A Series of Messages on What a Church IS and DOES
1 Peter 2
July 4, 2021 AM
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (Matthew 16:13-18)
A. Jesus introduces a new word to His disciples
B. The word Church
1. Spoken only here in chapter 16, and then in Matthew 18
2. And then an explosion of churches in Acts 2 on!
C. What is a Church?
D. How Important IS the concept of the church?
1. It is like asking, how important is the concept of marriage and the family?
2. Jesus Christ died for “the church” to exist in THIS world, not just in the world to come
3. Assembling together is one of the most important things a Christian can do
E. And How is Jesus Building It?
I. Background - The Concept of the Church
A. An Assembled Group of Born Again Believers in Jesus
1. Ekklessia is the Greek word Jesus used that means an assembly of people, called away from their work, from family, from sleep, from busyness, from problems, from the world… to be like Jesus
a. A gathered assembly of people, bound by purpose
b. Called out of the world around them
c. To be like Jesus
2. We assemble like a family at dinner time – eat TOGETHER not in our own rooms
3. People who do not assemble, are not a church – not a proper one
a. Saved yes
b. But are supposed to assemble together with other believers in Jesus
c. Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
4. A church is a bit like the synagogue was in the Old Testament to the Jews, who gathered on the Sabbath
5. But a Church something totally new – totally different than ever existed in the world before Jesus. It is unique in all of history!
B. The Church is Described and Illustrated in so many ways in Scripture…
1. In Acts 2 – as a Busy, Unified, Local and Powerful Group of Believers who love to be together
2. Ephesians 4 and 6 – An Equipped and Gifted Army in a Spiritual War that is going on
3. Ephesians 3 – a Reflection of the Glory of Christ, like a bride honours her groom
4. 1Corinthians 12 – a Complex Assembly of Believers as parts of one Body
5. 1Peter 2 – as a Living Temple on earth today!
C. I will start with the LAST example this morning – as a temple under construction
1. There are different Temples in Scripture
a. The Physical Temple in Jerusalem – destroyed in 70AD
b. The Temple of a believer’s own body from the moment they got saved (1Corinthians 3:16)
1) 1Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
2) Read that again!
c. And a group of committed Christians committed to BEING a church is also described as God’s HOUSE – a temple
1) Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
2) Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
3) Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth UNTO AN HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord.
2. How many of you didn’t know those two FACTS?
a. That you are the temple of the living God
b. That the Holy Spirit of God is IN you now. I hope you know that the Holy Spirit of God moved INTO you the moment you repented and believed on Jesus to save you!
c. That THIS group of believers, when we gather, become a Temple, a holy place of worship
3. A Church is a Temple Under Construction
4. Don’t think of bricks and mortar and plaster, and wood – but people in the hands of Jesus
II. Message – How Construction Begins
A. Construction begins with Starting Over (1Peter 1:23-25)
1. There is no church without people getting saved from sin, and born again in their spirit
2. Jesus called it being born again in John 3:3 – being given a brand new life in your heart and spirit
3. The old you ain’t going to heaven folks when you die
4. You need a whole new life
5. 1Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
6. 1Peter 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
7. 1Peter 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
B. Abandoning the Old Us (1Peter 2:1)
1. To follow Jesus… Something has to be let go of
2. Peter calls it, Laying some things aside – like blind Bartimaeus did when he was invited to come to Jesus… he laid aside his beggar clothes, and never picked them up again!
3. So that we can become something better! So that we can become part of something big
a. WE Christians need to Lay aside these things:
1) Malice – a desire to hurt someone out of revenge – not part of the Christian life
2) Guile – lying, deceit, dishonesty
3) Hypocrisies – so few real people, even amongst Christians
4) Envies – never content, but envying other people
5) And evil speakings – the most obvious sin today in people – tearing other people down – saying things you know are evil – vile, blasphemous, wrong
b. These were OLD bricks of our old life
c. Those describe us as we USED to be – old and crumbling!
d. At least they OUGHT to describe our pasts
e. They all have to be demolished – torn down - broken down, so that they can be replaced! (Ephesians 4:31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
4. Have you ever done that? You might have to work a lot harder on this than you think
a. Examining your own attitudes and actions
b. And deciding to let go of them – that can of drink does not have as hard a grip on you as you have on it if you are saved!
c. You tear down some things, SO that we can live and act and react DIFFERENTLY…
1) So that we can be a new building – a Church
2) Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
3) You can’t be bitter AND be a blessing
4) You can’t be angry, and be kind
5) You can’t be yelling and loud and aggressive, and also be tender
6) You can’t be saying evil things, and be forgiving at the same time
7) One set of bricks HAS to go!
C. Drawing Your New Life from the Word of God
1. Like a newborn baby draws milk from his/her mother, so should we all draw our nourishment from the words on the pages of this Book!
2. Feed on every word – find sustenance, nourishment from what GOD says in this Book
a. Much of it is like milk
b. And much is also like meat – needs chewing on, and maturity
c. We are supposed to live on every word of this Book from Genesis to Revelation
d. Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
e. Did you notice… “EVERY WORD”? Not just the ones you like!
3. You seek these words so you can GROW
a. We should NOT have a church full of babies that never grow!
b. But of baby believers who grow up into mature, stable, faithful, men and women of God, who go from strength to strength!
4. By-the-way, You won’t desire this Book if you have not become a newborn baby in the kingdom of God!
5. So, Taste this BOOK, put it to the test – see if it is not exactly what your starving soul is craving for! Believe what it says, and you will find God’s amazing GRACE!
D. And then Building your entire life on THE Cornerstone of the Temple – Jesus Christ (1Peter 2:6)
III. Building your entire life on THE Cornerstone of the Temple – Jesus Christ (1Peter 2:6)
A. Jesus is the Cornerstone to a church
1. Up until 150 years ago, all stone buildings that were built to last, required a perfectly cut and laid cornerstone to be in place before the rest of the building could be finished
2. It had to be specially cut and shaped – not generic
3. It showed how the rest of the building should be constructed based on its shape and size
4. All the construction relied on that cornerstone being exact – it was not a decoration
B. Jesus is more than Cornerstone – He is the entire Foundation on which the Temple will rest (1Corinthians 3:9-11)
1. 1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
2. 1Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
3. 1Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. [NOT MARY, POPE FRANCIS, PASTOR LEDBETTER]
4. Luke 6:47,48 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
5. Jesus is that Rock solid Foundation to build our lives on
C. Jesus is THE Living Stone (1Peter 2:4,) – not a dead idol
1. This is brilliant!
2. Idols have eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear
a. Stone statues that people bow down to cannot not hear
b. Money cannot hear your prayers
c. Church cathedrals are built with dead rocks
3. But Jesus is a ROCK that is ALIVE – he is a LIVING stone
4. The promised Messiah was called the Rock of Israel over and over in the O.T.
a. Deuteronomy 32:3,4 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
b. Notice how big, strong, masculine men love being called ROCKS
c. Because they are tough and strong and mighty
d. So is Jesus
5. Jesus’ life was Laid Down in Jerusalem – Zion… crucified!
6. Yet it says that same Rock is living… so He ROSE from the dead! And is ALIVE forevermore
7. He is a living stone that we trust in because He is like a mighty Mountain we can run to
8. Psalm18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer my God my strength in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
D. A Rejected Stone (1Peter 2:4,7,8) - Rejected by People – not wanted!
1. He was NOT the size and shape of what the Pharisees and Politicians wanted
a. Wasn’t anti-Roman like they hoped He would be
b. Was not like the corrupt governors and rulers and religious leaders
c. He was (and still is) out of step with progress & fashion & with what people want
2. So, they forbid Him to be their cornerstone – they broke Him and crucified Him and tried to throw Him away
a. Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
b. Remember it was the corrupt religious leaders and political leaders who rejected Jesus out-right
3. How many religions actually follow Jesus and do as he says?
a. You would think all Christians do, but so many don’t
b. Seventh day Adventists – follow Ellen G White, and the OT laws and Sabbath
c. JW’s follow Charles Taze Russell and the OT Laws
d. Mormons follow Joseph Smith and the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints blah blah blah
e. Catholics follow the church fathers and all the popes
f. Protestants tend to follow great theologians
4. No wonder there are so many religious wars!
5. Jesus is VERY OFFENSIVE to the natural man and to the religionist who wants someone to choose their side against their enemies!
E. A Stumbling Stone (1Peter 2:8)
1. Jesus was put right into the midst of religious self righteous people
2. And in the midst of very powerful Roman conflicts
3. And in the midst of the poorest and least of all people – the Jews
4. Why? To cause everyone who encountered Him… to trip and fall and be humbled before God!
5. THAT is what the Jesus of the Bible does…
a. He upsets people
b. He is not logical like a math book, or a science book, or even a philosophy book
c. Jesus is not a book on meditation and Hindu reflection
d. No. He upsets people – by design
F. Yet Jesus was God’s chosen stone / elect by God (1Peter 2:4,6)
1. Jesus was selected before the foundation of the creation of the world to save the world
2. THE most important stone in the entire “building”
3. He is exactly the size and shape that GOD wanted all men and women everywhere to pattern their lives after
G. A Precious Stone (1Peter 2:4,6,7)
1. Three times Peter says Jesus is precious - extremely rare, priceless, of immense value
2. Precious to God – “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”
3. Precious to Believers!
H. The HEAD Stone (1Peter 2:7)
1. Just has to be believed on – fully trusted - with your sins and your life
2. He has proved Himself to be God in the flesh, and Lord, the One in charge
3. He is the Chief corner stone – the Head over all other stones ever cut out and built with
I. If you understand and believe all this, the rest will be easy!
IV. Assembling the Lively Stones of Christians into a Church (1Peter 2:5,9)
A. We are LIVELY STONES
1. Just as Jesus is a living stone… a living Rock…
2. So also are believers – lively stones
3. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up …” (small blocks of stone work that accomplish nothing unless assembled together into one building)
4. A Temple is what Jesus is fashioning us into here in Ballincollig, and all over the world
5. Not just a group of people gathering in a building…
6. But carefully fashioned, cut, shaped stones, placed exactly in the place the builder wants us to be – next to whatever stones it needs to be – fulfilling whatever function He needs us to fill: as a wall, a window, a roof, or a floor
7. All different stones, from all nations, all nationalities, all races, all colours, all backgrounds, all abilities and un-abilities, all mixed and assembled together into ONE house by the powerful hands of Jesus Christ!
8. Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth UNTO AN HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord.
9. Normal buildings do not
grow – yet WE are alive and moving and active and growing
We move and breathe and expand and adapt - not dead, but LIVELY!
10. Kind of like coral reefs – they are like rocks and yet constantly growing
B. We Are A Spiritual House
1. NOT a literal building, like a cathedral
2. But something eternal - Invisible to the world
3. Yet just as real as any skyscraper, or apartment building! Just spiritual
4. As we gather together, we are a HOUSE of God – a Temple
a. Built by Jesus Christ
b. Built using PEOPLE, not bricks
c. We are being assembled, bit by bit, person by person, truth by truth, into a Spiritual House for worship – a Church
C. Filled with a Holy Priesthood of Believers
1. In this house, there is worship going on – or at least it is supposed to be going on
2. That worship is being conducted by a holy priesthood - royal priesthood
a. Not spectators, or observers, but lively worshippers
b. What do most churches have?
1) People, yes – if they have anyone coming at all
2) But people who are barely there – inconsistant, unfaithful
3) People whose heart is far from God
4) People who do not know God
5) People who rely on the spirituality of leaders instead of developing their own
3. Yet Jesus fills His Church with worshippers – priests
4. Exodus 19:6 And ye [ALL] shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation...
5. Powerful truths here
6. The Old Testament priesthood is an amazing study
a. Made up of only the Levites and Aaron, and Moses, high priests, holy water, altars, sacrifices, vestments, sacrifices, etc
b. ONLY through THEM could people draw nigh to God, and worship God
c. No one could draw close to God without them!
7. Yet now, the New Testament Priesthood is far Superior
a. All born again believers are PRIESTS in God’s kingdom!
b. Now ANYONE can draw near to God, who has been born again! Right up to God’s throne in heaven! No need for anyone to do it for you!
c. Wow! How is that possible?
1) Because of the cross (see the Book of Hebrews), everything in the Old Testament has been finished and replaced with something better!
2) Because All the OT sacrifices were accomplished by Jesus Christ
3) Because Jesus is THE mediator (our high priest) between us and God – HE brings us to God (John 14:6, “no man cometh unto the father but by me”)
4) Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
5) Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
6) Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
d. Therefore, there is NO more need for any priests in God’s kingdom or church
e. Christians are ALL priests, well able to offer up spiritual sacrifices ourselves, and we have all been made acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. WOW!
8. We offer up different sacrifices than lambs and oxen and wheat flour and oil: In the place of all the Old Testament offerings and sacrifices, We offer up,
a. The sacrifice of PRAISE and thanksgiving when it is hard to do
b. The sacrifice of doing good and showing kindness to those who have hurt us - hard
c. The sacrifice of our lives as living sacrifices to do the will of God (Romans 12)
d. ALL as part of worship of Jesus Christ our God
9. Next time you meet a RC priest, tell him, he is out of a job! You don’t need him, and no one needs his services - everyone just needs JESUS
D. A Chosen Generation of believers
1. ‘Chosen’ means we are WANTED by God – sought out by God
2. Not a PAST generation, but THIS generation!
3. Selected by God to live different than the world around us – even like an ambassador is chosen to go to a far away country and faithfully represent the leader of their people
4. We do all this TOGETHER – not just a few of us
E. A Holy NATION
1. God says He wants His Temple to be FILLED with holy people
2. A cleansed group of people – not like the world around us – but holy!
3. We don’t have to live in a godly nation to be a holy nation in that nation!!!
4. Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world
5. We Christians are a holy nation in the midst of whatever nation we find ourselves
a. Whether in Rome, Or in Moscow, Or in prison, or in Cork, Or in the Congo
b. We are a nation within whatever nation we find ourselves
6. Remember: our citizenship is not of the republic of Ireland, but of the kingdom of God
F. Lastly A Peculiar People (2:9)
1. It means we are strange to the outside world – unusual, out of the ordinary
2. We are NOT like the cultures around us
3. People pay loads of money to get an unusual haircut, or uncommon fashion design
4. But just by getting saved, we became weird – unique – different than everyone else
5. And God says that is exactly how He wants His Temple to be
A. The Church is Described and Illustrated as a Living Temple on earth today!
1. The Holy Spirit of God is IN you now
2. You are the temple of the living God
3. And THIS group of believers, when we gather, are being assembled and fashioned into a Temple, a holy place of worship
4. “that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Peter 2:9)
B. Construction Begins with:
1. Starting Over (1Peter 1:23-25)
2. Abandoning the Old Us (1Peter 2:1)
3. Drawing Your New Life from the Word of God
C. And then Building your entire life on THE Cornerstone of the Temple – Jesus Christ
1. As lively stones (small blocks of stone work that accomplish nothing unless assembled together into one building)
2. Becoming a Spiritual House
3. Filled with a Holy Priesthood of Believers
4. A Chosen Generation of believers
5. A Holy NATION
6. A Peculiar People
D. Purpose? “that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”
VI. Just beware – this is serious work going on
A. Think of those guys involved in the construction of the condo in Florida – they will answer for the shoddy job they put into ITS construction!
B. 1Corinthians 3:16,7 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
C. Jesus takes it serious
D. You and I need to as well!