follower and becomes a living stone in God’s house.

And as the believers keep coming to Jesus and we do keep coming to him in prayer and trust, looking to him we are being built up into a huge house of believers around the world. But it’s not a man made building. But the house that Peter is talking about is a house of people. The church at Woollahra is really people. It’s not property. When God thinks about the church in Woollahra, it’s us.

So we mustn’t measure ourselves by the building and think, Oh, we’re great. We must measure ourselves by what God says, which is that the believers belong to him, and that is great. So we come to Christ and he makes us his living stones.

C. S. Lewis said once that the believer, the Christian will outlive civilizations. Now, why would this have been significant for Peter’s readers? And the answer is because Christians in his day were despised and treated as shameful, and they were told that they trusted somebody, and they followed somebody who was shameful and who had been crucified in great shame.

And so Peter says, just like speaking from the parent to the child or the doctor to the patient or the builder to the couple, Peter says, Don’t listen to the mockers. Don’t listen to what people say. Don’t listen to what the world says about you. Listen to what God says. You’ve come to Christ, says Peter by faith. He was rejected. But God did not reject him. And you have come to Christ and God has not rejected you and will never reject you. And just as God has a house of believers all around the world who are going to last forever, you who believe in Christ have become part of that house. Whatever you think. Whatever you feel, however you perform, God says, having come to Jesus, you’re part of his house and will be forever.

You don’t become a Christian by walking into this building. But you do become a Christian by coming to Christ.

And the house that God is building is not sandstone, its spiritual people. It’s believing people.

Now, this is a great illustration by Peter because you may remember that his name Peter was stone or rock. Jesus obviously didn’t like the name Simon, which I’ve always found deeply wounding. But my therapist is helping me. I’m getting over this.

But Jesus said, I’m going to call you Peter. I’m going to call you Stone or Rock. And he told Peter that he would be part of the foundation of the House of God. The people of God. And Peter was part of the foundation because he was just about the first of the believers.

So even though the world may despise Christians and remember, the world despised Christ before and made a huge mistake, incidentally, by despising Christ. Even though the church may get fixated on stuff that you can see and touch, in fact, God’s plan is people and whatever the world says about Christians and whatever you feel about yourself and whatever your performances are like, if you’ve come to Christ, you’re part of his living house.

Well, let’s apply this more carefully because, what Peter says in these verses about God’s church being spiritually reborn people in that our lives offer spiritual sacrifices. What are these spiritual sacrifices? They are things like prayers and praises and ourselves.

I want to step aside and say to you, because I know and love you that some churches completely misunderstand all this talk about temple priests and sacrifice. Some churches are stuck in the Old Testament. They still think that there is a temple to go to and there is an altar and there are sacrifices to be offered. But Jesus has changed all of this. Jesus was the last sacrifice.

There are no more sacrifices that we need. The cross was the last altar. His people are all priests because we all can go to him direct because of Jesus and offer to Him our praise and our prayers and ourselves. And His temple is not a building made of stones. It’s people in whom he lives by his spirit. So Jesus has changed all of this. We don’t have an altar in this building. We’ve got a table behind me where if it were possible, we’d sit around it and we’d remember the cross of Christ.

We don’t have any sacrifices. We only take bread and wine to remember his sacrifice. We don’t have any priests, we’re not Old Testament people. Every Christian is a priest able to approach God with joy. We don’t have any temple. We just have God’s people who are little walking temples in whom he lives by his spirit. And we have no holy place in this building. I love it when the Children come into this building and they just naturally walk anywhere because there are no holy places in this building. The whole world is God’s place.

But as we pray and as we’re seeing, and as we live for Christ, we offer up our spiritual sacrifices to the one who offered himself.

Now in Verse six, in the Church of God, which I say again, is people. Christ is the cornerstone. Chapter two, Verse six. The cornerstone when you’re building an old temple was the big first stone, the jubilee in place, and it set the trajectory for all the other buildings in the building, and every stone takes its position from the cornerstone. And so if you miss Christ says Peter, who is the cornerstone? The keystone you will verse eight stumble and fall.

You’ll trip over and perish. But if you get Christ right and you trust him, Verse six, you’ll never be put to shame. What a wonderful verse. You’ll never be put to shame.

If you think this is irrelevant to Peter’s readers, let me read you what one writer has said about the Christians of Peter’s Day.

The writer says that in first century Rome, if you converted to Christ, there would be almost immediately a barrage of verbal abuse designed to demean you, discredit you and shame you as a social and moral deviant, endangering the common good. And this procedure of public shaming was employed as a means of social control, with the aim of pressing the minority of the community that is, the believers to conform to conventional values, that secular values and standards of conduct.

And God says you’ll never be put to shame. He will make sure that you will never be really put to shame when you put your trust in Christ. Now, before we leave this, I want to point out the verse eight which is a very alarming verse, which says that the one who rejects Christ stumbles, which is what they were destined for. And many people have been troubled by this verse, as if God controls people like robots and has destined some for heaven and has destined some for hell.

I want to say to you that the New Testament will never play this game. You can see in Chapter two, Verse four, that if you come to him and you’re invited to come to him, he will welcome you. It is always God’s invitation to invite the world to come to Christ. It’s always our privilege to come to him because Jesus has broken down the barrier and we can come to him directly.

Therefore, all people have the opportunity and privilege to seek Christ and come to Christ.

And God is not shocked by what happens in his world. That’s what Peter is saying. God is not shocked. He knows what’s happening, and he remains in control. So that’s the privilege. That’s a big part of our sermon this morning, the big part of belonging to Christ, the privilege of coming to Christ, and there are so many in the building this morning who have come to Christ. You’ve knelt down and you’ve said to him ‘be my Saviour, be my Lord.’ And you have suddenly become his family, his Children, his flock and living stones in His spiritual house.

Now, second, the privilege of living for Christ. And these are the last two verses – verses nine and ten. This is where Peter takes up these beautiful phrases to say. Do you realise, Christian, that you’re a royal priesthood? You’re a holy nation, You belong to God. And I want to say again that it’s very easy for the Christian to think of his Christian faith or her Christian faith as ordinary. Imagine you’re talking to your non Christian friend in the hall or over the fence or something like that. And the friend says to you, “you go to a church, don’t you? You go on a Sunday at nine o’clock to all saints church, don’t you? How lovely. I go to the beach and have a swim.”

I went to visit a lady recently whose son was in big health trouble, and she said to me as I was leaving. Well, she said, “You pray and I’ll talk to the stars, she said. I suppose your religion is a crutch, isn’t it? On which you lean?” I said, “I can’t get God to cooperate at all. He does exactly what he tells me to do.”

So now you see, although we may be tempted to think that our Christian faith is very ordinary, you must imagine that Jesus is standing in front of you in the words of verses nine and ten. And he looks at you and he says this to you. “The believer you are chosen. You’ve got a role to play. You’re a royal people. You belong to the king of kings. You’re a priesthood. You’re offering up your prayers and your praises and yourself, You’re a holy nation.” Says Jesus to you. “I have a global nation, a forever nation and you belong to God and you always will.” That’s what we read in these lovely verses. Now Contrast the unbeliever. The unbeliever has no sense of a role in God’s purposes. No sense of a privileged relationship with their maker. No one to really thank, no one to really appreciate, no sense of long term security. No one who says from heaven, “I want you forever”. The non-Christian has none of that.

And the Christian hasn’t made all this up as if we’re compensating for our fears. And so we’ve invented this. No, this has come straight to us in the person of Jesus, and he speaks truthfully. So if you’ve come to see that Jesus is King and if you’ve come to see that God is real and you’ve come to see that eternal life is a real promise and that life is bigger than temporary stuff you’ve been brought, says Peter, out of the dark into the light. And you had no mercy before, but now you do have mercy, which solves all your difficult problems in the short term or the long term.

So you may think the Christian life is just nine till 10 on Sunday mornings. But the real Christian has a new life, which affects everything. The Christian life walks in through the front door, changes everything, walks to work, walks the streets. Everything is changed when you come to Christ. C. S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen not only because I see that it has risen, but because by it I see everything else.”

Let me close dear friends this morning and say please notice that Jesus gets a response from everybody in this world. Either people come to him or they reject him. There’s no middle ground.

Notice that those who come to him first time belonged to him immediately and notice that when we keep coming to him as his people, forgiven people, we are immeasurably privileged to come to him and to bring our requests to him and our confession to him and our needs to him and ourselves to him.

Whatever the world thinks of us, Peter says, we are immeasurably privileged in coming to Christ and immeasurably privileged in living for Christ. Well, let’s go back to the parents talking to the child and the parents say to the child, “Have a good day to day at school because we’re moving overseas tomorrow.”

What happens if the child doesn’t listen to that? It’s still going to happen.

What happens if the doctor says to the patient, “You’re in terrible trouble, but tomorrow you’ll be fixed” and the patient doesn’t listen. Well, tomorrow he will, God willing, be fixed.

What happens if the builder says to the couple, “I’m going to basically wreck your place, but then I’ll restore it” and they don’t listen to him, and they despair at the destruction. The restoration is on the way. In other words, what they say happens. And that’s a very good reason for listening.

And God says to us in these beautiful verses, there is a huge privilege in coming to Jesus and there are huge privileges in living for Jesus. And that’s an extremely good reason, friends, why we should believe what God has said to us.

Let’s Pray

Let’s bow our heads and pray. Father, we thank you for speaking into your world to your people, to tell us the things which you have done for us and the privileges that come because of the Lord Jesus. We pray that these precious truths would not fall to the ground and be lost, but would find a place in our mind and heart and joy in Jesus name. Amen.