Building on the Cornerstone

Rob Green March 18, 2018 1 Peter 2:4-25, Luke 20:17
Outline

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 - According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

  • Jesus = Foundation; We = Builder; Our works = Structure
  • Jesus = Cornerstone; God = Builder; We = Structure

 3 blessings of building on the Cornerstone

I. Because Christ is the Cornerstone Those Who Trust Him Enjoy Incredible Benefits (2:4-8)

A. Those who trust in Christ are united with Christ (2:4-5)

B. Those who trust in Christ will not be disappointed (2:6)

Romans 8:37-39 - But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 21:4 - …and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

C. Those who reject Christ will stumble (2:7-8)

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 - For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed.

II. Because Christ is the Cornerstone We Have a New Identity (2:9a-10)

A. A chosen race

B. A royal priesthood

C. A holy nation

D. A people for God’s own possession

E. The people of God

F. The ones who have received mercy

III. Because Christ is the Cornerstone We Have a Worthwhile Purpose of Declaring His Praises (2:9b, 11-25)

A. Living thoughtfully and kindly among unbelievers (vv. 11-12)

B. Properly submitting to our authorities (vv. 13-17)

C. Suffering only for just causes (vv. 18-20)

D. Following the example of Christ (vv. 21-25)

 

Say it in a sentence: Because Jesus is the cornerstone we enjoy incredible benefits, a new identity, and a meaningful purpose.

This year our annual theme is Being Careful How We Build. We chose this theme because we are in the middle of a construction project.

  • But more importantly, we are moving into a new phase of ministry.
  • “Building” for our purposes not only represents the NCC, it represents the ministries surrounding it, and it represents the importance of our own spiritual growth.

The language of being careful how we build was taken from 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. It says …

1Cor. 3:10-15 – According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

The picture in this text is that Jesus is the foundation (he is the only legitimate foundation to build upon).  We serve as the builders. The materials available to us are gold, silver, and precious stone as well as wood, hay, and stubble.

  • Once the building that we have built is put to the fire, what remains represents a reward.
  • It is just that there is a greater emphasis on the blessings we already have.
  • If Jesus is the foundation and the cornerstone then what are the blessings of building on him?
  • We believe that it is his death, burial, resurrection, and appearances are not only true they are the basis of our salvation. Jesus is not dead, but alive.
  • Thus, he is not just a stone … but a living stone.
  • If someone does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, then we are not intimidated by that.
  • We seek to win them, we seek to care for them, but we do not let their opinion of Christ influence our opinion.
  • In 1 Peter we are the building in which Jesus is the cornerstone … the stone that sets the dimensions for the whole building.
  • You want to know what the building was going to be like and look like? Now we have real fancy drawings and renderings.
  • Then, you took a look at the cornerstone.
  • That is why you can pray for grace
  • That is why you can pray for mercy
  • That is why you can be forgiven and to forgive others
  • Praise … We bring a sacrifice of praise
  • Ourselves (mind, body, skills) … Rom 12:1 present your bodies
  • Doing good
  • Sharing
  • Winning others to Christ
  • Sin and suffering are still part of this world and we are often a jumbled mess of both.
  • But the reason that we will not be disappointed is based on the promises of God.
  • But to show that they are wrong Paul goes back to the OT. This time he pulls out Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14-15.
    • Psalm 118 was one of the praise Psalms where God’s people sang looking forward to the coming of Messiah.
    • Isaiah 8:14-15 was a passage predicting that Jesus would be a stumbling block and a rock of offense.
  • The Pharisees understood the message. They were the tenants that first of all rejected the prophets and then they rejected Jesus.
  • Rather than coming to that point of understanding and changing … they decided that the best thing to do was to kill Jesus so they would not have to listen to that message.
  • Maybe the message of Christ is a message you have never heard before and you would like to learn more … you want to understand.
  • Maybe you have never repented for your sin and you believe that God will let you into heaven anyway. You don’t need Christ because you can make it on your own.
  • Maybe you have offered some kind of lip service for the Lord but your heart that is far from him.
  • Maybe you have rejected Christ and here is another opportunity to change your mind.
  • The lines are clear. Blessing flow from the person of Christ or retribution for those who reject him.
  • Can I encourage you to rejoice that this is what salvation has brought?
  • We ought to be the most joyful, encouraged, and delightful people on the planet.
    • When we serve together during the passion play I hope that this attitude comes across to every guest. I hope when you leave church you are encouraged by the message but also by the people around you.
  • Just like the nation of Israel who was told that they were not chosen because they were the best and brightest or held the most potential.
  • They were chosen because God chose to set his covenant love upon us.
  • In the OT there were some things that a person could do on their own. They were allowed to pray. They were allowed to read their Bible. They were allowed to teach others the truths from God’s word.
  • But there were other things that required some distance between them and God.
    • The sacrifices were not conducted on your own.
    • You were not allowed to enter certain places in the temple.
    • You were not allowed to make pronouncements of cleanness without the appropriate prescriptions being followed.
  • Back off Prince Harry … the priests of king Jesus are on the way!
  • We sing of that … my one defense, my righteousness … Oh God how I need you.
  • Again, this is a description given to Israel in the OT. Now it is even more meaningfully applied to the church.
  • Our culture speaks of celebrities … normally sports figures or those in the movies/tv. We assign them celebrity status.
  • Our culture speaks of politicians … normally assigning them something less than celebrity statue.
  • Here is the problem … we are not letting God speak to our identity.
  • You are chosen … royal … and holy
  • But this statement is slightly different.
  • You have to find some really nice way of dealing with it without offending everyone in the process.
  • I think it is easy to think of ourselves in those categories.
    • As the old tea set your great grandmother has that takes like 40 sq. ft. of your cabinet space and it is worth about $8? Like who wants that?
  • If heaven is your inheritance than you are God’s inheritance.
  • An inheritance he paid with the blood of his son.
  • Hosea was faithful to her, but she was unfaithful to him. Hosea was compassionate to her, but she was not compassionate to him.
  • The names of their children were also symbolic.
  • Well, that is exactly what God has done for us. He took us from a child of wrath and one who was in darkness and made us a child of grace.
  • But just as there was a moment of “not received mercy” so Peter uses that imagery to show that we, that is believers, are individuals who have received mercy through the work of Christ.
  • Jesus is the living corner stone on which all the dimensions are based. But we are living stones connected to that cornerstone and that means we enjoy all the blessings of Christ and we enjoy the wonderful identity that he gave us.
  • Here is the Lord says … your purpose is to declare my praises doing whatever it is that you do.
  • We also have neighbors. Some of them are easy to get along with and others not so much.
  • We have co-workers who are not all believers.
  • That does not mean we do what they want. It means that we do what is right before the Lord.
  • We live with a kind of purpose, commitment, and kindness that at least shows itself different.
  • One of the ways that unbelievers see us is through social media. Sometimes people’s posts are all about their issues … whatever they are and not much about the Lord who is amazing and who transfers people to the kingdom of his son.
  • That means we are going to live with leaders that we do not like.
  • Around the globe some believers are in worse situations than others.
  • The Roman leaders were not well known for righteous and just living.
  • So rather than seek some type of recourse, if it was available, the temptation was to do something wrong.
  • Even when it seems as if unreasonable demands are placed upon you, you are able to handle it because you are doing your work for God and not for men.
  • He had to see that fulfilling that role was part of what it means to declare the praises of God.

Jesus = Foundation; We = Builder; Our works = Structure

When we see that illustration, it is a warning passage. Do not be the person who builds with wood, hay, and stubble. Do not be that person who accomplishes nothing for the cause of Christ. Don’t be that person! Be sure you are building with the right materials and accomplishing the right things.

But that is not the only way the Bible uses the building illustration. Sometimes the building analogy is this:

Jesus = Cornerstone; God = Builder; We = Structure.

When we find this illustration, there is an emphasis on the blessings we enjoy. That is not to say that there is no call to action.

With that in mind please turn in your Bible to 1 Peter 2:4. That is on page ____ of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

I want us to consider this morning Three Blessings of Building on the Cornerstone.

Please follow along as I read 1 Peter 2:4-25. This is the Word of the Lord.

The first blessing is …

I. Because Christ is the Cornerstone those who trust him enjoy incredible benefits (2:4-8)

There is a contrast in the text between those who believe Jesus is the Messiah, the chosen one of God, the cornerstone of the OT and those who do not. Peter is writing to a largely believing audience and he reminds them that …

A.     Those who trust in Christ are united with Christ (2:4-5)

“And coming to Him” … that is the action that you and I take. We come to Jesus believe that he is exactly who he said he is --- the Messiah, the Son of God.

We come to him despite the reactions of other people.

Because we agree with God that Jesus is choice and precious in his sight.

But here is where the text gets exciting. It is not just that we came to him. It is not just that he is chosen and precious in the sight of God. It is that those of us who have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ enjoy union with Christ.

The illustration is that we are also living stones and we are being built into the same structure as Christ. It is not like 1 Corinthians where Jesus is the foundation and we are builder.

Isn’t this crazy? You and I get to be part of the same building as Jesus? It is a picture of union with Christ. As such you have access to the greatest spiritual resources available.

It is on the basis of this union that we enjoy with Christ that we are being built into a new kind of temple where sacrifices are not bull and goats and birds, but they are the sacrifices of spiritual realities.

We ought to be excited and encouraged that God would not only choose to rescue us from sin, but that he would choose to build us into one spiritual dwelling where praise, worship, giving of ourselves, sharing, and winning others become the means of spiritual sacrifice.

How cool is that? Well the benefits are not even close to being over. We are united with Christ, we are being built into the same spiritual building, and we can offer spiritual sacrifices. We also see …

B.      Those who trust in Christ will not be disappointed (2:6)

Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 to remind us that Christ’s position as the cornerstone, as the chosen and precious stone in the sight of God was not a new thought. There was plenty of OT predictions saying the same thing.

This is as good a time as any to emphasize that the cornerstone set all the lines in ancient building. You needed to align the cornerstone perfectly because it would set the horizontal and vertical directions for the building.

Those who trust in Christ the text says … will not be disappointed. That is not to say there will never be a hard day.

Rom. 8:37-39 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rev. 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

Friends, we will not be disappointed because we have security. Our future is secure. This news could not get much better. However …

C.      Those who reject Christ will stumble (2:7-8)

Unfortunately not everyone really treats Christ like we see in vv. 4-6. Not everyone believes his claims. Not everyone repents of their sin and trusts in his work for their salvation.

The point is that even though Jesus is the cornerstone some people will reject him (essentially throwing the cornerstone in the discard pile) and then tripping over the same stone they rejected.

This is exactly what happened in the ministry of Jesus. I want to read a story from Luke 20:9-19 that quotes Psalm 118 and shows the fulfillment of Isaiah 8.

Why take the time to go through this? I believe it is very possible that there are some people here today who would fit into this category.

Friends, I want to appeal to you not to delay. Listen to the word of 2 Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed.

Pastor Viars story of his days in Elkhart was a serious wake up call. A person who says they cannot do anything about that today. He died before Pastor Viars made it back to the church.

I want to encourage you not to delay.

While emphasizing the danger to those who do not believe, Peter nevertheless reminds the believers, “this precious value is for those who believe.”

Believers can I encourage you to appreciate these blessings.

The first blessing was all the benefits that come from a personal walk with Christ. The second blessing is … 

 

II. Because Christ is the Cornerstone we have a new identity (2:9a-10)

When I think of the term identity. I think about the items that would complete this sentence. “I am ________.” When we are in union with Christ he provides a series of new identity descriptions. Each of them have a special relationship to the OT Scripture.

A.     A chosen race

Many of our English Bibles use the term race here but I think a better contemporary term is people. Race is currently a term that is loaded with concerns and tensions regarding the color of a person’s skin. But the point being made here is that we are a chosen people.

Believers, regardless of the color of their skin, the economic status they enjoy, the type of employment they have, or the nation in which they live, enjoy the distinction of being a chosen person by God.

Aren’t you glad for that? Just as God chose the nation of Israel to be his special people so he is choosing believers to be his special people today.

One statement of identity is I am a chosen person. Praise God.

B.      A royal priesthood

Both of these words require a little imagination on our part. The second word, priesthood, is not a concept that we have much experience with. We do not have a system of worship that places a priest as an intermediary between God and man.

Now, the text says that we are a kingdom of priests – a priesthood. But not just any priests. Royal ones. Not only did the Jesus Christ remove the intermediary giving us complete access, but he uses the word royal. Since Christ is king and we are united with him … we enjoy the status of royalty.

There is a sense in this passage where we serve Christ offering spiritual sacrifices and a sense in which we reign with Christ as one united with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Yet another identity statement I am royal. Praise God.

C.      A holy nation

This next picture of identity is a holy nation. This reminds us that there is such a thing as positional sanctification and progressive sanctification. There is the once for all declaration where Christ imputes his righteousness to our account.

By virtue of Jesus giving us his righteousness and that he has forgiven us for our sin, we are a holy nation.

I am holy. Praise God.

Before I move to the next statement of identity this is a good place to think about the practical value of identity. Our world gives certain identities to people who are or who can do certain things.

Then we get assigned identities at our work or in our home. It is easy to adopt those identities as fact as accurate descriptions of who I am.

If you are a person who is given to emotional challenges like anxiety or fear or worry or some form of depression it may be one of the problems is that you are accepting too much of your identity from the people who want to hurt you rather than the one who saved your soul and declared

Let’s get our identity in the right place. When it is, a lot of other things fall into place as well. I think this next statement is the most shocking of all.

D.     A people for God’s own possession

The Bible tells us that the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. There is a real sense that God owns everything. There is a sense in which every person and everything belongs to God.

Think of this a bit more in terms of an inheritance. Sometimes you are given something in an inheritance that you don’t really want.

But when God says that you are a people for his possession he is saying that you have value. You are one of his prized possessions. You are the Mona Lisa of the house.

You are chosen, royal, holy, and valued.

I want to speak about the second half of verse 9 in a minute. In the meantime notice the content of verse 10.

E.      The people of God

Verse 10 brings up two references from the book of Hosea. Hosea is charged with marrying a girl named Gomer. Their marriage was a symbol of the relationship God had with Israel.

One child was named “not my people.” It was an indictment of how the nation of Israel treated God.

But now Peter uses that same imagery to say … remember when God renamed that child from “not my people” to “my people.” Do you remember that?

F.       The ones who have received mercy

The idea is similar here. This is yet another name of a child of Hosea and Gomer. This child also symbolized that rejection of God by the nation.

Friends, what Peter does is use this building metaphor to emphasize all the blessings we have in Christ.

Not surprisingly, all of these blessings result in some responsibilities. Please notice that …

III. Because Christ is the Cornerstone we have a worthwhile purpose of declaring his praises (2:9b, 11-25)

Christ not only gave us blessings and a wonderful identity, but he gave us a worthwhile purpose. I want something to get up for in the morning don’t you? I want a reason to get out of bed and say “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice.”

Then, I want something productive to do with my life. I want to make a difference.

I only have time to list these ways from 1 Peter 2 and make a few comments about each one. Each of these texts could be a sermon by itself. Declaring the Lord’s praises involves …

A.     Living thoughtfully and kindly among unbelievers (vv. 11-12)

I think this is a very helpful idea in light of all our community based outreach. Every day of the week there are unbelievers around our properties. They come to work out, they come to receive help, they come to walk, and they come to play at the park.

But our conduct around them either encourages them to glorify God in the day of visitation or not. It either encourages them to ask about our faith or it results in assuming they are just like us.

B.      Properly submitting to our authorities (vv. 13-17)

I think genuine believers want to know the will of God. There are several places in Scripture that tell us exactly what God’s will is. This is one of them.

The Bible acknowledges the fact that all human authority is flawed. We are not as loving or as righteous as the Lord is.

But God’s will is that we do not use the flawed features of various leaders to refuse to submit to them. When Peter wrote, Rome was in charge.

This is very public, just like the previous point. These illustrations are not simply what happens inside the four walls of our own homes, but what happens when we leave them.

C.      Suffering only for just causes (vv. 18-20)

Servants and masters was a common picture in the first century. Sometimes the servant (the one who was supposed to do what the master said) was not very willing to do that.

The Lord says that one of the ways you look different. One of the ways that people look at you and see something different is that your motivation is to find favor with the Lord.

Each of these three elements is an attempt at being different. It is showing by our actions that Jesus is awesome, amazing, and that a relationship with him makes a difference.

Finally …

D.     Following the example of Christ (vv. 21-25)

We are connected to the cornerstone. He sets the directions and dimensions. As we are connected to him, we also follow his example.

I want to concentrate on one little phrase: entrusted himself to the one who judges righteously. For Christ to fulfill his role of dying for us, he had to have a larger purpose.

Entrusting yourself to the one who judges righteously will be required for you to follow in his steps. If you do not entrust yourself to Christ, then you will entrust yourself to someone else.

Summary

This is a great passage. The building analogy is different from the one found in 1 Corinthians 3. There we were the builder. Here, we are the structure – connected to Christ. As part of the structure we enjoy all the benefits

 


Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.