First Peter 2.7
1. While you are finding our text for today, First Peter 2.7, let me relate to you an old story: When time shall be no more there will have been built on Mount Moriah, in Jerusalem, a total of five Temples. The first Temple, of course, was built by king Solomon. It is typically referred to as Solomonís Temple. After about six hundred years Solomonís Temple was destroyed by the invading Babylonians and was rebuilt 70 years later under the leadership of Zerubbabel.
2. About 350 years later the Idumean king, Herod, extensively remodeled the Temple, giving us the Temple that existed in Jesusí day, Herodís Temple. But that Temple, too, was destroyed, this time by the Romans in 70 AD. There has been no Temple on Mount Moriah from that day to this.
3. But in the future there will be found on Mount Moriah two more Temples. There will be a Temple built by the Jewish people during the Tribulation, which will be desecrated by the antichrist. Then, when Jesus comes again to establish His millennial kingdom the Millennial Temple will be erected on that site where all the previous Temples once stood, and will be the central place of worship for all peoples of the world during Christís 1000 year reign here on earth.
4. Thatís a brief overview of all the Temples. Now letís go back to the second Temple, Zerubbabelís Temple. The Babylonian army surrounded and laid siege to Jerusalem, finally taking the city, sending the surviving inhabitants into the Babylonian captivity, removing all the furniture and utensils used in Temple worship, and then completely leveling the Temple that Solomon had erected, leaving no stone unturned.
5. When Zerubbabel and his scraggly band of captives returned to Jerusalem after seventy years in Babylon they set about to rebuild the Temple so that the worshiping of God in the manner set forth by Moses could resume. But tradition tells us of an interesting occurrence with one particular stone.
6. Spurgeon quotes Henry Drummond as telling of a particular stone that was lifted up from below, where all the other stones had been rolled by the Babylonians when they destroyed the first Temple. But try as they might the Jewish rebuilders just couldnít find where that stone properly fit, so they rejected it. Then, as the second Temple was being completed it was discovered that the stone the builders had rejected was, in fact, the chief cornerstone, having the place of greatest prominence.
7. Is the story true? I donít know. I am convinced, however, that you will find the Scriptural record more astonishing than unsubstantiated tradition. Let us now stand to read First Peter 2.4-8:
4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
8. You can see, here, that Peter is describing the Lord Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone of a spiritual house, a spiritual temple if you will, rather than a stone structure, Who was rejected and refused His place of prominence by those who are disobedient.
9. Peterís reference to Scripture in verse 6 shows that he is reminding his readers of Psalm 118.22: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner." Though despised and rejected of men, especially the prominent and powerful He came into contact with, the Lord Jesus Christ "is become the head stone of the corner."
10. With this Scriptural background information properly in place, I want to focus your attention on a single word thatís found in First Peter 2.7, the word "precious." Peter observes that to we who believe Jesus is very simply "precious." But he uses 46 words in verses 7 and 8 to detail the feelings of those who are disobedient toward Jesus.
11. What a very simple, yet stark, contrast exists between believers and unbelievers with respect to Jesus. I would like to take a few minutes to expand on this, how believers feel about Jesus versus how unbelievers feel about Jesus.
1A. FIRST, HOW BELIEVERS FEEL ABOUT JESUS
In a word, He is "precious." But ask yourself, "If Jesus is precious to believers, how is their estimation of Him expressed in the way they behave?"
1B. Consider The Past
1C. Do you suppose Moses thought Him to be precious when he removed his sandals in His presence and bowed before the burning bush?
2C. Do you suppose Joshua thought Him to be precious when he removed his sandals in His presence and bowed before the Captain of the LORDís host?
3C. How about when the three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace and the Lord Jesus stood there with them to protect them from harm? Do you suppose they thought Him to be precious?
4C. How about when Lazarus, dead for three days and with a body that stunk with rot, heard the Masterís voice, "Lazarus, come forth." Do you think Lazarus esteemed precious this Jesus, Who, after having wept for him, had just raised him from the dead?
5C. And then there was the thief on the cross. Condemned to die for thievery. Fully expecting to spend eternity in Hell. Do you think he found Jesus precious when he heard Jesus say to him, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise"?
6C. I think it was because He was to them precious that Stephen and Peter and Paul and all the others willingly suffered martyrdom for Him. Donít you?
2B. Now, Consider Our Day
1C. Donít you think itís because He is precious to them that the Hmong tribesmen in southeast Asia are willing to die for Christ? And how about the Christians being slaughtered in south Sudan by the Muslims, and in India? Is it not because to them Jesus is precious?
2C. This word "precious" translates the Greek word for "honor." How do you show Jesus to be "precious?" Are you willing to do anything to show Him "precious?" If you believe He is "precious."
3C. How about attending Church, this Church, on a regular basis? How about honoring Him with the first fruits of your increase, which is tithes and offerings? How about showing Him to be precious by sitting at His feet during your morning devotional time, and when praying to His Father and to your Father? To believers He is "precious."
4C. Ask yourself if there are distinct and recognizable ways in which you express in your life that Jesus is "precious" to you. Because saying, "I love Jesus" really means nothing at all if it isnít backed up by action. Amen? To a person who believes Jesus is "precious."
2A. BUT TO THOSE WHO ARE DISOBEDIENT JESUS IS NOT PRECIOUS
1B. As You Can No Doubt See For Yourself, Peter Did Go Into Considerable Detail In Describing The Attitudes Toward Jesus That Are Held By Those Who Are Unsaved, By Those Who Are Not Converted, By Those Who Are Unbelieving, By Those Peter Says Are Disobedient. But I Prefer To Stick With Our Single Word "Precious" This Morning, Noting That "Precious" Is What Jesus Is To Those Who Believe. But Those Who Do Not Believe Do Not See Him As "Precious."
2B. Oh, To Be Sure, It Is Common In These Days Of False Christianity And Decisionism For Just About Everyone To Say "I Love Jesus" And To Protest That Jesus Is "Precious To Me." But Letís Consider Not The Words Of A Man Or A Woman, But The Deeds Of Those Who Are Disobedient.
3B. How Does Disobedience Show Jesus To Not Be "Precious," Thereby Identifying A Lost Man Or Woman? Because, If Peterís Words Are To Be Believed, Jesus Is "Precious" To Those Who Believe, But He Is Not So Esteemed By Those Who Are Disobedient.
4B. Can You Imagine A Person Who Holds Jesus To Be "Precious" Refusing To Support Christís Church With Tithes And Offerings? I Mean, How Can Jesus Be "Precious" When That Which Is Important To Jesus Is Not Important To You, When That For Which He Shed His Blood Is Not Important Enough For You To Shed Your Shekels? Perhaps It Is Possible To Be A Believer And Not Give Tithes And Offerings Through Christís Church, But I Have A Difficult Time Seeing How One Can Hold Jesus To Be "Precious" While At The Same Time Crippling The Gospel Ministry, Crippling Christís Cause, With Such Thievery.
5B. How About Prayer, Devotions And Witnessing? My Friends, This Is The Inhaling And The Exhaling Of The Soul. This Is Spiritual Metabolism. So, How Can One Effectively Maintain Such A Life Without Devotion To Christ, Holding Him To Be "Precious?" Notice That I Said Effectively. Lots Of Lost People Engage In Such Activities, But Without A Precious Savior How Can Such Efforts Be Effective? Didnít Paul Write, "For me to live is Christ"?
6B. And Then There Is Attending Church. Used To Be That If You Were A Christian You Attended Church Faithfully, And That If You Didnít Attend Church Faithfully You Werenít A Christian. But All Thatís Changed Now. Somehow And In Some Way Devotion To Christ, Holding Him "Precious," Has Become Disconnected To Church Attendance In Peopleís Minds. But Though Devotion To Christ May Be Disconnected To Church Attendance In Peopleís Minds, The Two Are Very Much Connected In Godís Mind. And One Of The Ways In Which You Can Tell That A Person Doesnít Hold Jesus As "Precious" Is His Low Estimation Of Christís Church, Which Is His Body.
1. I could go on and on this morning. I could expound on First Peter 2.7-8 at great length. But my design is to stay very simple, to remain bread and butter basic, to drive home a single nail.
2. There is a fundamental distinction between those who are saved and those who are lost, those who believe and those who are not believers, and it has to do with our estimation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. If He is to you "precious," really "precious," it is and can only be because you are a believer. And if He is not to you "precious," if He is not the chief cornerstone of your life, if He is to you a rock of offense, and if you stumble at the Word (which is to say, you will not treat Jesus as precious in these few ways I have described) then it is evidence of that to which, as Peter writes, you have been "appointed."
4. Let us leave behind this confusion and error that allows for those who believe in Jesus and those who do not to pretend to live the same, to pretend to believe the same, and to pretend to esteem Jesus the same. That is not so. "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious." To unbelievers He is not "precious."
5. Brother Isenberger will now come before this morningís sermon and lead us as we sing.
1. The thrust of my exposition was directed to the way people feel about the Lord Jesus Christ. And I think itís appropriate to describe whether Jesus is "precious" or not to you in those terms. How do you feel about Jesus? What do your feelings for Him prompt you to do?
2. Some people say that Jesus is "precious" to them, but they donít want to hear anything about the story Jesus told of a boss who hired different workers and paid each of them a different rate for their work. Different rates of pay to guys who did the same type of work? Thatís right.
3. Other people say that Jesus is "precious" to them, but they object to what He said about being able to judge a tree by the fruit that it bears, and that "by their fruits ye shall know them." They say Jesus is "precious," but theyíre always spouting, "Judge not lest ye be judged."
4. Still other people say that Jesus is "precious" to them, but they are so much in love with family members or spouses, and feel so indebted to them, that they are willing to go to Hell rather than admit to themselves that if what Jesus says about salvation is true then the loved one is bound for Hell for sure.
5. Yet others say that Jesus is "precious" to them, but the idea of surrendering lordship over your life to someone else, anyone else, even the Lord of glory, is so repulsive that you will not really, that you will not truly, that you will not genuinely, consider coming to Christ.
6. And then there are those of you here today who openly, admittedly, publicly reject Jesus. I donít think any of you here today would stand up and badmouth the Savior, or would like to consider yourself His avowed enemy. But for some reason you have not come to Him for forgiveness and cleansing and life, and the result is that He is not "precious" to you.
7. Setting aside, for this sermon, the issue of a sinnerís depravity and his inability to see spiritually , much less to do spiritually, let me spend a few minutes talking to you about the Lord Jesus, moving from the way you "feel" about Jesus to the Jesus about Whom you feel.
8. You see, I am absolutely convinced that who and what I think Jesus is is different than who and what any unsaved person thinks Jesus is. I think that somewhere in this grand transaction called conversion there is a revealing by Jesus of His true nature, His real essence. Or should I say, there is an illumination of truth already contained in the Word of God, so that the Jesus of the unbeliever is not exactly the same as the Jesus of the man or woman or child who is a believer.
1A. THE JESUS OF THE UNBELIEVER
1B. This Is Your Jesus, If You Are Unconverted. This Is Your Jesus, If He Is Not "Precious" To You. And I Must Think That About Him You Must Be Wrong In Some Way, Since It Is Sometimes So Very Difficult For Me To Grasp Why A Sinner Does Not Come Immediately To Christ.
2B. Whatís Wrong With The One Who Blew Into Adamís Lifeless Body The Breath Of Life? Whatís Wrong With The One Who Wrestled With Jacob Until Dawn So He Could Save Him From His Sins? Whatís Wrong With The One Who Stood With The Three Hebrews In The Fiery Furnace And Who Stopped The Mouths Of Lions To Save Danielís Life? Why Is He Not "Precious" To You?
3B. I Think I Know. You Ignore The Fact That He Kindly Offered Himself As The Water Of Life To The Woman At The Well. You Ignore The Fact That He Was Rahabís Scarlet Thread Hung Out The Window That Saved Her And Her Whole Family From Slaughter. You Ignore The Fact That He Is The Great Physician Who Gives Sight To The Blind, Who Repairs Withered Hands, Who Casts Demons Out Of Afflicted And Affected Children, Who Makes The Lame Walk Again, And Gives Life To The Dead.
4B. You Completely Overlook The Fact That He Is The Angel Of The LORD, Who Encamps Round About Them That Fear Him, And Protects Them. Such Things As Walking On The Water Donít Move You Or Faze You At All. That He Can Quiet The Storm And Calm The Waves, That He Fed Israel For Forty Years With Manna In The Wilderness, That He Parted The Waters Of The Red Sea, That The Tabernacle In The Wilderness Was A Picture And Type Of Him, Means Nothing To You.
5B. I Know What It Is With You. I Know What You See When You Ponder Jesus. Turn To Hebrews 11.24-26: "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaohís daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt."
6B. Jesus Was "Precious" To Moses Because Moses Wanted Deliverance. So Christ Was Mosesí Deliverer. He Delivered Moses From The Pleasures Of Sin, From The Damnation Of Sin, And Eventually From Egyptian Bondage. But You Donít See Jesus As Deliverer At All. You See Him As The Depriver, For Jesus Would Deprive You Of The Pleasures Of Sin, Would Deny You The Sin You So Greatly Enjoy, Or The Sin You Look Forward To Enjoying Some Day.
7B. Yes! You Donít Come To Jesus Because You See Him Differently Than A Converted Person Does, Differently Than A Believer Does. Thatís What It Is. You Donít Want To Be Delivered From Sin, So Of Course You Donít Want Jesus. He Came to Save His People From Their Sins! But You Are One Of Those Who Loves Darkness Rather Than Light, Because Your Deeds Are Evil, John 3.19.
2A. THE JESUS OF THE BELIEVER IS SEEN VERY DIFFERENTLY
1B. You See, The Believer Knows That The Fire Of Judgment Is Coming, So He Wants A Savior To Stand By Him The Way Jesus Stood By Shadrach, Meshach And Abednego In The Fiery Furnace. The Believer Knows He Deserves The Death Of The Cross Just As Much As Those Two Thieves Did, So Itís Important To Him That Jesus Has Heard His "Remember Me In Thy Kingdom" When He Looked To Christ For Forgiveness, For Cleansing, For Life.
2B. The Lost Child Or Teen Or Young Adult May Think He Will Enjoy The Pleasures Of Sin Forever. But The Maniac Of Gadera Knows What Sin Is Like When The Thrill Is Gone, And You Are Left In The Clutches Of The Demons Who Run You Naked And Defiled.
3B. Kids Think Its Cute To Act Sexy And To Tease And Entice Men With Their Looks. But Ask Mary Magdalene, Or The Woman At The Well Whoíd Had Five Husbands, Or The Woman Caught In The Act Of Adultery, About The Accompanying Shame And Humiliation, About The Destruction Of Other Peopleís Lives Caused By Their Sins. Think Theyíre Not Persuaded That Jesus Is "Precious?" Think Theyíre Not Thankful For The Shed Blood Of Christ? Think Again.
4B. Consider And Ponder A Sinful Lifestyle And Itís Pleasures. What Activity Can You Dream About That Hasnít Been Done By Numerous Members Of This Church Before Their Conversion. There Was A Time When Our Members Thought Like You, That Jesus Was One Who Deprived Of Fun, Who Ruined Plans, Who Interfered With Success At Sinning. The Wildest And Most Evil Sins You Can Imagine Have Been Committed By Some Who Are Now Members Of Our Church, From Homosexuality To Whore Mongering, From Drunkenness To Drugs, And Every Other Kind Of Corruption Youíve Thought Of.
5B. But Look Around You Now. Do You See Anyone Griping About Jesus The Depriver, Jesus The One Who Takes The Fun Out Of Life? You See Here Only Thankfulness, Only Gratitude, Only Rejoicing. As Well, You Will See Regret. Regret That Such Sins Were Ever Committed By Them. Oh, They Are Sorry They Did Those Things, Even As They Now Hate Such Sins. There Is Also Regret For Those Innumerable Others Who Committed Those Same Sins, But Who Will Never Come To Christ, Who Are Either Already Dead Or Who Are Irretrievably Bound By Those Sins.
6B. My Friends, Evangelist Jim Cook Is Absolutely Correct When He Declares That "Sin Will Take You Farther Than You Want To Go, And Will Keep You Longer Than You Want To Stay." Jesus Is "Precious" To Believers Because He Saves Sinners From Their Sins . . . But Not Many, And Certainly Not All. And Maybe Not You, Unless You Come To Him Now.
1. So much turns on only one simple word, the word "precious." First Peter 2.7 declares to us that to those who "believe he is precious."
2. Face it, my friend. Jesus is not "precious" to you, and you cannot by an act of will make Him "precious" to you. He is only "precious" to those who are believers, who know the joy of sins forgiven, who have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
3. If you will come to Him, if you will cast yourself upon Him for the forgiveness of your sins, for cleansing in His precious blood which was shed for you, then He will become "precious" to you.
4. You will esteem Him greatly when He has forgiven all your sins. You will think much of Him when He has given to you His precious Holy Spirit to indwell you.
5. And you will see Him to be as "precious" as He is when, after youíve been converted, you know in whom you have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which you have committed unto Him against that day, Second Timothy 1.12.
6. Come to Christ, my friend. Come to Christ, young person. Come to Him now. And we will soon speak with each other about how "precious" Jesus is to each of us.