“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.” (1 Peter 2:4–5, NASB95)
In verse 3 we read, “if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” (1 Peter 2:3, NASB95) In respect to our salvation we have come to Christ and have known His kindness. It is in response to this that we are to put off the things found in verse 1 as we look to who He is and what He has done for us as expressed in verses 4 and 5. Jesus’ body may have been placed behind a stone as He was laid in a tomb after laying down His life for us on the cross, but it not to a martyred leader with a headstone that we have aligned ourselves. We have been brought in the family of the living God by the same Jesus who took His life back up again and became not only our salvation but the foundation of His church. He is the cornerstone of the spiritual house in which all believers are included.
Jesus Christ was rejected by man and hung on a cross, but it is through that very cross that the eternal plan of God was completed and life was given to all who believe. The Jewish leadership of Christ’s day rejected His credentials just as many do today. And just as they were wrong then, so are they wrong today. The resurrection proves this to be true. The words of the prophets were fulfilled, and Jesus lives. He lives at the right hand of the Father, and as the eternal everywhere present God, His Spirit resides in every believer today. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NASB95)
As we look at these verses we don’t see independence of believers, but interdependence. We are not rocks scattered about to individually cry out and carry out, though we well could should circumstances come to that. But we are being built together as a spiritual house. We read in Ephesians 2, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22, NASB95)
God takes individuals lost in their trespasses and sins and unites them in one building or body in Christ. We share citizenship with all of the saints, or every single person who is saved. We are all a part of God’s household which has a firm foundation laid before us by the sure and certain words and work of the apostles and prophets. God spoke in advance through the prophets what He would do, and He gave the apostles to His Son as men to begin the work after His Son’s return. And, of course, the key to all of this is the obedient work of the Son who took on the form of man, to be born of a virgin, walk among men, personally train His team, and then lay down His life only to take it back up again and return to the Father. Not a single word or work of a prophet or apostle would save a man apart from Christ. We are saved because of Him. Our salvation rises and falls on His authenticity, and it is because He really is the cornerstone that we can have this assurance.
The purpose stated here is that we might be a holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Learning from the duties of the Old Testament priests and their prescribed service in temple, we as temples of the Holy Spirit are called to worshipful service to God. In Romans twelve we read what should be our response to all that God has done for us in Christ, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1, NASB95)
Jesus did not leave His apostles alone, nor does He leave us alone to accomplish this service. We read from God’s Word that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost to indwell all believers and we are assured that the Spirit continues to do so today from the very moment of our salvation. We know from His word that Christ continuously works in us individually and as a whole to grow us and to enable us for His service. Knowing this we are called both individually and as a body to respond as those chosen by Him. His means for doing this is as we build up and encourage one another as a unified body of believers, serving side-by-side and worshiping together. It is our unity and love for one another that is intended to speak so powerfully to the world around us and that glorifies Him through His Son.