If one wanted to build a stone fence, one would begin by gathering loose stones. After organizing them into size, color, and shape, one would then place them into position and cement them together into the fence. By themselves, the stones are at best useless and at worse, a danger to someone who might trip over them.
The same can be said of Christ followers. By themselves, they don’t amount to much. In addition, they can be in danger of being led astray. It is only when they unite together in a local church can the individual and the corporate body be built up.
After describing the nature of our salvation (1 Peter 1:1-12) and the impact it has on our daily lives (1:13-2:3), the apostle Peter now explains how salvation makes us part of the church (2:4-12). He first describes the nature and purpose of the church (2:4-10) before talking about the mission of the church (2:11-12). As Peter explains in 2:4-10, the church is a worshipping community built on a solid foundation with a unique identity and a significant purpose.
The church is a worshipping community (2:4-5). In chapter 1, Peter talked about coming to Christ for salvation. Now, he speaks of the habit of coming to Christ for fellowship and deeper communion. The one we seek is not a monument or dead principle, but is the living, resurrected, life-giving one. Though rejected and cast aside, he is the cornerstone of the spiritual temple God is building. As we come to him, we become part of that house. In fact, we serve as believer priests, both to represent God to the world and to offer spiritual sacrifices, including our bodies (Romans 12:1-2), our praise (Hebrews 13:15), good works (Hebrews 13:16), money & material things (Philippians 4:18), and people we win to Christ (Romans 15:16).
…built on a solid foundation (2:6-8). Peter quotes from two Old Testament passages to describe the role Christ plays in the house of God. Jesus is the cornerstone, the one who supports, strengthens, and lines up the rest of the building. Jesus is the capstone, the pinnacle of the building. From beginning to end, the church is built on Christ. The one who trusts in Jesus will never be ashamed, but those who reject Christ will stumble over because of their disobedience.
…with a unique identity (2:9a, 10). Peter introduces five key terms to describe our new identity. Christ followers are a chosen race. We enjoy a privileged status because of God’s grace. We are a royal priesthood. We enjoy unlimited access to God and we are set apart to serve him. Believers are a holy nation. We are set apart and called to moral purity. We are a people for God’s own possession. We are highly valued and the object of God’s special care. Christ followers are also a people who received mercy. We have been given a gift we did not deserve.
…with a significant purpose (2:9b). As Christ followers, we have been called out of darkness into the light. We have the privilege and burden of proclaiming God’s glory to an unbelieving world still lost in the darkness.
As a community of believers built on Christ, we are to declare his praise to a needy world.
This the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on May 20, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.