God’s Word for You
1 Peter 2:5 Living stones
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, March 9, 2022
5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The Christian church is not a building. It is people who believe in Christ. Yet the Scriptures often use the illustration of a building to make various comparisons or points about the church. In Ephesians 2:19-22, the foundation of the church is “the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone.” That means that the teaching of the apostles and prophets, not the men themselves, all lifts up Christ as the Savior and the chief cornerstone.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, the foundation is explained by Paul (the same author who wrote Ephesians) to be the word of God preached to God’s people, “I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it,” and in particular, that word of God is Christ: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
In Hebrews 3:2-6, we see that God is the true builder of the house of the church. And in Matthew 16:18, the rock of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ is the rock upon which the church is built. All of these passages agree with one another, and now Peter carries the thought through to describe the material out of which the church is built. This material is you and me. We are the stones out of which the church is built. But unlike the dead bricks and stones and boards of a typical building, we are not lifeless things. We are alive, and so Peter calls us living stones. We are stones that participate in the construction of the building.
This is what Peter means by our “spiritual sacrifices,” which are primarily those things that build up the church. We teach our children about Jesus. We encourage each other to worship, to confess our sins, to receive the Lord’s Supper, and to attend Bible study together. We also support the work of the church by giving some of our time, some of our expertise, or by channeling some of the wealth God has given us back into the work of the kingdom. We encourage our called workers, and we encourage one another who may not have a call into public ministry but who serve privately as ministers of Christ in many ways. All of us with faith in Christ are the “holy priesthood,” since we all offer spiritual sacrifices. But this holy priesthood of all believers is not the same as the public ministry, and we leave the public preaching and teaching and the administration of the sacraments to our pastors, except that baptism may be done in an emergency by any Christian.
The priesthood of all believers was not part of the law of Mount Sinai; it was already established long before then. Noah stepped off the Ark and “built an altar to the Lord,” sacrificing clean animals and birds (Genesis 8:20). Abraham, too, built an altar and worshiped the Lord (Genesis 13:18). Going back further still, Adam and Eve shared the first gospel promise with their children and forgave the sins of their growing family, pointing them always to the coming Christ (Genesis 3:15, etc.). In this privileged priesthood, we have access to God through Jesus who is our mediator (Ephesians 2:18). We are invited to pray personally to God and directly to him (Psalm 69:13, 141:2; Revelation 8:3). We seek repentance and are forgiven our sins (Psalm 51:17). And we offer our spiritual sacrifices, which (as we have said) are especially when we share the gospel, but also when we ourselves pray, sing, praise God, and when we do anything to glorify God, even little things that have no effect on other people at all. They are acceptable to God through Jesus, and to him we lift up our hearts in thanks.
Pastor Timothy Smith