READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l The “temple” is a significant theme in the Bible. The temple symbolises God’s dwelling place with man. Starting from the Garden of Eden, to the tabernacle as His people wandered in the wilderness, to Solomon’s temple which was destroyed by the Babylonians and to the second temple which was destroyed by the Romans – all these reflect God’s desire to dwell with His people. Is the temple relevant to the church of the New Testament? Yes! For we (all believers) are the new temple where God dwells.
Peter’s first letter was addressed mainly to Gentile congregations, living in what is now modern Turkey. Peter spoke to them using terms such as “spiritual house”, “holy priesthood” and “spiritual sacrifices” (see v. 5). These are terms that would ordinarily refer to worship in the temple in Jerusalem. By applying these terms to the Gentile churches in Asia Minor, Peter is suggesting that the post-Pentecost church of Christ is now the centre of God’s purposes.
1.Priority of Worship
“As you come to him” (v. 4), in the original Greek, strongly alludes to a “drawing near” to God in a posture of worship. Instead of going to a physical location, as NT believers, we approach God in the person of Christ, the living Stone. In v. 6, Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16, where a “cornerstone” is mentioned. With the benefit of New Testament lenses, Peter is saying that this precious cornerstone is Jesus, rejected by man but chosen by God. He is the foundation of the church, upon which other stones are laid. Worshipping Jesus therefore means aligning with Him, pledging our lives to Him and being changed by Him. As C.S. Lewis states, “…look for Him [Christ] and you will find Him and with Him, everything else thrown in”. The people whom Peter wrote to were facing persecution and hardship. Yet, Peter assured them that God would vindicate them. In the same way, to those of us who face various trials and suffering, Peter reminds us that “the one who trusts in [God] will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6.
2. Presence of God
As we draw near to God, we are transformed from “dead stones” to “living stones” (v. 5) and God uses us to build His spiritual house. He chooses to dwell among us. God is not impressed by church structures or physical buildings, but He is interested in the internal postures of our hearts. May we be found to be people who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
3. Priesthood of all believers
V. 5 states that we are “to be a holy priesthood”. As priests, all believers have direct access to God through Christ. We are to offer ourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship,” so says Romans 12:1. As we pray and minister to others, we bring God’s presence wherever we go. As priests of Jesus Christ, we model Christ, especially in our families to the children and youth in our homes.
As living stones and priests, we are called to build the spiritual house of God, starting from our homes to workplaces, from schools to the end of the earth. Let us be wary of rejecting the Cornerstone. This rejection is evident in some parts of the world where places of worship have been turned into breweries and bars. Let us instead, declare His praises and be prepared for the glorious day when in the new heaven and new earth, God will perfect His temple and dwell with His people for eternity (Rev 21:1-3).
May we live out our destiny as living stones, shining as a beacon of light and drawing others to God.
(Sermon notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- In verse 4, Peter calls Jesus “the living Stone.” Why do you think Peter emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the “living Stone” (as opposed to dead or inanimate)? Why should we continually come to the living Stone, and what posture should we adopt?
- Verse 4 says that Jesus was “rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him.” How does this encourage us if we should face rejection because of our faith? Share a personal experience of being rejected (or having the fear of rejection) due to living out your faith.
- In verse 5, Peter calls each believer—whether Jew or Gentile—a “living stone” that God is using to “build” a spiritual house! How are “living stones” different from temple stones? In what way has your life been transformed to be a “living stone” since accepting Jesus as Lord?
- For many centuries, God’s presence with Israel was symbolised by the Temple in Jerusalem. What is the nature of God’s “spiritual house” today? What role do you see yourself playing in this “spiritual house”?
- Peter uses priestly imagery to describe the ministry of believers. In what way are we priests? What does it mean to offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God”? Reflect and share some “spiritual sacrifices” that you intentionally offer to God as His priest.
- Take time to reflect and pray what you’ve discussed and shared – praying for one another in your calling as God’s priests to one another and to this world.